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Thread: Changing Mags

  1. #1
    Regular Member GONZO!!!'s Avatar
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    Changing Mags

    Hi Team...

    So for almost 30 years I have always changed my carry mag once a week. I am a tried and true die hard aficionado of the 1911. I was taught a long time ago that leaving a magazine loaded will reduce spring tension and MIGHT cause a failure to feed due to a weakened spring. SO once a week, usually during the weekend, I unload my carry mags and load my ammo in fresh mags for the upcoming week.

    This past week I was in a gunshop and this conversation came up. There were three of us "old timers" in there who stood by that same philosophy, but the young man behind the counter and another young customer said that wasn't necessary with today's better spring wire.

    So a couple fo questions:

    1) what is everyone's philosophy or opinion on swapping for fresh mags?

    2) would the newer higher cap design mags have something inherent in their design which negates the philosophy of switching mags to prevent weakening of the springs.


    GONZO!!!

  2. #2
    Regular Member KDaubert's Avatar
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    Unless there is something magical about the wire it will loose tension after time. Otherwise people would never need to get new recoil springs. Yes the springs are better than they were 20 years ago, but they aren't perfect.
    Last edited by KDaubert; 03-10-2012 at 08:06 AM.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Fallschirmjäger's Avatar
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    Do you let the recoil spring rest, too? It's under a compression load just as the magazine springs are (although not to the same extent.)

    Current thinking is that a static load doesn't place any undue stress on springs, what weakens them is being used. So long as you don't exceed the design limits of the spring it should last nearly forever. A constantly compressed and relaxed spring will wear out much faster than one that is compressed and left to sit.

  4. #4
    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Spring wire suffers from flexing. Remaining under tension, absent any rusting, will not effect anything. It's basic metalurgy.

    Just to make you feel better, there are lots of stories out there of someone finding Grandpa's/Daddy's gun from "X" War, still loaded after <#years> that shot just fine after merely blowing off the top layer of dust.

    On the other hand, there are at least X-times more number of stories about someone having a ND because of administrative handling of their firearm.

    It's up to you to decide which way to go. But if you are going to be unloading/loading, please consider at least getting a 5-gallon bucket filled with sharp playground sand to use religiously as an unloading barrel. Some day you may be very grateful.

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    Regular Member SovereignAxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallschirmjäger View Post
    Do you let the recoil spring rest, too? It's under a compression load just as the magazine springs are (although not to the same extent.)

    Current thinking is that a static load doesn't place any undue stress on springs, what weakens them is being used. So long as you don't exceed the design limits of the spring it should last nearly forever. A constantly compressed and relaxed spring will wear out much faster than one that is compressed and left to sit.
    this is how I understand it.

    Recoil springs get used every time you fire a shot, eject a round-any time you cycle the action. A mag spring only gets used when you completely load and unload it. This explains why a recoil spring must be replaced sooner than anything else.
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  6. #6
    Regular Member HighFlyingA380's Avatar
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    Just as everyone stated above, only by adding or releasing tension will the spring weaken. Simply holding tension will not affect it. So, by unloading the mags every week, you are actually accelerating the process, doing exactly the opposite of your intention.

  7. #7
    Regular Member Linn's Avatar
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    My M4 or M16 mags never had this problem while on deployment. I have PMAGS and Brownells mags, and for 9 months at a time my 10 mags were constantly loaded with 28 rounds. The only time I removed the rounds was to clean them and the magazine from sand and dirt. Though a different style of magazine and albeit a better suited compression ratio for ammo size and count, I would hope to believe the principle theory of both pistol and rifle magazines are the same. I would assume that each are built to tolerance as per weapon type and caliber. With my FNP9 I have four factory mags and usually two to three of them are constantly loaded with 14 rounds. I have put roughly 2500 rounds through it treating my magazines as earlier stated. when it comes down to it sir, I believe your personal preference and comfortability should be the deciding factor for you. However, to offer a scenario to experiment with, you could leave a magazine or two loaded for awhile then take them to the range and see for yourself. I hope all works out and I will follow this thread as I hope to pick up a 1911 within the next few months and look forward to hearing your reports.

  8. #8
    Regular Member newbie's Avatar
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    the only time i change the mag in my gun is when that one emptys.

    i have a gun in a lock box in my closet that is 100% loaded one in the chamber and all. my guess is that its been there for a long while. and if i pulled it out tomarrow im sure it will shoot just fine.

  9. #9
    Regular Member Michigander's Avatar
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    I haven't noticed much difference between modern springs and older springs. The reason is that with older magazines, they used to use followers long enough that you'd have less capacity, and never wear out your springs from leaving them loaded.

    Call me stupid, call me wrong, point out that I'm a car mechanic and not a metallurgist, none of that matters. I've carried guns for many years now, and found out via jamming that long term leaving modern max capacity magazines loaded will weaken the springs. This tends to happen not over a very short time, but rather a year or so before damage is done.

    Thus, I leave my 8 round Sig magazines loaded at 7, my 15 round Glock magazines loaded at 13, linn's mags were underloaded by 2 rounds for the same reasons, and so on. But I also leave my 7 round sig magazine loaded at 7, and my 6 round P-64 magazine loaded at 6 since they were designed for being left that way indefinitely on account of their larger followers. As described above, none of these magazines will wear out just from being compressed, because they aren't being pushed past their limits.

    Sharing in these same experiences were and are folks like Rex Applegate, Larry Vickers, even Wolff springs says on their website the same type of warning. Plus quite a few friends and associates of mine, namely the ones who carry every day, have had the same experiences.
    Last edited by Michigander; 05-30-2012 at 01:17 AM.
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  10. #10
    Regular Member Eeyore's Avatar
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    Is there a metallurgist in the house?

    Until then, I'll put on my engineer's hat. We're discussing two different mechanisms here: creep and fatigue.

    Creep is the tendency of a material under stress to deform over time, even when loaded below its yield stress. It is generally a very slow process unless high temperatures are applied. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creep_(deformation)

    Fatigue is weakening due to repeated stressing/unstressing cycles. As has already been pointed out, loading and unloading the magazine is a cycle. Accumulate enough cycles, and the spring will deform or break.

    For recoil springs, which spend most of their lives only slightly compressed, fatigue is the big enemy. For magazine springs, I suppose it's a race between fatigue and creep. The design of the magazine itself (composition of the spring wire and how tightly compressed it is when fully loaded), how long it is left loaded and unused, and whether it is stored fully loaded will affect creep.

    Bottom line, for a properly designed and manufactured magazine spring that sees regular use at normal temperatures, creep should be a much slower process than fatigue. However, variations (such as a spring that wasn't heat-treated quite right or was made from a smaller-gauge wire to reduce cost) might cause creep to happen faster than normal and lead to failures.

    My semi-informed suggestion would be: If you shoot fairly regularly with a given magazine, it shouldn't be a problem. As long as you don't store mags--loaded and completely unused--for years at a time (or in an oven), don't worry too much about it unless you start to have misfeeds.

    That said, when I go to the range (normally every 3-4 months), I note which magazine I've been carrying around (fully loaded with SD ammo, i.e. exposed to creep). I'll use all my mags at the range, and then reload a different one with SD ammo for daily carry until the next range session. This ensures that both creep and fatigue is evenly distributed among all my mags.
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  11. #11
    Regular Member Fallschirmjäger's Avatar
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    I don't see the controversy for the average shooter.

    Given someone that shoots 5 times a year, goes through 500 rounds each time, load 1 magazine to 10 rounds that's "exercising" the spring (5 x (500/10)) = 250 times a year. You should get decades of use from such low intensity use before fatigue or creep would ever be a concern.

    Someone that practiced weekly (minus 2-weeks vacation) and shoots 1,000 rounds each week would only exercise a 10-round magazine's spring 5,000 times a year. I can't help but think most springs are rated for ten's of thousands of cycles if not hundred's of thousands.

  12. #12
    Regular Member TOF's Avatar
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    I do not unload mags when not in use nor do I load down 1 or 2 rounds for the same reason I don't place my vehicles on blocks when not using them. It is not necessary.

    If you have reasonable quality magazines loading to capacity will not harm them. You should however perform routine maintenance on magazines just as you should on the gun they go into.

    If dissassembled and cleaned occasionaly you will be able to detect any defects including bad spring in a timely manner and assure they will function when needed.

    I have encountered defective mag springs but always during their early life not 2 or 3 years after purchase.
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  13. #13
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    Keeping the spring in a compressed or decompressed condition will not do anything to the mag. It's loading and unloading that makes the spring weak. You're fine keeping the same mags loaded for quite some time

  14. #14
    Lone Star Veteran Gator5713's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eeyore View Post
    That said, when I go to the range (normally every 3-4 months), I note which magazine I've been carrying around (fully loaded with SD ammo, i.e. exposed to creep). I'll use all my mags at the range, and then reload a different one with SD ammo for daily carry until the next range session. This ensures that both creep and fatigue is evenly distributed among all my mags.
    I'm with Eeyore on this... I have several mags, some I've marked for carry, and some just for range use (based on quality of function) and I try to go to the range regularly. Generally that is the only time that I bother to unload my magazines (I don't know about you all, but I think its way more fun to unload them through the barrel rather than punishing my thumb!) and I try to reload a different set for the next round of carry!

    I have had to replace a few springs, but that could have just been bad springs/inferior manufacture, or possibly even bad environment. But even putting some of my mags through some fairly decent abuse, finding worn out mag springs is definitely the exception, not the rule!
    (worn out followers... Well, thats a different story...)

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