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Thread: Does leaving magazines loaded weaken spring

  1. #1
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    Does leaving magazines loaded weaken spring

    Would like input on the age old question: does leaving magazines loaded for extended periods of time (years) weaken the springs. All input is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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    Regular Member Fallschirmjäger's Avatar
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    Absolutely, positively ... let them rest. The same as you jack your car off the ground when you're not using it or disassemble the heads to let the valve springs, the springs of a magazine must be rested.

    ... or ...

    No. As long as the spring is not worked past it's elastic limit, it can remain either compressed or extended for years upon years. If anything, it's the constant working, the compressions and extensions that weaken a spring.

    I think this is just one of those myths that has just lingered on, perhaps because early springs were not exactly metallurgically advanced. Most were simple leaf springs, hand- or cottage-made.

    This is just a forged and folded bit of metal

    as is this:



    I can easily imagine a stamped piece of sheet metal being used as a spring 'taking a set.' Aside from the 1911 do any other modern pistols make extensive use of flat metal springs?
    Last edited by Fallschirmjäger; 03-02-2014 at 07:30 PM.

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    It was a problem at one time its my belief that after WW2 springs have become better and it is no longer a problem.

    I still unload mine every once in awhile more because I shoot with them then to relieve the tension on the springs.
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  4. #4
    Regular Member Tackleberry1's Avatar
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    In my experience, no, no noticeable reduction in spring strength.

    I was able to test this a few year back. While going through some of my fathers things after his passing, I found a loaded 1911 magazine where Id left it after loading it for him 12 years earlier.

    It chambered every round without a problem.

    Springs wear out from use... Compression and expansion, not from being left compressed.

    Tack

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    I have mags loaded for years, never have a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevebowhunts View Post
    Would like input on the age old question: does leaving magazines loaded for extended periods of time (years) weaken the springs. All input is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Kinda like the valve springs in your engine, the SCRAM springs in a nuclear reactor or the mainspring of a watch, NO!

    If your 'spring' creeps or fatigues then it is improperly designed and applied.
    Last edited by Nightmare; 03-02-2014 at 08:07 PM.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Campaign Veteran MSG Laigaie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tackleberry1 View Post
    Springs wear out from use... Compression and expansion, not from being left compressed. Tack

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevebowhunts View Post
    Would like input on the age old question: does leaving magazines loaded for extended periods of time (years) weaken the springs. All input is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Springs fatigue with cyclical use, not static use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeyb View Post
    Springs fatigue with cyclical use, not static use.
    What was the last time you broke a valve spring? Properly stressed springs do not fatigue.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    What was the last time you broke a valve spring? Properly stressed springs do not fatigue.
    Well, in my racing experience, we never broke a valve spring because we changed them out when they were fatigued. We threw away our coil springs when they were fatigued, even if they were used for only a few races. That's why the professionals use RCS springs now. Steel fatigues. It just works on a longer timeframe than most people think about.

  12. #12
    Regular Member mobiushky's Avatar
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    I've posted this before, but what the heck:

    Metal springs weaken over time due to metal fatigue. Metal fatigue is the term we use to explain the microscopic cracks that develop in the crystalline structure of the metal. Those cracks are created by repetitive deformation of the metal. As the metal is deformed the cracks become worse. The more repeated the metal is deformed, the worse the cracks will get. Eventually the metal's ability to return to shape weakens. Unfortunately there is a lot of mythology in the firearms community about how metal fatigue works. Most of the mythology points to leaving metal springs compressed over long periods of time. Except that the function of metal fatigue requires repeated deformation. Once a metal spring is compressed it does not continue to form the fractures. The methodology of the fracturing requires compression followed by extension followed by compression etc, etc.

    In other words, compressing a spring for long periods of time will have negligible affect on the structural integrity of the spring unless you hyper extend the spring past it's rebound point, which is called spring creep. What actually weakens springs is the constant action of compressing and then releasing the spring, compressing and releasing, etc, etc. This is called cyclic loading. When you load and unload a magazine you are introducing and exacerbating microscopic fractures. That's the only time when those fractures occur. Leaving a magazine loaded will have far less impact on metal fatigue than cycling the spring frequently. Fatigue is irreversible and cumulative. Once it's started, it will continue and accumulate over time as you compress and relax the spring.

    This might help people interested in understand the mechanism of metal fatigue:

    http://www.epi-eng.com/mechanical_en..._in_metals.htm

    http://larrylawson.net/fatigue.htm

    If you're really a glutton for punishment you could read:

    ASM Handbook Volume 19, Fatigue And Fracture

    But generally only structural engineers read that kind of stuff.

  13. #13
    Campaign Veteran Cavalryman's Avatar
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    Thanks, mobiushky, that's a really good explanation!

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