Can leaving a magazine loaded for a long period of time (days, weeks) cause any damage to the spring in the magazine? How often should the ammo be cycled out?
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Extended loaded storage, even for years, will not harm the magazine spring.
Springs wear from repeated compression/decompression cycles, not from simply staying compressed for long periods of time.
Cycling the ammo will cause wear. No reason to do it unnecessarily.
I have AK mags that have been loaded for years.
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Wolff has some good info about springs which may help you. For self defense purposes I change my double stack pistol magazine springs every five years which is very cheap insurance.
"5. How often should I change magazine spring? Should I unload my magazines, rotate magazines, load with fewer than the maximum rounds?
Magazine springs in semi-auto pistols are one of the most critical springs and are the subject of much debate and concern. Magazines which are kept fully loaded for long periods of time, such as in law enforcement and personal/home defense applications, will generally be subject to more fatigue than the weekend shooter's magazine springs in which the magazines are loaded up only when shooting.
Magazine design and capacity also affect the longevity of the spring. In many older pistol designs, maximum capacity was not the always the goal such as with the 7 round 1911 Colt magazines will last for years fully loaded. There was room for more spring material in these guns which reduces overall stress and increases the usable life of the spring.
More recently higher capacity magazine have become popular. These are designed to hold more rounds with less spring material often in the same space. This puts more stress on the spring and will cause it to 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 it is not always practical.
In applications where the magazine must be kept loaded at all times, a high quality magazine spring such as Wolff extra power magazine springs, will provide maximum life. Regular replacement of magazine springs will provide the best defense against failure from weak magazine springs. Regular shooting of the pistol is the best way to be sure the springs are still functioning reliably."
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coffee, and sarcasm.
It doesn't harm them to keep pressure on them. The time frame you're talking about won't even come close to wearing a mag spring.
Good info, thanks all.
I still have a few 15 round Glock 19 mags and one 33 round mag loaded from 1998. I will shoot them all in 2023 when I retire. I’m not expecting any of them to fail. It’s all loaded with ancient Black Talon ammo (which was our issued ammo at the time).
Not minority enough!
I agree keeping them loaded for prolonged periods of time won't hurt the spring, unloading and reloading the magazines do the damage. I would unload magazines once a year and take apart the magazine and clean it though.
I took control of my wife's grandfather's 1911 when her father died in 1997. It was loaded with military ball which was head stamped 1942 and suspect it was loaded then and remained so. I unloaded the mag and it suffered no problems. I can't tell any difference in it from my new Kimber mags.
I can't wait to get the range report on that!
Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
My grandfathers 1911 mags (one 2tone) have taken as set, but would likely feed all but the last two. They have been loaded since the 40's.
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