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  • loaded or unloaded magazines

    Hey all, just a quick question and I'm sure I'll get as many opinions as there are folks on here, but do you leave your magazines both pistol and rifle loaded or unloaded? If loaded, how long do you leave them loaded - indefinitely? I've heard of people leaving them empty until needed and others put them in cans fully loaded. Just wondering how this impacts the spring? We may go to the range once a month or so or sometimes it may be several weeks. I've never had any issues with mags that have been loaded for weeks as compared to ones that have been left empty for a while. Thoughts?

  • #2
    I have read other threads like this one. Spring fatigue seems to be something that people talk about, but no one has said "My pistol started having jams and misfires..."

    I used to rotate my magazines out. Got lazy. So far every time I pull the trigger something goes pew pew pew.....
    "Oh, America. I wish I could tell you that this was still America, but I've come to realize that you can't have a country without people. And there are no people here. No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland"

    "The constitution does not guarantee our safety, only our liberty!" Robert Steed before congress 3/2013

    Skills Beats Stuff


    • #3
      I spent 15 years as a cop. Never left my Glock mags unloaded. Worked fine every time. I don't know if this is a testament to Glock or a generalized statement. Spent some time in the military, have several AR mags from my time in ten years or so ago. I shoot infrequently, never had problems even with them being government surplus. My Springfield M1 mags are and have been kept loaded, no problems. I'm sure there are bad mags out there, with the cheaper quality firearms. I would maybe hesitate to leave those loaded. *shrug*

      I'm with Myakka! "spring fatigue" has been argued over for as long as people have owned guns. Haha. I personally have never had a problem with it either professionally or personally.

      I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


      • #4
        OK for a second lets step back from it being a "mag spring" issue and think of it as what it is, a spring. Do you hear people talk about spring fatigue in things like your flashlight, remote control or other battery powered items? Usually always one contact is a small coil spring, right? If you park your truck for a few years and come back will the springs (be it leaf or coil) fatigued under the load to where it now looks like you have a low rider?

        I've never had issues and I will leave mags loaded indefinitely. As Myakka said, *pew* *pew* *pew* every time. However, I also only buy quality mags, not some of the really chinzy cheap-o's that float around oout there. These I could see possibly having issues due to low quality components and manufacturing procedures. With springs, proper heat treating and tempering are critical.

        One "urban tale" I do give credence to is not loading mags (at least my rifles) to the max. I have a tendency to download by 1-2 rounds on my high cap mags. Over the years I have on occasion had some firearms that when jammed full with 30 rounds, sometimes the first round or 2 had feed/ cycling issues. The same mag, with 1 or 2 less rounds, no problem. So not sure in those instances but my theory is that it's a force issue, as in the spring is over compressed and there isn't enough spring force once it is so far compressed to "push" up hard enough? Also I've heard and have saw old mags where the lips have deformed or bent and that's caused issues. I could see some people not looking at this close enough and thinking it's due to the spring.

        I know Magpul's used to have that little cover that snapped on to keep out dirt and to shove the rounds down to take the load off the feed lips. I don't think they provide those anymore, which I'm guess is a cost thing? With full polymer mags I think it could be a concern to keep them fully loaded due to what is known as "creep". When plastic is left over time with an applied force or load the material will deform depending on how the part was designed. Think of plastic as very stiff taffy. This same phenomena happens in glass; if you've ever saw say a hundred year old window it has a "wavyness" in them; this is large part due to the glass flowing or creeping downward over the years.

        So I do keep many of my mags loaded, though my AR and AK mags all only have 29 rounds in them. The Magpul mags I have all have the hold down/ dust cap on them. As for my pistol mags (all metal) I do keep them loaded to the max as I have never had an issue with them.
        I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


        • #5
          Old school here. I keep the M1 Garand clips loaded. But they are truly clips and not magazines.

          The original 10 shot Ruger 10/22 magazines I also keep filled, but the larger BX-25 magazines I don't. I admit I have not given it enough thought and maybe I should. But I expect to have a few moments time to load them after I expend the half dozen 10 shot magazines, if the need ever arises.
          If it was man made it can be man re-made.


          • #6
            If your weapon(s) are used as home defense then yes keep a couple loaded. No one needs 20 + 30 round AR/9 mm magazines loaded all the time. You should have your ammo stored in a cool dry location. Extra mags can also be stored with the ammo.

            You should Never, Never, keep your majority amounts of ammo stored with your weapons! Remember ammo is explosive and will go off in a fire. A fact is that 1 in 300 homes catch fire each year!!! Weapons in a safe might survive.

            If you want to buy something to help load mags, get a speed loader that attaches to the mag and makes it easy on your fingers to load. Some load up to 30 rounds at a time others load one.


            • #7
              I keep them both ways; loaded and unloaded. The guns I would go to in an emergency or EDC have loaded clips. The ones that are in storage, and are used less often are all unloaded. I don't go to the range as frequently as I used to, but I have never had any problems.
              The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

              Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.


              • #8
                I have settled this issue in my own mind after reading many articles on the subject written by people who know a lot more than I do on the subject. The evidence is that its not leaving the mags loaded that results in weakening the springs over time, its a lifetime (for the mags) of loading then unloading that will sometimes result in springs weakening. If you shot hundreds of rounds per week you might consider keeping your practice mags separate from your defensive mags, for instance, to head off any problems.

                Most of my mags are stored away empty. My ammo is mostly stored in its own steel gun safe. Guns in another safe. But I do keep loaded mags handy and accessible for both rifle and pistol. Its take too long to load 30rd mags, and you might not have that time.


                • #9
                  great thoughts and comments. thanks for the input. That's why I love asking questions on here - always good conversation.


                  • #10
                    I usually have about 75 AR Pmags fully loaded all the time, never had any issues.....kept a lot of mags loaded in Military and never had any issues....


                    • #11
                      I keep 2 of my mags loaded for my concealed carry. The other guns we are not using now so we don't have them loaded now. We do have the 45 mags loaded but only one.


                      • #12
                        Not trying to hijack this thread, but as a side bar to this and something that might be even more pertinent, how long do you carry your carry ammo before you shoot it up and replace it with fresh? I try to swap out every 6 months but likely ends up being more like once a year.
                        I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


                        • #13
                          gee country guy, why are you hijacking my thread? j/k

                          I treat my c/c ammo about the same. Never want to hear a click when you want to hear a bang.

                          I try to get to the pistol range at least once a month, sometimes more so those mags tend to get used more than most of what I own.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CountryGuy View Post
                            Not trying to hijack this thread, but as a side bar to this and something that might be even more pertinent, how long do you carry your carry ammo before you shoot it up and replace it with fresh? I try to swap out every 6 months but likely ends up being more like once a year.
                            Swap mine out or at least inspect it once a year. Usually less any more since I started trying to make more time for the range. Both daughters started really liking to shoot and I have a nephew that likes to go too.

                            Never had any problem with magazines loosing strength in civilian life. Had a M3 in the army that had a magazine that had been left loaded for about 15 years best we could figure. The spring was weak but still would work for half a mag. It was a WW2 issue mag that had been in the bottom of the shipping crate (loaded). Didn't really matter to us, as the weapons were being distributed to allies. I would think modern springs would maintain strength better than that one had with modern steel mfg. methods.



                            • #15
                              I studied this problem thoroughly after reading "Patriots." My father was a metal worker, and a machinist, and so he taught me some about metal. Tempering, fatigue and stuff.

                              I agree with myakka, Buggyout, and Country Guy. Many years ago, this may have been a problem, but with quality mags, it isn't a problem any more, especially if you short the magazine one round. A very, very few may develop problems if left fully loaded. Yes, loading and unloading a magazine can cause it to wear, weakening both the spring, and the lips, although it would likely take hundreds of cycles. Maybe thousands. Nonetheless, I agree with jezcruzen about keeping a set of practice magazines.

                              As for ammo, the same ideas apply. Shelf life of good commercial ammo in your living room closet (assuming an average home) is something on the order of 30 years. Shelf life begins to shorten above 110 degrees, so if kept in a car in the summer, you might have to consider that. On The Other Hand, cycled in and out of the chamber more than twice, and you should probably think twice about depending on it. Repeated cycling can cause bullet "set back" in some ammunition.

                              I personally recommend that after you go through your normal 50, 100, or however many rounds of practice ammo on range day, fire off one magazine of your defense ammo, just to make sure nothing has changed with your pistol, and yourself (my defense ammo is just a tad hotter than my practice ammo, your mileage may vary). That takes care of rotating ammo, while putting it to good use.