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  /  Training and Self Defense   /  Will Dry Fire hurt my gun? Should I “rack” between reps?

Will Dry Fire hurt my gun? Should I “rack” between reps?

One of the most common questions I get about dry fire is whether or not it will hurt the pistol.

It can. Firing pins can elongate on hammer fired pistols. Striker pins can break off. And bolt faces can break with high volume unsupported dry fire.

This lets you do multi-shot dry fire with your pistol without racking the slide between reps or risking damage to your pistol.

What’s unsupported dry fire?

It’s when there’s nothing for the firing pin to hit when you press the trigger.

Some snap caps have a resilient striking surface that can take repeated impacts, but others end up with a divot where the firing pin/striker pin hits and they don’t end up helping that much after the first few reps.

Snap caps have other issues as well.

As an example, if you rack your slide between reps in dry fire, how does your brain know to transfer everything you’re practicing EXCEPT racking the slide over to live fire?

(It’s a frustrating question)

This is why some people…particularly newer shooters who have done lots of dry fire…rack the slide between LIVE fire reps. (not incredibly common, but common enough to mention)

What’s more common is that your brain ends up creating 2 scripts for gun manipulation…one for live fire and a separate one for dry fire.

Sometimes they overlap, but it’s common to see the live fire script take over after 2-3 rounds of live fire instead of having a single script for both dry fire AND live fire.

What that means practically is that if you started doing dry fire to get rid of flinch, it’s likely that flinch will come back after a few rounds of live fire.

That gives us 4 options for how dry fire transfers to live fire…

Dry fire carrying over 100% to live fire…to the extent that we rack the slide between live fire reps

Skills built in dry fire being used for the first few reps, and then the brain switches over to the old live fire script.

Skills built in dry fire are completely ignored in live fire and there’s no benefit from the dry fire practice.

Skills built in dry fire carry over to live fire without creating problems.

1 and 4 are essentially the same…100% skill transfer between dry fire and live fire. In the first case, it causes problems (training scars) and in the 4th case it does not.

There are a few ways to do “Type 4” training. One of the keys is to NOT rack the slide between reps, even if you have a snap cap or laser bullet in your chamber.

You can use airsoft, laser pistols, and other tools, but if you want to do safe, effective dry fire training,

This is the best tool I’ve found for doing dry fire with your own pistol.

About the Author /

Mike Ox is an avid defensive and competitive shooter who has co-created several firearms training products, including Dry Fire Training Cards, Dry Fire Fit, 21 Day Alpha Shooter, and See Faster, Shoot Faster. His brain based training focuses on accelerated learning techniques for shooting as well as controlling brain state and brain chemistry for optimal performance in extreme stress situations. Learn more about dynamic dry fire training for defense and competition at

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