Topping off a magazine.


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igousigloo
October 20, 2011, 10:54 PM
I have never topped of one of my magazines, but at a defensive pistol practice we were told to top of our magazines after loading. My magazine seemed to snap in after refilling but after the first round fired it did not reload. After checking I found that the magazine had dropped slightly and did not pick up the next round. I checked and a full magazine would not lock in on a closed chamber. I never had this problem before without topping off.

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T Bran
October 20, 2011, 11:11 PM
I have allways topped off my mags the only one that ever gave me any trouble was an after market mag in my MINI 30 rifle. None of my pistol mags have given me any trouble but they are all factory mags. If your pistol dont like it dont do it . Id rather have reliability than just one more shot.
Luck
T

montgomery381
October 20, 2011, 11:11 PM
I have always topped off my magazines in both my Glock 27 and Sig 226, both are .40 S&W. I have never had that issue with either pistol. What kind of pistol were you using?

9mmepiphany
October 20, 2011, 11:21 PM
You're not seating your magazines fully...if I had to guess, I'd say you are used to babying them into the magazine well. What kind of gun are we talking about?

1. The magazine did not drop down slightly. If it had been locked in, it would not be able to drop at all
2. The snap you are hearing/feeling is the top round hitting the bottom of the slide
3. If your gun would lock the magazine in before, there is nothing wrong with the magazines or the magazine catch. You're not pushing the magazine in with enough force.

The magazines are not meant to be pushed in gently until the magazine catch snaps into the locking notch. Once correctly aligned with the magazine well, the magazine is meant to be rammed into the gun forcefully.

igousigloo
October 20, 2011, 11:37 PM
It is a Kimber pro carry II and I smack them in pretty hard. No problem with one round out but it does not like it full.

Drail
October 20, 2011, 11:48 PM
Just download it by one round. Compressing the stack in the mag to the point where it causes any difficulty locking the mag into the gun is bad design. It also places too much stress on your mag spring and follower. People place way too much emphasis on capacity these days. Trying to overcome this problem by "smacking the mag" harder isn't solving the problem.

igousigloo
October 20, 2011, 11:51 PM
My point exactly!

9mmepiphany
October 21, 2011, 12:01 AM
If your Kimber really won't lock a full magazine in, it is malfunctioning...I'd send it back to the manufacturer to be corrected.

On another note, it could also well be a magazine malfunction. I've had the best luck with McCormick PowerMags in 8 round configuration and Metalform, with the rounded top followers, in the 7 round configuration.

You are, of course, welcome to carry with only a partially loaded magazine...just be aware that it isn't performing the way it should be performing. In it's current state, you wouldn't be able to utilize a Tactical Reload with a fully loaded magazine

TexasRifleman
October 21, 2011, 12:05 AM
Yeah you should not have to download one round to get the mag to seat. Gun or magazines are faulty. Suspect the mags first.

Drail
October 21, 2011, 12:05 AM
8 round magazines cause this problem in most 1911s to some degree. This has been going on for a very long time. I have used 8 round McCormick mags for many years in USPSA but only load 7 in them. Just because some geek shows up and says "I can jam another round in there!!!" doesn't mean it is an intelligent idea. The gun is not defective. This is just the way it is. If Browning could have jammed another round into a single stack do you think he would have done it? Maybe all "enhanced" capacity mags should come with a hammer to get it locked in to "defective" guns.

Skribs
October 21, 2011, 12:06 AM
Were you told to top off as part of the training exercise or as a "requirement" for carrying? I believe whether or not to top off should be left to your personal opinion. I don't top off mine. Some days I carry my Ruger (5 rounds) so when I carry my XDm, I'm not worried about whether I have 16 or 17. I do like having a place to put the bullet when I clear my weapon (back in the magazine).

Drail
October 21, 2011, 12:21 AM
Whenever you "force" an 8 round mag into a single stack 1911 you are crushing the mag and follower into the bottom of the mag. If you like your magazines to function reliably for a long time don't do that. In time you will start seeing failures of the mag to get the last two rounds up in time for the slide to pick it up - this because the mag spring was forced past its design limits and lost some of its temper. Now you et to buy some new springs. This is not some internet theory. This problem showed up when 8 rounders were introduced. People have always tried to find some way around it. Use the gun as it was designed. It will work a lot better and longer.

beatledog7
October 21, 2011, 01:20 AM
I don't top off. If I decide to carry a semi-auto, I load the mag full, chamber one, and let it go at that. If I'm carrying 16 rounds of 9mm or 15 of .40 and that many more in a spare mag, it'll do. If I need more than that I'm toast anyway.

9mmepiphany
October 21, 2011, 02:41 AM
I think so of you are missing the larger point. If your 1911 won't seat a full magazine, it means you won't be able to reload
1. a full magazine unless you have shot the gun dry...not a optimal tactical idea
2. unless you carry all your magazine downloaded by one

As TexasRifleman said this could easily be a magazine issue as well. There are 8 round magazines that have been known to cause feeding issues, but there are enough reliable ones out there to not have to settle for less. Remember that a 1911 magazine is considered a consumable item

BCRider
October 21, 2011, 02:54 AM
Every magazine should be able to compress about a half round worth even after loaded. As 9mm mentions if it won't do that then you'd never be able to load a full magazine unless the slide is locked back. And if an 8 round magazine has to be downloaded by one round to be able to lock into place then it's really not an 8 round capacity now, is it?

So stop making excuses for the gun or mags and get them fixed or replaced. Most mags have a travel limit to the follower. If a mag won't allow the last bullet to still have some depression then the follower can be trimmed slightly to let it compress the spring a little more.

I do find that sometimes the mags will bounce if I try to just slap them into place. Instead I now drive them firmly with a solid push at the end instead of a slap.

TexasRifleman
October 21, 2011, 10:50 AM
If Browning could have jammed another round into a single stack do you think he would have done it?

Yes actually, I believe he would have. Metallurgy has come a long way in 100 years. The springs in use in modern 8 round magazines will hold up in a way that they probably wouldn't have 100 years ago.

Drail
October 21, 2011, 11:08 AM
After seeing more than enough mag springs fail from over compression (and bent followers) I am unwilling to bet my life on the assumption that "modern" springs will feed the first and last round perfectly. It's not so much a matter of seating a stuffed mag into the gun as it is a matter of will the spring lift the last two rounds up fast enough to get them in front of the slide. Metallurgy has indeed come a long way since 1910 but that does not mean that all manufacturers are making use of these advancements. Sorry folks but it's all about cheap costs per unit and marketing and sales volume. And in my opinion it was not that way 100 years ago.

mgmorden
October 21, 2011, 12:41 PM
I top off my carry guns (realistically you're looking at an extra round of capacity for no more effort than pulling and reseating the magazine), but not just for general range plinking.

If your gun won't properly take a full mag with the slide closed though, then it's a problem. Probably a magazine problem rather than an actual gun problem though. If it turns out that it truly won't seat properly, then I'd try a different brand of mag like Wilson Combat.

Yes actually, I believe he would have. Metallurgy has come a long way in 100 years. The springs in use in modern 8 round magazines will hold up in a way that they probably wouldn't have 100 years ago.

There's that, but IIRC many modern 8-round mags also have a deeper column offered by a slightly protruding mag-base. A LOT of people use 8-round 1911 magazines these days. It might be easier to make a 7-round mag, but realistically the right brand of 8-rounders are fine too.

Bozwell
October 21, 2011, 12:54 PM
I wonder if the people suggesting this isn't a problem would have that same mentality in a gun other than a 1911. I can understand keeping magazines fully loaded for extended periods of time having some wear on the springs, but that's why mag springs are cheap and easily replaceable. I can even understand the argument that it's not a big problem, since we're only talking about 1 round less capacity per magazine. However, if the gun won't accept a fully loaded magazine of the shape and size it was designed to accept, then something is wrong (even if the gun is a sacrosanct 1911 :P).

As others have said, I'd test out different magazines and see if you experience the same problem with those. If not, problem solved - just use the different magazines. If so, I'd contact the manufacturer.

Jenrick
October 21, 2011, 02:07 PM
To everyone saying: "Dont use 8 round mags!" okay so what if a 7 round mag wouldn't lock in? Just download it to 6? Either the magazine is defective by having some porturbence that wont let the follower move or the spring compress fully, or the pistol has an issue that it's slightly out of spec in regards to the magazine catch.

Check and see if a 7 round mag full up will lock in, and if you 8 round mag full up will lock into someones else's pistol with the slide closed.

I also always top off my mags, and I carry as many rounds as I reasonably can. That may be just the mag in the gun, or it may be three spare mags. No one in the history of gun fighting has ever wished for: less ammo, less time, or less accuracy. I can at least control the first.

-Jenrick

HOOfan_1
October 21, 2011, 02:33 PM
I often top mine off on all my semi autos. P38, FNP, 1911, Glock. I also always insert the very first fully loaded mag into the gun with the slide in battery...never had a problem. If I did, then yeah I would think something was at fault. Most gun companies today advertise their capacities at "+1"

allaroundhunter
October 21, 2011, 02:42 PM
Honestly, if you want to "defend" your carry gear while it is obviously malfunctioning be my guest, but if any of my carry gear were to malfunction (especially like this) it would be retired and replaced with something that I could count on. My life is worth more than $30 for a new quality mag. JMHO.

It isn't the first mag not being topped off that is the big problem, it is the follow up tactical reloads that you won't be able to perform that can get you killed...

X-Rap
October 21, 2011, 03:30 PM
I don't worry about topping of except for my 380, I do believe that you need to be sure that subsequent mags will indeed engage and function. So many will promote a tactical reload before slidelock and I agree, thus my lack of concern topping off what is already 15-17 rounds and the reason I no longer carry a single stack for self defence.

Zerodefect
October 21, 2011, 03:56 PM
It's not unusual for some of the higher capacity plastic guns to come with weird magazines.

For example I've seen a few G22 mags that only hold 14 rounds. Not the proper 15. I have one myself. I tossed it into a range bag and got some fresh mags from Lonewolf for carry.

MedWheeler
October 22, 2011, 01:34 AM
Rather than remove and top off the mag, you could also utilize the recently-mentioned "Barney reload". Insert a magazine that is loaded with only one round into your gun and chamber that round. Remove the now-empty magazine and replace it with another, fully-loaded one. Your "Barney" magazine is an extra one, not used for carry.

FIVETWOSEVEN
October 22, 2011, 01:41 AM
The gun on my belt has one in the chamber and a fully loaded mag right behind it.

JohnKSa
October 22, 2011, 01:44 AM
Beretta actually suggests in their 92/96 magazines that it's better not to top off. They don't actually say not to do it, in fact they provide their recommended procedure for topping off. But they do say that not topping off "is an advantage because the magazine spring is not fully compressed but under about the same tension as a ... loaded spare magazine."

genstab
October 22, 2011, 02:52 PM
For what it's worth, I read somewhere that British troops were fined if their magazines in Hi-Powers were fully loaded. There was a belief that one round short of full made for greater reliability. So that's what I do- heck, I have one extra in the tube anyway.

Best regards,
Bill in Cleveland

Zerodefect
October 22, 2011, 09:43 PM
Well, yeah.

The first round and the last round in a magazine are the hardest to feed. Racking the slide after reloading is also another huge souce of malfunctions. I'll agree that one round less in the magazine in certain pistols is more reliable.

Try a competition that keeps a running point total for the entire year, like an autoracing championship, and also records failures and deducts points for that. It almost allways first, last, and reloads.

TexasRifleman
October 25, 2011, 05:03 PM
Yeah you should not have to download one round to get the mag to seat. Gun or magazines are faulty. Suspect the mags first.

Well, I thought of this thread today as I fought with a Springfield XDM in .40 with a full magazine.

I have to take back my statement above. This thing, with 16 rounds in a mag, wasn't designed by a human as far as I can tell.

You can get that 16th round in there with the loading tool that comes with the gun, but getting it to seat during a speed reload is about 50-50 unless you use a hammer :)

I now understand why some download one round, and I will do it always with this XDM on the rare occasion I carry the darned thing.

Fastcast
October 25, 2011, 05:36 PM
Well, I thought of this thread today as I fought with a Springfield XDM in .40 with a full magazine.

I have to take back my statement above. This thing, with 16 rounds in a mag, wasn't designed by a human as far as I can tell.

You can get that 16th round in there with the loading tool that comes with the gun, but getting it to seat during a speed reload is about 50-50 unless you use a hammer :)

I now understand why some download one round, and I will do it always with this XDM on the rare occasion I carry the darned thing.

No, it's defective....Send it back to the manufacture. :neener:

Just kidding ya but that aside, I've noticed this on many semi-autos.

I'm with Drail on this one but then I've argued on here before about always leaving high cap mags fully loaded, even when not in use and got an ear full about how it's perfectly fine.

You gentlemen keep right on smashing your mag springs to oblivion. I'll keep 'em one shy (no top off) and several shy when not in actual use. Reliability trumps everything and always running anything to the max, will without a doubt wear it out prematurely. That's my belief and I'm sticking to it. Blast away. :eek:

Waywatcher
October 25, 2011, 05:41 PM
I keep my Glock 23 (.40) mags loaded at -1 of full capacity. Much easier to seat the mag on a closed slide.

ny32182
October 25, 2011, 05:42 PM
How new are the mags/springs?

I ask because I am firmly in the camp of "smack the magazine in with authority", and given enough force, have never been unable to seat a fully loaded magazine this way until very recently, when I replaced the springs in the two G19 mags I carry with plus power ISMI units; the G19 versions of the ones I have gone to in my 34 for IDPA.

Since they were + power especially, getting 15 in the first time was quite difficult, and I could NOT get those puppies to seat on a closed slide with anything resembling a normal smashing in of the magazine, and I'm not a very small guy. These are the same mags, same followers, same gun that that task was easily accomplished with the relatively worn factory springs, so it is definitely the springs. They have been sitting loaded for a few days and I've been meaning to check them to see if they have broken in some.

That said, I have never "topped off" my carry pistol:

1) 15 vs. 16... meh, who cares? If it was 7 vs. 8 or something like that where one round represented a greater percentage of your total, maybe I would.

2) Gives me a spot to put the extra round if the gun is cleared.

3) I can feel a significant difference in how much drag there is on the slide, when there is 15 vs. 14 rounds in the mag. This is due to the extra upward pressure on the slide if it is cycling with a full 15 vs. 14.

Skribs
October 25, 2011, 06:32 PM
Well, I thought of this thread today as I fought with a Springfield XDM in .40 with a full magazine.

I have to take back my statement above. This thing, with 16 rounds in a mag, wasn't designed by a human as far as I can tell.

You can get that 16th round in there with the loading tool that comes with the gun, but getting it to seat during a speed reload is about 50-50 unless you use a hammer

I now understand why some download one round, and I will do it always with this XDM on the rare occasion I carry the darned thing.

It's really hard for me to get that last round in due to the pressure I must exert on the spring, but using either the Springfield loading tool or a general handgun magazine loader I haven't had any issues with it. I load up 16 rounds every time.

If your issue is with 16+1, then I don't know, because I don't top off. But if you're putting 16 rounds into an empty gun, you shouldn't have any issues if the gun and magazine are working correctly.

TexasRifleman
October 25, 2011, 06:46 PM
No, it's defective....Send it back to the manufacture.

Yeah I have that one coming for sure. :) I thought all you guys were crazy the other day when this thread started.

I guess being a mostly 1911 shooter I didn't really understand what you were getting at.

The problem was mainly with speed reloads when I had the new mag topped off. The usual "smack" just isn't enough, I had to spend valuable time pushing the mag to get it to lock. Drop one round out and the usual way works fine.

-1 for the big capacity double stacks, I'm a believer now.

Skribs
October 25, 2011, 07:21 PM
Did you have your thumb on the magazine release when slamming the magazine in?

I only ask because it can happen...
trust me...

Just don't ask how I know.

Mike1234567
October 25, 2011, 09:32 PM
The only mags I don't keep at their "advertised" capacity are M&P 14-round. The 14th round is very difficult loading in one mag and the other two won't accept a 14th round at all. Despite what S&W claims these are definitely 13 round mags. All other mags are kept topped off.

holdencm9
October 26, 2011, 01:11 AM
JohnKSa, I was wondering this about my Beretta 92FS. I had noticed that if I take a full mag and insert it with a closed slide, empty chamber, it goes in fine. If I chamber a round, top off the mag and try to re-insert it, it is real tough to get in. Not SUPER difficult, but noticeably harder to get it to seat. My question is why it is harder when a round is chambered versus empty? Shouldn't the mag spring be compressing the same either way? I know there is a loaded chamber indicator, does that somehow also put more pressure on the mag? Any info would be great. For now I don't top off the mag.

New member here but have been a longtime reader, it is a great site and great discussion here on THR. Thanks!

GLOOB
October 26, 2011, 01:17 AM
I have a series 80 Gold Cup that won't hold a full 8 round mag. Neither the one that came with it, nor the aftermarket one. I assumed that was normal with the 8-rounders, seeing as I have the grip and arm strength of a chimp, and I can't get it in all the way!

JohnKSa
October 26, 2011, 06:19 PM
My question is why it is harder when a round is chambered versus empty? Shouldn't the mag spring be compressing the same either way? I know there is a loaded chamber indicator, does that somehow also put more pressure on the mag? Any info would be great. For now I don't top off the mag.If the slide is forward, locking a full magazine into the gun should require the same amount of force whether a round is chambered or not. There's nothing I can see that would make a difference in the difficulty of inserting a full mag with the slide forward, chamber empty and the slide forward, chamber loaded.

Just to be sure, I did some experimentation with my 92 and I can't tell the difference.

1911Tuner
October 26, 2011, 06:28 PM
If Browning could have jammed another round into a single stack do you think he would have done it?

Nope. There's more to it than just the spring. It's unlikely that Browning and Colt's Dream Team was unaware that the magazine would physically hold 8 rounds. They probably even tried to make it work, and discovered the flaws.

The standard 7-round follower is kept stable on the last two rounds because the rear leg is long enough to allow three spring coils to bear against it. One in the bend at the top corner...one at the mid-point...and one near the bottom. Shortening the follower eliminates the one at the bottom, and the follower pitches forward on the last round. It not only offers a good chance for a misfeed, it can even become jammed against the frame and lock the gun up...or lock the magazine in the gun, making a fast change impossible. Neither does it provide positive slidestop lug engagement to lock the slide on empty.

Several reasons why they settled on 7 rounds. The main one being reliability...and that means more than just feed reliability.

HKGuns
October 26, 2011, 07:39 PM
I've never downloaded.

Only recently I noticed that my AR has trouble seating a fully loaded PMAG, I guess I never noticed at the range because the rules limit the number of rounds in a magazine. Those PMAGS are pretty hard to load to 30 anyway, so in that one 29 works just fine. It "can" be forced, but in a stressful situation you'd not want to have trouble seating a magazine. All of my pistols take a full magazine without issues, some better than others.

All of my HK's mount with the same force, full or empty, the 1911's require a more forceful seating and I've not paid a lot of attention to the others.

igousigloo
October 26, 2011, 09:54 PM
I think that some of the drills at the range are made to make you find problems like this. I would never have found this because the rounds in the magazine were enough for me. When i load the magazine I have to force the last round in and then smack the magazine on the heel of my hand to seat the last round. But I never tried to seat it in the gun with a closed cylinder. I tried it with an eight round magazine for a full sized 1911 and did not have a problem. I will just live with six in the mag and one in the cyl. A tactical reload is just a range drill anyway. All the people that I have talked to that were in a shooting situation shot at least one empty click before they knew they were empty.

holdencm9
October 26, 2011, 11:10 PM
JohnKSa, thanks for the response. Based on your experiment I went and experimented with mine again. I have noticed that one mag is tougher than the other (the one I keep full with 15 versus the one that sits in the gun with only 14) but both are easier than last time I checked. I'll just assume it was due to (relatively) new mags and now I have a few more rounds through it they are easier to push in. Next time at the range I will try topping off the mag and checking to see it doesn't cause any cycling issues. I doubt it will but just to be safe. Thanks again for the info.

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