How can you tell if a recoil spring is worn out?


January 21, 2003, 02:47 PM
How can you tell if it's time to change springs, especially in a used firearm? Or is it just a given that you change the springs?

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Walt Sherrill
January 21, 2003, 02:55 PM
Well, if the spent casings are being sent into the next county, rather than 5'-7' away, that's a good indication...

Bottom Gun
January 21, 2003, 04:51 PM
Easiest way with pistols such as 1911's is to keep a new spare spring and compare it to the old spring occasionally. The springs will compress with use.
When the old spring is about an inch sorter than the free length of the new spring, time to replace and start the cycle again.

January 21, 2003, 08:30 PM
For the money change it every 2-3K rounds, regardless of what condition you think it is in. If the gun is shot little a spring change should be done more often, say 1000 rounds.

Double Naught Spy
January 21, 2003, 10:08 PM
Strange, when my springs get worn out, they weaken and end up not throwing the brass as far as compared to a new spring.

Nero Steptoe
January 22, 2003, 09:47 AM
"Strange, when my springs get worn out, they weaken and end up not throwing the brass as far as compared to a new spring."

Not only strange, but contrary to the laws of physics outside of Texas! :)

Walt Sherrill
January 22, 2003, 11:35 AM
Perhaps not intuitively obvious, but it sometimes happens.

When the spring is too worn/light, the extracted round hits the ejector and BOUNCES FORWARD! (I've seen and heard of this with a few guns.)

As to the comment about -- that if you shoot the gun less, change the spring every 1000 rounds -- I don't think so. Springs fatique/wear with activity, not inactivity. (Take that recommendation to its logical conclusion, and you'd have to change the springs once a year if you shot a gun once a year...)

Wolff recommends 3000-5000 rounds for most guns, but gives you some ways to assess. They suggest changing recoil springs far more frequently in COMPACT guns, as compact springs must work much harder (because of their smaller size) to do the same job.

Check out Wolff at ( and look for the Frequently Asked Questions

January 22, 2003, 11:41 AM
YIKES! :what: Sounds like ALL my guns need new recoils springs!

January 22, 2003, 12:32 PM
On "Smart Guns" the CHECK GUN light will come on.:D

January 22, 2003, 01:26 PM
One rule of thumb is to have a spare recoil spring to compare with. When your spring that is in use has compressed two coils shorter than an unused spring, it is time for a change.
How long a spring lasts depends on a couple factors. What load you are using, and what gun you are using. The hotter the load, the more abuse the spring takes. The lighter the slide, the more abuse the spring takes. If you are using a compensated gun, the spring takes less abuse than an uncompensated gun. So, if you decide that you are going to replace the spring after X number of rounds, remember that this rule of thumb only applies if you are shooting the same ammo all the time. And it only applies to similar guns.
Another method to use only applies if you use a shok-buff. The shok-buff should last about 1000 rounds. If you start chewing them up more frequently, then the spring needs replaced.
When I buy a new autoloader, I change all the springs in the gun before I ever fire it. Wolff offers spring pacs that contain all the springs for a particular gun.
With the relatively low cost of springs, it doesn't make sense to ignore them. If you are not shooting typical loads out of your gun; real light loads or real heavy loads for that caliber, you might want to also try a Wolff calibration pac. This contains a range of springs that will allow you to try different springs to find the best spring for your load. I try to use the heaviest spring that will allow my gun to function reliably with that load. This gives you maximum protection for your frame. Once you find the appropriate spring from the spring calibration pac, you take that spring out and replace it with a new spring of that weight and return the calibration spring to the set, so that the next time you use the calibration pac, you have all the springs in the set.

January 22, 2003, 01:34 PM
I always replace the recoil spring (at least) on a used gun, buffer too if it has one. I bought a Buck Mark once whose owner had never replaced the recoil spring or buffer. The recoil rod was BENT from this lack of maintenance.

Smaller gun, harder working spring makes sense to me, at least in the same caliber.

Springs are cheap compared to a battered frame or other potential problems, especially in a gun where other parts are hard to come by or have been custom fit. Good shooting.

January 22, 2003, 02:13 PM
Preventing the slide from battering the frame is one of the functions of a recoil spring. If it's too weak, the battering will be more severe.

But, the main function of the recoil spring is to return the slide to battery. If the spring is too weak, the slide will not go that last tenth of an inch or so into battery, necessitating a rap or push on the rear end of the slide. This can be pronounced where guns are a little dirty and/or the diameter of the round is a wee bit large. I've seen this problem many times in armories where the guns are stored on pegs with the actions locked open.

So I would put the signs of a weak spring at:
1. Persistent cases of slide not returning to battery.
2. Tossing cases much farther than usual.
3. Evidence of slide on frame battering. There may be wear marks in new places or some dings a bit deeper. Clearly, if recoil buffers are getting chewed up more rapidly than usual, that's a sign.

One final note. if you are using loads hotter than your typical generic non +P rounds, in any bullet weight, consider using a spring a few pounds heavier than issue. Call Wolff and they can help you with this. Remember that you should probably change your mag springs to a heavier weight at the same time.


Jim K
January 22, 2003, 02:48 PM
When the slide does not return to battery or does so slowly.


January 22, 2003, 06:37 PM

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