Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dry Fire Practice

According to Wikipedia, Dry Firing is "the practice of "firing" a firearm without ammunition. That is, to pull the trigger and allow the hammer or striker to drop on an empty chamber."

This is one of the most useful things you can do to maintain, and even improve your shooting skills.  You can practice drawing, getting proper grip on the gun, sight alignment, reloading, malfunction drills, sight picture, trigger manipulation, and even get off the X drills without ever firing a live round.  It doesn't cost anything, there is no driving to and from the range, and it can actually be fun.  Dry fire practice will not completely replace live fire, of course.  Nothing can.  There is no recoil, you don't get to see exactly where your rounds hit, and you can't practice strings of fire.  This article is talking about pistol dry fire, but most of the same techniques can be used with long guns as well.

But does it hurt your gun?  Well, rimfires and some old guns can absolutely be damaged.  Almost all modern centerfire firearms are capable of being dry fired without harm to the weapon.  If you have any doubts, you can pick up some snap caps(plastic "ammo" with a spring under what would be the primer in a live round).  You can pick these up pretty cheap, and they come in useful for other things like ball and dummy drills.  A quick google search with the model of your gun and "dry fire" should also let you know if you are ok to go.

So the question is, what to practice?

DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS make double sure your firearm is unloaded before doing any dry fire or you may find your practice to be not so dry after all.  It is a good idea to leave all ammo and loaded magazines in a separate room, and still make sure you keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.  Check AGAIN to make sure the firearm is unloaded.  Another good idea that I think I got from Ben Branam over at Modern Self Protection is to say aloud "I am now about to begin dry fire practice" when you start and again out loud "I am now finished with my dry fire practice" when you are done before you load back up.  Do not be in a hurry when you are going to dry fire.

Ok, I have a few different things that I will practice when I do this: 

The first is trigger manipulation.  A correct trigger press is one of the most important fundamentals.  Focusing on a deliberate rearward press without moving the gun off target by flinching or otherwise doing things that would cause the sights to move.  There is a few ways to do this.

The first is to push the gun out just like you are going to shoot.  Align your sights, and watch your front sight as you press the trigger to the rear.  At the moment the trigger breaks you should not notice the sights jump.  If the front sights pushes down and to the left you are jerking the trigger.  Practice this until you can routinely watch the front sight not move when the trigger breaks.  When you get consistent results in a two hand firing grip, practice right hand only and left hand only.  A harder alternative is to balance a coin or  an empty casing on top of your front sight if it is flat.  Press the trigger without letting the casing fall off.

Draw.  Dry fire is a great way to practice your draw stroke.  You should practice wearing the same clothing and holster that you normally use.  This works equally well for concealed carry and competition rigs.  The trick here is to practice nice and slow and do it RIGHT.  Doing a bunch of crappy fast draw strokes doesn't help you any.  Start out slow.  Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast.  I will start off with some stationary draws, paying attention to each step.  Firing grip, bring gun straight up to rest thumb joint against pec muscle, rotate gun towards target via bringing elbow down, bring hands together and extend.  After that feels good, I will add in some movement.  

Draw while moving to several angles from target.  Remember that moving straight ahead or backwards does not get you off the line of fire.  You need to move laterally.  A couple of steps straight back to make some distance if standing very close is ok, but you still need to incorporate some lateral movement as soon as possible.

Snap caps come in handy for doing reloading and malfunction drills.  Doing a reload or a Tap, Rack, Bang with an empty magazine is going to cause the slide to lock back giving you less realistic feedback.  Snap caps can also be used to set up double feeds.

So a typical dry fire session will look something like this:

15-20 Two hand trigger presses(with or without balancing empty casing on front sight)
10 Right hand only trigger presses
10 Left hand only trigger presses
15 Draws from concealment stationary into 2 hand grip
10 Draws from concealment stationary right hand only
20 Draws from concealment moving laterally in different directions.  Which way you move will determine two hand or one hand grip.  (Moving towards your 7 O'Clock makes a two hand grip all but impossible)(Remember to move with your feet facing direction of travel)

5 Reloads
5 Tap/Rack
5 Double feed clearance

Sometimes I do this, sometimes I leave some of it out, sometimes I add in more, like one hand reload and malfunction clearance.  You can tailor it to fit your needs.  It is better to do several 15-30 minutes sessions over the course of a week than try to spend 2 hours doing dry fire all at once.  Your mind will shut down and you won't gain anything trying to do that.

I hope this article helped you.  If it did, please leave a comment and subscribe.  Check me out on facebook at  Thanks!

~Tattooed Gunner


  1. Thanks sir!




  2. You are welcome! Thanks for checking out the blog.