Magazines, loaded or unloaded?

Magazines, loaded or unloaded?

This is a discussion on Magazines, loaded or unloaded? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Maybe a silly question and it's one I've asked of friends who are very experienced, guns shop owners and some buddies on the force: Do ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array mech's Avatar
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    Magazines, loaded or unloaded?

    Maybe a silly question and it's one I've asked of friends who are very experienced, guns shop owners and some buddies on the force:

    Do you keep your magazines loaded, unloaded or do you rotate your ammo from loaded to unloaded mags?

    I've heard it weakens the spring to leave them loaded.
    I've heard it does nothing to the spring, but changing them (the spring) out every few years is just good precautionary maintenance.

    So, is there a right and wrong way, does it matter?

    Appreciate the feedback in advance, gents.


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Superhouse 15's Avatar
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    The general opinion is that cycling of a spring causes more wear than just leaving it compressed. I vote for it doesn't matter. I doub't most of us will shoot a magazine enough to wear it out.

    I do have a Thompson magazine that possibly has been loaded since 1945 or so. Dying to try that as soon as I get a good Thompson in the shop.
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  3. #3
    Member Array arffdog875's Avatar
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    IMHO...I switch out mags and ammo every 2-3 weeks just to rotate them, clean out the dust, dirt and what ever. The dirt and sand and the wind has been bad here lately, I like to be pro active and just keep everything clean of the grit and grime free, including my guns!
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  4. #4
    Member Array mech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arffdog875 View Post
    IMHO...I switch out mags and ammo every 2-3 weeks just to rotate them, clean out the dust, dirt and what ever. The dirt and sand and the wind has been bad here lately, I like to be pro active and just keep everything clean of the grit and grime free, including my guns!
    That's a good approach, one I hadn't considered. Rotating just for the "get the gunk out" angle.


  5. #5
    Member Array MSteve's Avatar
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    The answer is both.

    It depends on the quality of your magazines. I have Sig mags that spent about 2-3 years loaded while I had the weapon in storage and fired with no problem.

    On the other hand, the crap magazines the Army issues for the M-4 and M-9 must be unloaded and the springs retensioned periodically. I don't know if this is because they get so much more use over time, or if it's because they are garbage to start with. I do know, that I have seen allot of failures to feed on both platforms when going to the range in theater, and without exception when I ask if the person has ever unloaded and tensioned them the answer is no. We do it on the spot, and then they fire just fine.

    With my personal ones, I only keep the two I carry loaded all the time, and I break them down about once a month.
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  6. #6
    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    I don't know if it's really the best practice, it just seemed like a good idea to me. I keep one in the gun and one extra on me and have two empty at home. I rotate them every couple months or so. The empty ones serve as my range mags, I just pull my loaded one out, clear the chamber and load up my range mags with range ammo.
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  7. #7
    Member Array Griffworks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSteve View Post
    The answer is both.

    It depends on the quality of your magazines. I have Sig mags that spent about 2-3 years loaded while I had the weapon in storage and fired with no problem.
    That's pretty much my answer, as well.

    From my understanding, most modern-day magazines from a quality manufacturer - usually the maker of the firearm in question - are much better than they were even 30 years ago. The materials are supposedly such that you shouldn't have any problems w/the magazine tension going "bad" on you if you keep them all loaded for months at a time. Now, I'm no expert, but that's what I've gleaned from folks with more knowledge of firearms than I personally have.

    On the other hand, the crap magazines the Army issues for the M-4 and M-9 must be unloaded and the springs retensioned periodically. I don't know if this is because they get so much more use over time, or if it's because they are garbage to start with. I do know, that I have seen allot of failures to feed on both platforms when going to the range in theater, and without exception when I ask if the person has ever unloaded and tensioned them the answer is no. We do it on the spot, and then they fire just fine.
    Oh, yeah! I've had to Frankenstein a few over the years, particularly when trying to issue weapons to Deployers and found during a basic function check that there was little-to-no tension on some magazines. I'd strip them down and do what I could, but sometimes would just trash parts that were bad and hold on to the rest. I could eventually re-build some M9 magazines this way, but most of the M16 magazines were crap from the get-go, so usually couldn't salvage much, if anything.
    With my personal ones, I only keep the two I carry loaded all the time, and I break them down about once a month.
    I've never done a breakdown, but was thinking about this the other day. I'm afraid that I might cause a problem w/a perfectly good magazine, tho, so haven't thus far. Should just take one apart to see how they work - which shouldn't be any different really than any other magazines I've gutted in the past, but you never know 'til you take a peak, right...?

    Regardless, I tend to keep all of my magazines loaded to capacity. Never know when the Zombie Apocalypse might start and I'll need them in a hurry!
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Array boatail's Avatar
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    I like to have hands on my guns periodically anyways, so it's just another excuse to do so. I'll wipe everything down and change out mags and clean if necessary. I've been known to clean them and the guns even if they don't really need it! It keeps me ahead of the rust curve if nothing else.
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  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Hiram25's Avatar
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    I have two mags loaded with SD ammo which stay loaded. I have two other mags that I use for the range.
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  10. #10
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    Wolff Gunsprings states that single stack pistol magazines can be stored fully loaded but, that double stack pistol magazines should be downloaded by one or two rounds.

    Don't shoot me...I'm just the messenger. It on their web site on the FAQ Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Here ya go #5 on their FAQ Page...take it for what it's worth to ya.

    5. How often should I change magazine spring?

    Should I unload my magazines, rotate magazines, load with fewer than the maximum rounds?

    Magazine springs in semi-auto pistols are one of the most critical springs and are the subject of much debate and concern. Magazines which are kept fully loaded for long periods of time, such as in law enforcement and personal/home defense applications, will generally be subject to more fatigue than the weekend shooter's magazine springs in which the magazines are loaded up only when shooting.

    Magazine design and capacity also affect the longevity of the spring. In many older pistol designs, maximum capacity was not the always the goal such as with the 7 round 1911 Colt magazines will last for years fully loaded. There was room for more spring material in these guns which reduces overall stress and increases the usable life of the spring.

    More recently higher capacity magazine have become popular. These are designed to hold more rounds with less spring material often in the same space. This puts more stress on the spring and will cause it to fatigue at a faster rate. Unloading these magazines a round or two will help the life of the spring. Rotating fully loaded magazines will also help the problem somewhat but it is not always practical.

    In applications where the magazine must be kept loaded at all times, a high quality magazine spring such as Wolff extra power magazine springs, will provide maximum life. Regular replacement of magazine springs will provide the best defense against failure from weak magazine springs. Regular shooting of the pistol is the best way to be sure the springs are still functioning reliably.

  11. #11
    Member Array SteveinNEPA's Avatar
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    My answer to this is a simple and short one. TO EACH THEIR OWN. I keep them loaded though.

    Longer answer: I say that because you will get mixed answer to your question, its like the Glock is better than (Insert maker here) debate. ALWAYS going on. I have left mags loaded for over a year to test this and I have found that it does NOTHING to the springs. On the other hand, I have a friend who SWEARS up and down that the springs get weakened and will fail if they are kept loaded over an extended period. Personally I leave them loaded and ever 6 or 8 months I unload and clean because of dust in the ones that sit. I clean my EDC once every week or 2 depending on activities throughout the week, mags for the EDC gets torn down and cleaned after 500 rounds or 6 months which ever comes first.
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  12. #12
    VIP Member Array tokerblue's Avatar
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    I leave mine loaded all of the time. I had my Glock 27 magazines fully loaded for over a decade. Same with my Kahr MK9 and Seecamp 32. All three firearms fired flawlessly on a trip to the range last year.

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    I should add that I keep my carry mags loaded 1 round less than capacity. That still give me 9+1 and an extra 9. If I need more than that I need to start asking myself exactly what it is I did to get myself into this situation.
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  14. #14
    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    Periodically I shoot my carry ammo. It proves to me that pistol and ammo are ready and able to save my sorry old butt. It also shows me that some of my mags are reliable. Those mags then get set back, and other mags are then loaded and used. These other mags went through this a few weeks ago. Thus I always have well proven mags with my pistol and a full set of spares proven and ready to go.

    Long before I have any reason to think that the mag springs are getting tired, I buy Wolff replacements. They are cheap, highest possible quality, and available with a few key strokes.
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  15. #15
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    I've always rotated magazines... probably not necessary but I started doing that 35 years ago, why change now!
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