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Protecting the firing pin

This is a discussion on Protecting the firing pin within the Maintenance forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Many here have a lot of pistols, and I figure some (or even many) are hammer fired. I am interested in your opinion on dry-firing. ...


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Old December 18th, 2016, 05:52 AM   #1
 
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Protecting the firing pin

Many here have a lot of pistols, and I figure some (or even many) are hammer fired.

I am interested in your opinion on dry-firing. We all know you should never dry-fire a rimfire gun due to damage to the firing pin, or even the slide. But opinions are all over the map on dry-firing larger caliber centerfire pistols. I think the jury is still out on what firing pin damage can occur after thousands of dry-fires. Most information will say that on modern pistols dry firing is ok, but it is even better if you use snap caps, especially if you dry fire a lot. I hate those things and I have a drawer full of them for every gun. My biggest complaint is not only having to cycle the slide for every trigger pull but also having to chase those little buggers all over the room.

One of the things I started doing about a year ago to lessen the impact on my hammer-fired pistols is to use a cut strip of Velcro fuzzy side**. I have the width cut to where the rectangular piece slides in right behind the hammer and stays in place no matter how many times I pull the hammer back. As I've read many articles claiming the cure for a trigger that needs just a little bit of work to make perfect is a couple of thousand dry-fires, this IMO seems to be a good solution. Of course it will work only on guns with an exposed hammer.

I guess I'll just have to take my chances on my striker-fired guns.


**I keep a big roll of black 3/4" wide regular Velcro material around the house. Good for all kinds of jobs including making secure straps for just about any task.



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Old December 18th, 2016, 06:33 AM   #2
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SmartPig, So many myths, so little time! 22 LRs .... any modern 22 LR rifle, pistol or revolver can be dry fired with out fear of damage to the firing pin or chamber. This is especially true for ALL Ruger 22 LRs and other US made 22s.

Many times people end up doing more damage than they prevent! Save the Velcro, tape, wall anchors, and other such crap for their intended purposes. Sometime in the WWII era, new alloys started being used for firing pins .... part steel and part copper with a few others thrown in for good measure. So unless the firing pin was a factory defect, it will NOT be damaged by normal dry firing. If the firing pin was factory defective, it could show up in any condition .... live fire or dry fire ... with or without Snap-Caps.

All hammer fired Rugers use a "protected" firing pin. Some look much like a nail with a double head where the thickness of the head contacts the frame and prevents the firing pin from traveling too far. These are found in all Ruger Revolvers. The auto loaders use a firing pin restriction of some sort. For example, a MK Series pistol or a 10/22 have a flat firing pin with a hole that has a "limit pin" ... this allows the firing pin to travel just far enough to put a good dent in the rim but will not touch the chamber mouth even when the chamber is empty. Other Rugers use a "firing pin interrupt" device witch is a spring loaded pin that prevents the firing pin from traveling too far and if the trigger is not intentionally pulled, the firing pin does not even move.

So with Rugers and most other manufacturers, firing pins very rarely break or cause damage to chamber mouths .... even if the guns are dry fired a lot. Manufacturers got tired of warranty repairs so they used better designs that prevent damage. I think the 22 LRs that started the big myth was the cheap bolt actions made just after the Korean war. Indeed they did have firing pin issues ... no travel limit so when these guns were dry fired, it could either break the firing pin or damage the chamber mouth .... usually both. Break barrel shotguns also were notorious for broken firing pins but that was way back when heat treated (read: brittle) steel firing pins were used.

When dry firing, the fact is .... firing pins are the least of your worries. I've had many guns come in my shop where the owner said his gun only had a couple boxes of ammo run through it yet it had major wear issues. Duh ... ya think it could have had something to do with dry firing?

Revolver are especially subject to dry fire damage and it has absolutely nothing to do with the firing sequence ... it's how the revolver is operated. If you pull the hammer back too fast in SA or pull the trigger too fast in DA .... the cylinder will start to spin very fast, only to be stopped abruptly when the cylinder latch collides with the lock notches. It doesn't take long and the notches will get peened wider, the slot in the frame gets peened wider, and the cylinder latch itself gets peened. This can demo a perfectly good revolver (any brand) in a short time. The good news is ... wear from dry firing is totally preventable. All you have to do is cock the hammer more slowly in SA or pull the trigger slow in DA and you will prevent peening damage.

When in doubt, look in your owner's manual. If you have Rugers ... it specifically states it's OK to dry fire and in fact it is encouraged to learn how to operate the gun safely.
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Old December 18th, 2016, 06:40 AM   #3
 
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I am not sure why you are cycling a hammer fired if you have a snap cap in place but you may be practicing something I am not aware of.

I may be a little nutty where dry fire is concerned. I always have a snap cap in place but I also put a rubber O ring that fits pretty well around the firing pin. The CZ has a notch in the firing pin that bashes against a pin that goes through the slide and while not common that pin has failed in some guns due to alot of dry fire. Its a cheap enough part to replace but its when it fails that is the problem.

If nothing else the rubber washer makes me practice a little more because I am less worried about damage. Here is my gun with the washer in place. Keep in mind there is still a snap cap in there.



Bought this in the Lowes plumbing section. 2 washers for some 77 cents seems like cheap practice tool

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Old December 18th, 2016, 07:09 AM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
SmartPig, So many myths, so little time! 22 LRs .... any modern 22 LR rifle, pistol or revolver can be dry fired with out fear of damage to the firing pin or chamber. This is especially true for ALL Ruger 22 LRs and other US made 22s.

Many times people end up doing more damage than they prevent! Save the Velcro, tape, wall anchors, and other such crap for their intended purposes. Sometime in the WWII era, new alloys started being used for firing pins .... part steel and part copper with a few others thrown in for good measure. So unless the firing pin was a factory defect, it will NOT be damaged by normal dry firing. If the firing pin was factory defective, it could show up in any condition .... live fire or dry fire ... with or without Snap-Caps.

All hammer fired Rugers use a "protected" firing pin. Some look much like a nail with a double head where the thickness of the head contacts the frame and prevents the firing pin from traveling too far. These are found in all Ruger Revolvers. The auto loaders use a firing pin restriction of some sort. For example, a MK Series pistol or a 10/22 have a flat firing pin with a hole that has a "limit pin" ... this allows the firing pin to travel just far enough to put a good dent in the rim but will not touch the chamber mouth even when the chamber is empty. Other Rugers use a "firing pin interrupt" device witch is a spring loaded pin that prevents the firing pin from traveling too far and if the trigger is not intentionally pulled, the firing pin does not even move.

So with Rugers and most other manufacturers, firing pins very rarely break or cause damage to chamber mouths .... even if the guns are dry fired a lot. Manufacturers got tired of warranty repairs so they used better designs that prevent damage. I think the 22 LRs that started the big myth was the cheap bolt actions made just after the Korean war. Indeed they did have firing pin issues ... no travel limit so when these guns were dry fired, it could either break the firing pin or damage the chamber mouth .... usually both. Break barrel shotguns also were notorious for broken firing pins but that was way back when heat treated (read: brittle) steel firing pins were used.

When dry firing, the fact is .... firing pins are the least of your worries. I've had many guns come in my shop where the owner said his gun only had a couple boxes of ammo run through it yet it had major wear issues. Duh ... ya think it could have had something to do with dry firing?

Revolver are especially subject to dry fire damage and it has absolutely nothing to do with the firing sequence ... it's how the revolver is operated. If you pull the hammer back too fast in SA or pull the trigger too fast in DA .... the cylinder will start to spin very fast, only to be stopped abruptly when the cylinder latch collides with the lock notches. It doesn't take long and the notches will get peened wider, the slot in the frame gets peened wider, and the cylinder latch itself gets peened. This can demo a perfectly good revolver (any brand) in a short time. The good news is ... wear from dry firing is totally preventable. All you have to do is cock the hammer more slowly in SA or pull the trigger slow in DA and you will prevent peening damage.

When in doubt, look in your owner's manual. If you have Rugers ... it specifically states it's OK to dry fire and in fact it is encouraged to learn how to operate the gun safely.
Iowegan -- Great info -- thanks! First thing I am going to do is check all of my manuals. I've seen the Ruger ok, but have never checked Sigs and S&Ws.

Next thing I am going to do is re-read your post several times and SLOWLY so that it all starts sinking in.
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Old December 18th, 2016, 07:12 AM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aboriqua View Post
I am not sure why you are cycling a hammer fired if you have a snap cap in place but you may be practicing something I am not aware of.

I may be a little nutty where dry fire is concerned. I always have a snap cap in place but I also put a rubber O ring that fits pretty well around the firing pin. The CZ has a notch in the firing pin that bashes against a pin that goes through the slide and while not common that pin has failed in some guns due to alot of dry fire. Its a cheap enough part to replace but its when it fails that is the problem.

If nothing else the rubber washer makes me practice a little more because I am less worried about damage. Here is my gun with the washer in place. Keep in mind there is still a snap cap in there.


That O-ring is another neat idea. It serves the same purpose as my Velcro piece.

A question? You said that even with the O-ring you still use a snap cap. Why?
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Old December 18th, 2016, 07:15 AM   #6
 
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mostly redundant insanity
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Old December 18th, 2016, 07:35 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
SmartPig, So many myths, so little time! 22 LRs .... any modern 22 LR rifle, pistol or revolver can be dry fired with out fear of damage to the firing pin or chamber. This is especially true for ALL Ruger 22 LRs and other US made 22s.

When in doubt, look in your owner's manual. If you have Rugers ... it specifically states it's OK to dry fire and in fact it is encouraged to learn how to operate the gun safely.
This is one area of difference between the Ruger 22 pistols and the Browning Buckmarks. I just looked in the Browning manual, and there is this NOTICE:

D RY F I R I N G
DO NOT DRY FIRE THE BUCK MARK PISTOL. DRY FIRING MAY
DAMAGE THE FIREARM COMPONENTS, POSSIBLY RENDERING THE
FIREARM INOPERABLE.

I have only dry fired my Buckmark maybe 10 times before I stopped a year ago (after reading some articles). So I am confident I haven't damaged anything.

As for Ruger manuals. Like you said, I found in the Redhawk manual that it is ok. However, I can find no mention in Ruger rifle manuals (specifically SR-556 and 77/17). I could very well be skimming the pages too fast.

Thanks
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Old December 18th, 2016, 08:12 AM   #8
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SmartPig, That's why we buy Rugers. SR556 is not a problem .... 77/17????
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