When I was at a training session at Close Quarters Tactical in Shelby Township, Michigan, we were required to bring our own pistols and ammunition as well as a handful of snap caps (dummy rounds that allow the user to operate a pistol safely without firing it). Before the training session with our guns and the caps, the instructor had us clear our guns and empty our pockets. Then, he patted us down to make sure no one brought any live ammunition into the training. When he was sure that the only ammunition we had on our persons was a handful of snap caps, we then proceeded to a dedicated training area to practice dealing with misfeeds and other problems with our pistols.

In the training area, the 10 students stood in a circle and got another lecture on safety. Then, the instructor had us do an about-face before we started to drill. Even with snap caps, we worked the drills with our backs to each other and muzzles pointed at the walls. From there, it was drill after drill on clearing malfunctions, tactical reloads and more. I appreciated the emphasis on safety. Even now, when I practice using snap caps, I still follow the gun safety rules.

Training With Snap Caps

But it was the caps that made better training possible. These dummy rounds simulate live cartridges, right up to the part where you squeeze the trigger. Instead of a bang, you get a click. Of course, there’s a place for live-fire training too, and I don’t mean to dismiss that. But training with snap caps should be a part of your routine.

I used Tipton Snap Caps for a while in my Glock 19, loading one magazine with two or three, depending on the drill. For one exercise, the instructor had us insert a magazine full of caps, lock the slide back and manually load a snap cap into the chamber. Then, we dropped the slide release and let the slide scoop up the next round in the magazine. Because there was already a round chambered, the gun jammed.

Now what?

Drill, drill, drill on dealing with these and other stoppages. You can drill with live ammo, but it’s better to master the movements and understand the reasons behind the stoppages by using snap caps. Plus, we didn’t have to try to hear the instructor’s commands over the sound of gunfire. These drills helped ingrain the actions and created competence and confidence.

These 9mm caps from Tipton retail for $13.99 for a packet of five. You don’t need more than that for one gun, but make sure you get snap caps in all your gun calibers. Have extras available when you train with a friend. Whether in a class or at home, these tools simply make for better training.