A loveable, bright, and deadly knucklehead, but still,by her own admission. That’s fine, I know a lot of knuckleads, in many respects, I am one myself.
John Moses Browning, (PBUH), had a unique gift. He had the ability to not only hold the shapes of an assembly full of objects in his mind, but he had the ability to imagine their interaction in motion, his designs are wonderful for their simplicity and time has tested them and proven them to be elegant and functional.

Advances in metallurgy have allowed the original designs to be strengthened and improved, and advances in machining technology allow them to be made more efficiently.

Tam has a new “Project” gun she is planning- she has the receiver, knows exactly what kind of barrel she wants on it, and is seeking a slide to make her very personal, very high end weapon. She will carefuly research (and no doubt already has) each choice, and when she is done doing her research, she will drive her purchases hundreds of miles to a trusted gunsmith to make all of those parts come together in a masterwork of the gunsmith/owner/designer’s art. It will, if I know Tam at all, be a wondrous firearm to behold, and shoot.

And she will choose not to protect it with a $2 snapcap.

She has, as she states, the anecdotal evidence to give her a warm fuzzy feeling that, despite the lack of protection, everything will be fine. And statistically, she’s right. The odds of having problems of any kind are remarkably slim. But they are not zero.

Lets talk for a moment about statistics. When you’re manufacturing a product, the measurement of how well that manufacturing works is called Statistical process control. It was more or less invented by W Edwards Deming,who was the Alpha Geek of SPC. I went to a seminar produced by Mr Deming many years ago. SPC teaches, among other things, that the process be monitored constantly, using methods appropriate to the type of process, and that actions be taken to keep the process running smoothly. Rare events are approached as “fliers” or “Artifacts” and are often not even accounted for, or are assigned cause as required. As often as not, no action is taken, because taking action is usually not necesary, the situation that causes the rare event are, by their nature, rare.

Statistics where they relate to human life and it’s preservation are called “Risk Assessment” I know a bit about this, because a large portion of my job involves doing industrial manufacturing risk assessment.

In any situation where a human can be injured or killed, a risk is assigned. The amount of risk depends on the liklihood of injury, the amount of possible injury, and the cost of treating the injury or the cost of lawsuits etc. subsequent to the death of a person.

Balanced against that risk is the amount of effort that has been invested in mitigating that risk. A classic example is the “Piso mojado”signs in every Wal Mart. Instead of just leaving the floor wet, Walmart makes employees erect signs to warn people the floor is wet. This, according to their lawyers and the statistics of injury in their stores, is adequate protection.

In my world, there are often pieces of equipment that can kill. The operators of that equipment must come in contact with that equipment, but must simultaneously be protected from it. If a person has to place, for instance, a part of a gas grill into a press to have it stamped, there are several remedies. A pair of ropes can be attached to his hands to yank hs hands out of the way at the last minute (Don’t laugh. This is an actual system and it is still in operation in many places) a light curtain can be placed that prevents the press from cycling while anything is in the press, and many other solutions. The customer invariably chooses the solution they find works well for their situation and their employees and their budget.

Risk assessment means that every risk be examined and mitigated. Sometimes the mitigation is expensive, like light curtains and certain types of electronic safety equipment. Sometimes it’s inexpensive, like a “Wet floor” sign. The more inexpensive and easy to use it is, the more ridiculous it is, not to use it. Even if the risk is very small, mitigating the risk to near-zero is always preferable.

My luck is such that if I’ve been in the habit of dry-firing my carry pistol, when the zombiepocalypse arrives, I will be pointing it at a zombie and pull the trigger, and hear it go “click” but not “bang”. That will never be the case with me, it will not and cannot happen because of a firing pin embrittled by being dry fired. Plenty of other shit may and probably will happen, but that will not happen to me.

If snapcaps were made of pure unobtanium, one at a time, by a hermit in Tibet, I would be all over this. Expense is a perfectly legitimate reason to mitigate the trouble any other way- say, for instance, by having a “Dry fire” firing pin and a “non dry fire” firing pin. Or simply by using a spent round- the dented primer is a perfectly legitimate recipient of the force of a firing pin. I keep empty 22 cases around simply for that reason. And whether it’s a snap cap or a spent round, ALL FOUR RULES STILL APPLY.
Tam is well within her rights to think of me as a dumbass because of my disinterest in firing anything without a snap cap.

I am happy that I have the extensive knowledge of metallurgy, the understanding of how statistics work, and the ability to see the potential danger that allows me to, by using a simple and nearly effortless method, take a risk that is demonstrably non zero, and make it effectively zero.

Where trigger practice is concerned, everything that you can do by dryfiring can be done with a snap cap. There is no good reason not to do so. There are plenty of good reasons TO do so. I am not in the position to tell anyone what to do, and would not do so if I could. I CAN reccomend that people use snap caps, and i do, and I think it’s an excellent idea. if I owned a gun store, “Use snap caps’ would be an unbreakable rule. The customer can do what he wants to his gun when he pays fior it and takes it home.

Tam and I will probably always disagree on this, which is not likely to cause either of us any loss of sleep. When someone can prove to me that I am wrong, I will kiss their ass in times square. If, on the other hand, I can make someone a little more cautious, even if that caution is unwarranted, then my bitching will not have been in vain.