With the price of ammo not going down any time soon, and the number of safe ranges seemingly on decline, its hard to get as much practical trigger time in as we'd like to get. However, there are a number of low-cost and safe ways to keep on top of your game with a minimum of live-fire practice.

Keep it safe

Always make sure your firearm is unloaded before any dry firing, use of snap caps, or anytime that you are going to pull the trigger off the range. To do this on your C380, C9, JHP45, etc., with your finger off the trigger and the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, drop the magazine, rack the slide three (3) times, visibly and physically inspect the chamber for any brass or ammo, and then remove any live cartridges from the room before continuing.

Then you can look into...

Snap Caps

Liquid Capsule Cosmetics Battery Finger

A snap cap is, in general, a dummy cartridge that is the same dimensions of popular loadings such as 9mm, 12-gauge, .223, and so forth. Unlike live ammo, snap caps do not contain a primer, powder, or projectile and are constructed to remain as one piece from beginning to end. They come in a variety of styles and often include a spring-loaded interior to absorb the energy from a firing pin (more on this in a minute). They are marketed by companies who make these with CNC-machined aluminum (Pacyhmyr A-Zooms), plastic and brass (Tipton, Omniaplast, Traditions) and rubber (GSI) coated bodies. Typical cost is less than a couple dollars apiece, especially when bought in bulk. Ideally, you are going to want a handful for each caliber you have in your gun safe.

Why use them? Well if you physically remove all brass and ammo from the room, then introduce plastic inert snap caps to the equation; you now have a gun that is, in effect, locked out.

Besides saving your gun, these dummy rounds can be used to help improve your reaction time, magazine exchanges, develop instinctive muscle memory for when you have a jam, allow for safe trigger-pull practice, and help with both basic firearms instruction and education.

Hand tool Tool Air gun Set tool Trigger

(If you have more than one magazine, snap caps can help train the fast transition skills you need to master to be able to make an emergency reload under stress without being at the range)

How to brush up

With your magazine and firearm loaded only with snap caps, be sure you are pointed in a safe direction with nothing down range and work on your dry fire. Simply focus on a target (if dry firing at home, a Post-it or similar object placed on a dead wall with nothing on the other side of it can help), then work on your trigger control, draw and presentation.

Guess what? The same grip-draw-present-aim-fire sequence used on the range (and hopefully never in real life) can be practiced without having live ammo in your firearm. Better yet, the snap caps can be chambered; "fired" by pulling the trigger, manually ejected and reloaded 1000s of times before they are worn out. Trust me on this.

Typically, you can spend something on the order of 70 percent of your time in safe dry fire off the range, while reserving the other 30 for live fire on the range to keep sharp.

Further, you can use the caps to help you practice transition in magazine exchanges; teach others to load/unload your Hi Points, and a dozen other uses.

Its great for a rainy day, or when the wife and kids are off on an adventure somewhere and you are stuck at home alone for an extended period.

Remember, be safe, and train hard.