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The ubiquitous spring!

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Cleaning SP-101 this evening and one small plunger and spring dropped out - successfully retrieved!

Reminded me tho of a thought I had way back - even posted about it on THR ages ago - and had some odd responses. Guess this is guns in general really.

While every component of a gun is crucial - it strikes me that the MOST critical components are the springs! If springs did not exist we could not have guns? Yes? We take them for granted these days but IMO gun springs are simple but superb technology. Instance - the Smith leaf spring (boy are leaf springs tricky to make and temper), plus compression springs of all sizes and rates - even those simple ''one turn'' sorta music wire deals too.

How else could we impart energy to a firing mechanism - short of using a hammer, on the hammer :smile:? How would mag's feed? How would a semi self load?

I had replies before saying that springs were just ''one deal'' - so they are but IMO without springs, as I said, no gun! True too of course - no barrel=no gun. No firing pin=no gun.

Not a very important subject I'll grant you but wondered if you folks agreed, or not!

Take springs out of a gun and what do you have? - light weight club! Bottom line - if all components for a gun had been designed and made but no one had invented springs - no gun!

Let's hear it for springs - IMO the most critical and yet oft under rated component. QED! :smile:

It's ''be kind to springs'' week! :biggrin:
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· Administrator
50,184 Posts
It's ''Be Kind To Springs'' Week???????

BOING~ :sport23::slomo:
Yea Springs! :biggrin:

· Administrator
50,184 Posts
Spring Faq

How often should the recoil spring be changed? The recoil spring should be changed, at the latest, when it has lost 0.500” of free length from new. At this point, the spring has suffered a considerable reduction in load exerted at installed (when the gun is in battery).

How long will an ISMI recoil spring last? In independent testing, ISMI spring have endured in excess of 100,000 compression cycles. We don’t recommend going that long between changes however. With an ISMI spring, practice routine maintenance and change it once a year. See our warranty information on page 5.

Should I use a spring buffer? We do not recommend the use of a spring buffer in the 1911 pistol. Buffers tend to be a bandage for a recoil spring that no longer performs adequately. Put a fresh spring in instead. Buffers reduce slide travel which can have an adverse effect of feeding reliability. In addition, buffers can break apart during firing and make the gun inoperable.

1. What is the difference between conventional and variable recoil springs?

The difference is both physical and operational. On a conventional spring, all the coils are spaced equally apart, except for the closed ends. In a variable recoil spring the space varies between coils with less space between coils at one end and more space between coils at the other end. The way the springs store energy is also different. For example if a conventional recoil spring is compressed 1/2", it might store 1 pound of energy. For every additional 1/2" this spring is compressed it would then store 1 additional pound of energy. When a variable recoil spring is compressed 1/2", it might store 1/4 pound of energy. The next half inch of compression might store 1/2 pound, the next half inch might store 3/4 pound and so on. In other words, a conventional spring stores energy on a straight line and a variable spring stores energy on a curve. If both springs are rated at 16 pounds, they will both store 16 pounds when compressed to the same working length, but the way they get to 16 pounds is different.

2. Should I use a conventional or variable spring when both are available?

The choice is often very subjective. Variable recoil springs reduce the battery load values with increasingly greater recoil load values. This results in easier unlocking, improved recoil energy storage, dampening, feeding, breaching and lockup. Variable recoil springs are particularly beneficial with compensated pistols and when using light target loads where less recoil energy is available. Conventional recoil springs are particularly beneficial when shooting heavier loads where keeping the slide closed as long as possible is desired. The "correct type" of recoil spring is best determined through experimentation and your own personal preference.

3. How heavy should my recoil spring be? What weight recoil spring should I use with a particular load?

These are two very hard questions to answer in exact terms and in most cases an exact answer is not possible. There are many factors which influence the correct weight recoil spring to use. These factors include the particular ammunition brand and load, individual pistol characteristics, individual shooting styles and your individual, subjective feeling of how the gun shoots and should feel. In general terms, the heaviest recoil spring that will allow the pistol to function reliably is the best choice - tempered by the above factors. If your casings are hitting the ground in the 3 to 6 foot range, then the recoil spring is approximately correct. If you are ejecting beyond the 6-8 foot range, then a heavier recoil spring is generally required. If your casings are ejecting less than 3 feet a lighter recoil spring may be needed to assure proper functioning. Taking these factors into consideration, it then comes down to how the gun feels and performs when shooting - in your judgment. Using too light a recoil spring can result in damage to the pistol and possible injury to you.

4. How often should I change my springs?

Wolff Gunsprings are made with the highest grade materials and workmanship. Most Wolff [recoil] springs will remain stable for many thousands of rounds. The performance of your gun is the best indicator of when a spring needs to be replaced. Factors such as increasing ejection distance, improper ejection and/or breaching, lighter hammer indents on primers, misfires, poor cartridge feeding from magazines, frequent jams, stove pipes and other malfunctions are all possible indications of fatigued springs or improper springs. Springs that are subject to higher stress applications such as magazine springs, striker springs and recoil springs will require more frequent replacement than other less stressed springs. Most Wolff recoil springs should be capable of 3000-5000 rounds minimum before changing is required. Some recoil springs in compact pistols, especially where dual springs are replaced by a single spring may require changing after 750 - 1500 rounds. Changes in your firearm's performance are one of the best indicators that a change is needed.

5. Should I unload my magazines, rotate magazines, load with fewer than the maximum rounds? How often should I change magazine springs?

Magazine springs in semi-auto pistols are one of the most critical springs and the subject of much debate and concern. Magazines which are kept fully loaded for long periods of time, such as law enforcement applications, will generally be subject to more fatigue than the weekend shooter's magazine springs which are loaded up only when shooting. Magazine design and capacity also affect the longevity of the spring. Older designs where maximum capacity was not the goal such as the 7 round 1911 Colt magazines will last for years fully loaded. There was a lot of room for a lot of spring which reduced the overall stress on the spring. In recent hi-capacity magazines, the magazines were designed to hold more rounds with less spring material. This puts more stress on the spring and will cause 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 is not always practical. In applications where the magazine must be kept loaded, a high quality magazine spring such as Wolff extra power magazine springs, will provide maximum life. Regular shooting will verify reliability and regular replacement of magazine springs will provide the best defense against failure from weak magazine springs.

6. My spring got shorter after I used it for a short time. Is it bad?

Most new springs will take a set when they are first compressed. That means they will shorten up. This is a normal event and you should not be immediately alarmed. The greater the stress on the spring, generally the more set that will occur. All Wolff springs take this set into consideration. The ratings of the springs you receive are the ratings after the set has occurred. After set has taken place, the spring should remain essentially stable.

7. My lighter [recoil] spring is longer than the heavier spring for the same gun. Is this a problem?

Wolff offers many springs in different weights for the same use. Factors such as the size of the wire, the number of coils, the outside diameter of the spring as well as the free length determine the strength of a particular spring. Often, lighter springs are longer than heavier springs because lighter wires and/or a different number of coils are used. Free length is then adjusted to achieve the exact strength desired.

8. The spring I purchased is longer than the original spring so I don't think it will fit.

The free length of a spring is not the most important factor in determining whether a spring will fit. Many Wolff springs are longer than factory springs. This is normal and the spring will fit. A more important factor in determining whether a spring will fit is the number of coils in the spring times the diameter of the wire. For example, take 2 springs - one is 7 inches long and the other is 4 inches long. If both springs contain the same number of coils and use the same size wire, both springs will compress to the same solid lengths. The strengths will however be quite different.

· Premium Member
25,596 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow QK - just WOW! Great assembly of spring info! :smile:

Makes this ol' engineer positively glow!

· Registered
3,213 Posts
I agree that guns as we know them could not exist without springs.

However I also have heard many a story of a rural dweller stuffing a shotgun shell into a piece of pipe and hitting it with a hammer and having it actually fire.

And what about match lock rifles? Surely one could just ignite the powder himself without the need for a mechanism of any sort.
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