Storing Mags Fully Loaded Ruins Springs?


October 4, 2005, 09:56 PM
Ok I've got a question for y'all... Does storing magazines fully loaded damage the spring. I've been told both. The argument for the NO answer is that cycling the spring eg. loading and unloading the mag. is what wears it out. What do you guys say??? :confused:

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October 4, 2005, 10:04 PM
What I've always heard is that storing your mags fully loaded doesn't hurt the springs. Don't know if it's true or not. I usually do a rotation just to be safe. Every 6 months or so I'll buy a couple of new mags and load them up as my carry mags. That does a couple of things. One, it lets the springs "rest" (if indeed they need to). Two, it gives me a lot of mags. After I've got 8-10 mags for any one gun then I'll stop buying new ones and just rotate them every 6 months or so.

That being said, I've heard stories of mags being fully loaded for years and years and still function just fine when they finally get shot. I think frequent trips to the range does more to the springs than anything.

October 4, 2005, 10:30 PM
Ok I've got a question for y'all... Does storing magazines fully loaded damage the spring.


I've been told both. The argument for the NO answer is that cycling the spring eg. loading a and unloading the mag. is what wears it out.


What do you guys say???

October 4, 2005, 11:12 PM

M2 Carbine
October 5, 2005, 01:07 AM
I leave mags loaded for months and years at a time.
The only springs I've ever replaced was a couple weak M1 Carbine springs from mags with an unknown history.

Back in the early 1960's a co worker gave me a 1911 magazine that had been brought back from WW1 (with the pistol) by his Grandfather. He didn't know what happened to the gun but for as long as he could remember the magazing had been in a drawer, fully loaded. He brought it to work and asked if I wanted it. It was loaded with about 1917-18 ammo as I recall. The ammo all fired but was weak. The spring was fine and the mag is mixed up with my other 45 mags. I don't know which one it is.

October 5, 2005, 01:15 AM
Here is my take on it:

If its good spring steel, it should be good for a long time. When you take spring steel spring, and compress it for a while, it will likely not put the same pressure at the end of its travel, compared to when it was new. However, the springs should be sized to a point that something like that wouldn't be a major problem, for a long time (provided good steel is used).

October 5, 2005, 02:28 AM
While the springs themselves wont take a set from staying compressed what about the side walls of the magazine, partilcularly the location where they attach to the floor plate and the lips? is it not possible that the internal pressure of a loaded magazaine will place undue wear at these locations?

October 5, 2005, 02:32 AM
interesting article.
But I have sone questions and if some one can give me an honest answer I'd would listen.

If spring steel doesn't wear out, why is an old mag spring shorter then the new one? I have taken mags that have sat new in the package pulled out the springs and pulled the springs out of ones that I bought at the same time and used for a few months and they are obviously shorter.

Why do recoil springs "wear out"? all manufactures will have a recomended recoil replacement round count. some where between 5000 and 20000 rounds for most depending on caliber.

I think spring "set" may be an exaggerated problem, but there is absolutly some shortening if left compressed. Every agency I've worked for has reccomended downloading and rotating the mags on RDO's or when going on vacation.

October 5, 2005, 02:53 AM
I've often wondered this myself. There's lots of conflicting info out there. But in reality, I don't think it matters either way. Someone pointed me to the valve springs on a car example. The valve springs in a car engine can sit compressed for decades in a museum, but will still work just fine if it's started. Maybe that's apples to oranges, I don't know, but until I find that I've ruined a mag by leaving it loaded, I won't worry about it.

1 old 0311
October 5, 2005, 07:56 AM
Compressed springs do NOT take a "set" or wear out. Springs get "weak" from use.


October 5, 2005, 10:48 AM
If the spring is well designed (with respect to the composition and processing of the metal), there will be no problem. However, it is possible (but not usually likely) for a spring to "wear out" by staying loaded.

A metal can undergo a process known as stress relaxation. This process is related to temperature and the stress applied; hot environments will increase the rate (so that if loaded for a year or two the spring may not be as 'springy'), while in cool/cold environments it may not occur in your lifetime. However again, this is a slow process at all but the highest temperatures, that is why it's unlikely to happen.

The compression/decompression of the springs can also affect the lifetime. This process is known as fatigue, and can result in the fracture of the steel, but will not "wear it out". Once again, good design will prevent this.

October 5, 2005, 06:48 PM
Wolff spring company says doesn't hurt. I guess the could say different and sell a lot more springs.

October 5, 2005, 07:44 PM
Depends on the type of magazine, the magazine design and the spring quality.

Single-stack magazines don't seem to wear out from being loaded, but some double-stack designs are designed such that the spring is coil-bound when the magazine is fully loaded. That can cause springs to wear out, even without cycling.

And lower quality springs can fail from compression without cycling and without even being heavily compressed.

October 5, 2005, 07:45 PM
I think as long as you use good name brand mags - no problem leaving them loaded

chris in va
October 5, 2005, 09:36 PM
I don't care what anybody says. My Wolff 'extra power' springs are pretty damn flaccid now after a few months of mostly storage. Come to think of it, they were never really that strong to begin with, now the rounds just press in with minimal effort. :cuss:

October 6, 2005, 09:23 AM
using the a spring alot such as a recoil spring will subject it to repeated stress. It will be loaded up, unloaded, loaded, etc. Some parts are designed to have a life cycle at a set number before expected failure, with a safety margin. So probably 3000 rounds on a recoil spring is a conservative estimate depending on the quality of the spring. So assuming that your mag springs are not exceeding the yield point, unloading and then loaded and so on would actually do more damage then just keeping them loaded. (in theory).

repeated stress and fatigue are related.

Something like that anyway, i've been out of school for like half a year now and i don't have my text books here with me... I starting to think my brain is taking a set! :eek:

October 6, 2005, 11:06 AM
I don't have the magazine anymore, but I once read an article by Chuck Taylor where he was describing the many tortures he had subjected his Glock 17 to over the years...

Anyway, one of his comments that I took particular interest in was that he noted that GLOCK magazines (can't speak for the others) did tend to wear out quickly (with use I'm sure) if you kept them fully loaded. He said that (again, his experience), if he kept his magazine downloaded to 15 rounds, or installed a +2 baseplate and used 17 rounds, his mags did not wear out, even with YEARS of use.

This information is pretty much in line with what JohnKSa said about double-stacks, and also what I've noticed when disassembling mags, removing the springs, inserting the follower and rounds, then looking to see how much space is left for the spring. With the Glock squeezing in normally 2 extra rounds into the same size pistol, I bet those springs are pretty darned "coil-bound".

For my wife's "bedside" Glock 19, I did as Chuck suggested and installed a +2 baseplate and only loaded 15+1. For my bedside USP45, I don't download, but I don't "top off" my 12 round mags. I figure as big as those .45 rounds are, that leaves me enough room.

I was brutally insulted years ago on this website for stating my magazine practices, (something about "what do you load in your P32, 2 rounds, 3? Why not just carry a derringer you moron") so before it happens again, I do NOT download my single stack pistols and I DO top them off as those springs don't appear to be as compressed anyway... The bigger the mag, the longer the spring, the higher the capacity, the more consideration I give to downloading by 1 or 2 rounds.

October 6, 2005, 11:21 AM
The answer is that it depends.

My hipower has an KRD surplus 15 rounder in it. The springs are very strong, too strong really. The solution from a number of Hipower boards? Load em up and then leave them be. After a month the spring will be much more workable, but will still be strong enough to do its job.

My solution was to buy 15 round mec-gars.

August 11, 2006, 12:08 AM
Just to throw this out there, I bought 3, 13 rd mags for my Glock 23 in 1998.
They have been loaded everyday since then, with the exception of range trips, when pressing the trigger unloaded them. :D

They still work just like the day I got 'em. I never measured the springs when new, so I can't compare them now, but the mags work 100% with all kinds of loads.

I thought that was interesting after reading the mag threads, and noticing an overall opinion that double stack mags differ from single in spring life.

August 11, 2006, 01:01 AM
I thought that was interesting after reading the mag threads, and noticing an overall opinion that double stack mags differ from single in spring life.CAN differ.

The real difference is mag design and materials quality.

Walt Sherrill
August 11, 2006, 08:22 PM
The Wolff Springs website says words to this effect:

1) Springs that are compressed to their design limits will wear/die more quickly than springs that aren't.

2) They recommend downloading a hi-cap mag a round or two (to avoid that design limit.)

They note that 7-round 1911 mags and similar non-hi-caps can be kept loaded fully for years without problems. But that hi-cap mags (which generally use the same mag tube but must compress the springs more to fit the extra rounds in) don't survive as long.

I've been lead to believe that cycling the springs will slowly (very slowly) degrade them -- but unless that cycling pushes the spring to extremes, its not a big deal. They'll probably outlast the gun (or in the case of rocker valves, the car engine.)

Letting the mag spring rest without any rounds (i.e., unloaded) doesn't improve a thing. Rotating springs/mags doesn't improve a thing -- it just delays the wear by spreading it over a larger number of mags.

Guys who participate here who shoot air guns which rely on springs will tell you that leaving a spring fully compressed will kill it quickly. Its a fact of the air gun world.

So whether a mag will degrade when fully loaded depends on its design... and just because its a factory hi-cap doesn't mean it WON'T...

Most of my hi-cap are physically identical to my 10-round mags; the difference is the followers and springs. The spring in the hi-cap must work harder. Which spring do you think will last longer? I know, from experience, that the 10-rounders are going to outlast me.

August 11, 2006, 09:23 PM
...and Wolff is in business to sell... exactly what?
Hmmmm...can you say, vested interest? (or, maybe, conflict of interest?)

Color me skeptical. That said (tm) I generally download my semi-auto mags by one round.:uhoh:

Walt Sherrill
August 11, 2006, 10:22 PM
Wolff gives advice and direction to help YOU PROLONG spring life (by downloading a round or two.)

How, exactly, does THAT help Wolff sell springs?

August 12, 2006, 02:47 AM perpetuating the "myth" that springs wear simply from from over- compression?

Most everyone else seems to believe that springs wear from repeated "cycling". If you do a search, I believe you will find that appears to be the consensus.

That said, I am not a metallugist, and have already admitted to erring on the side of caution, logically or otherwise...

August 12, 2006, 03:20 AM
Most everyone else seems to believe that springs wear from repeated "cycling".Unfortunately, in this case, as in many others, popular opinion is not a good measure of accuracy.

In the IDEAL case, springs don't wear out from compression. In the real world, that statement must be qualified if it is to be accurate. Walt nailed it as did Wolff.

Springs can and do wear out from being compressed under the proper circumstances. It can be (and has been) demonstrated in easily reproducible experiments and the effects can be quantified.

If the metallurgy is done right and the magazine design does not over-compress the spring, then the spring's not going to wear out from cycling OR compression anytime in the next few decades.

However, even a very high quality spring can be weakened by being over-compressed, and that weakening progresses the longer it is left over-compressed.

There are some links in one of my other posts on this thread if you want to read more.That said (tm) I generally download my semi-auto mags by one round.Some magazines benefit from this treatment due to their design, others do not. Rather than arbitrarily downloading all your magazines, I would recommend checking your loaded mags frequently to see if the springs are weakening. If not, then don't bother downloading them. If they do, then replace the springs (they're cheap) and download those mags by a round or two in the future.

August 12, 2006, 11:10 AM
The chances are 50-50 -- either it will or it won't. :D

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