Let's Talk About Magazine Springs

Let's Talk About Magazine Springs

This is a discussion on Let's Talk About Magazine Springs within the Related Gear & Equipment forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; OK...Let's talk about them! Here are some things that I have noticed over the years. High quality magazine springs do not get weaker if the ...

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  1. #1
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    Let's Talk About Magazine Springs

    OK...Let's talk about them!

    Here are some things that I have noticed over the years.

    High quality magazine springs do not get weaker if the mags are left fully loaded.

    It is not necessary to unload your magazines to lengthen the life of the springs. I have tested this myself.
    (Some very old factory Colt springs do have a problem staying at good power...probably because they were never hardened and tempered correctly in the first place)

    It is NOT necessary to keep one less round in your magazines to save the springs or to extend the mag spring life.
    That makes absolutely no difference at all.

    It is not necessary to "rotate" your magazines so that your magazine springs can rest.
    People need to rest...magazine springs do not need to rest.
    They don't get sleepy.

    RUST or pitting on your magazine springs can cause a spring to fail or break.
    Also a "file cut" on a magazine spring can cause the spring to fail in the location of the file cut.
    Try not to nick your springs or allow them to get rusty.
    Do not use magazine springs that show rust or pitting in your carry firearm.

    DO NOT EVER STRETCH YOUR MAGAZINE SPRINGS.
    If you need to stretch a spring (to get it STRONG again) then it's not a good or properly made spring. It's already defective. Replace it.

    You CAN sparingly oil the inside of your magazines & your magazine springs...in fact I do put a light coat of oil on my mag springs (or use a drying spray rust preventative or spray dry lube)
    You use any non~penetrating type oil but, you need to wipe off all traces of excess oil right after you oil.
    You put it on then you take it all off.
    You should wipe everything nearly bone dry again.
    Different people have different opinions on this (that's OK with me) but, oiling then carefully wiping off all traces of excess oil (like Break Free) works for me.
    I've never had an oil "migration" problem.

    If you have FTFeed related problems then you should try a slightly higher power (stronger) magazine spring.
    Sometimes that helps with feeding problems in 1911 style pistols.
    It keeps the next cartridge in line to feed "up there" better.
    Too STRONG of a magazine spring may cause the top cartridge to "friction drag" on the underside of the magazine feed lips and also eat up too much slide return energy moving the top cartridge forward & up the chute. So...too weak is no good and too strong is no good either.

    Do you know any little known spring facts?
    Any more interesting spring talk?
    Feel free to bounce it right in here!
    Comments ~ Opinions ~ Always Welcome.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Array rfurtkamp's Avatar
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    If you're looking to protect mags, springs, etc. from rust, try the CLP "Collector" product - it suppposedly keeps things rust free for up to 5 years but ready to fire etc. I've had very good luck with it on my trunk guns and rust-prone mags, and it leaves no real residue when applied as directed.
    Driver carries less than $45 worth of remorse.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Actually what wears mag springs out is cycling just liek anything else if loaded and left that way a mag spring will last longer than your range mag which you load and unload all the time

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    Good Point Bud

    The Break Free Collector sounds like a great product. I wonder what makes it different than regular Break Free?
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

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    Senior Member Array KC135's Avatar
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    1) Properly manufactured and heat treated magazine springs (or any other springs) have no memory.

    2) Factory springs work.

    3) If a recoil/magazine/firing pin/ mainspring/ is only good for say 100,000 number of cycles, how do auto valve springs last for 250,000,000????

    4) The spring business is in general a huge hozx on the gun buying public. That does not mean that a spring change is always wrong, just waaaaaayyyy oversold.
    Keep the shotgun handy!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Array CombatEffective's Avatar
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    I wouldn't put any kind of lubricant or such in my mags. If for some reason there is residue there is a slight chance that your primers could get neutralized.

    If you have any question about your mag springs just replace them.
    Shooters' Legacy

    Special sections for S&W and Ruger

  7. #7
    Distinguished Member Array AutoFan's Avatar
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    If you are paranoid about using a liquid lubricant (I think the neutralizing primers with oil is an old shooter's tale - try it sometime) there are plenty of dry lubricants (graphite, teflon, moly) that will work just as well.

  8. #8
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    Springs will these days last extremely well .... tho it still seems ''kind'' to now and again let a mag spring''relax''.

    IMO biggest threat to mags is damage affecting the feed lips, or anything that upsets free travel of feed platform.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by KC135
    3) If a recoil/magazine/firing pin/ mainspring/ is only good for say 100,000 number of cycles, how do auto valve springs last for 250,000,000????
    I've wondered about that many times. How can a spring work in an automobile at elevated temperature and millions of cycles and mag springs presumably weaken with use????

    Well, I do think there may be some reasons. The wire that mag springs are made from is very thin compared to valve springs. The ratio of extended length to compressed length of a valve spring is much, much less than a magazine spring. And, valve springs are essentially perfectly round coils where magazine springs take the shape of the magazine and the sharper bends create stress points.

    But it is still an excellent point. However, it seems like there are an awful lot of feed problems fixed by changing mag springs.

  10. #10
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    Springs

    Springs Last and Last as long as they are not ever bent beyond their elastic limit.
    That limit is not reached when a pistol magazine is fully loaded.

    How can a coil spring inside of an extending dog leash last for a half million "cycles" - I have used the same one for about 7 or 8 years & it still works perfectly after me strutting the mutt twice a day.
    I was thinking about that last night since my dog yanks that out & it zips back in again at least 50 times per walk...after that I stopped counting.

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Also Valve Springs Are heat Treated Dont think Mag Springs are Also the size matters..

    You do see a failure in Valve springs and they do change sizes somehat fast but that tollerance is built into the engine vary rarely do they totaly go bad unless you race nascar or drive a ford

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud White
    Also Valve Springs Are heat Treated Dont think Mag Springs are Also the size matters..

    You do see a failure in Valve springs and they do change sizes somehat fast but that tollerance is built into the engine vary rarely do they totaly go bad unless you race nascar or drive a ford
    Good points - hey, wait a minute - what do you mean unless you drive a Ford?

  13. #13
    Senior Member Array KC135's Avatar
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    Talking

    All piano wire springs are heat treated, otherwise they would quickly collapse.

    A lifetime ago, I worked in a spring factory for a short time. We used turkey roasters to heat treat small springs.

    Size does not matter, one of the springs we made was a very small spring that was used in the push/pull switch used in TV sets in the 70s and early 80s before remote controls.

    Remember, tv sets had tubes, heat, lots of power consumption, and as a result, tv sets might be turned off and on many times a day. This spring was heat treated after it was wound and ends turned out.
    Last edited by KC135; September 12th, 2005 at 08:18 PM. Reason: Addition
    Keep the shotgun handy!!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud White
    Also Valve Springs Are heat Treated Dont think Mag Springs are Also the size matters..

    You do see a failure in Valve springs and they do change sizes somehat fast but that tollerance is built into the engine vary rarely do they totaly go bad unless you race nascar or drive a ford

    Exactly!

  15. #15
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    This Is A Neat Read

    Though NOT Really Magazine Spring Related It deals with making a Gun Spring which somebody MIGHT JUST NEED TO DO SOME DAY for an odd, rare or antique firearm. It's interesting to read regardless. So I'll post it here & it will pop up in a forum search for springs.

    Here Goes:
    Guild of Metalsmiths
    Metalsmith - V 21.2 :
    Springs
    by Randy Hengl, Guild Member and member of the Metalsmith's Editorial Board
    In the process of performing restoration work on 17th and 18th century firearms, one of the most difficult tasks for me has been the fabrication of springs. The sickening sound of a snap as you place one under pressure for the first time, or the stupid feeling that you develop as the "spring" collapses and lays flat like a tin can run over by a Mack truck, led me to seek the wisdom of more learned people than myself.

    My first mentor's suggestion that I place one half of the profit that would be derived from the job in the bottom of my forge prior to starting. This 'offering to the gods' was not my idea of a solution.

    The second person I sought council with suggested that I contact the original manufacturer. In this case I found that my communications lines to the spirit world were down.

    In desperation I began to search for what other sources of knowledge were available. I found that a lot has been written but:
    My conclusion is that most of the people who have written about spring making have spent their time writing about spring making and have not made any..

    Materials
    The principle underlying the manufacture of a spring is the elastic property of the steel from which it is made. You have to have the right steel! Spring steel is a plain carbon steel with a carbon content of around .7%. Steel below .2% carbon will not react to heat treatment and above 1% will be impossible to control in a small shop environment. The American Iron and Steel Institute specification number 1070 works well. Some sources recommend 1095 for springs but this product is a lot fussier about its heat treatment in hardening and tempering than the home shop worker needs to deal with. General Motors use 5160 in their leaf and coil springs this is a chromium steel with .6% carbon and works in heavy applications but is tough to forge when working on a reduced scale. The process of making a spring consists of: Forging, Filing, Polishing, Heat-treatment in the form of hardening and tempering, and a final polishing prior to fitting. The craftsmen I attempt to duplicate did not have access to the finely rolled and sized stock that we have today. My mother may have raised a fool, but that was my sister, every hammer blow avoided is one saved for the future, and Brownell's in Montezuma, Iowa, or Dixie Gunworks of Union City Tennessee sell pre-annealed 1070 spring stock in 12" lengths in thickness from 1/32 to 3/8" and widths to 1" for a dollar amount that is less than the wear and tear on my body than it takes to rough shape it to form.
    Forging
    From flat stock, forging may be done with almost any heat source but I have found that the "soft' heat of a charcoal fired forge seems to produce a better spring. What ever the heat source you use, it will need to produce a heat between 1450 and 1550 degrees Fahrenheit. I suggest that you allow the stock to preheat slowly before moving it into direct flame. When the stock has reached a even cherry-red color remove it from the heat and forge it to final with and thickness. DO NOT WORK THE METAL BELOW A CHERRY RED HEAT. (If reproducing a broken spring use calipers set to the various thickness will assist sizing during this first stage.) Allow the stock to slowly cool in lime or ashes out of air flow prior to any, required final filing to shape. After filing the inside side of the future spring that will be inaccessible after bending to shape MUST be polished dead smooth. Any file marks left in the spring will produce stress points which will develop cracks during use.
    In forging to final shape you will find it helpful to mark the stock with chalk or a 'silver pencil' in the places where bends are to be made. Placing the curves, or bends, in a spring so that compression will be distributed evenly is the secret to proper function. Bend the spring a little less than you feel is necessary, so that at the point of least compression the spring will not be too weak and fails to function. Return the stock to the heat source and gradually heat it to a cherry red glow. Move slowly and work only at full red heat to prevent the molecules of steel from becoming injured which will produce fractures in use. Uneven heating is the cause of most of the defects in a forged spring. File marks and slight scratches that allow stress fractured are the second cause of failure.

    Hardening and Tempering
    Hardening
    If steel is heated to a high temperature, bright or cherry red, and then quenched in oil or water, the atoms of iron and carbon re-arrange themselves in a formation which give the metal a very hard and brittle property. This process is known as hardening. If this metal is heated again to a lower temperature, dull red, and allowed to cool slowly it will revert to its soft state. Hardened steel if only partially re-heated will lose its brittleness and springiness will appear as the heat increases. This process is known as tempering. A pretty simple explanation of heat treating but all you need to know to turn pieces of stock into a serviceable spring. Selecting the right heats will require some experimentation. Every metal treating, blacksmithing, gunsmithing book and even in what I have written here speaks of heats in colors. Ever notice how many colors mother nature uses in painting cherries, and we all speak of cherry red. Cherry red, in medium sunlight, is approximately 1500 degrees. On an overcast day, in a dim shop, 1500 degrees will appear brighter and in bright sunlight will seem duller. A hint: What we are looking for is the 'critical heat", when you reach this heat the magnetic attraction of the metal will disappear. When all else fails the use of one of the temperature testing products such as Tempilaq or Tempilstick comes in handy especially for some of us that are color blind to most shades of red. When your stock reaches this heat quench it in OIL, moving it around so that it cools evenly. Your spring is now very hard and brittle.
    Tempering
    The next step is to reduce this hardness by tempering. The ideal temperature for tempering steel with .6 to .7 % carbon is 700 degrees f. This may be accomplished in several ways.

    a.) Lead melts at about this temperature and you may submerge the spring in molten lead until it reaches the point that the lead no longer sticks to it. Submerge the part fully, and remember that steel floats in lead.
    b.) Self-cleaning ovens 700 degrees in their cleaning cycle and you can clean your electric oven and temper the spring at the same time, (My wife hates this trick).
    c.) Fiercely burning motor oil burns at about this temperature. if you fill a shallow tin with oil to cover the spring and heat it with a torch until it sputters and burns with a roaring flame until the oil burns away you will reach 'draw' or temper.

    CAUTION You may have read that springs should be tempered until they are blue. If you polish a piece of steel and heat it slowly until various colors appear. The blues begin to appear at about 580 degrees, at this temper you are in danger of having your spring still brittle and it may break.

    After the above has been done the spring is ready for final polish. before any polish is done examine the spring with a magnifying glass to detect any flaws.

    Cracks of a circular form in the corners indicate uneven heating. Start again!
    Cracks of a vertical nature or dark fissures indicate the steel has been burned. Start again!
    Dimples, show that there are hard and soft places and indicate that the heating and cooling has been uneven. Start again!
    When the spring is perfect in ever respect polish it to mirror finish and place it under test**.
    ** At THIS point you may wish to make that offering to the gods!
    Guild of Metalsmiths
    Volume 21 No.2 June, 1997

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