What Are Snap Caps? Everything You Need To Know

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If you have been in the world of firearms for any length of time, you have probably heard the term “snap caps” mentioned, especially at ranges and other training facilities. However, if you are unfamiliar with these useful little devices, the term can be confusing. Let’s find out what snap caps are and what they are used for.

Snap caps are devices that are loaded into firearm chambers to prevent dry fire damage. Snap caps resemble real bullets with the same dimensions and weight. They are used for practice and training purposes and help to prolong the lifespan and use of a firearms’ firing mechanism.

Using snap caps has become very common for many reasons, and these devices are very useful for almost every firearm user. Understanding snap caps is simple once you know what they are, and using them in their intended applications becomes more reasonable the more you understand them.

This is a brief and simple guide, covering everything you need to know about modern snap caps.

What Are Snap Caps

What Are Snap Caps?

Every firearm requires maintenance and should be used with care to prolong its lifespan and usability. Every firearm owner should take all necessary steps to ensure that their guns last as long as possible and always remain in safe and good working order. Snap caps are a simple way to help achieve this.

Snap caps are a common device used in the firearm community to help preserve firearm components and extend the lifespan and useability of all types of firearms. The snap cap is a “fake” bullet that is used when dry firing to prevent damage to some key internal components of a firearm.

All snap caps are designed to be a similar weight and the same shape and size as the caliber of ammunition that they emulate, and so there are snap caps available for every type of round on the market today.

Snap caps can be made from various plastics or metals and typically contain a striker and a spring that absorbs most of the impact of the firing pin when a firearm is dry fired.

Using snap caps protects the firearm from unnecessary wear and damage prolongs its lifespan, and snap caps are useful for testing the gun and practicing various techniques safely without any danger whatsoever.

Snap caps are safe, rink-free, will not cause any harm to any person or thing, and are safe to use with any firearm so long as the correct size and caliber snap caps are used, and they are used carefully.

What Are Snap Caps For?

The snap cap is designed to help protect vital components of a firearm, as well as provide a safe means to practice various firearm techniques without the risk of firing live ammunition.

The main reason why snap caps were invented is to protect the firing pin, mainspring, and barrel breach during dry firing.

 Dry firing any firearm may lead to unnecessary wear and tear, and having a snap cap in the chamber of a firearm gives the firing mechanism something to strike, which subsequently absorbs the pressure within the mechanism and releases tension within the weapon safely.

Another reason why snap caps are useful is that they allow beginner shooters to practice techniques such as reloading, breech-loading, and trigger control safely without the risk of firing live bullets. This makes snap caps an important safety tool for new shooters.

Snap caps can also be used to safely test the trigger mechanism and action of a firearm by a gunsmith or a technician in order to properly test the weapon. Dry firing with a snap cap in the chamber is safe and allows all of the firing components of the gun to be tested without any danger whatsoever.

Snap Caps And Dry Firing

We have already stated that snap caps were originally invented to mitigate the dangers of dry firing a weapon, but not everyone understands the dangers of dry firing and why using snap caps to reduce the issues associated with it is important.

Dry firing is firing a gin without a bullet in the chamber. Using a firearm in this way puts unnecessary strain on the firing mechanism of the weapon, as there is nothing to absorb the energy of the mechanism when the trigger is pulled.

Firing a gun with a bullet in the chamber provides a stopping force for the energy discharge of the firing mechanism, which prevents the firing pin from over-extending and absorbs some of the vibrations that occur during firing.

To simplify, a firing mechanism is designed to be activated with a bullet in the chamber. Firing without a bullet in the chamber causes extra wear on the mechanism components, so using a snap cap in place of a live bullet only puts the normal level of strain on the mechanism.

This significantly lengthens the lifespan of the firearm, especially the firing mechanism and its components. 

Using snap caps in a firearm that does not have a safety mechanism is very useful for this reason as well. Firearms such as old shotguns do not have a mechanism that prevents them from being dry-fired accidentally, so keeping snap caps in the chamber of these weapons prevents damage from accidental dry fire. 

Are Snap Caps The Same As Dummy Rounds?

The terms snap cap and dummy round are often used interchangeably because both devices are used in the same way and for precisely the same purpose.

The only real difference between snap caps and dummy rounds is that snap caps are always engineered to closely resemble real ammunition in dimension and weight, which makes them more useful for training and practice purposes.

Dummy rounds are often made from plastic and are not an accurate analog of real bullets, which makes them useful for dry firing and safety but less useful for training and practicing techniques.

However, both terms are used to describe the same thing regarding true snap caps. True dummy rounds are not referred to as snap caps, but snap caps are often referred to as dummy rounds.

Can Snap Caps Cause Damage To Your Firearm?

Snap caps are designed to prevent unnecessary damage, wear, and tear on firearms, but do using these devices cause any kind of damage themselves?

The truth is, if snap caps are used correctly, they should not cause damage to a firearm, but certain types of snap caps can cause damage if they fail. 

Plastic snap caps are relatively common, but most shooters who use these devices know that metal snap caps made from steel or other alloys are far superior to plastic versions.

Metal snap caps are superior because they are very unlikely to break or fail during use. However, plastic snap caps have a much shorter use time and are far more likely to break or come apart when used.

If a plastic snap cap breaks when used, parts of the plastic casing are likely to cause jams in the firearm, especially rifles and shotguns. This is likely to cause some damage to the gun.

For this reason, it is impossible to say that snap caps will never cause harm to a gun, but using the right type of snap cap, and using it carefully, should not result in any damage.

Other Uses For Snap Caps

12 Gauge Snap Caps
12 Gauge Snap Caps

Snap caps are useful for preventing dry fire damage to firearms, accidental or otherwise, but these small devices are useful for other reasons as well. 

Many training facilities use snap caps for practicing techniques and for teaching proper firearm control. For example, snap caps may be interspersed within a magazine that also contains live rounds to show a student when they are pre-flinching before even pulling the trigger.

This is useful because some shooters tend to flinch in anticipation of firing without realizing it, causing inaccurate shooting. Using snap caps in this way will cause a dry fire when the student does not expect it, exposing a pre-flinch.

Other exercises such as rapid reloading ad unloading drills can be performed with snap caps because they are identical in weight and dimensions to real bullets.

All firing exercises, steps, practice, and training methods can be performed safely at home with snap caps, as they will never discharge a projectile, and they are not loud enough to cause any damage or disturbances. This makes snap caps excellent for dry fire practicing away from the range.

Are Snap Caps Loud?

Using snap caps for dry fire practice is feasible due to the fact that snap caps are not loud. Using a snap cap or accidentally dry firing with a snap cap is not loud at all.

In fact, the loudest aspect of firing with a snap cap is the firing mechanism of the weapon itself. Snap caps cause no noise, they contain no combustibles, they do not have a firing cap, and they possess no projectile.

These devices are safe for use in all situations, and they will not generate any dangerous or disturbing sounds whatsoever.

Are Snaps Caps Useful For You?

Using snap caps is a somewhat controversial topic. Many shooters do not see the need for these devices, and others swear by using them for several reasons. Whether or not you should use snap caps is entirely dependent on your requirements and safety concerns.

Snap caps may be useful for you if you are learning how to use a firearm properly, if you cannot afford live ammunition for extended training periods, or if you move around with a firearm that is not equipped with a safety mechanism.

However, if you carry an active firearm for self-defense, for your profession, or if your firearm has a safety mechanism to prevent dry firing, snap caps may not be necessary for you.

Having a set of snap caps around can be useful when cleaning your firearms, though, as testing the trigger and firing mechanism safely is made easier by using snap caps after reassembling the weapon.

How Long Do Snap Caps Last?

One of the most useful characteristics of snap caps is that they are reusable, and most types of snap caps last for a very long time without requiring replacements.

All snap cap types are reusable, but some are more long-lasting than others. Metal snap caps can be used repeatedly for many years, especially larger versions such as those used in high-caliber rifles or shotguns.

Plastic snap caps do not last as long as they are less durable than metal versions, but they are still reusable and will last for several months with light-moderate use.

Anyone who requires snap caps for regular, high use should opt for using metal snap caps, as they will last significantly longer


Snap caps are useful devices that help to prolong the lifespan of certain components within all types of firearms and help to make handling firearms safer, especially for beginners.

Using snap caps is useful for all firearms and prevents dry fire damage, and are also very useful for practicing techniques and shooting practice steps. These devices make no noise, are safe, and can be used anywhere.

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