Recoil Spring Questions ??

Recoil Spring Questions ??

This is a discussion on Recoil Spring Questions ?? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Read a post couple of days ago about people swapping out factory issued recoil springs for a higher poundage spring. I have a handgun as ...

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Thread: Recoil Spring Questions ??

  1. #1
    New Member Array SGF4400's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    North Carolina

    Recoil Spring Questions ??

    Read a post couple of days ago about people swapping out factory issued recoil springs for a higher poundage spring. I have a handgun as was being talked about (Ruger 380 LCP). It comes from the factory with a 9 pound recoil spring and they were discussing putting in up to a 13 pound spring.

    1. why ? (what's wrong with the factory settings)

    2. Advantages/disadvantages of this action.

    3. Helps or hurts the weapon

    Thank you for responding to this

  2. #2
    Senior Moderator
    Array gasmitty's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Gilbert, AZ
    1. Some people think they know better than the folks who actually design and manufacture the gun, others can't resist the idea of 'improving' a gun. There is nothing "wrong" with some the factory spring.

    2. Particularly in larger guns, especially the 1911 models, changing the recoil springs is a means to adapt the gun to special ammunition. As delivered, most 1911s are set up for standard .45 ball ammo - 230 grains at 850 ft/sec. If you shoot mild target loads, they might not cycle the gun so you use a lighter spring to achieve reliability. Conversely, if you're shooting +P loads all the time, a stiff spring may keep the slide from battering the frame. The disadvantages are that with autoloading pistols, there are several moving masses that need to be balanced. If you change the slide velocity, the slide stop may bump up when you don't want it to, and the slide may move too fast for the magazine spring to push up another round... just a couple of examples.

    3. In general a stiffer spring won't hurt the weapon, but a lighter spring might, although it would take a lot of rounds (or a very marginal design) to make that happen.

    I'd be real leery of making 50% changes in spring rates in itty-bitty pistols like the LCP. If you feel the need to do it, though, be smart and run a couple hundred confidence rounds through the gun after the change to make sure it behaves the way you want.
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  3. #3
    Array QKShooter's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
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    Changing out a factory recoil spring just for the heck of it is not something that I would do.

    BUT, once you decide on a defensive cartridge that you intend to use exclusively I see nothing wrong with custom tailoring/tuning the recoil spring weight to a specific cartridge.
    Competition shooters do it all the time.

    Firearm manufacturers have no idea (in advance) what power factor of cartridge the end user is going to shoot in their firearm.

    So the factory recoil spring weight is always the best general spring weight compromise for the most commonly used ammunition out there on the shelves.

    If some shooters decide to use lighter or heavier recoiling than what is typically used then they (for sure) may want to move down or up in recoil spring weight.

    For example if a 1911 shooter is using extremely light recoiling semi-wadcutter target ammo in his/her 1911 that person will of course want to move all the way down to a very light weight recoil spring. Often almost half the standard factory spring weight.

    There should be a valid reason to change away from the factory standard though.

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  5. #4
    Ex Member Array dbglock's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
    Durham, N.C.
    Just FYI the factory standard recoil spring weight on a G23 (.40) is 18 lbs. I installed a tungsten rod with a 15-lb spring and the slide wouldn't close all the way unless I pushed it shut. And that doesn't even take ammo into play. I went back to the 18 with the tungsten and the slide works like before, which is perfect for both 165 g and 185 g loads.

  6. #5
    Distinguished Member Array dben002's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
    Kernersville NC
    I was a participant in that post and it was being discussed as a remedy to prevent sporadic mis feeds with certain ammo types in the LCP...upgrading the recoil spring seems to help with the misfeed problems. I'm not a gun tech on internal working of the weapon so I can't personally testify to the good/bad, should/should not, good idea/bad idea of this suggestion.

  7. #6
    Member Array Gunsmoke16's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
    They're probably doing that so they can shoot hot rounds like P+P without cracking the frame on the thing. 1911 style pistols have many options like Shock Buffs that you can put in to prevent slam damage from cycling, but little guns like these don't.
    Heavy loads like a 147grain in a short barrel 9mm will cause a FTF/FTE jam unless you go with a lighter spring.

  8. #7
    Member Array Archie's Avatar
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    From the manufacturer, recoil springs (as well as all other springs in a given firearm) are the 'average' weight for the 'average' shooter firing 'normal' ammunition.

    For instance, the Colt Government Model normally uses a 16 pound recoil spring. It has been that way since 1911 or so. It is intended to use 230 grain bullets at about 830 f/s; and was initially intended as a fighting handgun for the U. S. Armed Forces, so users were men in good physical shape. (In theory.)

    Other pistols use different weight springs based on ammunition types.

    If one is 'building' or 'customizing' a pistol for one's own use, the recoil spring weight can be increased or decreased for the individual and the ammunition used. A lighter recoil spring is also indicated for a person with a lighter grip, as a way of preventing 'short recoil' as the result of 'limp-wristing'. Another may want a heavier recoil spring to protect the frame and slide from battering problems.

    One's semi-automatic pistol should have a spring that will allow the fired case to be extracted and ejected smartly, but not thrown an 'excessive' distance from the firing point. If the case is thrown too far, the slide is moving too fast and the slide and frame are pounding together. About four to five feet is good (at least in my experience.) I have heard some military weapons (Heckler & Koch rifles and machine-guns, specifically) are made to throw brass away from the shooter's position, so as not to 'mark' the shooter's position. (I frankly find that a rather spurious line of thought and it does not enter in to my life at all; I'm either on the range or engaging in a single encounter, not a pitched battle.) One gun builder said cases should just '...roll out and fall to the ground...' when being fired. I think that is too close to not ejecting for my tastes.

    On the high end, too heavy a recoil spring will pound the slide and frame when closing. Yes, stripping a round from a magazine and chambering it does mitigate the closing force of the slide. However, even with a round being chambered, one can have too much closing force over time. Like many firearms problems, it doesn't happen all at once. And of course, too heavy a recoil spring can prevent a pistol from cycling properly.

    For the casual user, I can see very few occasions to change the recoil spring weight. The standard spring will serve with 'normal' ammunition.

    However, springs do wear out and lose their 'spring'. Typically this will manifest as ejecting cases rather far or a 'reluctance' to go into battery. But wearing out a recoil spring (any spring for that matter) requires a large number of cycles.

    Changing a spring is much like changing any other part: What good will it do? What do I as a shooter, expect to improve by this change?
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  9. #8
    Member Array GrandZJ's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
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    I was having issues with my LCP's slide closing on the first round with the stock spring, and ejection problems with most ammo. I put a 13lb spring in and now it doesn't have those issues. The LCP is notorious for those problems.

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array SmokinFool's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    What it boils down to is that if the pistol is working well, with little or no functioning problems, then leave it alone. Once you have been shooting it for a while and you notice that the ammo you settled on is not functioning 100%, then you may want to consider fine tuning the spring tension, and perhaps checking other things as well, such as the extractor.

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