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Best Dry Fire Training Systems 2022

5D Tactical - 13th Jun 2022

If we’ve said it once, then we’ve said it more often than we can count: the skill and art of shooting is a highly perishable skill. Even without the risk of an ammo shortage, or significant price hike, what can we do to maintain our proficiency in that skill?

The answer is dry fire training.

Fortunately, there are several dry fire training systems available, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we'll take a look at the best systems of 2022 and what makes them so great!

What is the Purpose of Dry Firing?

Dry fire training is an essential part of becoming a better, more responsible gun handler. It enables you to practice without the use of live ammunition, which may be costly, hazardous, or inaccessible for training.

What are the Benefits of Dry Fire Practice?

Dry fire training at home is great for many reasons. For instance, you can:

  • Determine if you’re anticipating recoil, or pulling the trigger rather than squeezing it.
  • Train your dexterity by conducting speed-reload drills.
  • Train your reaction time and critical thinking skills with an obstacle course.
  • Challenge yourself by tracking progress with a shotclock timer.

You can also put on that expensive gear you recently bought, and run through a course to get a sense of how your rig feels in action. Is it tight where you need freedom of movement, or does it interfere when you draw your weapon?

These are questions that dry firing courses can empower you to answer.

How to Dry Fire, Safely & Effectively, from the Comfort of Home:

The practice of dry firing is pretty simple. Here, we present the steps for dry firing with a handgun, pistol, rifle, or AR-15.

How to Dry Fire a Handgun or Pistol

  1. Confirm that your handgun or pistol is unloaded and cleared.
  2. Ready the firing mechanism:
    1. If it’s a handgun, pull the slide to the rear & return to “Ready” position.
    2. If it’s a pistol, pull back on the hammer & secure in the “Ready” position.
  3. Pull the trigger so that the firing pin or hammer is released.

As the firing pin moves forward, or as the hammer falls, they create an audible “click” sound. This is confirmation of “dry,” or ammo-free, gunfire.

How to Dry Fire an AR-15 or Rifle

  1. Confirm that your AR-15 or rifle is unloaded and cleared.
  2. Ready the firing mechanism:
    1. If it’s an AR-15, pull the charging handle to the rear & return to “Ready” position.
    2. If it’s a rifle, pull the bolt to the rear & return to “Ready” position.
  3. Pull the trigger so that the firing pin is released.

As the firing pin moves forward, it creates an audible “click” sound. This is confirmation that you’re successfully conducting “dry” (ammo-free) weapons practice.

Best Dry Fire Practice Systems in 2022

Here, the expert firearms handlers at 5D Tactical review the best dry fire training systems that the market has to offer you today.

Dry Fire Training with Snap Caps

A lot of people make dummy rounds for training and demonstration purposes, but A-Zoom is the company that made Snap Caps commonplace. Today, you can find them in just about any sporting goods or gun store.

The term “snap caps” is synonymous to “dummy rounds” in the same way that “Kleenex” is to “tissues.” Fortunately, and not unlike Kleenex, dummy rounds have a multitude of uses.

They can be used to train for the unexpected. For example, you can conduct “clearing” drills, in which you train yourself to clear your weapon in the event of jam, misfire, or other failure.

Dry Fire Practice Methods for Clearing Drills

One of the best methods to train for failures is to mix Snap Caps with live rounds. That way, when you hear a “click” instead of a “bang,” you can practice the Tap, Rack, Shoot method of clearing failures or questionable rounds.

For dry fire training purposes, you could practice clearing a “failure” round with a full magazine (“mag”) of Snap Caps. Then, you can reload with a new mag that is also loaded with Snap Caps.

Magazines loaded with Snap Caps have a realistic weight to them, so practicing speedy or tactical reloads is more realistic. To further challenge yourself, you could practice against a shot clock so that you can see how long it takes for you to troubleshoot and reload.

When Dry Firing with Snap Caps, Keep an Eye on Your Striker

All that being said, A-Zoom’s Snap Caps are made out of solid aluminum, so there is the concern thatrepeated use could significantly wear down your striker or firing pin. Consider other dummy round options, such as ones with springs inside of them, or those that are simply made out of a material that is easier on your striker.

Best Laser Dry Fire Training Systems 2022

There are several laser training systems out there, but they all generally do the same thing. Products typically come in the shape of your chosen caliber and stay in your barrel even after racking the slide or bolt back and forth.

When you squeeze the trigger, the firing pin in your gun hits the “laser cartridge” and briefly emits a laser from the barrel. A quick way to gauge the quality of your trigger pull is to consider what the laser looks like as it comes out.

If you see a dot, then you can be pretty confident that you have a good grip and even trigger pull. However, if you see the laser draw a line,that means you’re pulling the gun in one direction too much; focus on applying enough pressure to squeeze the trigger evenly, while being mindful not to pull the whole gun down or to the left or right.

SIRT Laser Training Pistol

Alternatively, if you’d like to be extra fancy, and to minimize the risk of potential accidents, such as a negligent discharge, you can pick up a SIRT 110 Laser Training Pistol. They come in various pistol models, act as a laser simulation training device, and are essentially dummy guns that have the full range of motion of real firearms.

SIRTs can be racked, have an ejectable magazine, and boast a realistic weight to them. This means that you can practice reloading, drawing from holsters, and dealing with malfunctions with this platform.

In the world of dummy handguns there are multiple options, but SIRT is easily the best option out there. The SIRT 110 can range anywhere between from $239 – $439.

Smartphone App-Integrated Dry Fire Training Systems

Smartphone apps may seem a little gimmicky at first but they’re actually quite impressive with how much they can do. Here are the smartphone app-integrated training systems that we’ve tested:

MantisX

The MantisX3 is a highly functional device that was designed with a data driven approach. The device itself must be attached to the accessory rail of a handgun and, when paired with the smartphone app, it can rate the quality of your trigger pulls with a percentage score out of a 100.

There are practice drills in the app that can teach you how to train, and there’s even a digital shot clock included in case you forgot your actual clock back at home and only realized it at the range. In terms of handgun training, we really like the MantisX for its value as an educational resource and training tool for creating handgun proficiency.

The MantisX3 starts at $169.99.

Strikeman

Strikeman offers laser cartridges in a number of handgun calibers and only .223 or 5.56 for rifle calibers. The difference here is that it is also paired with a smartphone app which uses the phone’s camera to locate and mark where you’re hitting on a paper target.

Strikeman products usually come with a holder and tripod for the smartphone, and it provides metrics in the app that show your progress with each consecutive session. Within the app,there are training drills that can feel like fun games, especially if you’re running these drills with a buddy.

Strikeman’s Laser Firearm Training System starts at $99.

G-Sight

Like we’ve mentioned previously, a lot of companies make dummy rounds, just as a lot of companies make some form of a laser cartridge. The reason why we’re highlighting G-Sight’s system is because of the “Elms Plus,” which has a metal backing instead of a rubber one.

The backing is where your gun’s firing pin hits to actuate the laser for a moment. These products have a user replaceable snap cap strike pad. G-Sight boasts that their new laser cartridge won’t have the issue of wearing out anymore with their new backing.

Sounds like worth a try to us. The G-Sight’s Elms Plus System starts at $122.

The Coolfire Trainer

Last, but certainly not least, is the Coolfire Trainer. In our opinion, this is the premier, dry fire training tool, as it’s certainly not cheap. Coming in at about $329.00 (which increases with upgraded accessory options), we think it holds the highest amount of value and here’s why:

You get to use your own handgun and not a dummy platform…

The Coolfire Trainer works by replacing your handgun’s barrel and guide rod spring. The replacement barrel holds CO2 gas which is released with each trigger pull to cycle the pistol’s slide back and forth, simulating live fire.

Previously, the only way to get a similar training simulation experience would be to use simunitions, or by simply using an airsoft gun. While not lethal, these solutions can still be dangerous, and are generally a bit painful.

…and airsoft guns aren’t always as satisfying.

Airsoft replica guns are well known for being 1-to-1 copies of real firearms. However, they often just don’t feel satisfying to hold because they’re too light or they feel like a toy.

So rather than mess around with a platform that doesn’t have your modifications, and that isn’t the exact weight that your hands are used to, why not just use your own gun? We think the premium price of The Coolfire Trainer makes it well worth it for this perk.

What’s more, the barrel can come integrated with a laser device so it’s a two-in-one training device. This provides the additional value of really challenging the quality of your trigger pulls while the handgun slide is racking back and forth.

The Best Dry Fire Training Methods: Our Conclusions

When it comes to dry fire practice, you should pick what makes the most sense for your budget and the type of drills or skills at which you wish to become proficient.

We really like the MantisX, but don’t like how it takes up space on a handgun’s accessory rail.

What if you wish to train with the use of a flashlight, for example? For this reason, we prefer other dry fire laser training systems that are not only cheaper, but that also have comparable smartphone apps.

Our Recommendation: Snaps Caps and/or The Coolfire Trainer

Everyone should own Snap Caps; let’s just leave that one at that. If it’s not prohibitively costly for you, then we suggest using the Cool Fire Trainer is the best option.

Considering how much money you can save by not using ammunition, you may easily earn back the money with this realistic dry firing experience. Alternatively, you can save even more money by getting a propane tank adapter and filling up on CO2 gas as well.

Pro Tip: Instead of buying a specific company’s laser cartridge, you can download all of the available smartphone training apps, for free, on the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. Most of them should work with the Cool Fire Trainer’s laser just the same, though some will require Bluetooth pairing with a company-specific device.

Ready-Up with Dry Fire Systems from 5D Tactical

To learn more about how to stay frosty by practicing with a dry firing training system, reach out to the team at 5D Tactical today.