Dedicated Dry Fire Platforms
I strongly recommend that you buy a dedicated inert training platform that is as close as possible to the firearm that you’re going to be shooting the most. I recommend the SIRT and use mine daily. It most closely resembles a Glock, but 90% of the skills you develop while using this platform will transfer over to any other platform that you shoot. You can get special pricing on the SIRT by going >HERE<
Like I said, I use my SIRTs every day. They are durable, able to stand up to gun based workouts and disarm drills, and are great tools.
I also have dedicated platforms from LaserShot. The LaserShot platforms are good, solid units, but they aren't as durable as the SIRT platforms. I've been using my 1911 laser training platform from LaserShot since 2007 and it's been an invaluable tool. Where the SIRT is built like a tank and made to be abused, the LaserShot is a little more fragile. It's worked well for me since 2007, so it's not THAT fragile, but it's no SIRT. They are a little inconsistent on which models they carry or whether they'll sell to the public, so I can't link to the page, but their main page is http://lasershot.com.
I use a few other models that have reciprocating slides.
The first is the http://CoolFireTrainer.com and it uses your gun/trigger and a replacement barrel & recoil spring. It cycles the slide with CO2.
The second is from http://Laser-Ammo.com and it uses a modified airsoft pistol and green gas.
Both of them have lasers that mark where you're shooting and both are sensitive to low (30s) temperatures.
I've got a video comparing SIRTs, the CoolFire, and Laser-Ammo here: https://dryfiretrainingcards.com/blog/top-5-laser-training-pistols-compared/
In the absence of a dedicated inert training platform, you’ve got several options, depending on your personal preferences, budget, and what particular aspect of firearms training you’re focusing on at the time.
Airsoft is an option for many, but not all weapons platforms, and even if you do have an airsoft trainer that mimics your live fire platform, airsoft still has limitations. It is designed to be a less-than-lethal trainer, but it can still cause significant damage to eyes, skin, walls, windows, and other breakable items.
There are bb and pellet trainers that are 1:1 training replicas.
My current favorite dry fire projectile trainer is the T4E .43 caliber paintball pistol. https://dryfiretrainingcards.com/blog/using-the-walther-ppq-paintball-gun-for-serious-training/
As far as tools to use with your actual firearm to help minimize the chances of a negligent discharge, here are the ones that I use and recommend:
First and foremost is my patented Dry Fire Cord. It's a combination of a snap cap, barrel plug, and paracord-through-the-chamber that's a serious upgrade to all 3.
It'll give you a resetting trigger on your semi-auto for dry fire without having to rack the slide between reps. In addition, it will block your chamber so that a live round can not be introduced and it gives you a visible indicator that the chamber is blocked.
I have snap caps with springs in them, A-Zoom all metal snap caps, and orange plastic SAF-T-Trainers. They’re all great. The SAF-T-Trainers wear out faster than the others, but they’re a LOT less expensive and they still last hundreds of rounds. All of my snap caps are colored so that there is no chance of confusing them with live ammunition.
There are snap caps available that look like live ammunition and I strongly recommend that you do NOT use these. You want 100% visual confirmation that you have snap caps and not live rounds when you’re training.
If you don’t have a local source for snap caps, I suggest Brownells.com
I have both the Mako (round) and Blade-Tech (x shaped) safety rods. These are dramatically different from one another. The Blade-Tech safety rod replaces the barrel of your gun, and therefore there is some limitation on interchangeability between weapons—even of the same caliber.
The Mako safety rods are actually made by Fab Defense out of Israel and they plug the barrel rather than replacing it, so you can use it with .380, 9mm, .40, .357 sig, and possibly other calibers, but not .45 ACP.
The Blade-Tech is bright yellow, and you see it anytime you look at the chamber, as well as when you look at the end of the barrel. The Mako is orange and is visible when you rack the slide and when you see the end of the barrel. If you’re using a rod that’s longer than your barrel, it will stick out the end and be visible from the side.
Since neither of these will allow a live round to enter the chamber, you can either use a safety rod or a snap cap, but not both. Neither of these are readily available anymore. If you find them used, they're worth getting. I bought up the entire remaining stock of Mako Safety Rods and they are included with my Private Video Coaching program.
One of the challenges of dry fire is figuring out how to incorporate as many components of shooting into your dry fire practice as possible.
One example of this is practicing with an empty magazine. Every time you rack the slide, the slide will lock back.
One way to get around this is with a weighted training magazine that doesn't engage the slide lock.
A few options are: https://nextleveltraining.com/product/training-magazines/ (use code "survive" at checkout)
I’ve used the NextLevelTraining Glock weighted training magazines and can vouch for them. I don’t have any first hand knowledge on the others.
Resetting triggers allow you to practice your trigger break without racking the slide after every shot. They render the firearm incapable of firing and are a great tool for dry fire practice.
The technology involved is, evidently, somewhat complex and I have only found one company that consistently puts out dependable units that don’t break and those are the ones from Southwest Shooting Authority. Unfortunately, the owner put up a sign that was a little over-the-top politically and he got shut down. If you can find a used one, they're great. If not, Dry Fire Cord is the next best bet.