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5 Best Dummy Rounds & Snap Caps For Dry-Fire Practice

Ready to step up your firearms training?

Let me introduce you to one of the most versatile training tools on the market: dummy rounds.

Used Pistol Snap Caps
Used A-Zoom Pistol Snap Caps

Dummy rounds are not to be confused with blanks or live training rounds.

These faux cartridges are perfect for malfunction drills and dry fire exercises because they lack the dangerous boom components — specifically, the primer, propellant, and explosive charge.

PHLster Floodlight OWB
Did we mention you can even train with them at the range?

Today, we’re going to talk about the top five dummy rounds on the market, how they work, and why you want them. 

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What Are Dummy Rounds?

Dummy rounds, snap caps, inert training rounds…whatever you call them, these faux cartridges are phenomenal tools that can take your firearms training to the next level.

On that note, it’s important to recognize that “dummy rounds” and “snap caps” are different things, even though the terms are often used interchangeably.

The big difference is that snap caps have inert primers to protect your firing pins, making them ideal for dry fire drills.

Various Snap Caps
Various Snap Caps

Dummy rounds and snap caps mimic the weight and feel of a live cartridge but are completely safe and inert.

They’re available in common calibers, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .380 ACP, 5.56×45, and 12-gauge rounds.

Less common calibers are available as well; they’re just a bit more difficult to find…especially in 2020.

any ammo
Nope this is 2021…we’re still in a shortage, bro.

Many dummy rounds – particularly snap caps – have brightly colored bodies and/or faux projectiles (think neon orange).

We recommend these colorful atrocities for two reasons:

First, that eye-catching color makes it easy to tell the difference between training ammunition and live cartridges.

Walther P1 Mag with Snap Caps
Walther P1 Mag with Snap Caps

With a single glance, you’ll know exactly what type of ammo you’re loading into the magazine.

Second, if you’re running stoppage drills, as you should be, the “rack” part of “tap, rack, bang” is going to eject your fancy dummy round into the dirt somewhere.

You shouldn’t have any trouble locating these attention-getters.

Red and Blue Snap Caps for Dry Fire

Why Bother With Dummy Rounds?

You can’t be the gun-wielding hero of your dreams without getting a lot of practice in!

John Wick Press Check
You know who practices a lot? Keanu Reeves. Be like him.

On a more serious note, firearms are a critical means of home and self-defense. Consistent training is the only way to effectively prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario.

Checking if Gun is Safe at Range
Practice makes you a better all-around gun owner.

Because dummy rounds mimic the shape and weight of real ammo, you can safely practice reloading and stoppage drills, which are just as important as honing your shooting techniques.

You could be Wyatt Earp reborn, but it’s not going to matter if your gun jams and you can’t clear it quickly enough.

Gun fumble
Don’t be this poor fool.

For a little fun at the range, have your buddy load your magazine with live ammo plus one dummy round somewhere in the mix.

Shoot as normal, and then, when you get to the dummy round, clear the malfunction. 

This is the best way to both stimulate an unexpected stoppage and practice how to clear one.

Beyond that, most of us can’t get the range as often as we’d like, so being able to train safely at home has its perks.

For example, you can practice what you would do during a home invasion or live fire situation.

Home Defense Glock G19 and Light

A common drill is to chamber the dummy round, squeeze the trigger, rack the slide, and fire again like you’re clearing a malfunction.

Fellow PPT contributor Travis wrote an entire article about how practicing drills for 15 minutes a day can help you become a more proficient shooter.

To learn about some nifty dry fire drills and optional (but amazingly fun) gear, check out Safe and Effective Dry Fire Training at Home [Guide].

Dry Fire Drill with Obstacles
Running a dry fire drill with obstacles.

Finally, while most modern centerfire firearms can handle thousands of dry fire trigger pulls without complaint, having something for the firing pin to strike against can help extend its lifespan.

As a warning note, you should never dry fire a rimfire weapon, so .22 LR dummy rounds are essential for serious .22 LR training, especially if you’re trying to become a competition shooter.

If it runs these, you want snap caps for training.

Best Dummy Rounds

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the top dummy round brands, and how to choose the best options for your particular needs.

1. A-Zoom Snap Caps

A-Zoom’s Snap Caps are available in over 100 calibers, with new options added to the lineup on a reasonably consistent basis.

(Also our Editor’s Picks based on personal use.)

These snap caps are a great place to start if you’re working with a less-popular caliber.

As for the caps themselves, they come in packs of 5 for standard pistol cartridges (or 6-round revolver packs) and in packs of two for 12-gauge and rifle cartridges, including 5.56.

The caps are constructed with a coated aluminum that is fairly robust. Supposedly, one of these caps can last for over 3,000 cycles.

But that’s just marketing. In real life, some people have complained about the finish scraping off and the cap wearing out around the case rim.

Used Pistol Snap Caps
Used A-Zoom Pistol Snap Caps

However, that reportedly doesn’t seem to be the case with the latest run of Snap Caps, so maybe we’ll luck out, and they can truly last those 3,000 cycles.

15
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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2. NewBold Dummy Training Rounds

NewBold Dummy Training Rounds are durable snap caps designed for dry firing.

The brass casings give these rounds a realistic look, while the polymer “primers” and bullets are bright orange.

That “safety color” allows you to differentiate these training rounds from your live ammo.

NewBold Dummy Training Rounds
NewBold Dummy Training Rounds

This is one of my favorite options for practicing home defense scenarios and malfunction drills.

These brass cases could pretty much last forever, and the soft polymer primer protects your firing pin by giving the spring a place to release its energy.

Beyond the polymer projectile and faux primer, these snap caps look and feel pretty much like a real round, which is great for training purposes.

Winner

They also come in a variety of calibers, but it seems like most of their product line is in the pistol caliber category, which is fine for most shooters.

Not a lot of folks sit at their desk dry firing an AR-15.

I mean, we do, but that’s different. 

7
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. ST Action Pro Trainer Dummy Rounds

ST Action Pro Trainer Dummy Rounds are awesome for practicing mag change drills; in fact, it’s one of our preferred options because a pack comes with 20 rounds for handguns.

I like to use these dummy rounds when I’m sitting at my desk or standing in front of the TV practicing mag changes.

If that’s a drill on your training regimen, then this might be a go-to dummy round for you.

True, you can do the same drills with an empty magazine, but the weight will be off, and it won’t have the same effect.

And if you’re doing more complicated tasks, like drawing a second mag from a CCW holder, you want your training experience to be as close to the real thing as possible.

Sliding Mag into NSR Holster
Practice makes perfect!

ST Action Pro Trainer Dummy Rounds are an effective option for practicing self-defense scenarios and training for competitions.

When these rounds are loaded, your mag will feel close to its regular, fully-loaded weight – which is exactly what you want.  

20
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. Tipton Snap Caps

Tipton is one of the biggest names in firearms accessories, so it’s no surprise that they started manufacturing their own Snap Caps.

Tipton Snap Caps
Tipton Snap Caps

While these training rounds aren’t weighted like a standard live round, they do have other great features to recommend them.

Namely, that they’re spring-loaded.

Another cool detail is that the primers have what is, in essence, tiny shock absorbers that completely absorb the impact of the firing pin.

This makes both your firing pin and the snap cap last much longer.

Tipton Snap Caps
What’s not to love about this false primer?

These training rounds don’t feel like live rounds, but they’re great for double-action firearms or a gun with a resettable training trigger installed.

The best news? Tipton offers calibers for pistols, rifles, shotguns, and revolvers.

15
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

5. B’s Dry Fire Brass Snap Caps

B’s Dry Fire Snap Caps — also known as “B’s Dummys” — are designed to mimic real ammo.

Not only is the weight almost exactly the same, but the design also includes a real brass cartridge case.

Even with that swanky brass case, it’s impossible to visually confuse one of these snap caps for a live round. Unless you’re super new to ammo, I guess.

I mean, it has a vibrant blue or neon green projectile and a giant logo etched directly on the cartridge.

But I’m not complaining; that level of obvious is what we like to see in a dummy round.

perfect

Other than that, B’s has pretty much nailed the size, weight, and feel of a 124-grain 9mm round.

If you’re looking for a dummy round that’s as close to the real thing as possible, this is the way to go.

Only downside? It’s a little pricey for a pack of 10.

25
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

Whether you’re training for competition, defense, or general self-improvement, practicing with dummy rounds is a great way to develop your shooting and gun handling skills.

Sig Sauer AXG Range
Don’t be afraid to augment some of your live-fire training with dry fire training.

With inert cartridges, you can hone your talents with a stand-in that mimics live ammo, but without all the muss and fuss of needing a range.

And if you want to kick your training up a not, consider getting into laser training tools too!

Laser Training Targets
Laser Training Targets

What’s your preferred snap cap brand? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’re new to guns, please don’t hesitate to check out How to Shoot a Pistol Accurately [Ultimate Guide]. We look at the fundamentals of shooting, easy at-home exercises, and practical tips for the range.

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6 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark

    If you reload using "Blue Bullets", don't use B's Dry Fire Snap Caps. They look too much alike, even with the case engraving. not worth the safety risk

    July 7, 2021 10:22 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    T-Mo

    I know it's a bit nit-picky but the word you wanted in #3 was "regimen", not regime. Common mistake but most of us are not intimately involved in governmental powers.

    March 16, 2021 5:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mike

    Additionally for us revolver shooters. Snap caps are great for practicing reloading from either speedloaders or speed strips, not so much for ejecting empty brass. Snap caps don't swell like fired brass does. Suggest you use fired brass, punch out the old primer but don't resize the case. Use a rubber type caulking to fill the primer pocket. Now you'll have a practice case that sticks in the cylinder, acts like a fired case should. Good article.

    October 14, 2020 6:31 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      range rat

      Clearly you guys have never tried striker caps. These make it far easier to work on your trigger pull and barrel discipline WITHOUT chasing plastic all over the floor.

      November 10, 2021 5:18 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jacki Billings, Editor

        We'll check these out! Thanks for the suggestion!

        November 11, 2021 5:03 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      range rat

      Striker Caps

      November 10, 2021 5:18 pm
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