Leaving Magazines Loaded (Since This Comes Up So Often)


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cslinger
July 19, 2009, 06:01 PM
This seems to come up quite a bit and the answer is given good quality magazine springs leaving them compressed does not fatigue them, the constant cycling of them fatigues them.

At any rate I have left a 20 round M1A magazine loaded to capacity for about 2 years now and decided to take it out to the range today.

Everything cycled just fine, no issues, weak ejection etc. or problems of any kind.

Just thought I would provide another data point for those who ask this.

Chris

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zoom6zoom
July 19, 2009, 06:18 PM
I'll see your data point and raise you a USGI 1911 mag that functioned 100% after being left loaded for at least 30 years.

inSight-NEO
July 19, 2009, 06:32 PM
Thank you both for that. However, I choose to download by 2 rounds (for high cap mags) and one round for single stacks. For the shotgun, I essentially adhere to the same concept. Although, for the shotgun, it has less to do with springs and more to do with maintaining ammo integrity over the long term.

Given that some of these are HD weapons, I prefer to be safe rather than sorry. Ill leave the experimentation to others.

Larry Ashcraft
July 19, 2009, 06:33 PM
I have a Ruger 20 round Mini-14 mag that has been loaded since the early 80s. Works just fine when I need it.

rcmodel
July 19, 2009, 06:39 PM
I'll see your M-14 mag AND your 1911 mag, and raise you a 1936 Colt Woodsman mag that still had pre-war copper case LR's in it when I bought the gun from an estate five years ago. Stayed fully loaded at least 70+ years with that old ammo and still functions fine.

I also have bought 1911 GI mags at estate sales that were fully loaded with 1917-18 dated GI ammo. And they worked and still work too.

Some of my AR-15 mags have only been loaded since 1970 when I got out of the Army and might have "forgot" to turn them in.

rc

inSight-NEO
July 19, 2009, 06:44 PM
Ok...the "evidence" for mag spring reliability (over the long term) has been supported here (to a degree) as relating to handguns or rifles, but what about shotguns? If the spring itself does not lose integrity while loaded over extended periods of time...what about the ammo itself? I have read/heard numerous accounts of shotgun ammo losing its "integrity" when stored within a mag tube for too long.

I have to add that this topic, any and all "proof" aside, is as subjective as "which caliber is best," "which gun lubricant/cleaner is best," religion, politics, etc. The only common denominator I can see with all of this is that each topic deals with many variables. Each variable can and usually does lead to several "offspring" arguments...which leads to more arguments...which leads to...well, you get the idea.

kda
July 19, 2009, 07:20 PM
I am glad I found this site. It is the free exchange of solid "first hand" user information and experiences like this that make participation worthwhile not to mention fun.

coloradokevin
July 19, 2009, 07:28 PM
Well, consider this:

Every cop you have ever met probably has three (or more) magazines that he/she keeps loaded to capacity at all times! My current duty weapon is a Glock 37, and the magazines for this gun have been loaded continuously for about 5 years. In that time I've certainly put more than a few thousand rounds through the gun (I lost count long ago, but I'd estimate that the round count is between 8,000 to 10,000 at the moment).

No failures to date.

cslinger
July 19, 2009, 07:28 PM
As far as shotguns go I have traditionally shoot mine a decent amount but recently haven't been able to until the 4th. I ran a tube of ammo that had been loaded for about a year / year and half or so and it ran just fine.

Chris

coloradokevin
July 19, 2009, 07:29 PM
I am glad I found this site. It is the free exchange of solid "first hand" user information and experiences like this that make participation worthwhile not to mention fun.

Welcome aboard! You can find your answers to nearly any gun related question here if you ask around a bit!

inSight-NEO
July 19, 2009, 07:32 PM
Every cop you have ever met probably has three (or more) magazines that he/she keeps loaded to capacity at all times!

When you say "at all times," do you mean that the ammo in these mags stay within the mags for extended periods (months or more)? Or do you mean that these mags are kept loaded at all times, but with the ammo itself being swapped on a fairly regular basis? Also, if the ammo is stored within the mags for months on end, if not longer, are they loaded to max capacity or downloaded by a round or two?

Just curious.


Keep in mind that Im not disavowing any experiences here...Im just seeking to further my "education" relating to the topic at hand. After all, I have heard numerous conflicting reports regarding spring fatigue/ammo integrity as related to this very subject.

oneounceload
July 19, 2009, 08:01 PM
Compression does not weaken springs - working the springs weakens them..Insight - think of taking a paper clip and working it back and forth and it eventually weakens and breaks - springs have the same analogy issues.

orvpark
July 19, 2009, 08:42 PM
The only shotgun ammo problems I have seen was in a Saiga Mag. They just are not designed for sideloads. I wouldn't worry about them at all in a tube.

coloradokevin
July 20, 2009, 06:18 AM
When you say "at all times," do you mean that the ammo in these mags stay within the mags for extended periods (months or more)? Or do you mean that these mags are kept loaded at all times, but with the ammo itself being swapped on a fairly regular basis? Also, if the ammo is stored within the mags for months on end, if not longer, are they loaded to max capacity or downloaded by a round or two?

Just curious.

Sorry, I should have been more specific.

My magazines are pretty much loaded with duty ammo at all times (Speer Gold Dot in my department). However, we are required to qualify with our weapons on a quarterly basis, which does involve changing out the ammo. So, each quarter we go down to the range, empty our magazines, and fill them with our practice ammo for qualifications. When we finish we'll reload the magazines with our duty ammo.

Every year during the fourth quarter we shoot through the duty ammo, then get replacement ammo.

So, for all intents and purposes, the magazines spend their lives fully loaded, though they do get cycled from time-to-time during qualifications and such (because I'm a shooter type myself, mine get cycled far more often than the magazines do for officers who only shoot on qualification days). Our duty ammo is swapped out on an annual basis, though I imagine it would probably be good for a MUCH longer period of time. Finally, I keep my Glock magazines filled to capacity, but do download my AR-15 magazines by two rounds.

TiredOleMan
July 20, 2009, 08:22 AM
I'd like to thank you all for saving me some time & frustration. About a month ago I bought 3 Ruger 20-capacity mags and loaded each of them with 18 rounds a piece (carryover habit from the experience with my M-16 in the service), I had no sooner completed this when I was being told its not smart to leave mags loaded for any period of time, it weakens the springs. After reading this thread I'm leaving them loaded & not even worrying. Thanks again.

DMK
July 20, 2009, 08:33 AM
I keep all my mags loaded and have never had any problems. I hate loading mags at the range and I like to be able to grab my stuff and go on a whim. The only time I bring boxed ammo to the range is when I shoot revolvers or bolt actions.

I have an ammo can full of AR mags, a canvas bag full of AK mags and wooden box full of FAL mags. They all have been loaded for more than at least 5 years. When I come back from the range, I reload them right after cleaning my guns and put them on the bottom or back of the container to rotate through them all.

I do the same for my handguns. I usually have two or three loaded with carry ammo and another bunch loaded with FMJ. I shoot off the carry ammo first then shoot up a bunch of FMJ as time allows. When I get home, I load the last carry mags with FMJ and use another set for carry ammo to rotate through (I scribe numbers on my mags to ID them).

I load all my mags to full capacity except AR mags which I download to 29 to make it easier to insert a mag on a closed bolt.

Dravur
July 20, 2009, 09:57 AM
I took an AR mag, went back in time to 1881 and put it in a safety deposit box in a bank. I just retrieved it and shot it and everything went fine.

mbt2001
July 20, 2009, 10:02 AM
Springs going bad and causing FTF's are more of a problem for double stack magazines than single stack. Happened to me when I bought a G19 from my boss a few years back. He kept the hi cap mags FULLY loaded for who knows how long (I am guessing 10 years as it is a 1st gen Glock and hadn't been shot) and they were bad. I had to rebuild them.

MOSTLY, it only makes itself apparent in the last 3 or so rounds.

Madcap_Magician
July 20, 2009, 10:48 AM
Springs only 'wear' when they're in motion. A compressed spring or a relaxed one doesn't 'wear out' by staying that way.

71Commander
July 20, 2009, 10:48 AM
mbt2001- I'd say that the springs were already bad when he last loaded them. Not because of the length of time that they were loaded.

musick
July 20, 2009, 10:54 AM
My experience:

Back in '95 I bought a G17 mag that was a police trade in. I assume it was loaded/reloaded numerous times. It has been kept loaded w/ 17rds. since then and is the first mag I fire at the range. I then reload and put away, finishing up my range time with the 10rd Glock mags. Never a hiccup.

I have a Chinese made 30rd AK mag that is filled to capacity. Has been that way since '94. I follow the same procedure (shoot it empty, reload and put away) and again, never a problem.

HoosierQ
July 20, 2009, 10:59 AM
OK. Here's a wrinkle...plastic mags. I have a 1991 era 2nd Gen Glock 17. I believe that it is all plastic, lacking the steel liners that the new ones have. When loaded with 17 rounds, the mags bulge a bit such that a full mag does not drop free...which in and of itself is just fine as I prefer my full mags staying put anyway.

So it has been established that the steel springs do not weaken over time but rather weaken with cyclic activity. How about the plastic magazine body itself? Obviously it bulges. Is there somebody out there with sufficient knowledge of plastics to answer this question? I am not even sure it is relevant. I would think if the spring is good, the mag would be good even if the body were a little stressed. I leave one of my 17-rounders loaded at all times with all 17 and one in the chamber bedside. Downloading to 16 or 15 (which I used to do) doesn't change the dropping free thing at all.

Just wondering. Good thread.

mbt2001
July 20, 2009, 11:00 AM
mbt2001- I'd say that the springs were already bad when he last loaded them. Not because of the length of time that they were loaded.

Well, the point is obvious. It can and does happen. I think it comparitively rare, especially if you keep your mags clean and free of gunk. Double stacks are more likely, IMO because they are fatter mags. More room for gunk and grit to get in to them and cause the problems.

musick
July 20, 2009, 11:08 AM
OK. Here's a wrinkle...plastic mags. I have a 1991 era 2nd Gen Glock 17. I believe that it is all plastic, lacking the steel liners that the new ones have. When loaded with 17 rounds, the mags bulge a bit such that a full mag does not drop free...which in and of itself is just fine as I prefer my full mags staying put anyway.

So it has been established that the steel springs do not weaken over time but rather weaken with cyclic activity. How about the plastic magazine body itself? Obviously it bulges. Is there somebody out there with sufficient knowledge of plastics to answer this question? I am not even sure it is relevant. I would think if the spring is good, the mag would be good even if the body were a little stressed. I leave one of my 17-rounders loaded at all times with all 17 and one in the chamber bedside. Downloading to 16 or 15 (which I used to do) doesn't change the dropping free thing at all.

Just wondering. Good thread.

Good point.

My 17rd police trade in is not lined. It didnt drop free, even when empty when I bought it. Obviously, it still doesnt drop free. No FTF though.

cslinger
July 20, 2009, 11:08 AM
Early all plastic Glock mags have been known to split. The metal lined ones have never had this issue.

SHusky57
July 21, 2009, 08:10 PM
+1 for revolvers?

inSight-NEO
July 21, 2009, 08:41 PM
coloradokevin-

Thanks for expanding upon your original post...I appreciate it.

This topic seems like a never-ending debate in which even pros seem to disagree at times; hence my overall confusion regarding this matter.

While I do rotate my mags every 6 months or so, its more out of habit than anything else. Were I to discontinue this routine, Im sure I would still make it a point to download single stack mags by one round and double stacks by two. Ditto for the shotgun either without or with a mag tube extension.

Still...useful info everybody. It has certainly give me something more to think about.

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