Author Topic: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?  (Read 1165 times)

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Offline Chicago Dude

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How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« on: February 26, 2018, 09:04:52 PM »
OK guys, here is question for you :
I have that gun in my drawer in my bedroom, loaded, cocked and with the safety ON.
It's been few months now.
How often should I empty and reload that mag (or even replace it with another one) ?

Offline GeneticallySwiss

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2018, 09:18:26 PM »
I don’t worry about it, never had an issue.

"Rules are for the obedience of fools and guidance of wise men"

 - Douglas Bader -

Offline Grendel

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2018, 09:24:46 PM »
Mine are loaded until I shoot them. Could be days, months, or even years.

My duty pistol, patrol rifle, and shotgun mags stay loaded from one qualification to the next - 6 months.
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Offline Unseen System

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2018, 11:01:57 PM »
Don't sweat it. The springs inside of a magazine will last for years without a problem if all you do is keep it loaded. Springs will lose its strength over time due to a combination of consistent compression and decompression. My pops had a 1911 he bought and kept fully loaded since 98'. It's his bedside pistol and for some reason he just never shot it (which I do not recommend if it's considered a defensive firearm). The bullets are the same old Remington from 98' as well. I took the gun out in 2016 and it ran flawlessly. The magazine did not seem any "weaker" and I comfortably fired 550 flawless rounds down range without a hiccup. Don't worry about it bud

Offline Tyerone

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2018, 11:40:18 PM »
In addition to agreeing to the above comments, I'd say that piece should "unloaded" by firing those rounds downrange at a frequency to maintain proper training/competence with keeping those shots on target...

or more frequently than that, just to be safe.

Offline M1A4ME

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2018, 06:25:04 AM »
I have M1A magazines that have been loaded for 40 years this year - only unloaded at the range, before being reloaded for more shooting at the range, or being reloaded prior to the trip home, to wait, sit, for the next range trip. 

Same for some of the 1911 magazines.  I do have some newer 1911 magazines but some of them are pretty old.

I actually don't have many magazines that aren't kept loaded.
Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.  So, if you see me walking the dogs with my SIG 556R, its okay.

Offline Walt Sherrill

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2018, 08:33:56 AM »
Quote from: 2112
There's no reason to empty and reload the magazines. Springs will weaken from cycles of compression and decompression. You can leave springs compressed for a very long time before experiencing any significant weakening.

I'll agree that unloading and reloading a spring doesn't make "damaged" metal heal, but keeping SOME mags fully loaded can be harder on the spring than cycling the springs.

Spring life depends on with how deeply the springs are compressed when routinely used, and how long they're kept at that deeply compressed state.  With some mag designs -- given good quality springs -- spring life may never be an issue, even if the springs is cycled many, many times or the mag is stored with the springs fully compressed (i.e., fully loaded).  With others designs, the springs can degrade very quickly.     If you never load a 15-round mag beyond 7-8 rounds, it'll probably last longer than the gun.  With some mag designs, however, keeping the mag fully loaded for long periods could cause the spring to degrade.  It depends on the mag's design and how the spring itself is routinely used.
  • CZ, years ago, used the same springs for the 9mm 10-round mags as with the 15 or 16 round mags -- and spring life was noticeably different in those two types of mags.) I don't know if this is the case now.  I've never had a 10-round mag spring fail, but saw a number of higher-cap mag springs degrade over time.
  • Another example:  the Rohrbagh R9, the smallest 9mm available a few years back, had a recoil spring with a suggested service life of 300 rounds/cycles,.  That was later reduced to 250 cycles -- but the springs still worked for more than 250 rycles..  Those springs weren't kept compressed, but each shot compressed the spring to its design limit.  Why the short life?  Because those springs were intended to do the most work with the least material, to fit in a very small weapon,  and the springs were an inexpensive and easily changed parts -- and were viewed as renewable resources.  (I think Rohrbagh has retired sold the firm.)
Springs typically won't degrade from being kept depressed UNLESS the springs are in sub-compact or hi-cap mags, and if -- when fully loaded -- the springs are near or at their design limits.  Wolff Springs recommends downloading a round or two for long-term storage for those mags, but springs in standard 10-round mags (or 7-round 1911 mags) might outlast the gun.   Those (7-round) 1911 springs are never pushed anywhere near their elastic limit, and tales of such mags being stored loaded for 50 years can be found -- still working like new.  Early 8-round 1911 mags didn't last long at all, until they redesigned followers, etc.

Cycling doesn't really degrade a spring significantly UNLESS, when compressed (fully loaded and left that way), the spring is near it's design (aka "elastic") limit.   And even then, the springs might outlast the shooter.  But if you've got some 17 or 18 round mags, you might want to download a round or two if you store the mags loaded.

Note:  If cycling alone degraded springs, many of the older cars and trucks on the highway would have quit running rights years ago -- as valve springs will typically cycle many tens or hundreds of  millions of times but never fail.  Why?  Because those springs were designed so that when working never are compressed to or near their elastic limit.

On other forums, you'll find input and test results that show that cycling alone isn't always an issue.  Discussions on this topic on those forums have included input from a Metallurgist or two, as well as engineers involved in the aerospace industry. 

Here's a long-term test (still ongoing) by JohnKSa on The Firing Line that directly addresses the topic. John, an engineer, is a very knowledgeable handgun enthusiast, and also a long-time air gun shooter.  The best air guns used in competition are frequently spring powered.   The link:   You'll see that the springs tested immediately degrade, but continue to work despite some significant degradation in a few cases.   A couple of years from now (i.e., the equivalent of long-term storage), the test results may show different results.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 09:49:23 AM by Walt Sherrill, Reason: clarification »

Offline shootingsight

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2018, 09:04:22 AM »
It is a complete myth that leaving mags loaded or hammers cocked somehow degrades the spring.

Steel does not creep or take a set from being stressed in a static position unless you elevate the temperature to above something like 400F.

Steel ONLY degrades through cycling, as atomic level defects cause micro cracks, and that micro crack grows ever so slightly every time the spring is flexed.  How much it grows is a function of how close to its elastic limit the flex cycle is, and how close to the end of its life it is.

Standard Music Wire springs are typically designed so the minimum anticipated duty is upwards of 10,000 cycles.  The length of duty is proportional to how close the peak stress is to the maximum the spring can take - car valve springs, have a relatively low stress, so they can go millions of cycles.  Chrome Silicon springs reduce the rate at which cracks grow, so while CS springs are no stronger or faster than Music Wire springs, they can go more cycles, and tolerate higher temperatures.  This is good for Indy Car valve springs, it is useless for guns apart from being a marketing gimmick.

Offline Walt Sherrill

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2018, 09:50:59 AM »
Tell that to a metallurgist -- an engineer specializing in metal applications.  Then look up metal fatigue and elastic limits.

Are you saying that the test results cited in my earlier reply were faked?   None of the springs in the test have FAILED, yet, but there is degradation in what YOU would describe as a static, deeply compressed spring (i.e., it's not cycling.)  How does that happen?
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 10:10:27 AM by Walt Sherrill »

Offline czsuby

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2018, 12:15:12 PM »
Car springs will degrade after years on the road.  The usually take a set and stay like that for years.

Offline Chicago Dude

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2018, 12:43:46 PM »
Very, very interesting (and informative) responses.
Thank you all. You guys are the best.

Offline cremaley

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2018, 07:29:56 PM »
I change mine out every 30 days.
CZ 10-PC 9mm (HBI Trigger, CGW Striker 3lb spring, GGI Stainless Guide Rod 15lb spring)
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Offline RAEIndustries

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2018, 02:50:32 PM »
Yes a great info , and leaving a round or 2 less in the higher  capacity mags is usually theway i always go
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Offline Flankenstein

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2018, 08:51:23 PM »
Years and years

Offline larryflew

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Re: How long do you keep a magazine loaded ?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2018, 09:33:58 PM »
I've Shot m1 carbine mags loaded in the 50's without a hitch.
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