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How often do you rotate your magazine?

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by jyerxa, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. jyerxa

    jyerxa Graham Member

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    We all have our favorite personal defense weapon of choice, different calibers and manufacturers.

    I rotate my magazine about once a week to let the spring rest, loading up the next one to capacity minus one for the next week.

    I’m curious how long can these springs last at full capacity with out weakening and causing jamming and other failures. And perhaps some enlightenment from those who have used their pistols in a professional capacity since their lives depend on it on a daily bases.
     
  2. Bazooka Joe

    Bazooka Joe Lower Yakima Valley Well-Known Member

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    I read a lot contrary opinion on this topic. Some people say rotate to avoid spring damage. Other people say that a compressed spring will never wear, and that it is compressing and uncompressing that causes wear and failure.
     
  3. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Here you go:
    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?

    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.

    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.
    When somebody stretches your spring to "fix" your magazine, they are trying to get you back on the original curve. They may get pretty close, however, it's unlikely the spring will ever perform to its original design. The elastic limit is now shifted lower and your magazine spring may fail to perform fairly quickly.

    Having said all this, if you have a magazine that isn't feeding right, what should you do? First, disassemble the magazine and clean it thoroughly. Then try it with new, factory ammunition in a freshly cleaned gun. This takes away some of the possible causes. If you are still having feed problems, send it back. Even the low cost, after-market magazine manufacturers will fix the problem at no cost to you other than shipping. If it's a magazine from the gun's manufacturer, let them troubleshoot and repair the problem. Otherwise, toss the mag. It's not worth risking your life to save a few bucks. And that's the truth.
    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.

    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.

    Magazine Recommendations

    * Clean your magazines when they get gritty. Apply oil then remove all excess. Oil attracts dirt that may cause malfunction.

    * If you find rust on the spring, this is culprit. Rust changes the thickness of the metal and reduces the force applied to the follower. Cleaning off the rust may help. For a gun you depend on, replace the spring. All the major brands and most of the smaller ones have replacement mag springs available or try Wolff Springs.

    * If you keep a magazine loaded for long periods, rotate the rounds every few months. If you carry a pistol on the job or in your car, cycle the ammo frequently. These actions prevent creases from forming which may cause a misfeed.

    * If you experience feed problems, first clean your magazines and weapon. Fire a couple magazines of new factory ammo to see if this resolves the problem. If not send the magazine back to the manufacturer -- or toss it.


    Here is another one, Magazine spring madness: 'creep' to your 'elastic limit' to un-earth the urban legend of 'spring-set' | American Handgunner | Find Articles at BNET
     
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  4. CavVet

    CavVet Seattle Member

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    I know 2 different people who shot Dads .45 loaded with WWII ammo after the war.


    Cycles wear out springs. I use mags I know work in guns I depend on.
     
  5. jyerxa

    jyerxa Graham Member

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    Thanks Nwcid,
    That was a very complete answer you provided. I know the GI's in Nam would under load to prevent spring failure. But then even at that, that might have been just TV hoop-la. And I've just always had that in the back of my mind ever since. I am impressed with your answer. Very good.
     
  6. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Part of that is that you can force 21 rounds into a 20 rd mag. If you do this there is a high chance of having the first round hang up and not feed all the way causing a jamb. So especially when single loading ammo guys downloaded to be sure they weren't "over loaded". Another reason for this practice is that a mag will lock into place slightly easier if not under full force.

    One last thing on down loading mags. If you read some of the early Glock 17 tests they had 6 mags they were using. At about 30k rounds they started having failures due to weak springs. After changing they downloaded by 2 rounds. I am not sure when they changed them again or if they did it was well in excess of another 30k. It has been over a decade since those articles came out.

    For the most part I down load by 2 just out of personal preference. In guns that have limited rounds (usually less then 10) I do keep them full.

    BTW it is NOT my answer, it is American Handgunner, May-June, 2003 by John S. Layman as posted at the top of that post.........
     
  7. jyerxa

    jyerxa Graham Member

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    Yeah, yeah, I got that. Good article, poor choice of words on my part.
     
  8. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    It is not whether you leave a mag loaded or unloaded which weakens the spring. It's cycling it that weakens it. As long as the spring is static within its design limits, loaded or unloaded, it won't weaken. Loading and unloading it for thousands of rounds will weaken it.

    I replace my springs every 2k rounds unless the manufacturer says 1,000 rounds, and some do.
     
  9. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I load pistols to capacity but download AR mags by 1 or 2 because it makes inserting the mag on a closed bolt much easier.
     
  10. MrNiceGuy

    MrNiceGuy between springfield and shelbyville Well-Known Member

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    DOH!
     
  11. jyerxa

    jyerxa Graham Member

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    ;)

    Yeah, funny.

    Okay, the rest of the story in the background is: While my kids were children I had a 9mm loaded to capacity in the house tucked away but still readily accessible if needed. And quite literally I never brought it out and let them know I had that one. They knew about my recreational fire arms and even shot them at a young age. I got lazy with the 9mm and quit cycling ammo and cartridges. And I honestly can’t tell you how long that one magazine was filled to capacity. A long time though. And when I finally got it out to clean it and such. I thought I would feel a sprung spring in the magazine. I didn’t. It still had plenty of snap in it still. I was surprised. But I have upgraded to a 45 ACP and I am more curious than anything. But the rotating the ammo was a very good point in that article. I never considered that.
     
  12. Hawaiian

    Hawaiian Tigard Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Springs wear from being compressed and decompressed. This is like "should I store my auto knife open or closed?" It really doesn't matter all that much. Sitting in your easy chair opening and closing it while watching TV will be what wears it out. Us auto knife collectors learned this after opening a knife that had been closed for 40 years and it still worked just like it was new.
     
  13. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I rotate my magazine when I discover Miss February is upside down.
     
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  14. dolooper

    dolooper Coast Range, or thereabouts Well-Known Member

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    I rotate my magazine until it achieves proper orientation to fit in the well. Once is almost always sufficient.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2011
  15. Cavalier

    Cavalier Asia New Member

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    I just bought some replacement Mag Springs from Bersa.

    Before changing the spring, I laid the old spring which has been cycled approximately 50 times and has remained loaded for a total of about a year, alongside the new spring.

    What I saw surprised me. The old spring was approximately 25% shorter than the new spring.

    My first thought was that Bersa had sent me the wrong spring.

    Counted the number of coils and that matched. Compared the thickness of the spring wire (though not with a micrometer) and that matched.

    Yes the last round is tough to get into the mag and yes, the mag locking into the gun is a little tight if the mag is full.

    Will use both mags with one less round for the time being and see how it looks in a few months.

    Be interested to learn if anyone else has a similar experience.



     
  16. Dinged

    Dinged Portland, OR Active Member

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    Although this thread is over a year old... Yes I would imagine a spring that's been used more would be a little shorter than a brand new one, however I'm not a metallurgist so this is an uninformed guess. With that being said, my dad gave me an AR15 magazine that has been sitting in his house, loaded with 30 rounds, from 1992 and it still functions perfectly fine, I actually use it to this day, never had any issues. To answer the original question, I don't really rotate my mags, I just grab a mag, load it with my SD rounds and leave it be. When I hit the range I empty it and put in range ammo and shoot away, go home, put in SD rounds and let it sit til the next time I use them. Never had any issues whatsoever. My two cents.
     
  17. Cavalier

    Cavalier Asia New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, and yes, I expected the old spring to be a little shorter, but shorter by at least 25%? that seems way more than I'd expect.

    The older spring is also noticeably softer.

    I've heard many stories about ex military mags being left loaded for years with no issue, I'm more interested to know of any experience with the Bersa in particular and small Mouse Guns in general. These mags are certainly nowhere near as robust as an AR15.

    Like you, I never had any issues with this or any other mag as long as it and the ammo were clean.

    The new springs ordered online from Bersa cost a dollar each - for that, if changing out the springs every year or so helps to ensure that I won't have a feed issue in future then it's gotta be worth the small price.
     
  18. 97321

    97321 Albany Active Member

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    When I got my CHL it came with some good advice. Go shooting at least once a month. If you're going to carry, you should stay proficient. Also, it'll force you to clean your gun, which tends to get little gunked up from EDC. Usually I switch the mag I'm using for the next month.
     
  19. Ron Eagle Elk

    Ron Eagle Elk Outside Ft Lewis East Gate Active Member

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    It looks like I'm doomed to replace my mag springs. On a weekly basis I shoot 48 rounds out of each 1911, that means reloading each mag 3 times. The S&W 22A gets 100 rounds through it just for fun, each mag gets reloaded 5 times. The Savage Mark II also gets 100 rounds down the pipe, reloading each mag 5 times. All that shooting and reloading must mean the springs will wear out quicker. Wonder if it will be in my lifetime?