Stop Using Dryfire Laser Training Cartridges with Striker Fired Pistols

Stop Using Dryfire Laser Training Cartridges with Striker Fired Pistols

Keith CRACKSHOT.TV No Comments

Stop Using Dryfire Laser Training Cartridges with Striker Fired Pistols
Great for depending on what pistol you own
These device can be awesome if you own a DAO or DA/SA gun. However, if your gun is striker fired (as most defensive handguns now-a-days are) or if your gun is single action (e.g. 1911), you'll want to look at other training solutions.
Great for DAO or DA/SA Guns
Convenient dryfire laser solution
Not the best for Striker Fired handguns
Slide must be racked between shots on striker fired or single action guns
Where to buy?

Why you Shouldn’t Train with Laser Dryfire Cartridges

Dryfire laser cartridges are a mixed bag when it comes to training. They can be helpful for dryfire training in very specific contexts, especially if you’re a new shooter, but outside of those specific use cases they can actually be harmful at worst, and at best, you’ll grow out of their usefulness quickly when you start getting serious about training.


9MM Dryfire Laser Cartridge

Solid dryfire training option if you have a Double Action Only (DAO) or Double Action / Single Action pistol (DA/SA)

Dryfire Laser Cartridges Make Sense in Double Action Guns

So when is it appropriate to dryfire train with a dryfire laser training cartridge? Well the primary use case for these devices in my opinion is ideally when you have a double action only magazine fed handgun. Double action means that the trigger does two actions. It both pulls back the hammer whether internal or external and releases it. Double action only pistols will have the same heavy trigger pull every time you pull the trigger of the handgun, meaning that in dryfire training, your trigger pull is going to be exactly the same as when shooting live ammo. 

Dryfire Cartridges aren’t great for Single Action or Striker Fired Guns

In a single action configuration like a 1911 or in a striker fired configuration, the trigger is really only doing one primary job, which is releasing the hammer or the striker. I know, I know, the fudds will come out of the woodwork to explain that in striker fired pistols the trigger does a little more such as defeating internal safeties, but for the purposes of dryfire you can think of striker fired like single action. A normal gunshot will reset the hammer or striker, but a dryfire cartridge does not have blowback, thus the action of resetting the trigger on cycling does not happen.

So you end up doing this weird racking of the slide between shots when dryfiring with a striker fired handgun, which is less than ideal when you want to practice doing things like target transitions with multiple targets. This can induce training scars and we’ll come back to that in a moment.

Laser Dryfire Cartridges can be helpful in DA/SA Handguns

You could make the case then that dryfire training with these devices also makes sense in the case of Single Action / Double action handguns. So we’re talking about some of the popular Sig handguns or CZ handguns, the berretta m9, taurus, a few other vendors. In these situations, usually the first trigger pull will be double action if decocked, with every trigger pull after being double action. The potential training pitfall here is that you’ll be dryfire training in double action mode all the time, so when you get to the actual range your trigger pull is going to feel different after that first shot.

But lets get back to single action and striker fired guns since that’s the majority of handguns on the market. Some instructors are fearful that under stress you might actually start doing what you dryfire train at home, that is start racking the slide between shots in a self defense situation by using these devices. I think that’s fudd lore to be honest. I’ve never heard of one real life use case of somebody doing that, but I suppose it’s possible. Most competition shooters that I know of don’t bother with laser dryfire devices at all, we’re of course trying to change that by making apps that actually have benefit to advanced level shooters, but I’ve never seen a competition shooter who predominantly dryfire trains like this, laser cartridge or not, accidentally rack the slide during a match unintentionally because they dryfire train. Until I see a single case of this happening in a match or in a self defense context, I’m calling bologna on that theory.


9MM Dryfire Laser Cartridge

Solid dryfire training option if you have a Double Action Only (DAO) or Double Action / Single Action pistol (DA/SA)

A Legitimate Training Scar from Dryfire Cartridges

The bigger problem that I think is a legitimate concern is if you get used to only racking the slide part way, just far enough to reset the striker. You might inadvertently do that when you want to actually chamber a round. A lot of guys only rack the slide 1/4 of the way to reset the striker on most striker fired handguns. I know this is a legit concern because I have had this happen to me twice during a training class, back when I used to use these laser devices extensively. 

Late in the day on an 8 hour training class, it happened twice that I didn’t fully seat a round while taking the class with my glock 26. I do think this was in part because I trained so frequently using these cartridges and got used to only racking the slide back 1/4 of the way to reset the striker.

So to me, that was the one tangible drawback of using these devices, besides the fact that you can’t really practice target transitions with them.

Are Laser Dryfire Cartridges useful in Striker Fired Handguns?

So if you’re a striker fired handgun owner, do these things actually have any utility? I like to use them for intial dial in whenever I’m mounting a red dot to get me close when I hit the live fire range. The zero on the laser cartridges tends to be pretty true, so it’s great to get that initial windage dialed in and it usually only requires an elevation adjustment when hitting the live range at that point.

Similarly, I like to use them for drawing from the holster training. Because you only need to get that first shot on target, trying to get faster at drawing from the holster, like we do with our draw stroke mode in project MARS, is a very applicable use case where these things rock.

Target Transition Training isn’t possible with Laser Dryfire Cartridges in Striker Fired Handguns

However, not being able to do target transitions if you have a striker fired handgun is a major drawback of these. This is why we primarily use dryfire replica pistols like the SIRT110, amongst other safety considerations.

Last Niche use, Dryfire Training with Bolt Action Rifles and Shotguns

When it comes to rifle training, these can still be helpful, especially when it comes to dryfire training with bolt action rifles, since you are reciprocating the firearm action yourself anyhow. But how practical is dryfire training bolt action rifles at the end of the day? Probably not very since you can’t really dryfire train at distance outside of just practicing your trigger pull.

And for training with a 12 gauge shotgun, specifically a pump action shotgun, these can be pretty helpful tools as well, although you may need to file off the side of the laser shell to keep it from ejecting. There really isn’t a great option if you’re running a semi auto shotgun, so utility of these for competitive shooting 3 gun is a bit limited.


9MM Dryfire Laser Cartridge

Solid dryfire training option if you have a Double Action Only (DAO) or Double Action / Single Action pistol (DA/SA)


So at the end of the day those are my thoughts on these devices. If you felt I missed anything please leave your feedback in the comments. To be honest I know these devices are cheap, retailing for less than $40 on amazon, but I think you’ll grow out of the utility that they offer pretty quick and I think you’d be better served with a dedicated dryfire training replica like the SIRT 110, so we don’t generally recommend these products although they have their uses.

As always, have a great week and we’ll see you next week with another video.

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