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Posted: 4/4/2009 5:16:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/4/2009 5:20:30 PM EDT by Sig_Fan]
An old article, but a good one about the myth that keeping your magazine loaded ruins the spring and will cause mis-feeds.

I find it a very well written and informative article.

Magazine spring madness: 'creep' to your 'elastic limit' to un-earth the urban legend of 'spring-set'
American Handgunner ,  May-June, 2003   by John S. Layman

The shooting sports are full of some of the most knowledgeable and capable people you'll meet anywhere. I've been impressed consistently with the abilities of those I meet at the range to diagnose and fix a gun problem with as little as some spray lube and a cotton swab. However, sometimes a myth will creep into the folklore.

The magazine spring myth has been around for many years and is growing in popularity. It goes something like this: "You should unload your magazines when they're not in use or the spring will weaken causing failures to feed." This has gone as far as shooting competitors actually unloading their magazines between stages to extend the life of their springs. A variant of this myth is: "You should never load a magazine to capacity and should always leave it one round short." What if you need that round some day?

Related Results

Recently, I read an article in a gun magazine suggesting you rotate your magazines so the ones not in use can "recover and rest." The same author uses the phrase "spring-set" to describe weakness of a spring because it was compressed for a long time. Hogwash. There's nothing further from the truth. Springs don't care how long they're compressed and don't require rest, recreation or even a vacation from time to time.

Shameful Spring Benders

To put this one to rest, you have to understand creep. Creep is the slow flow of a non-ferric metal like copper, brass and lead under force. At temperatures outside of a furnace, steel doesn't have any appreciable creep. Under most conditions, steel flexes and then returns to its original shape. When pushed past its elastic limit, steel will bend and not return to its original shape. All designers of well-made magazines make sure the spring never approaches the elastic limit when the magazine is fully loaded. Honest. This means the spring will not weaken when the magazine is fully loaded –– not even over an extended time. Like 50 years. American Handgunner recently ran a story about a magazine full of .45 ACP that had been sitting since WWII and it ran just fine on the first try. So there you go.

Now that the light of truth is leaking out, lets talk about what is causing failures to feed. The only way to weaken a magazine spring is to flex it past its normal range (elastic limit). If this is happening, somebody is trying to overload a magazine or has "adjusted" it by bending the spring. Both of these could cause feed failures. Shame on you if you're a spring bender.

Carlton Nether, Customer Service for Beretta USA, tells us keeping a pistol magazine loaded for an extended period doesn't cause magazine spring failure, however, failures to feed can result. He says, "The ammo will 'roll' in the magazine. If the mags are kept loaded and moved around a lot –– say on a cop's belt –– the rolling action can, over time, cause creases in the cases. These creases can cause malfunctions. Also the top bullet will roll against the magazine lips and creasing can occur there as well. Just check old ammo that's been bouncing around in a magazine for a long time.

We tell police officers if they keep loaded magazines, take a few seconds to "cycle" the ammo. Periodically unload the mag and reload it in a different sequence. This movement will allow the bullets to be in different parts of the magazine and help eliminate creasing.

At STI, Dave Skinner, President and CEO says, "Personally, I rotate my 'under the bed' and 'under the seat' mags about every six months. I always empty them the 'fun' way and have never had a failure." Given what we learned above, this sounds like a good idea. Smith and Wesson customer service also says magazines can stay loaded indefinitely without hurting the spring.

As we add force onto a spring, it will displace the same amount for each amount of force we add. This is true until the spring passes a certain point called the elastic limit. Robert Hooke discovered this theory back in 1660. Hooke's Law states: "If the applied forces on a body are not too large, the deformations resulting are directly proportional to the forces producing them." Which means, in actual human being language, if we load a spring past its elastic limit, it permanently deforms. It still provides a force against the load but the force is no longer proportional. If this happens, when we unload the spring (such as when we empty a magazine that has been over-loaded) the spring never returns to a state where it can provide the same load for the same amount of displacement.

Trust Us

When a magazine manufacturer designs a spring, they plan for a preload. The spring is already compressed some in the magazine. On the curve below, this would be Point A. The spring compression would be designed to be below the Elastic Limit. When fully compressed, the spring would be at Point B. If the spring is ever compressed past the elastic limit, say to Point C, it won't ever behave the same. Like a recalcitrant lazy Uncle, it will have a lower spring force for each amount of displacement. On the drawing, the spring would now cycle between points D and E. This means that –– particularly with the last bullet or two –– the force pushing the bullet up would be less and lo-and-behold, a mis-feed might occur.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 5:57:54 PM EDT
Thanks Very interesting.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:00:25 PM EDT
I thought we have already covered this? Mags loaded indefinitely = no spring wear. Mags constantly loaded/unloaded = spring wear.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:02:24 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 70satvert:
I thought we have already covered this? Mags loaded indefinitely = no spring wear. Mags constantly loaded/unloaded = spring wear.


yep.  i dont own any empty mags.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:06:48 PM EDT
Yup, this one has always bothered me.  It has been covered here in the past, though.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:10:57 PM EDT
That should finally put this issue to bed.

But you know it won't.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:12:47 PM EDT
Originally Posted By EFB16ACRX:
Originally Posted By 70satvert:
I thought we have already covered this? Mags loaded indefinitely = no spring wear. Mags constantly loaded/unloaded = spring wear.


yep.  i dont own any empty mags.


I try not to.

I have a few AK mags that need ammo and 1 AR mag I need to fill.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:12:54 PM EDT
I hope so, It like you cant get anyone to believe the myth that a fully loaded mag sets the spring.

Constant wear is the thing that wears springs.

Good post, Thanks, Hope alot of perople read it.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:13:49 PM EDT
This should be tacked in the AR Discussion forum.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:13:53 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/4/2009 6:14:09 PM EDT by kevinb120]
I only keep one AR mag unloaded for demonstrating the rifle to newbs I bring to the range with/without snap caps, and for when I only want to shoot 5 rounds or so at a time for sighting in, etc.   Everything else is always loaded.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 6:23:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/4/2009 6:27:12 PM EDT by Hawken50]




Originally Posted By 70satvert:

I thought we have already covered this? Mags loaded indefinitely = no spring wear. Mags constantly loaded/unloaded = spring wear.


I don't even think you can say that accurately. I'm taking a mechanical engineering course and recently read that if a standard coil or flat spring is properly designed (IIRC, they considered a "properly designed" spring one that would still perform it's function with a 10 or 20% tension loss.) and not forced past it's elastic point, it will have a nominal service life of +1,000,000 cycles before any noticable decrease in loading tension is reached (IIRC, the study was conducted in the 1930's and showed an average of less than 3% reduction over +1,000,000 cycles, but don't qoute me on that.)
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 7:26:33 PM EDT
Thanks for all the good posts guys.

I mainly posted this for "spring-set" guy. You know the type. The guy at the gun shop or local range who blathers on about how "you really need to be unloading those mags so you don't ruin the spring".

There are so many new members here daily, I thought it would be a great time for my own version of magazine myth-busting.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 7:31:38 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Hawken50:

Originally Posted By 70satvert:
I thought we have already covered this? Mags loaded indefinitely = no spring wear. Mags constantly loaded/unloaded = spring wear.

I don't even think you can say that accurately. I'm taking a mechanical engineering course and recently read that if a standard coil or flat spring is properly designed (IIRC, they considered a "properly designed" spring one that would still perform it's function with a 10 or 20% tension loss.) and not forced past it's elastic point, it will have a nominal service life of +1,000,000 cycles before any noticable decrease in loading tension is reached (IIRC, the study was conducted in the 1930's and showed an average of less than 3% reduction over +1,000,000 cycles, but don't qoute me on that.)


You're so quoted.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 7:35:02 PM EDT
Someone should forward a link to this thread to Larry Vickers...

http://www.vickerstactical.com/TacticalTips/Magazines.aspx
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 7:35:16 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/4/2009 7:35:36 PM EDT by Bubbatheredneck]
Originally Posted By Hawken50:

Originally Posted By 70satvert:
I thought we have already covered this? Mags loaded indefinitely = no spring wear. Mags constantly loaded/unloaded = spring wear.

I don't even think you can say that accurately. I'm taking a mechanical engineering course and recently read that if a standard coil or flat spring is properly designed (IIRC, they considered a "properly designed" spring one that would still perform it's function with a 10 or 20% tension loss.) and not forced past it's elastic point, it will have a nominal service life of +1,000,000 cycles before any noticable decrease in loading tension is reached (IIRC, the study was conducted in the 1930's and showed an average of less than 3% reduction over +1,000,000 cycles, but don't qoute me on that.)



Of course, the assumption everyone is making is that the spring in their magazine was "properly designed".

What if it wasn't?
























Link Posted: 4/4/2009 7:41:36 PM EDT
I've had some p226 mags where the springs seemed to take a set. Pulled them out after about 2 years of being reloaded and they didn't cycle properly. I've also seen 10rd HK 45 USP mags do this.

I stretched the springs out a little bit and they worked just fine again. I think it's pretty common for some of the pistol magazines to be designed at/maybe a bit past their limit.

(this thread reminds me I need to order some new springs)
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 7:54:32 PM EDT
Originally Posted By jaqufrost:
I've had some p226 mags where the springs seemed to take a set. Pulled them out after about 2 years of being reloaded and they didn't cycle properly. I've also seen 10rd HK 45 USP mags do this.

I stretched the springs out a little bit and they worked just fine again. I think it's pretty common for some of the pistol magazines to be designed at/maybe a bit past their limit.

(this thread reminds me I need to order some new springs)


I've had a P228 with a magazine loaded for 14 years...thats right –– 14 years. Cycled perfectly on 1st try.

I had bought a W.German P228 in 1995 and bought a shitload of mags due to the Clinton ban. Then I sold the pistol but kept all the extra mags and "forgot" about them. Then I re-found one loaded a few months ago in the back of the safe when I bought a new P228 in February. I manually cycled it through my newest P228 without any issues.
Link Posted: 4/4/2009 10:23:35 PM EDT
I've had an opportunity to shoot 3 1911 mags that were orginally loaded in 1945.

All 21 rounds shot fine.
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 7:45:23 AM EDT
I keep reading that springs are weakerned and break due to compressing and uncompressing them.  Somehow, I really doubt it!

I collect vintage trumpets and cornets.  Some of my horns are over 100 years old and were played by professional musicians for decades.  The valves have been up and down at least hundreds of thousands of times, maybe millions.  Musicians often run the valves a few dozen times during an 8 measure rest!  I've never seen any indication that the valve springs had been replaced.  

Rafael Mendez, one of the all-time greats, played the same French Besson long enough to badly wear the valves.  That's a lot of playing.  He claimed the horn was all original except for the water key corks and the felt spacers in the tops of the valves.
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 7:46:41 AM EDT
Well thanks for the link OP! I enjoyed
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 8:31:55 AM EDT
I would imagine the only issue with leaving a magazine loaded for an extended time would happen with aluminum mags possible spreading or Glock mags doing the same?
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 8:35:02 AM EDT
This topic needs more conveyor belt.
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 8:37:36 AM EDT
Originally Posted By motoguzzi:
I would imagine the only issue with leaving a magazine loaded for an extended time would happen with aluminum mags possible spreading or Glock mags doing the same?


I have new Glock mags and they seem very solidly built. Mine have the metal liners in them like they all do, and I cannot imagine that keeping it loaded with 13 rounds  would begin to move both the polymer and the metal liner apart to cause spreading.
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 8:58:28 AM EDT
Originally Posted By motoguzzi:
I would imagine the only issue with leaving a magazine loaded for an extended time would happen with aluminum mags possible spreading or Glock mags doing the same?


I have seen some bad glock mags, caused a lot FTFs. I downloaded the mag, and the spring didn't move past the middle of the mag, all the rounds were loose.

This was a very lightly used mag, but it was probably 15 years old (Gen 1 G17) did they used to not use steel springs or what?
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 10:20:31 AM EDT
This is a good thing to bring back up for the newbies on occasion.

Batman approves of this dupe!
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 10:25:03 AM EDT
taggage
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 10:32:36 AM EDT
Originally Posted By batmanacw:
This is a good thing to bring back up for the newbies on occasion.

Batman approves of this dupe!


I am glad Batman approves!


Mods, please make this a sticky somewhere!
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 12:45:57 PM EDT
Someone will ask the question again.

Who thinks that it might happen this week?



MAX
Link Posted: 4/5/2009 3:54:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Bubbatheredneck:
Originally Posted By Hawken50:

Originally Posted By 70satvert:
I thought we have already covered this? Mags loaded indefinitely = no spring wear. Mags constantly loaded/unloaded = spring wear.

I don't even think you can say that accurately. I'm taking a mechanical engineering course and recently read that if a standard coil or flat spring is properly designed (IIRC, they considered a "properly designed" spring one that would still perform it's function with a 10 or 20% tension loss.) and not forced past it's elastic point, it will have a nominal service life of +1,000,000 cycles before any noticable decrease in loading tension is reached (IIRC, the study was conducted in the 1930's and showed an average of less than 3% reduction over +1,000,000 cycles, but don't qoute me on that.)



Of course, the assumption everyone is making is that the spring in their magazine was "properly designed".

What if it wasn't?





I wondered the same thing. I don't imagine there was a lot of thought put into the Eastern European AK mags hat I own. Maybe the springs they use offer better performance than ever asked of them.
Either way, I have my AK mags loaded.
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