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What are Snap Caps?

Firearms Blog January 12, 2015


What are Snap Caps?

Snap Caps are actually a brand name, but they have become the moniker for dummy rounds.


Snap caps come as solid plastic trainers, there are hollow plastic ones with brass ends and spring loaded primers for you firing pin to hit, there are also solid aluminum ones. The aluminum ones are my favorite, as they last the longest. Florida Gun Classifieds carries all the common calibers for sale in our store and online. We use them in our NRA basic pistol shooting course and our concealed weapons permit classes to train our students before they ever fire a live round. we discuss how to identify ammo calibers and the difference between rimfire and center-fire cartridges. I personally have the A-Zoom aluminum snap caps in 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and .223 for my own personal training drills.

What are Snap Caps used for?

  • They were made to save the firing pin in your gun from degradation due to dry firing on an empty chamber. But they have more uses than just that. Here is some ideas you can use to help you, safely, learn how to operate you gun, and be a more proficient shooter. They are modeled and scaled exactly to the same dimensions as the cartridge (read bullet) for you gun. So you can load them in your magazine, just like loading live rounds. This may seem silly to some, but everyone has to do it a first time.
  • You can practice racking your slide without it locking back, when you have a magazine inserted.
  • Malfunction drills: There are 3 types of malfunctions in a semi automatic: With Snap Caps, you can simulate all these types of malfunctions and practice clearing them all.

What Types of Malfunctions can you simulate with Snap Caps?

  1. Type 1: Failure to Fire – This is pretty simple to spot. You pull the trigger and nothing happens. Click and no bang! When this happens, you should wait about 30 seconds, then smack your magazine to make sure it’s seated in your pistol, and rack your slide. Known as tap and rack.
  2. Type 2: Failure to eject – often called a stovepipe. The spent casing will be sticking out of your ejection port like a stove pipe sticking out of a roof. Simply rack your slide, hard, and continue. If this happens often, you should start investigating as to why.
  3. Type 3: Feed Way Stoppage- This type of malfunction can even give experienced shooters a major concern. Sometimes called a “double feed” or “failure to extract” a feed way stoppage happens when two cartridges are in the firing chamber at one time. What happens is The ‘spent’ cartridge you just fired was not successfully ejected from the firing chamber and then another cartridge was pushed into the breech. Because more than one cartridge was forced into the chamber the firearm is now rendered unusable. Feed way malfunctions are usually NOT a quick fix like a stove pipe.

The rule of thumb is to lock, rip, clear, then rack 3 times and reload.

Rip means to get a firm grip on your magazine while pressing the mag release button, and rip the magazine from the weapon. While it is out try to lock your slide back. If it won’t move, you’re going to have to get physical with it. Once the rounds are clear, reload with a new magazine, and continue shooting. This is going to cost you time, and there is no simple fix, This is just the best way I’ve found to deal with it. If you’re in a bad situation, you may have to find “other means” of fighting. Read up on those malfunctions or watch hundred of videos online.

Another great thing to do with snap caps is “flinch control” or “recoil anticipation” control. Have you ever been to the range and you feel like you’re doing everything right? Right grip, stance, breathing, etc… But you are still shooting low and left. You’re probably anticipating recoil. All shooters suffer from this, it’s just happens, and it’s something you have to work on. When you go to the range randomly place snap caps in your magazines, mixed with live rounds. When you go to fire the pistol and it’s a snap cap, you’ll notice right away if you are anticipating. Your muzzle will sharply point to the floor when you pull that trigger. Your mind is unwittingly trying to compensate for the recoil of your weapon. You’ll be surprised how much you really do move. There is no other way to practice this, except get to the range and do this.

Spend time at home with the snap caps.




Not just your weapon. Physically take it into another room. Then load a magazine with snap caps, work on all the drills I mentioned here, If you have a laser for your pistol, put it on there and watch what your muzzle is doing. Once you can keep that barrel still, then go to the range and practice with a mix of live rounds and Snap Caps, as I suggested before. I guarantee, you’ll be a better shooter in no time.


Special thanks to “The Beretta Guy” for this great article!

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