Magazine failure - what is this and how is it caused?

Magazine failure - what is this and how is it caused?

This is a discussion on Magazine failure - what is this and how is it caused? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I am reading about magazine failure in another thread about carrying spare mags. What exactly happens with magazine failure - i.e. is it the way ...

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Thread: Magazine failure - what is this and how is it caused?

  1. #1
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    Magazine failure - what is this and how is it caused?

    I am reading about magazine failure in another thread about carrying spare mags.

    What exactly happens with magazine failure - i.e. is it the way it is filled (human error), or is the metal bent, or is this word also meaning ammo failure or failure in another part of the gun?

    In other words, how can I reduce the chances of magazine failure?


  2. #2
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Use quality OEM magazines, and don't modify them or abuse them.
    Magazine failure. Depending on how they're made, some of them can simply come apart. The base plate can come off, the follower can turn or get stuck, etc...... Mechanics.....created by man........by ways of science. Man is not perfect.
    How to reduce the chances of a magazine failure happening to you? Know your tools, and take care of them.

  3. #3
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    Will keeping them loaded at full capacity adversely affect them? I have heard several different answers to this.

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    Distinguished Member Array Chooie's Avatar
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    No. Metal springs do not wear out from remaining compressed, they wear out through excessive cycling (e.g. loading and unloading). Take care of your mags (don't use them as a hammer), disassemble and clean them every now and then (especially if they've been dropped in dirt, water, or sand), and they should last for years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chooie View Post
    No. Metal springs do not wear out from remaining compressed, they wear out through excessive cycling (e.g. loading and unloading). Take care of your mags (don't use them as a hammer), disassemble and clean them every now and then (especially if they've been dropped in dirt, water, or sand), and they should last for years.
    Exactly. The whole "you can't leave magazine loaded because you'll damage the spring" is bunk. I've kept my P229, P239, and AR mags filled for 15 months (while I was deployed)--they fed just fine when I went to the range last week.
    Magazine <> clip - know the difference

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    You have never lived until you have almost died. For those that have fought for it, life has a special flavor the protected will never know

  6. #6
    Distinguished Member Array razor02097's Avatar
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    If the follower becomes jammed from pocket lint, corrosion etc. I could see it. Failure to feed due to magazine issues is why its good to employ Tap, Rack, Boom drills in case of a misfire.


    EVENT GOES AS FOLLOWS
    BOOM
    BOOM
    Click
    Hit the bottom of the magazine to make sure its seated right (also provides shock to help unjam the follower) TAP
    Rack the slide to chamber a new round RACK
    Pull trigger BOOM

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    Quote Originally Posted by cammo girl View Post
    .........In other words, how can I reduce the chances of magazine failure?
    I would estimate that the vast majority of all magazine failures are caused by bent/damaged lips. The best way to prevent this is don't drop your magazines. If you want to practice rapid reloads at the range, do not use your carry magazines. Have a couple of mags designated specifically for practice that if they become damaged when dropped out of the gun during a rapid reload won't leave you hanging in a true self defense situation. The second most common failure would have to be dirt/lint/debris inside the magazine jamming it up so cleaning your magazines from time to time should be scheduled maintenance.

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    What constitutes a magazine failure has been pretty well covered. How to minimize having a magazine failure is to treat your magazines the same as you would treat your weapon. Inspect them frequently, keep them clean and don't abuse them. If you happen to drop one, inspect it for bent feed lips, check the follower for proper alignment and travel, look for bulges in the metal. If your magazines do not have removable base plates check to see if the welds are still intact, with removable base plates, check to make sure they are still locked in place. Avoid slam feeding your magazines into your weapon, if misaligned you could damage the feed lips.

  9. #9
    Member Array BadgerMan's Avatar
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    Plastic baseplates can break off as well, I remember reading a thread on here where that happened when somebody was either getting in/out of a chair and caught his baseplate on it. The baseplate broke and stuff started coming out of his mag, I don't remember how bad it was as far as if the spring came completely out or not, but if he had not had a spare magazine he would have been down to one round if something had happened.

  10. #10
    Member Array raytracer's Avatar
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    All good points.

    A couple other things to consider:

    While you do want to keep magazines clean, don't lube them. This will attract foreign contaminants and virtually guarantee a failure. Clean them thoroughly and wipe down with a treated rag and they'll be fine. Another argument for spending a little extra for stainless or plated mags.

    Number your mags. It makes it easy to tell them apart so if one fails in training or competition it's very easy to set it aside for repair/replacement.

    Just like the springs in your gun, it's a good idea to periodically replace mag springs as part of a preventative maintenance routine, especially if you shoot a lot. As has been pointed out - it's not leaving a mag loaded that wears out the spring, it's cycling it. Most likely they'll go for years and years, but springs are cheap. Why risk it?

    Don't baby your mags. Keeping your carry ones out of rotation is not a bad idea (be sure and fully function test them before carry though), but otherwise, let 'em hit the deck. Using mags that have plastic or rubber bumpers on the floor plate will help keep them in good shape, but sometimes the feed lips are going to take a beating. Fix them if you can, if not; pitch them and move on. If you ever have to use your gun in a defensive capacity, you're going to fight like you train. If your handgun/magazine combo can't stand up to rough operation, it's not a suitable defensive weapon. Use it for plinking or whetever, but don't count on an assailant standing by while you stow an empty mag in your pocket and gently replace it with a fresh one.*

    Best thing you can do for your primary gun(s). Find a brand/model of magazine that it really likes and buy as many of them NIB as you can afford. Then watch the want ads and scarf up every used one you can find. Refurb them if need be. The only time you can have too many magazines is when you're swimming.

    If you are a 1911 shooter however, don't buy used Tripp Cobra mags.

    I want those.

    Joe

    * Yes, as an IDPA shooter I'm very aware of, and in grudging agreement with, the tactical doctrine of "reload with retention". Even though you keep your (partially) expended mag, doesn't mean you baby the reload. Slam that puppy home and get the gun back in the fight.

  11. #11
    Ex Member Array Cold Warrior's Avatar
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    After reading some forum posts and magazine stories, I recently decided to unload some of my pistol magazines, which I too rarely do. Much to my surprise, I discovered my first-ever bad magazine with a broken spring inside, not pushing the bullets up with any strength. Which reminds me: I should do it again with all of my pistols. I will. Soon. Oh, I also own an old military 1911 sloppy-slide Colt .45 with three magazines. One of my gun buddies was talking about fixing one of his bad magazines. I told him to throw it away! Some of these old surplus magazines could be thirty, forty, fifty, sixty or seventy years old! They were made in factories and everything was not built or made or manufactured better way back when, my friends. Many of these magazines have been used and abused too. Just a word to you penny-wise gals and guys.

  12. #12
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    Periodically you should carefully and closely examine your magazine springs for patches of rust or even minute areas of physical damage.
    Because if a mag spring physically fails (AKA breaks) it will nearly always be either where the spring was nicked or showing surface rust and/or prior rust pitting.

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    Good info, my magazines and I thank you all.

    cg

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