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Loaded magazine - spring damage?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by gbeecher, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. gbeecher

    gbeecher Well-Known Member

    I just purchased a new compact 9mm. I plan to store it in a soft case with the magazine separate from the gun but loaded in the case. Question - will keeping the magazine fully loaded damage the spring and/or follower? :confused:
  2. ku4hx

    ku4hx Well-Known Member

    Nope. Constant flexing of the spring is what weakens it and eventually leads to failure; the follower just sits there.

    But if you're worried about it, you can buy a three pack of Wolff springs for about $17. I've had spare magazine springs sitting around for thirty years or more.
  3. Bovice

    Bovice Well-Known Member

    No. Followers could get damaged if you drop the magazine just right on hard and uneven surfaces, or if you get a bad malfunction requiring you to rip out the magazine. That's a rare thing.

    Springs will eventually be less stiff/shorten due to creep strain, but it takes years.

    Keep your magazine loaded, but keep track of which magazine(s) are kept loaded for long periods and verify that they feed and function in the gun at each range trip. Magazine springs are cheap, don't worry about them.
  4. Drail

    Drail Well-Known Member

    Magazines springs may be cheap and you may not worry about them but they absolutely can stop a pistol from feeding.
  5. gbeecher

    gbeecher Well-Known Member

    So, do you think keeping the magazine loaded will weaken the spring over time? I'm only wondering this, because I want to keep the gun easily available for any emergency in my home. I will keep it on a closet shelf just outside my bedroom.
  6. mgmorden

    mgmorden Well-Known Member

    As already said - it's the compressions and decompression cycles that weaken the spring. Leaving it compressed for 10 years and then shooting wears it just as much is loading it up and immediately unloading it - it's the wear of exactly one compression and decompression cycle.

    Leave them loaded for as long as you want.
  7. Lonestar49

    Lonestar49 Well-Known Member

    Fill'em up.. lol


    It's like leaving your car or truck, "full of gas" in the garage, parked, for however long, your mag springs like your car springs remain fresh/good-as- new and only driving, making them go up and down over and over, over a long life-span, of most trucks or cars and after heavy use, there comes a time when you know you need to replace them be it the ride is wobbly or too soft, bottoming out a/o your gun starts to have numerous FTF failure to feed jams, issues, a sign that usually points to dirty mags or mags that have had long usage and the mag springs have gone their distance and start, quickly, losing their normal, acceptable, operating strength.

    Keep'em loaded, fully loaded a/o like I do with "multiple, same, mags" in my safe, loaded one bullet shy of full which many adhere to the theory that with one bullet shy of full reduces spring compression from max down some 37%

    Believe what you've been reading by me and others.


  8. gbeecher

    gbeecher Well-Known Member

    Thank you all...

    Good advice everyone! I see the point that wear comes from usage - I'll keep a magazine loaded and in the case. This is my first handgun (ownership that is, not shooting) and I'm looking forward to some fun range shooting! :D
  9. primalmu

    primalmu Well-Known Member

    Careful of your local laws. Some states require that guns be stored separately from ammunition. Thus, a loaded mag in your pistol case may be illegal.
  10. Drail

    Drail Well-Known Member

    Double stack mags will weaken from storing fully compressed. Single stacks - not so much. Downloading by one round will help with spring life. You have to ask your self which is more important - having that extra round that may not feed or having every round feed like clockwork. Springs under a car have no similarity to magazine springs. The springs under your car are not compressed to their working limit and then held fully compressed for long periods of time. Unless maybe you drive a dump truck.
  11. primalmu

    primalmu Well-Known Member

    Maybe not the springs UNDER your car, but what about the springs IN your car? Valve springs, specifically. I've NEVER heard of valve springs failing because the engine was shut off and an intake or exhaust valve was fully open (=spring full compressed). I'd wager that valve springs are placed under thousands of times as much stress as a magazine spring is, too.

    Until someone can post scientific evidence (instead of anecdotal or common belief) stating that static loading will progressively weaken the spring, I will continue to assert that spring fatigue is a function of cycling between being loaded and unloaded.

    In fact, check this out: http://www.efunda.com/DesignStandards/springs/calc_comp_fatigue_eqn.cfm

    According to that website, which gives equations on calculating spring fatigue, it states that, "By definition, objects that are loaded under purely oscillatory loads fail when their stresses reach the material's fatigue limit. Conversely, objects that are loaded under purely static loads fail when their stresses reach the material's yield limit."

    By that definition, if a spring were going to fail from a static load, it would do so the first time you loaded a magazine because the force would be enough to physically deform the spring enough so that it would not spring back to shape. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yield_(engineering))
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  12. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Well-Known Member

    I've actually had problems with Colt 8 round mags with the checkmate follower getting sprung within a few months keeping fully loaded and shooting them a bunch. It's a compromise design so it probably overcompresses the spring a little. The spare mags I have that don't get used to full compression but get shot a lot have not had any problems with the springs.

    Now I keep them loaded with 7 rounds and only top off when I'm loading the pistol.

    I just keep some spares handy. They're cheap. Springs wear out eventually.

  13. Bovice

    Bovice Well-Known Member

    Having a degree in mechanical engineering, I can tell you that there IS some damage caused by leaving a spring fully compressed. It's a function of time. Look up "creep strain". Granted it is a long time, but it absolutely does exist. How long does it take before it affects feeding? I don't know. Depends on the magazine design, spring material, and environment.

    But normal folks will wear out mags much faster from using them for actual shooting.
  14. primalmu

    primalmu Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info Bovice. I had not come across the term "creep strain" while searching for an answer in the past (no matter how good wikipedia and Google is, it won't find everything!).
  15. Hunter125

    Hunter125 Well-Known Member

    Why would double stack mags be any different than single stack as far as spring wear? Still a spring that gets compressed straight up and straight down.
  16. Drue

    Drue Well-Known Member

    I have a Glock 23 that I bought in 1992. The mags have been loaded almost
    continuously since then. They feed perfectly but do not activate the slide open function. They DO deteriorate when loaded for a long time.

  17. CommanderCrusty

    CommanderCrusty Well-Known Member

    Yes, ABSOLUTELY, but it will take 4-5 years.

    I say, keep the mags loaded and change the darned magazine springs every couple of years like you are SUPPOSED to!
  18. SilentScream

    SilentScream Well-Known Member

    Those mag springs WILL go flat (for lack of a better word) if left loaded for extended periods. Having diagnosed and fixed literally hundreds of malfunctioning (read misfeeding)pistols due to weak mag springs; weak because they'd been left loaded for extended periods. Obviously better spring steel will resist it better but it will still happen.
  19. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    At Wolf springs "gunsprings.com" they discuss spring wear.
    Movement causes heat which causes 'more' wear, but being held compressed also cause springs to 'take a set' and weaken slowly over time.

    Springs can last compressed for a long time, or not so long, depending on the quality of the spring wire.

    I would feel very comfortable replacing them every couple of years, if they weren't being used heavily. Cramming that "last round" in does seem to punish the spring more than being one light. At least my sore thumb thinks so.:D
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  20. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Well-Known Member

    Compression/decompression cycles weaken springs, over-compressing or stretching destroys them.

    I keep all my mags loaded. The ones that may sit for years on end are downloaded a bit so the springs won't take a set from full compression. For example, AR mags that are left loaded indefinitely are loaded to 25 instead of 30. A 15 round pistol mag would be loaded to 12 or 13.

    Think of it the same way as a truck. It will take decades and then some for springs to sag just sitting there with the truck's weight on them. However, if you leave it sitting loaded to maximum capacity or more, you will accelerate wear.


    What makes you think they're different?

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