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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It recently came up in a discussion that rapid dry fire of firearms was not particularly kind and may create excessive wear.

I don't doubt that dry fire causes wear and that harsh use causes more wear than gentle use.

I was wondering 'how much'? Particularly as it relates to Ruger Revolvers.

I assume that your Grandaddy's Colt or S&W might not be great candidates for long dryfire sessions but what about a modern Ruger like an SP-101 or GP-100? I know nothing lasts forever but I thought these suckers were built to withstand some abuse.

Can anyone share any experiences with extensive dry fire on their revolvers? Round counts at time of failure or any other useful anecdotes or data? ETC

A number of threads have asked 'how many rounds is a Ruger good for' and many have suggested thousands and thousands or even several tens of thousands. In that context, I have a hard time believing that dry firing my revolver rapidly is particularly harmful. I was advised not to pull the trigger quickly or cock the hammer quickly. To me, (admittedly not well educated on this subject) it sounds a bit silly. I liken it to someone telling me "It's not good to run or rev your Mustang in the higher RPM ranges.. not good for it... creates wear". Yes, that's true but it's also highly impractical and defeats (IMO) the purpose of having a race car.

Personally, I only own a handful of revolvers. A GP-100, A SP-101, a 642LS and a Heritage .22 single action. All of them have had the snot dry fired out of them. All of them seem to be just fine.

Should I be concerned about creating excessive wear when dry firing my modern production non-heirloom quality revolvers? At what point can I expect the dry fire to create irreversible and unrepairable wear that impacts the function of the firearm?
 

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I have always learned and practice Never dry fire a 22 cal rimfire gun, Internal hammer can dry fire all I want and if external hammer never dry fire. 22 cal and external hammer will use caps to dry fire. That is what I learned very early on.
 

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I am not a dry fire proponent. I like shooting my guns with ammo in them. I never feel comfortable dropping the hammer in the house. The issue with rapid dry fire of revolvers is the high rpm of the cylinder. Without ammo the cylinder is relatively light, but there is still potential for the locking recesses to get peened as the rapidly spinning cylinder slams to a stop repeatedly.
 

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The issue with rapid dry fire of revolvers is the high rpm of the cylinder. Without ammo the cylinder is relatively light, but there is still potential for the locking recesses to get peened as the rapidly spinning cylinder slams to a stop repeatedly.
This is one of my main concerns with dry-firing a double action center fire revolver.
 

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Snap caps. Buy them and stop worrying. I own all revolvers and one semi, a 1911. Soon will add a Beretta 92; it too will be dry fired with snap caps. I use the caps to test function and train others, but I do not overdo it.

My Bond Arms derringer has a warning not to dry fire it in the manual, and though Springfield does not warn owners, it is bad to let a 1911 slide drop on an empty chamber.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Snap caps. Buy them and stop worrying.
That had been my view for quite some time. Though it gave me pause when a couple seemingly knowledgeable and well respected members of this forum suggested otherwise.

They, as well as ngashooter, gave excellent explanations of "how" this wear occurs. What they were less clear on is "how fast" and "how serious".

There was a suggestion that it could render a revolver unserviceable. Having spent an extensive amount of time dry firing my pistols I developed some interest as to the "how much".
 

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...... it is bad to let a 1911 slide drop on an empty chamber.
I disagree. Hundreds of thousands of military 1911s have had the slide released on empty chambers as a routine step of clearing the weapons. It was never suggested or practiced that we ride the slide home. After ensuring the weapon was clear we released the slide, pointed the weapon in a safe direction and pulled the trigger. Then and only then were we allowed to holster the pistol. I've cleared every semiautomatic pistol I've ever handled in the same manner.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I disagree. Hundreds of thousands of military 1911s have had the slide released on empty chambers as a routine step of clearing the weapons. It was never suggested or practiced that we ride the slide home. After ensuring the weapon was clear we released the slide, pointed the weapon in a safe direction and pulled the trigger. Then and only then were we allowed to holster the pistol. I've cleared every semiautomatic pistol I've ever handled in the same manner.
Heh, that's a whole 'nother can of worms to open.

From what I've read... 'service' or 'duty grade' 1911's won't have a problem with it. I've heard custom jobs are potentially more delicate.

I found the below video to be very informative and had a lot of interesting views and experiences presented in the comments section.

 

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Page 14 of the GP100 manual says you can dry fire it with no damage to the gun or internals. It's been said that the trigger pull gets broken in a little better by dry firing the revolver. I believe I read it in one of the S&W manuals, also. BUT, with a rimfire, the firing pin can damage the cylinder, or vise-versa, unless you put in spent shells or snap caps or those little plastic wall anchors (So the firing pin has something to hit.) I have heard that revolvers with the firing pin attached to the hammer, like a Model 10 S&W, it may be not in your best interest to dry fire, as that part may break off, but it hasn't happened to me yet. If you're a little bit leery of dry firing, just don't do it. I'm not sure about pistols.
 

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If releasing the slide on an empty chamber can damage a gun then one of two things is true. You have a crappy cheap pistol or the pistol is improperly tuned. Don't buy cheap crap and don't bubba gunsmith your pistol and you'll be fine.

I glanced at the thread where the guy wanted to know if letting an AR bolt go home on an empty chamber would damage the rifle. What?!? In fairness, he admitted to being new and his question was politely answered. However, that's the kind of nonsense the interweb creates. We argue ceaselessly over dumb stuff.

The physics involved in firing a gun, any gun, creates way more energy, inertia, pressure and violence than anything the user can create by simply manipulating an empty gun. That includes dry firing and releasing the slide. With certain firearms dry firing is not recommended by the manufacturer. Fine. Obey your owners manual but otherwise stop worrying. What's next? Another thrilling and informative conversation about gun lube? My goodness.
 

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It recently came up in a discussion that rapid dry fire of firearms was not particularly kind and may create excessive wear.

I don't doubt that dry fire causes wear and that harsh use causes more wear than gentle use.

I was wondering 'how much'? Particularly as it relates to Ruger Revolvers.

I assume that your Grandaddy's Colt or S&W might not be great candidates for long dryfire sessions but what about a modern Ruger like an SP-101 or GP-100? I know nothing lasts forever but I thought these suckers were built to withstand some abuse.

Can anyone share any experiences with extensive dry fire on their revolvers? Round counts at time of failure or any other useful anecdotes or data? ETC

A number of threads have asked 'how many rounds is a Ruger good for' and many have suggested thousands and thousands or even several tens of thousands. In that context, I have a hard time believing that dry firing my revolver rapidly is particularly harmful. I was advised not to pull the trigger quickly or cock the hammer quickly. To me, (admittedly not well educated on this subject) it sounds a bit silly. I liken it to someone telling me "It's not good to run or rev your Mustang in the higher RPM ranges.. not good for it... creates wear". Yes, that's true but it's also highly impractical and defeats (IMO) the purpose of having a race car.

Personally, I only own a handful of revolvers. A GP-100, A SP-101, a 642LS and a Heritage .22 single action. All of them have had the snot dry fired out of them. All of them seem to be just fine.

Should I be concerned about creating excessive wear when dry firing my modern production non-heirloom quality revolvers? At what point can I expect the dry fire to create irreversible and unrepairable wear that impacts the function of the firearm?
My understanding is that for most modern guns except .22 Lr it’s okay. Even then, Ruger says a 10/22 can by dryfired. It’s important to check, because some modern centerfire handguns such as a Beretta Tomcat cannot be dryfired.
 

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I seem to remember an owners manual from back in the day saying "Dry fire 500 times before loading live ammo" ... and I think it was a Ruger Blackhawk, tho I could be mistaken, ( I'm old and my memory ain't what it use to be). One of you Blackhawk owners can fact check for me.

I don't do a lot of dry firing ... usually only with revolvers and when new and well oiled ... just to smooth out the action a little. I would rarely, if ever, drop a slide on an unloaded 1911. I really don't think it would do that much damage, I just prefer to break-in the actions with live ammo at the range.

I have used snap-caps in both center fire and .22 but not really all that often. I do not use dry fire or laser add-ons for drawing / self defense practice ... I think you're kidding yourself. If I really want to practice sight / trigger control I shoot my air guns in the backyard.
 

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Somehow, this thread has drifted from revolvers to pistols so let's get back on track to Angry Hippo's question. Although my name was not mentioned, I was the person that posted the information about dry fire damage in another thread and I stand by my comments 100%.

Angry Hippo does make a few righteous comments so I will address those first. Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Dan Wesson revolvers (in the order of fastest wear) are subject to wear much more than Rugers. That said, All Ruger DA and SA revolvers are also subject to wear with excessive dry firing .... it just takes more dry fires before damage starts to show up. So, let me start by saying .... there's a huge difference between normal dry firing and excessive dry firing. Sitting in front of the TV and clicking away hundreds of times is definitely and example of "excessive" dry firing. Normal dry firing would be when you practice trigger pull and operate the hammer and trigger in a slower manner .... maybe one or two dozen times per training session. When Ruger states in their owner's manual "it's safe to dry fire", they definitely don't mean excessive dry fire.

Let's define revolver "wear" .... there are three primary types. The first is when two parts rub against where friction is the culprit. This would include hammer or trigger pins and their associated "holes". This type of wear takes thousands .... maybe even 10's of thousands of dry fires and/or live fires to show up. Next is when spring loaded parts slide or push against each other. This would typically be a sear & hammer sear notch, a pawl and cylinder ratchet, or even a hammer plunger in a Ruger SA. Again, this type of wear takes a lot of dry fires or live fires to cause damage but not nearly as many as "rub" type wear. In fact, the sear parts will actually wear smoother as the gun breaks in. Last is "peening" wear. It comes from parts that are literally hammered by the function of the gun. These parts include the frame, cylinder latch, cylinder lock notches, hammer, firing pin, and both ends of the cylinder. Peening damage to both ends of the cylinder only happens with live fire so I won't address it further, however other sources of peening are the main causes of dry fire damage. A light film of gun oil will help prevent damage with "rub, slide, or push" type wear however, no amount of oil or grease will prevent wear from peening.

Peening is when one part is hammered against another part. The result is much like peening a rivet where the heavier the hammer and/or the harder the hammer strikes the rivet, the faster the rivet will mushroom.

The parts most affected from "peening" are related to two things .... how fast the action was operated and the mass of the cylinder. As you can picture .... when the hammer is pulled too briskly in SA or the trigger is pulled too fast in DA, the cylinder rotates very fast only to be stopped abruptly by the cylinder latch. This causes a hammering effect that can lead to considerable peening damage to the cylinder lock notches, cylinder latch, and frame and can eventually render the revolver unsafe to operate.

The absolute worst gun for peening wear on the cylinder lock notches, the cylinder latch "window", and the cylinder latch itself is a S&W Mod 27 or 28. These are N-frame revolvers chambered in 357 Mag. These guns have a very massive cylinders, much heavier than an N-frame chambered in 44 mag. For Rugers, the worst revolver for dry fire wear is a 6-shot Redhawk 357 Mag, for the same reason as the S&W N-frame. That's why Ruger discontinued the 6-shot 357 Mag in Redhawks. From this, we can draw some conclusions about cylinder mass .... meaning the more massive the cylinder, the faster it will get damaged from dry fire / live fire. The speed at which you operate the hammer or trigger will determine how hard the cylinder notches strike the cylinder latch, thus the amount of accumulated wear. When speed is coupled with the mass of the cylinder, it's no wonder why those revolvers with massive cylinders just don't hold up long when dry fired.

To answer Angry Hippo's question about how many dry fires does it take to damage a revolver .... it all depends on the mass of the cylinder and how fast you operate the action. While I had my gunsmith shop, I had many dozens of revolvers (all brands and models) come in for repairs related to dry firing. It was common to hear the owner say " the gun only fired a few boxes of ammo, yet it is worn out". Of course when I asked about how many times the gun had been dry fired, all of a sudden they get this blank look on their face and say ..." I didn't think that mattered".

After having spent a lot of time at firing ranges, I have noticed a very common trend with revolver shooters and that is .... after a round has been fired, the shooter just can't wait and cocks the hammer as fast as possible. I don't know why this happens but if you observe other shooters, you will see for yourself it truly does happen. The same goes for DA shooters where they tend to shoot as fast as possible. Those same shooters are probably guilty of operating their revolvers too fast when dry firing and because they tend to do way more repetitions when dry firing, it wears the gun faster than live firing.

In conclusion, it pays to know what is going on inside your gun so you can get the longest life expectancy possible yet have the most fun doing so. If you can minimize wear from peening, your revolver will last a lifetime.
 

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Somehow, this thread has drifted from revolvers to pistols so let's get back on track to Angry Hippo's question.
To answer Angry Hippo's question about how many dry fires does it take to damage a revolver ....

Sorry but you're the one who's off track here .... read the title again
.... " ... revolvers or pistols"
 

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Thanks for the further information about how the physical action can cause premature wear.
 

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Paul, Read the OP's first post again .... there's no mention of pistols except the title.
 
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I'm no expert but I did make Master Class with my revolvers in USPSA and ICORE. After the courses of fire got to be so long I started dry firing more and more. It was quite common for me to dry fire my revolver 1000 times a night to get the trigger pull installed into my memory. I never wore out one of my revolvers.

I also shoot a lot of .22lr revolvers but I never shoot them without a #6 wall anchor or snap cap in the cylinder. If you don't put in a snap cap or anchor you will damage the cylinder. The firing pin will make an indentation on the chamber and if it's big enough you will not be able to load that cylinder.

Dry firing can build up your trigger finger muscles, can improve your trigger pull and teach you to follow through on your shots.

Just the opinion of an old revolver shooter.
 

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Anytime you pull the trigger you are creating wear. After a few thousand times it may become noticable in the meantime you smooth the action out by wear fitting the parts. I feel the most important thing you get out of it is the familiarity and the practice you get. I feel dry firing is an invaluable in increasing your skill with your revolver. Needless to say you save a lot of money without the cost of ammo dry firing.
 
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