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Review: Cool Fire Trainer

Ask just about any defensive-pistol instructor, and they’ll tell you that the key to success on the range is dry-fire practice at home. Pressing the trigger is the last thing that happens before the gun goes “BANG!” As a result, any movement of your pistol that happens as you press the trigger is going to throw your sights off-target and your shot as well. That movement can be minimized with a good trigger press, and that is definitely something you can learn during dry-fire practice. 

The problem is, dry-fire practice is, well, rather dry. It’s the firearm equivalent of eating your vegetables with no butter or melted cheese on them. Sure, it’s good for you, but it’s hard to do when that juicy, meaty range time with your friends is calling out to you. 

Add In The Recoil 

The Cool Fire Trainer is meant to help make dry-fire practice a little more palatable. At its heart, the Cool Fire Trainer is a cylinder full of compressed CO2 gas which replaces the barrel of your pistol. The cylinder releases a small amount of gas when struck by the firing pin, which re-creates what happens when your gun fires with actual ammo in it.

To see how much the Cool Fire Trainer replicates the effect of firing a pistol, I asked them for a “Bronze” kit for this review. Inside the pouch it came in was a barrel/cylinder setup, an adapter for use with a CO2 bottle, two replacement tips for the striker which activates the gas release, a small vial of grease and two Tap/Rack training aids which allow you to cycle the action with a magazine installed in the pistol.  

The Cool Fire Bronze package is currently available for 1911 pistols in .45 ACP with 5-inch barrels and Glock G17, G19, G43/G43X and G45 pistols in the Gen 2-5 variants. In addition to this, the system also currently supports the SIG Sauer P226, P229, P320 Compact/Carry and Full Size pistols in 9mm and .40 S&W, along with the SIG Sauer P365 and P365XL. 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P, M&P Shield and M&P Shield Plus are also supported, as well as the Springfield Armory Hellcat, Hellcat Pro and the 9mm Walther PDP in the 4-inch barrel version. 

Filling the training barrel took a little work to figure out, but inside the package was a QR code which led to an instruction video that walked me through it. After that, it was a simple matter of unloading and disassembling my pistol and replacing the live barrel and recoil spring with the Cool Fire Trainer and trying it out for myself. 

The recoil impulse of this unit is different from live ammo. I was able to perceive the movement of the slide and could track my sights as the barrel raised up due to the “recoil” after each trigger press. This is an essential skill for more-advanced shooters, so it was nice to see it and learn to track it during dry fire before learning how to see the same thing during live fire. 

Testing The Cool Fire Trainer 

Installed barrelBut just how different is the recoil from the Cool Fire Trainer versus that from firing live ammo? 

To find out, I took a Ransom Rest to the range and used it in conjunction with my Gen 4 Glock G19 to compare how much recoil is produced by the Cool Fire Trainer versus live ammo. The Ransom Rest holds the gun in a clamp and removes any movement the user might add to the process of firing the gun. In addition to this, the rest rotates on a pin and moves upwards when fired to absorb the recoil of each shot, removing the user from the process of dealing with recoil. 

Using 115-grain Federal FMJ ammo, the Ransom Rest moved upwards an average of 2⅛ inches over five shots. The Cool Fire Trainer, on the other hand, moved the rest upwards almost half that amount, an average of 1¼ inches over five shots. 

Test setupNow keep in mind that these results show how much the Ransom Rest moves under recoil, not a human being. Your ability to control the movement of the gun after it’s fired will probably be different than these results. However, this does suggest that the force generated from the Cool Fire Trainer is approximately half that of a live round being fired. 

I have found that people who do a lot of dry-fire practice can develop a flinch or a startle response when it comes time to send live rounds downrange. I’ve also found that those kinds of people can also try to “preload” the recoil and press their pistol slightly downwards when firing live ammo, trying to anticipate the recoil that’s about to happen. Given the fact that the Cool Fire Trainer can help with both of those issues and help you learn how to track the sights during recoil, the Cool Fire Trainer is worth looking into if you’re looking to improve your marksmanship using dry-fire practice. 

MSRP for the Cool Fire Trainer Bronze package is $389.99, and more information is available at

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