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View Full Version : To Dry Fire, Or Not To Dry Fire


McNally M.
02-05-2012, 12:23 AM
Hey guys,

This question has been bugging me. Is it better to dry fire your rifle if you do not plan on using it for a while so as to decompress the firing pin spring?

I would think that the answer to this question would be an overwhelming yes but I have been born and bred to believe that dry firing a gun is among the Seven Sins. And so I have always been very weary of drying firing my rifles that I do not plan on using anytime soon.

Although I found out how to avoid letting the firing pin slam forward on Mosins. All you need to do is pull the cocking piece back with your fingers, pull the trigger and slowly let the cocking piece move forward towards the receiver. This may be an age old trick but I sure felt relieved when I discovered this knowing that I could decompress the firing springs without risking damage to the firing pin by slamming it with a dry fire.

saki302
02-05-2012, 1:14 AM
I don't store my rifles cocked.

On some bolt guns, you can hold the trigger while closing the bolt, which will gently release your firing pin.

-Dave

Mssr. Eleganté
02-05-2012, 3:22 AM
...On some bolt guns, you can hold the trigger while closing the bolt, which will gently release your firing pin.

That's what I do with my Mosins, Enfields, Mausers, Springfields and all of my other bolt action rifles. Way easier than what McNally suggests.

OpenSightsOnly
02-05-2012, 10:11 AM
Dry firing a pistol, yeah, its a good idea to have snap caps. Or, have another pistol as back-up, right? :p

For military surplus rifles, heck ya, dry fire to your hearts content!!!

I doubt you will break anything with those war horses! I used to dry fire my milsurps since that is the only way that I'll know the feel of the trigger, when it breaks, the pressure I need to have . . .

For milsurps, it's good to have spares so have a spare firing pin spring.



Hey guys,

This question has been bugging me. Is it better to dry fire your rifle if you do not plan on using it for a while so as to decompress the firing pin spring?

I would think that the answer to this question would be an overwhelming yes but I have been born and bred to believe that dry firing a gun is among the Seven Sins. And so I have always been very weary of drying firing my rifles that I do not plan on using anytime soon.

Although I found out how to avoid letting the firing pin slam forward on Mosins. All you need to do is pull the cocking piece back with your fingers, pull the trigger and slowly let the cocking piece move forward towards the receiver. This may be an age old trick but I sure felt relieved when I discovered this knowing that I could decompress the firing springs without risking damage to the firing pin by slamming it with a dry fire.

rojocorsa
02-05-2012, 10:37 AM
I dry fire everything. Even my .22 CZ can handle it.

buggsb
02-05-2012, 10:43 AM
Most centerfire firearms can be dry fired without issue.

Flyin Brian
02-05-2012, 10:51 AM
if you want to see a cool way to decock your Mosin... push the bolt forward and then move the bolt handle to the right VERY slightly and it will stop at a small notch. Now squeeze the trigger and the bolt handle will drop home on it's own and the bolt will be decocked.

Of course, make sure it's unloaded first.

eightmd
02-05-2012, 11:14 AM
I don't think dry firing is an issue on anything unless it is a rimfire or a fixed fireing pin. Those are the only 2 that would have a problem from what I have heard.

hybridatsun350
02-05-2012, 11:26 AM
I don't store my rifles cocked.

On some bolt guns, you can hold the trigger while closing the bolt, which will gently release your firing pin.

-Dave

Exactly. I pretty much do some iteration of that on all my rifles (Mosin, Mauser, Rem 700, Garand, etc.)

I don't think dry firing is an issue on anything unless it is a rimfire or a fixed fireing ping. Those are the only 2 that would have a problem from what I have heard.

Some older weapons (those with sub-par heat treating) are prone to breaking firing pins. They are often excessively heat treated and tend to break because they are too hard. The only one I've personally seen do that was a CZ-50, but they're WELL known for that.

TRAP55
02-05-2012, 1:13 PM
If that firing pin's forward momentum isn't stopping on a primer or snap cap, what would you guess it's slamming against when it stops?
Common sense would dictate that can't be good? There are a very few rimfires that can be dry fired without damaging the chamber, but people do, and that's why they make a chamber iron to fix em.
On my centerfires that I can't uncock, or have snap caps for, I make a snap cap from a spent case. Even if you don't reload it's easy to do. Use a nail or whatever works to punch the spent primer out. Shape a pencil eraser to fit the primer pocket, and glue it in. If that's too much work, just fill the pocket with ATV silicone and let it set up.
I'm sure we've all seen enough threads about Mausers that won't pop the primers on Yugo milsurp ammo. The cause of the weak spring, if it isn't 100 years old and well used, is usually from a rifle left cocked for years.

Crunch130
02-05-2012, 2:56 PM
I'm sure we've all seen enough threads about Mausers that won't pop the primers on Yugo milsurp ammo. The cause of the weak spring, if it isn't 100 years old and well used, is usually from a rifle left cocked for years.

Two different problems. Most people can tell an adequate firing pin strike when they see one. My K98 has never had an issue lighting off any other ammo. But that 50's Yugo has 25% FTF. The primers are noticeably set at different depths. So I pull & reload it into modern cases.

Crunch

TheExpertish
02-05-2012, 2:56 PM
I don't store my rifles cocked.

On some bolt guns, you can hold the trigger while closing the bolt, which will gently release your firing pin.

-Dave

Yes, just de-cock it. I prefer snap caps, but dry firing is okay. Can something break? Sure. Anything can happen when stored energy is spent. To dryfire, or not to dryfire is a debate like 1911 vs. Glock. Everyone has their opinion and credentials and the other is somehow always wrong. Just be cautious and use your own good judgement.

TRAP55
02-05-2012, 3:11 PM
Two different problems. Most people can tell an adequate firing pin strike when they see one. My K98 has never had an issue lighting off any other ammo. But that 50's Yugo has 25% FTF. The primers are noticeably set at different depths. So I pull & reload it into modern cases.

Crunch
Crunch, my reference was to leaving the spring in the cocked position. I can't imagine wasting all that time, breaking that ammo down and reloading it, when a new Wolff spring is such a cheap simple operation to change out.

rojocorsa
02-06-2012, 11:05 PM
I thought that what stresses springs is stretching and compressing, not necessarily one position over the other. Rather, the motion...

no?

Sampachi
02-07-2012, 11:58 AM
I thought that what stresses springs is stretching and compressing, not necessarily one position over the other. Rather, the motion...

no?

I was told that to have the spring partially compressed is the problem. It should either be fully compressed or completely extended, or at least, that was how I was taught and would be glad to hear a more scientific explanation.

I am not too concerned about firing pins on most military rifles. If there is a trick to releasing the firing pin without pulling the trigger, I do it that way.

McNally M.
02-07-2012, 12:20 PM
After noticing how with most my mosins the cocking piece is a mother to pull back and flip to safety and then comparing it to a bolt that I purchased from Sarco I had the epiphany that this thread helped by realize. Its much safer to dry fire the rifle than keep the firing spring compressed. The bolt from Sarco was coated in a crust of cosmoline showing just how long it may have been in storage for. While the bolt if perfectly adequate and still punches primers well, I noticed that it was far easier to pull the cocking piece to turn on the safety as opposed to by other Mosins. I can only be led to believe that the spring decompressed after years of being stored in the unfired position. Could a decompressed spring be the reason that I have roughly 1 misfire out of every 5 rounds?

In any case, I have been taking the approach that you guys suggested that entails holding down the trigger will slipping in the bolt. Works like a charm for my Mausers and Mosins. Thanks for all your tips.

AragornElessar86
02-07-2012, 12:48 PM
I dry fire everything.

big103
02-07-2012, 1:46 PM
I just pull the trigger on my guns as I close the bolt works on most bolt actions, you can control the speed of the firing pin and keep it from slamming forward.

db42
02-07-2012, 1:56 PM
Hey guys,

This question has been bugging me. Is it better to dry fire your rifle if you do not plan on using it for a while so as to decompress the firing pin spring?


The first thing I do when buying a new gun - right after I fill out the DROS, I pick up a package of snap caps to match the caliber.

I also store all of my long guns with a snap cap in the chamber.

tujungatoes
02-07-2012, 2:24 PM
I dry fire all my centerfire guns new and old. Never had a problem. Now I'm sure if I did it every 30 seconds for a year straight there would be problems. But if it's just when you're leaving the range and putting your guns back you're fine.

Hell....I've got a friend that's a competitive shooter. He dry fires his uber expensive ultra custom STI's all the time.

Crunch130
02-07-2012, 7:18 PM
Crunch, my reference was to leaving the spring in the cocked position. I can't imagine wasting all that time, breaking that ammo down and reloading it, when a new Wolff spring is such a cheap simple operation to change out.

I agree with you on not leaving the rifle cocked.

My reservation against using the Wolff spring is purely hypothetical. I was wondering if it's possible to have too hard of a primer strike, increasing the probability of pierced primers with other brands of ammo, and risking getting gas in the face?

"I was told that to have the spring partially compressed is the problem. It should either be fully compressed or completely extended, or at least, that was how I was taught and would be glad to hear a more scientific explanation."

I would think that having it fully compressed would cause permanent deformation. I don't understand why partially compressed is worse. That's just my gut feel as a mechanical engineer.

Crunch

The SKS Man
02-07-2012, 8:36 PM
Old guns are rugged and made with quality. I think its safe

Idk about newer guns nowadays

TRAP55
02-07-2012, 8:44 PM
I agree with you on not leaving the rifle cocked.

My reservation against using the Wolff spring is purely hypothetical. I was wondering if it's possible to have too hard of a primer strike, increasing the probability of pierced primers with other brands of ammo, and risking getting gas in the face?

Crunch
Smart thinking, but the firearms manufactures are way ahead of you, that's why they all have specs for min. and max. firing pin protrusion. The firing pin just hits harder, not deeper.....it's only going to dent the primer the same depth.
Even if you happen to screw up and load some thinner large pistol primers in your rifle cases, a heavier spring won't pierce it. Pierced primers usually come from a firing pin that has chipped, broken, or to sharp of a striking surface on the pin tip.
In some types of rifles, a weak firing pin spring will allow the primer to back out a little, more obvious on cases that have worn out primer pockets from being reloaded too many times.
For Mausers, I usually recommend nothing heavier than the 22lb Wolff spring, anything more than that is just overkill and hard on the cocking parts. If 22lbs won't do it, you have other problems.
So change that spring, and quit wearing out your reloading equipment!:D

Crunch130
02-07-2012, 10:11 PM
I appreciate your insight. But I will say that the 10 or 12% charge reduction I do to the Yugo while reloading makes a huge difference in felt recoil!

Crunch

Turo
02-07-2012, 10:29 PM
Hey guys,

This question has been bugging me. Is it better to dry fire your rifle if you do not plan on using it for a while so as to decompress the firing pin spring?

I would think that the answer to this question would be an overwhelming yes but I have been born and bred to believe that dry firing a gun is among the Seven Sins. And so I have always been very weary of drying firing my rifles that I do not plan on using anytime soon.

Although I found out how to avoid letting the firing pin slam forward on Mosins. All you need to do is pull the cocking piece back with your fingers, pull the trigger and slowly let the cocking piece move forward towards the receiver. This may be an age old trick but I sure felt relieved when I discovered this knowing that I could decompress the firing springs without risking damage to the firing pin by slamming it with a dry fire.

Storing springs compressed does not wear them. That's not how springs work. Compare the springs in your gun to the springs on a car suspension. Do you put your car up on a lift every night so as to decompress the springs? No, because leaving the springs compressed doesn't wear them.

There is no scientific reason to decock firing pin springs while in storage.

As for dry firing, any gun that has been made in the last 30 years or so should be completely safe to dry fire, especially if done so only every once in a while. Lots of them are made to dry fire as much as possible (e.g. Glock).

TRAP55
02-08-2012, 4:36 PM
I appreciate your insight. But I will say that the 10 or 12% charge reduction I do to the Yugo while reloading makes a huge difference in felt recoil!

Crunch
Now there's a reason worthy of breaking em down and repacking them!:)
My boy was giving me a hard time because I was using a slip on recoil pad for the 98K while I was shooting Yugo ammo. He was calling it the "wussy pad".
He was shooting my Hakim, that only gets fed from my Romanian ammo stash. He also had the 25rnd MG-13 mag in it, making the rifle a total of about 12-13lbs, combined with being an autoloader with a muzzle brake. Barely any felt recoil.
I took the pad off and we swapped rifles. After about 40rnds of Yugo with no pad, he says "Hey dad, can you put that pad back on?":D

TRAP55
02-08-2012, 4:43 PM
Compare the springs in your gun to the springs on a car suspension. Do you put your car up on a lift every night so as to decompress the springs? No, because leaving the springs compressed doesn't wear them.
Turo, soak those car springs with oil, and let me know in about a year or two how your car rides.;)

TheExpertish
02-08-2012, 10:22 PM
The first thing I do when buying a new gun - right after I fill out the DROS, I pick up a package of snap caps to match the caliber.

I also store all of my long guns with a snap cap in the chamber.

What's your reasoning on leaving one of those deadly paralyzing purple bullets in the chamber?

winnre
02-08-2012, 10:40 PM
I lost count of the dry fires I have done while clearing military weapons. Why can they take a dry fire and others can't?

TheExpertish
02-08-2012, 10:45 PM
I lost count of the dry fires I have done while clearing military weapons. Why can they take a dry fire and others can't?

Firstly, they're meant to be abused. Secondly, I think only rimfires are the only ones where you might break a firing pin dry firing. That and an older C&R. Even then it's not the case for all. Really comes down to the design of the gun and the brittleness of the firing pin. Most of the time you don't know either one of those specs.

Flyin Brian
02-09-2012, 12:11 AM
Turo, soak those car springs with oil, and let me know in about a year or two how your car rides.;)

So oil damages springs? If this is true why are we not replacing our valve springs every "year or two" in a car engine?

emcon5
02-09-2012, 7:12 AM
So oil damages springs? If this is true why are we not replacing our valve springs every "year or two" in a car engine?

Those are magic springs.....:D

Seriously, oil won't hurt anything made of steel.

I store mine decocked, how I get it there depends on the gun. Bolts I generally close the bolt with the trigger pulled and it decocks, but simetimes I just dry fire. For others, like the M1 where there is no simple way to decock it, I dry fire.

For most centerfire guns the risk of damage from dry firing is extremely remote.

Turo
02-11-2012, 2:58 PM
Turo, soak those car springs with oil, and let me know in about a year or two how your car rides.;)

What does that have to do with the price of fertilizer in Cambodia?

TRAP55
02-11-2012, 3:14 PM
Absolutely nothing.:)

TRAP55
02-11-2012, 4:41 PM
Sorry, I gave a smartazz answer.
I'll give my best shot to explain it, as best I can.
While gun springs and automotive springs share much in common, there's some differences too.
Spring steel has to have a high carbon content, and that's one of the factors in the tensile strength, or "springyness" (my new word for the day:)) if you will. Carbon content varies.
Heating and cooling for hardness and temper are another.
"How" the spring is made is yet one more.
An automotive leaf spring for instance is usually hammer forged, where the firing pin spring in your Mauser 98, is made from extruded wire. Even the shape of the wire, round vs square like some of the Wolff springs, is a factor in the springs performance and longevity.
The V spring for the hammer in your revolver may have been hammer forged, cold rolled, or hot rolled, before it became a spring.
To answer Brian's question, valve springs do need to be replaced, granted not every one or two years, but they do. That's why any good shop that does valve jobs, has a spring height and tension tester.
Any spring left compressed over long periods of time, will loose it's tension. With the variables listed above, some faster than others. Most types of springs when saturated with oil, will loose it even faster. Ever notice an old beater that has an engine oil leak on one side, where it has blown back under one side of the car, and soaked the springs? And how the car on level ground leans to that side?
That's why you'll see cars in long term storage up on blocks. The right way is to block up the frame so the suspension is not under load, and the springs are fully extended.
Many years ago, before my hair turned grey, myself and two other mechanics had the task of putting very expensive collector cars into long term storage for the owner of a British Leyland dealer. When he got tired of one of his "toys", we put it away, and drug out another for him. One guy did the prep on the motor and trans, one did the paint and interior, I did tires and suspension.
The first thing I had to do was steam clean any oil from the springs, they had to be bone dry. Okay, maybe not always the first thing. There were times we took it out and drove it like we stole it.:rolleyes:
The bottom line is, I like to keep my "all original" firearms, all original. Leaving a gun spring under tension, especially oil soaked, means sooner or later I'm going to have to replace it, before I should have to.
As to my comment on dry firing, and the momentum of the pin having to stop on something, even a hammer and anvil will show signs of forced contact. Why flog it when there's a better way to do it?

SKSer45
02-11-2012, 4:49 PM
hmmm well good thread OP but here is my two cents.

Dry fire away. However dry fire with snap caps. I do that with every rifle I have so that way I can feel the trigger, the click etc.. and its not really damaging the weapon at all. Plus practice reloading etc...

Now its ok to dry a fire a few times for an example; function test on the weapon. Just don't do it to much unless you have some snap caps. They are cheap, can use them thousands of times and make things a bit easy on your weapons.

db42
02-12-2012, 11:30 PM
What's your reasoning on leaving one of those deadly paralyzing purple bullets in the chamber?

So someone can't pick it up and immediately shoot me with it.
Most people have no idea where the action button in on a shotgun - they know what they've seen in movies (just pump and fire). The same applies to my AR's charging handle; most people have no idea where it is.

If there's a snap cap in the chamber, they can't shoot it unless they actually know how it works . . . something the vast majority of people don't know.

prob
02-13-2012, 11:07 AM
I have been born and bred to believe that dry firing a gun is among the Seven Sins.

One of the biggest myths in the world.

Nor Cal Scot
02-13-2012, 11:34 AM
Episode for mythbusters...

TRAP55
02-13-2012, 11:50 AM
One of the biggest myths in the world.
Safe bet you don't own a CZ-52.:)
And I wonder why they make this tool:
http://spinstage.http.internapcdn.net/Spinstage/userdocs/products/p_590009022_1.jpg

To fix this:
http://advantagearms.hostasaurus.com/mm5/AdvantageRing.jpg

saki302
02-13-2012, 12:47 PM
There are exceptions (CZ52, Nambu, Luger), but for the most part dry firing won't hurt anything.

Lots of competition shooters dry fire thousands of 'rounds', many times without snap caps.
I asked Bob Miculek once how he got so quick- he replied THOUSANDS of rounds fired every year, and many more than that done in dry fire!

Are snap caps cheap prevention? Yes they are. And you can use them as cycling test rounds SAFELY. I only had good luck with the solid type caps- the plstic multi piece ones always fell apart, and the brass 'primer' dents enough after a dozen strikes I bet it does nothing.

-Dave

McNally M.
02-14-2012, 12:13 PM
I know I might get booted from my own thread by talking about this but I picked up an Italian made replica blank-firing 8mm P38 before I got into real firearms. And among the most important warnings the instruction label addressed was dry firing which could easily break the firing pin and void the warrant. Grant its a blank firing replica with cheap quality metal I can't help but cite it as one of the sources of my paranoia of drying firing real guns.

1911sr
02-14-2012, 12:36 PM
Ok, so I don't ever post anything except if it's about Swiss rifles, but that's exactly what I will post about.
We have rifles (and pistols) built from 1878 right up to 1954. I suppose things like Rugers and the ones with block bars are ok, but with Swiss rifles we're looking at steel parts that are both old and (except for the receivers and barrels)sorta crystalized. I know this cuz I watched the guys weld k31 opr-ods. The guys in the shop never, ever dry fire any Swiss rifles unless there's a de-primed case with a squirt of silicone in the primer pocket.

Old steel in firearms can and does crystalize depending on the steel, and some Swiss rifle parts came from "cottage industries" in Switzerland, and there's no way to know which parts.
We have a huge amount of Swiss rifle parts, and mostly all the small parts, pins and springs, but we're still very careful with these old rifles. :D