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Magazine Question

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Parallax, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. Parallax

    Parallax Well-Known Member

    I have read a ton of posts regarding whether or not leaving a magazine loaded will wear down the spring, and most people say that you can leave it loaded forever and it will still function, it's loading and unloading that wear the spring down over time.

    If this is true, is it a good idea to have two loaded magazines set aside for car/carry use only? Since the spring should be fine, and bullets last a very long time, is there any reason not to do that?
  2. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Well-Known Member

    Just my opinion . . . :)

    I keep 2 mag's loaded for my .45 and 2 loaded for my AR. I tend to shoot the .45 once a week though so I"m probably going to do more damage to them from actually shooting than from them being loaded. I don't worry at all about my AR mag's though and I go a month or more many times without shooting it.

    If you're relying upon a gun to be ready when you need it I think it's probably more important to be comfortable with it's operation then to worry about magazine spring fatigue. (plus, if you're shooting it regularly then you'll know when the mag springs start to wear out)

    Just my .02

  3. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Well-Known Member

    Wolff Springs, a firm that I consider an authority on the subject, has a FAQ area on their website. Summarized, their points are:

    Leaving any spring compressed close to its design limit will strain and weaken a spring. The examples they site:

    a 15-round mag left loaded is being stressed; a 15-round mag downloaded a couple of rounds is going to do better. 10-round mags for the same gun probably won't be stressed if left loaded.

    A 7-round mag for a 1911 will likely not suffer from decades of being stored, fully loaded. the springs have a lot of reserve left (they're not fully compressed.)

    They observe that, generally, most of the springs for the high caps are the same springs used in standard cap mags. Compressing those springs more with extra rounds pushes the envelope and can lead to faster spring decay/death.

    They recommend downloading a round or two when storing for extended periods. It might not hurt to download a round or two, overnight, as well. But it may just be more practical to shoot the guns periodically, to see that the mags still function properly, and replace springs when they don't.


    A different, but related issue: I've been led to believe, by talking to engineers and folks with knowledge of metallurgy (on forums like this) that working springs will fatigue them, over time, as well.

    That means that emptying mags to save the springs works the mags just as though you had been using them, so THAT action may be a false economy. Downloading a round or two, and leaving some rounds in place, ala Wolff's guidelines, above, makes more sense.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2005
  4. Zach S

    Zach S Well-Known Member

    Ditto what Walt said.

    IME Para P14 magsprings last a longer when downloaded one round. The only other double-stack I've owned was a G17, and I didnt have it long.
  5. Onmilo

    Onmilo Well-Known Member

    I have been using springs made of chrome silicone material and these have so far appeared excellent on wearability/durability with no additional loss of compression once the initial set is determined.
    I have intentionally left two AR15 magazines fully loaded with 30 cartridges for six full months then fired over 1000 rounds using just the two magazines and they fed just fine and continue to do so.
    They were reloaded and reused for a total of 1050 rounds over three months and three seperate shooting sessions, the magazines being left fully loaded during the interims with no differences noted and no weapon malfunctions.

    If it matters, one of the C.S. springs was made/marketed by ISMI and one of the springs was made/marketed by Superior Shooting Systems.
    They were used in pre-ban Bushmaster Magazine bodies under the current green nylon? followers.

    This test was conducted using a Bushmaster Dissapator carbine as the test rifle.

    I have become so impressed by chrome silicone as a general use gun spring that many of my guns now have C.S. springs in them.
  6. Black Snowman

    Black Snowman Well-Known Member

    A magazine that allows the spring to be over worked when fully loaded is incorrectly designed and there are a lot of them out there. All of my magazines that have the origional factory capacity have never had problems. I keep them loaded for convenience and so I have more room in my ammo boxes :) I had a couple Witness magazines that the springs weakend quite rapidly. When I replaced them they were inconsitant and very poor quality. The new springs have held up much better, and they're not even Wolff.
  7. mete

    mete Well-Known Member

    IF a spring is made properly it will NOT 'take a set' ,weaken or wear out.Magazine springs are not stressed highly .If you are worried about magazine springs why aren't you worried about the valve springs in your car ????? they are stressed far more.
  8. Walt Sherrill

    Walt Sherrill Well-Known Member

    I disagree, at least in part.

    I have YET to encounter a non-captive recoil spring that doesn't take a set. (This is from experience with high-dollar guns [like a SIG P-210-6] and a range of other guns, from SIGs, to S&W, BHPS, to some of the lower-end guns.) With captive springs, its hard to tell.

    I think it depends on the type of spring and how it is exercized in its normal life cycle. Recoil springs may be a different animal, but mag springs seem to be the same way. (Ever tried to load a new Glock mag; leave it loaded for a week or two, and it gets easier. That seems to imply that the spring is taking a set.)

    Buy two non-captive springs. Install one and use it for several weeks. Pull it out and I'll almost guarantee that it will be shorter than the unused one bought at the same time.

    I don't think that has ANYTHING to do with quality or design.
  9. shooter1

    shooter1 Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth, I have three duty rigs that each contain three magazines that stay loaded at all times. I shoot two of these guns frequently at matches. I use Woff springs in all my magazines. I have never had a magazine related failure that was not due to a damaged magazine. With current metallugry being what it is, I would have no problem leaving a magazine loaded for a year without concern for comrpimising reliability. Keep your magazines numbered and rotate them if it makes you feel better. Not a bad idea. Take any mags out of service that cause any problems, until they can be repared or replaced.
  10. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Generally, a good spring will take some set on its initial use, then remain stable for a long period of time. There have been many reports of WWII vintage Model 1911 magazines left loaded for several decades that worked fine. But those springs, like everything else in the gun, were subject to rigid specifications and inspection. That is not true today, when makers tend to cheap out on materials generally, so it is safe to assume that springs also are victims of the "buy cheap, sell expensive" thinking of some gun and magazine makers.

  11. jlwatts3

    jlwatts3 Well-Known Member

    I recently shot an AR with two 20 rounder mags that had been left loaded for about 12-15 yrs. They fed without a hitch.
  12. carebear

    carebear Well-Known Member

    Like Jim said, there is a "break-in" initially but after that the springs wear (in a practical sense) only with repeated use.

    That said, I download a round or two on mags loaded but not used all the time.

    Best of both worlds, neh?

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