[SHOT 2016] CoolFire Dry Fire Training

While I was trolling the lanes at SHOT I happened upon a cool little booth offering a system for dry firing with a difference from any other system I had seen on the floor—it enables you to train with recoil.

The system at the heart is very simple—it is a barrel replacement that is basically a CO2 cartridge. Each strike of the hammer actuates a release valve that vents enough gas to reciprocate the slide. The barrel is coupled with a small laser unit that is momentarily activated by the trigger impulse. Totally obvious solution in retrospect. The best part about the system is you use your own weapon, which means you are not stuck training on a replica that is somewhat close.

"Air Barrel" and laser. That is pretty much it...

“Air Barrel” and laser. That is pretty much it…

The system comes with an “air barrel”, replacement recoil/return spring, red visible laser, two slide release inserts (that fit into the magazine and prevent slide lock), and a charging station. It also comes with 3 reflective targets. It is available for a decent number of common guns already (with a bunch more on the way).

Optional extended air cylinder to allow for more shots per refill. It really did not add much weight at all to the system.

Optional extended air cylinder to allow for more shots per refill. It really did not add much weight at all to the system.

Honestly this is the missing link in my personal dry fire training. Working the basic mechanics is great in and of itself, but managing recoil for followup shots is also super important. I think this, coupled with a MantisX system and some sort of laser activated target, is the sweet trifecta of dry fire training.

Barrel installed and the charging station.

Barrel installed and the charging station.

You can find more information at their website: http://coolfiretrainer.com

Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


  • Twilight sparkle

    Is it just me or are we getting a lot of similar training things at this shot show?

    • Doc Rader

      I made it a focus to go by as many training systems vendors as I could. I think a few of these vendors have been there in previous years. I do know some of them were not.

      • Twilight sparkle

        New training tools are always a good thing

    • Guns are like the car industry in the late 50’s, just putting fins on old models. Rails, stippling, slide milling – the fins of the gun industry.

  • hking

    Pairing this system with the projector/webcam software could yield some great results. If only they made a CZ75 kit, which might need less gas because of the lower slide mass.

    • Doc Rader

      You can request a model. The rep indicated that they are choosing the next model based on popularity.

  • PeterK

    I want one. Maybe need one.

  • nobody

    That’s cool, but not $400 cool. I wonder how the recoil compares to a $100-$150 gas blowback airsoft gun and how many shots you get before you have to refill.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Cool, but, pricy.

    • Kevin Craig

      Other than a slight difference in weight and balance (and recoil, obviously), my “ignite Airsoft ‘Black Ops’” brand 1911 gas blowbacks (I have two of them) are great functional replicas for training. They hold 13 pellets, and magazine swaps are obviously not as fast and easy as the real deal. Magazines are doublestack-wide to hold the CO2 cartridge, so they don’t fit standard mag pouches. And, that magazine constitutes the bulk of the pistol’s weight.

      But for training new shooters, or those new to the 1911, they’re amazingly realistic in both loudness and recoil action.

    • Doc Rader

      I am remiss. He told me but I forgot on the base model. The extended cartridge will get you around 100 I think.

  • Federalist

    And this is different from the decades-old FATS how? By having fewer features?

    • Doc Rader

      Um, pretty much in every way? Doesn’t resemble FATS at all. Doesn’t have a video scenario system. Isn’t tethered. You bring your own gun. Price point. Yeah–not really close to FATS.

  • Cotter Sayre

    The most important thing about CoolFire — and that everyone should know about before buying — is not even mentioned in this article: Just how much recoil and muzzle rise does this system simulate? If the recoil is anything like the full-weight metal 1911 Airsoft pistols I have owned and practiced with, then the answer is VERY little true recoil (basically the slide just gets pushed back), and with NO muzzle rise at all…

  • Jon Hammett

    For doublestack guns, you could just get a blow back airsoft gun and practice for a couple hundred dollars less.

  • Mike Kash

    So, full disclosure here. I am the president of CoolFire.

    I have used every training aid available over the years. Fake guns are just that…fake and of basically no use. Their triggers are fundamentally crap. These are a waste of my time.

    I have used laser inserts. These are a step up, as at least I can pull my own trigger. But there is no recoil and Glocks and similar pistols require that you manually reset your trigger. Manually resetting the trigger can establish the wrong muscle memory since you must rack the slide to reset the trigger after each pull.

    But, all previous training aids lack the fundamental aspect of recoil. Why is recoil important? Because only recoil forces you to reestablish sight picture…a prerequisite for follow -up shots.

    If you need proof of the difference, go shoot a SIRT pistol back to back with a recoil gun on a simulator like Lasershot. The SIRT will make you look like a hero because it is simply a laser switch. Follow up shots are a breeze. Add recoil to the equation and it is a bit more challenging.

    Our military and LEOs train with recoil for a reason. And they spend a lot more than $400 per kit!

    As for the amount of recoil with CoolFire…we engineer it to be approximately 60% of actual recoil. Why not 100%? Because 1) you only need enough recoil to force you to re-establish your sight picture (in other words, the gun doesn’t need to hit you in the forehead), and 2) why add the wear and tear to your firearm unnecessarily?

    Yes, CoolFire is priced at $399.95. The closest competitor (Dvorak – which isn’t available to we average shooters) is priced at $2,000 – $2,500. You are absolutely correct…you can can purchase another gun for the price of CoolFire. However, you must still purchase ammo for that gun!

    CoolFire gets over 1,000 shots per 20 ounce CO2 bottle. This equates to 1/3 of a penny per trigger pull. So, the system pays for itself in about 1 1/2 fills of a 20 ounce bottle.

    Because of CoolFire, I have pulled the trigger on my Glock 19 (conservatively) more than 20,000 times in the last year. That would have cost me over $5,000.00 if firing live rounds (assuming 25 cents per round). The 20,000 trigger pulls cost me about $60.00. And, my live fire shooting is significantly improved.

    Take a look at our videos. Clint Dooley, former Green Beret and unpaid user and advocate of CoolFire training, demonstrates its use. I am sure I can get Clint to provide his insight if you are not yet convinced.

    Please feel free to contact me at mike@coolfiretrainer.com if you have questions or would like more information.


    Mike Kash