Question on Mags

Question on Mags

This is a discussion on Question on Mags within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; When you empty your mags to let the spring relax, how long do wait before reloading it?...

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  1. #1
    New Member Array Big_D's Avatar
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    Question on Mags

    When you empty your mags to let the spring relax, how long do wait before reloading it?


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    Emptying your magazines does not let the springs "relax." This comes up just about monthly... with few exceptions, you're not preserving the life of your magazine springs by unloading the mags.
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    Member Array mg27's Avatar
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    I leave mine full minus 1. I believe its the compression and depression that would wear out the mag springs. I do keep a few brand new especially now days because they are getting harder to get (OEM) and more expensive .

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    Member Array Fisher10's Avatar
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    Constant compression does not weaken the spring. It's thousands of loading and unloading cycles that weaken the spring. Carry on.

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    VIP Member Array sixgun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fisher10 View Post
    Constant compression does not weaken the spring. It's thousands of loading and unloading cycles that weaken the spring. Carry on.
    +1 here.

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    Problem solved.
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    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    An empty mag is about as useful as a rock. Is your life worth a magazine spring ?
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    Member Array Ransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_D View Post
    When you empty your mags to let the spring relax, how long do wait before reloading it?
    I empty my mags and let the spring relax every time I go to the range. They get relaxed a few minutes between reloadings.
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    gasmitty- I'm like "Big-D"... I switch out about every 90 days...
    Years ago, had a Range Master tell me to do so/and have done so.
    What would you say the exceptions are to emptying a mag?
    Great question!!
    Thank you

  10. #10
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    Springs should be relaxed nightly...unload each mag, take the mag apart and thoroughly clean, let the mag and spring soak in a warm bath for at least 2 hours...dry gently and using ONLY new gloves...put the mags back together.

    Naw, I'm just pulling your leg...I load my SD/HD mags, and they stay that way for a long, long time.
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    VIP Member Array Hiram25's Avatar
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    Who lets their MAGS get empty?
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    Hiram25
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AR15VSCoyote View Post
    gasmitty- I'm like "Big-D"... I switch out about every 90 days...
    Years ago, had a Range Master tell me to do so/and have done so.
    What would you say the exceptions are to emptying a mag?
    Great question!!
    Thank you
    Just as with many other things relating to the "manly art" of shooting and firearms, there is a lot of information out there, and separating fact from entertaining lore isn't always straightforward.

    Just so you don't get the impression I'm perpetuating my own brand of lore, I'm a career test (= research and development, test and evaluation) engineer with a background in materials, nuclear power, and with 35 years in aerospace. Along the way I've spent some time with springs, some that would fit in a wristwatch and others that would be at home in a pickup truck suspension.

    Spring design hasn't changed a whole lot since about the Industrial Revolution, although materials and processes have. So let's agree that my comments are generally applicable to springs designed or manufactured since the start of the Cold War, and nothing earlier.

    All springs relax over time. The "relaxation" is characterized by a reduction in spring rate. (And a quick educational note here: springs are characterized by a spring rate given in force per deflection, commonly pounds per inch [lb/in]. When someone says they have a 15-pound spring in their gun, that means that spring takes 15 pounds to compress it to a certain deflection.) So a brand new spring may be rated at 25 lb/in, but with a lot of use it may relax to something less, like 20 lb/in. In the case of coil springs, and let's further confine the discussion to compression springs (for the sake of simplicity, and since that's what magazine springs are) as the spring relaxes over time its unloaded length usually shortens. The 1911 recoil spring I replaced yesterday after about 3000 rounds was about 5/8" shorter than the new one.

    Speaking of dimensions, nearly all springs take several load-unload cycles of "conditioning" after manufacturing to reach their design free length (i.e., take a "set") and spring rate. When we test a spring, we exercise it to its working length for several cycles and measure the overall length until it no longer changes with cycling. For most gun-sized springs, this would probably happen within 20 cycles or so - more than 1, less than 100, and I've never seen one take 50 cycles to stabilize. This is all taken account of in the design process.

    Several things affect the rate at which springs relax and lose their designed spring rate. Materials and processes are big factors, as it the degree to which the spring is loaded. Springs which are polished or shot-peened or cryogenically treated will have longer service lives than those that aren't. If a spring is designed to compress one inch yet in service is never compressed more than a third of an inch, barring corrosion or other damage, that spring will probably have close to infinite life. If the spring is routinely loaded to its max design compression, its life will be finite. More importantly, if a spring is loaded beyond its design deflection, it will permanently deform and its life will be measurably shorter. One of the most damaging things you can do to a coil spring is to load it to its "solid height" (zero space between coils) more than a few cycles if it was not designed for that. But note that the simple act of loading a spring to its design loaded length and leaving it so loaded is not cycling the spring.

    So how does all this stack up for our magazine springs? "It depends." The trend over the past 20 years or so has been to stuff as many rounds as possible into magazines and treat mags (or their springs) pretty much as consumables. Compare the (fixed) magazine spring in my 1926 Mosin-Nagant which has never seen more than 5 rounds loaded, with the spring in my 30-round AR mags. That Mosin spring will be working well for another century or more, but I've already had to replace a few springs in aluminum AR mags less than 5 years old. The AR mag spring is designed to be compressed to a loaded length which will not produce tens of thousands of cycles. Likewise, 7-round 1911 mags - assuming good mags, not the no-name gun show junk - will have a pretty long life, much longer then the 8-rounders I use almost exclusively.

    Practically speaking, your magazine spring life all comes down to the number of load and unload cycles it sees. Unloading your magazine every 90 days won't hurt anything, but don't kid yourself that you're giving the springs a "rest." Anecdotally, we know that lots of people leave lots of magazines loaded for years, and the mags function just fine when put into service.

    Probably a lot longer reply than you expected, and completely devoid of "hard" (specific) answers, but this question comes up so often I thought I'd offer more than a quick, 2-line response. I hope this was at least somewhat useful for you.
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    Smitty
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    Member Array DaveInEdmonds's Avatar
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    Thirty two minutes and fifteen seconds. Sometimes sixteen seconds.

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    Distinguished Member Array BlueNinjaGo's Avatar
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    My advice for people who worry about magazine springs is to just buy a new spring each year. They're typically $6 each or so. Whenever you're ordering parts, just throw a few on the order. It's not a lot of money for the peace of mind. Honestly, I don't worry about it until they get issues, but if you're worried, drop $6 for a new spring every year or two. (Yes, they last way longer than that though...)

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    Question on Mags

    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    Emptying your magazines does not let the springs "relax." This comes up just about monthly... with few exceptions, you're not preserving the life of your magazine springs by unloading the mags.
    Maybe it helps them "chill out".


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