Reducing Cleaning-Related Discharges of Striker-Fired Pistols

Every week, across the nation, there are news reports of negligent discharges associated with the need to press the trigger to separate the slide from the frame with older-design, striker-fired pistols (e.g., Glock, S&W Sigma, Springfield Armory XD, Kahr). Most of those in the news occur in the hands of private citizens but an unacceptable number – typically reported because they have resulted in injury – still occur on police ranges and in other law-enforcement facilities.

Based on the principle that it is easier to teach an affirmative than a negative action, we offer the following as an example of a protocol that can be adapted to suit your specific conditions:
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While snap caps are regarded as superfluous in some quarters, their use has been recommended to prevent battering of the firing-pin-retention pin in Springfield Armory’s XD pistols. Their use in other firearms will do no harm and may even reduce the risk of wear or breakage of parts such as firing pins or strikers. Beretta, for example, recommends the use of snap caps for "long term" dry firing of the Nano pistol (which is equipped with a sear deactivation button, to eliminate the need to press the trigger during disassembly) to prevent damage to the striker. On the other hand, the rim of the snap cap - typically made of aluminum or brass - will get deformed with repeated use if it is placed directly into the chamber of the pistol with the slide locked open and the slide is then released. This is why it is loaded into the chamber via an otherwise empty magazine.

This protocol was suggested by my gunsmith friend Tim Sheehan.

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