Is it safe to dry-fire my gun?
Whether or not you can safely dry fire a gun depends on the particular gun. E.g., most centerfire guns made in the last 40 years or so are safe to dry fire. Rimfires (.22s) should never be dry fired without an empty case in the chamber. Make sure that the empty comes from that gun; if you use an empty from another gun it may jam in the chamber.
For center-fire arms, you can buy snap caps, which feature a spring-loaded "primer" to absorb the fall of the firing pin. If you use these you do not have to worry about damaging your gun.
Also, you can make your own snap caps by taking an empty case, resizing it and punching out the old primer, and gluing into the primer pocket a piece of rubber from an eraser. I made up 6 of these in .38 Special caliber and they work great.
Flintlocks can be safely dry-fired, as long as a flint or piece of wood is in the jaws of the hammer. However, this will accellerate wear on the frizzen, if a flint is in the hammer.
Percussion muzzleloaders generally should not be dry-fired without a piece of rubber on the nipple to prevent it from getting mashed. An exception to this is the Ruger Old Army cap and ball revolver, if it has Ruger nipples. The Ruger nipples are slightly shorter than normal and the gun is designed to be dry-fired if the factory nipples are in-place. If the nipples were replaced with non-Ruger ones, don't dry-fire it.
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