Dry Fire in the 21st Century – Laser Training Cartridges

    What with ammo prices the way they are, a topic that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind is how do you practice shooting without having to spend say, 50 cents per round for every round of 9mm that leaves your barrel? The standard answer has always been “dry fire”. Dry firing is great advice, but it doesn’t provide the level of feedback necessary to remain proficient. Nothing can replace actually shooting your guns, but you want to close that gap as far as possible, right? Enter the laser training cartridge. This nifty little gadget helps to fill some (but not all) of the gap between dry fire training and practical shooting.

    Pictured here with my Sig P229

    What Is a Laser training cartridge?

    A laser training cartridge is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a small laser the size and shape of a cartridge (be it .380 auto, 9mm, 5.56x45mm, or even 12 gauge) that helps you train. I purchased mine off Amazon for $39.99, but they can easily be found elsewhere. The one I got is manufactured by a company called Pink Rhino, but they are made by a variety of companies, the most well-known being LaserLyte. LaserLyte makes a broad variety of laser-based gun-related products including bore sights, external laser trainers, and laser training cartridges.

    Muzzle for scale

    Prices vary, as I mentioned mine cost just $39.99, but you can get a similar model by CheapShot for $33.50, or a top-of-the-line model by LaserLyte for $93.79 on Amazon.

    The contents of my Pink Rhino – an instructions card, the three required batteries, and the cartridge itself

    How do you train with one?

    Well, you shoot it of course. The cartridge is inserted into the chamber of your firearm. Once it’s there, you simply dry fire. The fun part is that now a little red dot comes out the end of your gun. I know that sounds a little underwhelming, but hear me out. The possibilities this opens for training are actually incredible. The light lasts just long enough for you to see where it hit, and if it looks right. By “looks right” I mean appears to be a small red dot.

    Pictured here – what you want to see

    Alternatively, a red slash could mean that you’re jerking the trigger, or that you’re flinching/anticipating recoil.

    Pictured here – jerking the trigger

    There’s an App for That

    Yes, there is in fact an app for your laser training cartridge. The one I use is called LaserHIT but there are others out there. I used LaserHIT because it’s free, and works with both their (LaserHIT HD) laser and generic cartridges.

    LaserHIT is a free app you can download on Apple or Android

    The app counts the number of hits you have on target, as well as the overlap you have with them. While only one of the four modes is free with the app, it’s still an incredible tool for practice. Setup is easy and intuitive. Open the app, prop the phone facing the target you’ll be shooting at (in my case the roundel pictured) and zoom in on it as far as you can. Once that’s done, just hit start, and away you go!

    Some of my results

    Concluding Thoughts

    Is this a replacement for live-fire training? No, of course not. But it is a good tool to train with, and while it can’t give you the same level of competence as regular live-fire training, if you can’t spend $500 on 1,000 rounds of 9mm every month to stay competent, it is a good way to keep sharp. Regular dry fire is an important part of training even in normal times, and these times are most certainly not normal.

    Benjamin is a recent graduate living in Virginia with a master’s degree in Criminology. He was introduced to firearms at summer camp when he was thirteen. Ever since his first shot with a .22LR bolt-action he has been in love with shooting sports. He is a moderator on the TFB Discord, which can be found at https://discord.gg/bcVD9zw. On reddit he can be found under /u/HuskyCriminologist.


    Advertisement