By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Since dry fire training is pretty much all most of us can do these days, the topic of recoil comes up. Obviously, recoil management for shot strings, target transitions and so on requires that you actually experience it, and you can’t when you aren’t shooting an actual bullet.
Or can you?
There are a few ways to simulate recoil for dry fire training. There are three that come to mind, two of which are modern and one that’s very old. All require a certain amount of investment in a bit of gear to get started, so that’s something to spend that stimulus money on, one supposes.
First is to get a recoil simulator conversion kit. Essentially, these come with a number of drop-in components that use CO2 to blow the slide back. Typically there’s a barrel with a valve, a reduced-power recoil spring and a connector for the gas. The barrel will also usually have a laser for dry-fire training systems, such as the simulator pistols offered by LaserShot.
The hitch is that they’re only made for certain makes and models of pistols, so not everyone is going to be able to get one.
Generally, these break down into two varieties, tethered and not. The tethered systems run a hose to a small gas tank, which you can usually put on a belt, which goes to the “barrel,” which is the gas reservoir. Non-tethered recoil simulators come with a magazine – compatible with the make/model of gun you have – which contain an 8- or 12-gram CO2 cartridge.
Expect to blow – ha! – a couple hundred bucks on this type of system, if, that is, someone makes one for your gun. Of all the training systems to simulate recoil, these are the most realistic but also the most expensive.
However, you can get a similar experience for less cash by getting a blowback air pistol. Basically, these are CO2 pellet guns, usually with a cartridge in the grip housing, with a reciprocating slide.
The air gun industry being fairly sharp, a few companies make very close replicas of existing pistols. Unlike recoil simulator kits, there’s a lot more choice in make and model, so there’s a much better chance of finding a training version of your gun if you don’t carry one of the most popular makes/models of handgun.
The good news is that they aren’t too expensive, typically around $100 but there are some more expensive models out there. It all depends on which one you get and from which brand as there are a number of them including Crosman, Evike and some others. The bad news is that while they are replicas, they aren’t exact. The trigger pull is going to be different, and some people find they don’t fit perfectly in their holster. Your mileage can vary, of course, and again, it depends a lot on which model you get and who it’s made by.
However, that’s another method for simulating a bit of recoil.
The last method is an old-school trick, and it’s quite imperfect. For one, it doesn’t really yield too much in terms of recoil. For two, it requires reloading equipment and for three, it’s for revolvers only.
Some people might know where this is going.
For a long time, savvy revolver shooters would make wax bullets to do their training at home. The recipe is fairly simple, as you’d basically push an empty case through about a half-inch thick block of paraffin wax. Then you seat a primer in the cartridge case and stick the rounds you made in the fridge until it was time to shoot. No powder; just the primer itself is all that’s needed to send the wax bullet out of the barrel.
This has a few benefits. For one, you’re training with your gun and you get (drastically) toned-down sensations of recoil and the report. For two, it’s pretty cheap, especially for those who reload. Since the case itself is not subjected to the pressure of the propellant igniting, the cases can be reused for wax bullets, more or less in perpetuity.
However, you have to make the bullets; they aren’t made by manufacturers. You also have to deal with the mess of the paraffin wax, though a few sheets of cardboard can help a great deal in this respect. And while the report of only the primer is not loud, it’s going to be a lot louder if you set it off indoors, say in a garage or a basement. So maybe a set of plugs isn’t a bad idea.
Also, it requires a revolver, since the primer is not going to create enough force to cycle the slide of a semi-auto pistol. However, if you have an old .38 Special or .357 Magnum in the safe, it’s something you could do.
And why bother bringing up all this crap?
Simple! Adding a bit of recoil and noise makes non-live fire training more realistic. More reps is more reps, people. Just because there’s a quarantine on doesn’t mean you can’t keep your skills up.
Sam Hoober is a Contributing Editor to AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.