Magazine Spring Failure

New Jovian Thunderbolt has written a post discussing magazine spring failure

I think the “spring tension is shot” excuse is a catch-all reason that is over used when us amateur gunsmiths run out of ideas. Like the way they blame ball bearings for everything wrong in turbofan aviation maintenance.

[ … ]

Here is an example of a spring ‘problem’ that wasn’t from the Cooper Commentaries:

“Our distinguished family member J.P. Denis of Belgium reports that he discovered an abandoned MP40, together with several magazines, in a building that was being torn down. This piece had been left unattended for 50 years with all magazines in full compression, and they all worked perfectly. I think this is marvelous. When you think of the degree to which our culture depends upon springs, it is good to know that spring construction is so well understood.”

An interesting post. We really do rely on our magazine springs. Read it here.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Jesse

    Finally! My mother recently decided she wanted to get a gun so she got a M&P 9 and her and my father having a lively debate about whether keeping the mag loaded would ruin the spring. My father the machinist was saying it would ruin the mag because it was likely something he had heard from someone somewhere along the line. I had to explain to him that it was a myth and the spring would wear out with use not from being constantly depressed.

    My mother’s eventual solution was who cares, I’ll just go buy more mags… so she did.

  • Matt Groom

    Somebody wrote an article, Massad Ayoob I believe, who talked about a sailor who got a 1911 in WWII, loaded the mag with seven rounds, and stuck it in the pistol. Never fired the pistol during the war. Brought the pistol home after the war, and stuck it in the closet wrapped in an oil cloth. 60-something years later, the old sailor dies. His family is going through his things and finds the pistol, which nobody knew he had. The sons take the pistol to the range and fire it in honor of their deceased father, and it works flawlessly. They collect the brass and the headstamp is “41”. Springs wear out from expansion and contraction, which generates heat from friction, not from constant compression, which does not.

  • You guys are missing the point . . . FOUND a gun in a building being torn down!

    ::slips gun under jacket:: “Hey boss I’m gonna go drain the lizard be back in 5 minutes!”

  • Tom

    Matt, you hit the nail on the head. As a gunsmith myself I often get people asking if keeping magazines loaded will ruin the springs and of course the answer I give them is “not if you use quality magazines”.

    While very poor quality com-bloc springs could potentially fatigue (which is still not saying they *will*), any high grade spring stock will last lifetimes of use. And if you do have a worn spring through use or whatever happened to it, your first option is never to replace it! Give it an attitude adjustment by stretching it out to increase the spring’s tension.

    The cited article does have a point though. It’s not just magazine springs either, I’ve had people bring things to me after replacing *every* possible spring attempting to fix some issue they couldn’t sort out. People just have this penchant for replacing springs and parts to fix problems!

  • jdun1911

    Spring failure comes from being compressed and uncompressed many times due to uses.

    Storing them loaded or unloaded does not wear the spring out.

  • Carl

    I was once told by an engineer that if properly manufactured for the intended application, a spring should never wear out, no matter how much use it sees (within specification).

    Wikipedia seems to agree with this.

    But most gunsmiths I´ve talked to or read about seem to recommend exchanging springs routinely nonetheless.

  • jeff

    The only reason gunsmiths say to replace your springs every so often is so the can make money I have an M&P 9MM that came with three clips and I have gone through well over 15000 rounds in the three clips over the last couple years and as long as you clean them every now and then you should have no problems I haven’t.