Dry Firing: An Introductory Guide For AR 15 Owners

It’s probably fair to say we’ve all been told that “practice makes perfect” at least once in our lives. It’s an aphorism that is used by so many experts in a wide range of fields, and it’s something said so often because, well, it’s correct. Practicing over and over is a great way to learn to do something well. Whether it’s learning the intricacies of playing an instrument well or learning all the plays and maneuvers to play a sport well, practice is one of the only ways to increase both your depth and breadth of knowledge. Even for something less complex like making scrambled eggs and frying bacon, practice is how you learn to really perfect that one dish or improve your cooking technique as a whole. So of course it stands to reason that, if you’re looking for ways to improve your accuracy with your AR 15 (or any of your firearms), the best way to see improvement is to practice.

Our lives can get busy in the blink of an eye. When work, family obligations, and so many other events crop up, it may look like the calendar is so jam-packed you barely have time to sleep. A big part of improving your accuracy with any firearm is consistent practice and creating strong muscle memory. Doing so can be hard when you don’t have the time to make it to the range more frequently than once a month. Of course, most of us don’t have space to just go out in the backyard and get some practice in. When time and space are concerns but you want to stay in practice with any of your firearms, dry firing can be a good go-to solution.


What It Is

Dry firing is, basically, shooting without loading your gun. It’s the process of preparing and going through all the motions as if there was ammo in the firearm, from a resting position up to ready, sighting your shot, and pulling the trigger. The difference is that the gun isn’t actually firing anything, so you can run through this practice as often as you have time to, and can do so practically anywhere — though, we definitely suggest sticking to your home or maybe a good friend’s space if you’re going to go through drills together. Don’t try this in public areas, or you risk causing a public panic and, potentially, incur a lot of fines or jail time. Yes, even if you don’t have any rounds in the gun or on your person. Rule one of gun safety: treat every gun as if it’s always loaded. If you’re going to use dry firing to keep yourself in practice, you’ll want to choose your practice location with care and, of course, make sure you are diligent about clearing your gun every time, no matter what.


Common Myth: Is Dry Firing Bad For The Gun?

One of the prevalent myths about dry firing is that it can actually end up damaging the gun. And yes, for some types of firearms, this is actually true. The instances in which dry firing can cause damage is for rimfire firearms and for older guns in which the firing pin goes too far forward without ammo to strike against. With rimfires, the firing pin is designed to hit along the rim of the round; without something there to strike, the firing pin will hit the rim of the chamber and can ultimately dent or misshape it. Some older firearms have a similar problem. If there isn’t a transfer bar or something else to inhibit the firing pin, it can go too far forward without ammo and end up hitting the sides of the firing pin channel.

The issue of the firing pin causing damage if it doesn’t have ammo to strike is the big reason you’ve been told dry firing is bad. And, fortunately, it’s something that’s been fixed in basically all modern firearms. However, if you have an older firearm or a rimfire gun you’d like to dry fire, there’s a pretty simple solution. Snap caps are generally pretty inexpensive, can be used for a few hundred ‘clicks,’ and help prevent the firing pin from striking where it shouldn’t and damaging your gun.

Reasons For Dry Firing

With dry firing, you won’t actually be able to see actual, quantifiable improvements in your aim/groupings. But it can still help! Dry firing is a great way to help you build that muscle memory without going through rounds and rounds of ammunition. The important thing to remember is that, if you’re going to use dry firing as a method for improving your stance, grip, draw times, sighting in, or whatever combination of improvements you want to make, you’ll need to be sure you’re practicing proper dry firing procedures every time. This means going through every step the same way you would if the gun were loaded. Be sure you’re focusing on your stance, your grip, sighting your shot, and proper trigger control every time you go from relaxed to ready. Going through every step meticulously will help you build up better muscle memory, allow you to get more comfortable with sighting shots, and can even help you reduce your flinch.

Dry firing can also be a great time to test out how well your accessories attach to that new handguard rail or how well a custom AR part meshes with the rest of your setup. Whether you’re looking for a new handguard rail or a different bolt carrier group, Bootleg, Inc. has the quality AR parts to help improve your setup. Explore our options online today!

2 thoughts on “Dry Firing: An Introductory Guide For AR 15 Owners”

  1. Ok that’s all well and good but I still don’t see the answer here. Is it ok or not to dry fire an ar15 without snap caps?

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