• Mossberg Owners is in the process of upgrading the software. Please bear with us while we transition to the new look and new upgraded software.

Stupid question about racking (retrograde)


Just got a 590 retrograde. I'm not really a shotgun guy so I have a really stupid question.

I want to be able to rack the shotgun but I also don't want to dry fire it. I do not have snap caps right now and honestly have had bad experiences with them and would like to avoid using them.

Question: Is it ok to rack the shotgun and just leave it in the "cocked" position indefinitely, even if the shotgun is put into storage for a longer period?

There is no reason that you can't rack the mechanism as much as you want, assuming you have first inspected, cleaned and lubed the gun.

Reagrding snap caps - many of us have made our own from expended hulls. You can add small nuts and bolts to replicate the weight of a new shell and take some expanding foam to fill the old expended case. Once it sets just trim it off to the proper length. These are cheap to make and once you see some wear just throw them away. The only caution is when you have used snap caps for a long time you should inspect the gun for brass or casing debris before going to the the range for live fire or hunting.

Many of us store our shotgun in what's known as cruiser ready - take a empty gun and rack the mechanism to cock the gun on an empty chamber. Next pull the trigger before loading the magazine with your desired loadout. If you need to chamber a round then all you need to do is simply rack the fore end. This is the quickest way to bring the gun into a fight and precludes you needing to use the slide release.

Last edited:
My quote from the thread you posted a couple of days ago on arfcom asking this question and got lots of good advice...

Originally Posted By kwb377:
I've owned numerous Mossberg/Maverick shotguns and dry fired them thousands of times without issue.

Working the action and dry firing will not only allow you to familiarize yourself with its operation, it'll also smooth the action as the finish wears and polishes itself on the action bars and receiver rails. I've got a couple of recent 590's I bought new that are still pretty stiff to work, while my 1989-vintage 500A and early 90's 88 with thousands of action cycles each are smooth as butter.
It is very unlikely that dry firing a center-fire gun will damage the firing pin or other parts. I leave my 500 with rounds in the tube but empty chamber and trigger pulled. You can tell by the trigger location if the gun is cocked or not. Trigger forward, firing pin is under tension and you can tell by feel. Trigger back usually means the gun is not cocked. Plus, you won't get a "click" when you are expecting a "boom"... :)
My quote from the thread you posted a couple of days ago on arfcom asking this question and got lots of good advice...

It's annoying to have to choose between dry firing or keeping the gun stored with tension on the firing pin since I don't love the idea of both.

So just trying to gather as much info on if either cause any long term harm, and if so, which is the better choice.

If keeping the gun cocked long term does no harm, that is what I'd prefer to do. I just have the idea that dry firing isn't good engrained in my head and it's not worth the stress for me even if that's unfounded.

Probably over-thinking it haha. I tend to over-baby my guns.
Probably over-thinking it haha. I tend to over-baby my guns.
No shame here treating firearms with kindness and delicacy... :D

The "don't dry-fire" rule relates mainly to rimfire rifles like .22LR. In that case, the firing pin will "pinch" the rim of the cartridge against the edge of the chamber of the barrel. With the brass case to take the punishment and ignite the primer substance in the rim when struck and deformed by the firing pin, no harm is usually done to the barrel. But when you dry-fire without a case or dummy in place, the firing pin "beats" upon the barrel. Over time this will indent the barrel face and the firing pin will not be able to deform the rim of the case sufficiently to ignite the primer.

I always keep a few expended .22 cases around should I wish to dry-fire for testing. These are a "poor mans" snap cap. ;)
Yellow plastic drywall anchors work as .22 snap caps too.

So many of my guns (including my 590) have been dry fired while completely unloaded, and then I safely load the magazine and put away.

I would not worry one bit about dry-firing before storage, but I know for a fact that a cocked action can sit for decades and still work like it was brand new. So If you want to load the magazine tube on a cocked action, and keep the chamber empty, you would be just fine if you don't dry-fire.
Springs are interesting. We don't worry about valve or suspension springs in our cars going bad. The valve springs in a drag race engine with 1" lift and 10,500 rpm may last 10 runs.