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Loaded Magazine Debate

Discussion in 'General Firearms Forum' started by ContractSoldier, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. CAcop


    Jul 21, 2002
    Every armorers course I go to this comes up. Every time it is the same answer. I find it funny the people who are trying to save their mags by unloading them every week are actually wearing them out. What is sad is that they use the fact they are loaded all week as the reason why they wore out. Not that they cycled the springs every week for a few years.

    Mags are essentially expendable items. Most of the time replacing a spring will fix the problem.
  2. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    I use revolvers. Problems solved.

  3. AK_Stick

    AK_Stick AAAMAD

    Jan 20, 2004
    Alaska, again (for now)
    Some of my experience comes from the Middle East, some of it from carrying in Haiti, and some from Kosovo

    I have some new 90-2 mags that have performed much better but I rexeived them late in my last deployment and only used them for about 6 wks
  4. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast
    This subject is a pretty simple one, but the internet and gun forums always seem to stir up debate about it.

    I've listened to armorer instructors, other armorers & firearms instructors, repair technicians/gunsmiths, engineers and spring companies discuss this subject.

    Springs can become weaker over time, whether from being left compressed or from constant use.

    Some spring materials seem less susceptible to some wear than others, but it also depends on the application.

    I've been to over 20 armorer classes, and have seen a lot of different magazine springs used in assorted weapons (box & tube). In armorer classes the recommendations can vary according to the manufacturer, but they all recommend periodic inspections by armorers for proper spring tension & function, in addition to owner/user checks each time the weapon is used, cleaned, etc.

    Some manufacturers offer replacement recommendations based upon service usage (round count and/or time in service).

    I've seen different design/style magazines offer differing spring service life characteristics.

    I've seen some last longer than expected ... and some not last as long as normally expected.

    I've seen caliber and ammunition power levels have an effect on things, especially when it comes to recoil springs, but also when it comes to feeding "timing" and mag spring tension & service life.

    Bottom line, I check for spring tension using recommended bench checks discussed in the armorer classes, as well as by observing performance and functioning on the range.

    I replace any mag spring either as it may seem prudent (based upon checks), or based upon a bench check (failing to hold the slide locked back on an EMPTY magazine when briskly running the slide), or at least as recommended by either the gun or spring manufacturer. Mostly sooner, as I prefer to err on the conservative side of things in the way of critical functioning matters. ;)

    I prefer to replace my own magazine (and recoil) springs before I start experiencing stoppages and malfunctions on the range caused by weakening springs. I definitely prefer to replace them before I might experience a problem off the range, in actual usage.

    The magazines I leave loaded for extended periods get new springs periodically, usually as a "group", and I mark the mags when the springs are changed (marker ink dating on tubes, or silver/gold marker ink on floorplates).

    I can't predict a premature failure due to breakage, damage or an unknown defect that causes early failure ... but I can try to make sure I stay ahead of the normal curve when it comes to periodic maintenance. ;)

    FWIW ... I've seen a significant number of stoppages & malfunctions caused by weakened mag springs occur during courses-of-fire over the years. These were in both issued and personally-owned guns being carried by both LE and non-LE (think CCW carriers).

    The users & owners were all pretty consistently surprised when it happened to them. When questioned about when they'd last replaced their mag springs, the typical answer was a blank stare. Most said they were using the original springs, and that they'd been left loaded for anywhere from a few years to many years.

    Suit yourselves.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  5. tuica


    Apr 28, 2009
    However - Mas Ayoob claims he empties and rotates carry mags when changing to/from standard/daylight saving time. So...Cheers.
  6. zackwatt

    zackwatt That's a Bingo! Lifetime Member

    Nov 25, 2007
    Springs don't wear out by staying compressed. If that were the case, they would wear out with the magazine empty! Because they are always under some compression inside the magazine.

    Let's have a quick engineering lesson...

    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 would make sure the spring never approaches the elastic limit when the magazine is fully loaded. This means the spring will not weaken when the magazine is fully loaded...not even over an extended time.

    Creep: The flow or plastic deformation of metals held for long periods of time at stresses lower than the normal yield strength.

    Elastic Limit: The maximum stress that material will stand before permanent deformation occurs.

    Plastic Behavior: Permanent deformation of the metal.

    Yield Strength: The stress at which the metal changes from elastic to plastic in behavior, i.e., takes a permanent set.

    Permanent Set: Non-elastic or plastic, deformation of metal under stress, after passing the elastic limit.

  7. boomhower


    Feb 14, 2010
    North Carolina
    Leave them loaded.
  8. 12131

    12131 Monkeyboy CLM

    Nov 17, 2006
    God's Country (Texas)
    If your worried about it, leave one less round in your mags or rotate them on a regular basis. I don't see any need to do that though.
    OK, since you're so smart, here's English lesson of the day. Striking out part of your last paragraph and leaving the last sentence intact, as above, makes any sense to you?
    Since it's already established that leaving the mag fully loaded for years does not affect its function, what's the point of being "worried about it"? Hence, I struck out your entire last paragraph.

    That concludes the lesson for the day. You 're welcome, sir/ma'am . Get yourself some sense of humor, will you? :tongueout:

    Btw, I leave my mags fully loaded for years, too. Never had a problem.:supergrin:
  9. Just like any other internet myth, science usually debunks it for those willing to take the time to try to believe the science. Unfortunately, most folks don't want to trust the science behind the debunking. Take Mr. Zackwatt, for instance. He's presented a very standard stress-strain curve for the very material most magazine springs are made of. As long as the spring operates within the elastic range shown in the curve between the origin and point A (which a descent engineer will make sure of by designing the rest of the magazine properly), the spring will not "weaken." The main things that will weaken a spring are: Operation beyond the elastic limit into plastic deformation (i.e.: loading more rounds into the magazine than the manufacturer says to), vibrations that cause a natural frequency (I can't even think of a scenario where a human can cause this to happen to a magazine spring), or if the spring is annealed (this would change the curve that Zackwatt provided, and I wouldn't trust any part of any gun that has been through that kind of heat treatment anyway.
    So, until Ginger and The Walrus on Mythbusters go through the trouble to disprove this one, I guess we're stuck with the masses that espouse the same old "leave a round out, etc." Aah, the interwebz!
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  10. jbglock

    jbglock Manos Arriba

    Aug 18, 2012

    I pretty much did that long before I ever read that. Magazines weren't meant to last forever. I download by one in my Glock mags. By 2 in my AR mags. My mags last for years. As a matter of fact I have gen2 mags that I've never replace the springs in that function fine.
  11. Alright, this is exactly what I'm talking about. I read that whole crappy article. Not a single factual or referenced claim as to why he advises to down load magazines. 100% opinion. If you believe anything written there, you might as well believe me when I tell you to change your car's engine oil and filter every 100 miles because I think your engine will last longer than if you changed your oil at the manufacturer's recommended intervals! Seriously! The only thing in that whole article of rubbish that made common sense was to not abuse your magazines, and trash 'em if you do. Freakin' DUH!!! I've never heard of Larry Vickers before 10 minutes ago, but he has no technical credibility as far as I'm concerned.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  12. jbglock

    jbglock Manos Arriba

    Aug 18, 2012
    Your technical credibility is? His is listed on that site.
  13. M&P15T

    M&P15T Beard One

    Apr 7, 2011
    Arlington, VA.

    Larry Vickers is not anyone to listen to about technical engineering stuff.

    No, properly engineered and maufactured mags do not need to be down-loaded. I have 3 G17 mags that are 5 years old, and have always been fully loaded....and they're completely fine. My 7 AR mags aways stay completely loaded, and they're fine as well.

    I swear, some idiot wrote something years ago, and the same stupid information is being passed around by people not interested in figuring out the truth for themselves.
  14. Glockdude1

    Glockdude1 Federal Member CLM

    May 24, 2000
  15. jbglock

    jbglock Manos Arriba

    Aug 18, 2012
    Your technical credibility is? His is listed on that site.

    All I know is what has worked for me for getting close to two decades now. I've yet to have a magazine failure. I didn't need the internet to figure out how to take care of my mags. All those soldiers over the years were wrong also I guess.
  16. I never said it was, but everything I've stated is researchable.

    I, reluctantly, went back to Vickers' site, and I found nothing related to his "technical" credability. Did I miss it? Can you show me where it is?
    Also, He calls himself "the father of the Hk 416." Other sparse and vague phrases on his own website, and hkpro, I don't see any factual information that states exactly his involvment in any part of the design process. If you believe that, I urge you to believe that I'm the "father of the refrigerator." The father of the Hk 416 is Eugene Stoner. Some German mechanical engineer tweaked an old piston design and Hk decided to mill out parts instead of casting, and everyone wants to act like they reinvented the wheel? Please! I love Hks. I have one, and I've actually handled a 416 (not the MR556). While robust, it's not superior. I'd bet the German mechanical engineer at Hk has never even heard of Larry Vickers. Now back to the magazine issue:
    I'm too lazy to find it to quote, but someone replied that the USGI 30 round magazines are actually designed to hold 28. THAT'S THE BIGGEST LOAD OF CRAP I'VE READ YET!! You show me where, in ANY firearms manual, the manufacturer suggests this, and I will gladly apologize for calling you an idiot. I certainly never came across that sentence in any firearms manual I've ever seen.
    I give up. Everyone believe whatever you want. If you want the truth, demand it be backed by experiment and factual data. :faint:
  17. There you go. Good enough for me. And think about it, springs are made to expand and contract. Under constant tension for long periods they have to weaken eventually. Take a vehcle that's put away for long term storage. The normall thing to do is to put it up on blocks so the springs won't wear our prematurely and the body is dragging the ground. I rotate the magazines for my G-19, SR9C and Mini-14 every month.
    To each his own.
    Opinions are like elbows, most people have two!
  18. jbglock

    jbglock Manos Arriba

    Aug 18, 2012
    So basically you have no data, no proof, nothing other than saying crap in all caps that what he says of his credentials is not true. Still waiting on yours.
  19. BigAlE


    Oct 14, 2005
    Western NY
    Arguments over how many rounds to put in a mag. :rofl: I will load my mags to full capacity and not baby them. Do you guys also make sure you don't drop your empty mags onto the ground while practicing reloads? Wouldnt want to scratch them now would ya?
  20. I'm making no claims of my credentials. I am, however, stating that anything I have said, or lay claim to, is researchable. I have yet to make a statement that you could not research for yourself. I'm not claiming to be an expert on anything, I just state factual information that anyone can research. I don't state opinion. That's the whole argument I'm making-that no one backs their statement up with anything concrete. This is the exact reason internet myths/wive's tales (just like this magazine spring debate) perpetuate. For example: I said I never read a firearms manual in which the manufacturer stated not to load their magazines to capacity. For reference, I've read a GLOCK pistol manual, and an Hk pistol manual. Neither stated to not load the magazines to full stated capacity for any reason. Also, to directly address the USGI magazine loading I caps'd: I just googled "AR-15 manual" and read Colt's manual. Still didn't see anything about down loading. Are the manufacturer's literature credible enough for you?