Gun Magazine with magnets instead of Spring

This novel magazine design uses a series of magnets instead of a metal spring to apply upwards pressure to the magazine follower.

A controversial topic in the gun world is whether or not the spring of a loaded magazine will become weaker over time if left loaded for extended periods. Using magnets would eliminate this possible problem.

[ Many thanks to Ryan for emailing me the video. ]





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.


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  • Heat will cause a magnet to lose its magnetism. This is a neat idea, but I would probably never use it.

  • John

    Wow. That is really neat. I’d love to know more about this concept. What is that rod sticking out the bottom of the magazine? Is the follower repelled away from the floorplate by like charges?

  • jdun1911

    As long as the spring is rated to hold the load, the spring will not deteriorate over time as long there is no movement (flux might be a better term). What weaken spring elasticity in the this case is the cycling of rounds.

    If the spring is not rated to hold the load, the elasticity will deteriorate immediately. Unfortunately there are magazine manufactures that gone cheap on spring, for example HK AR15 magazines. That’s why there is controversies about long term storage.

    I personally have good springs that failed on me but that was due to a lot of uses. I also experienced bad springs that came with magazines that failed on day one.

    Stick with Magpul, Lancer, and certified GI magazine.

    If you don’t believe me fully load a new Magpul, Lancer, or certified GI magazine. Take it out of storage in a few years to shoot it.

    For spring replacement I suggest Wolf Spring. I’ve been doing business with them for a long time.

    http://www.gunsprings.com/

  • SpudGun

    Sounds groovy but…you limit yourself to using only steel cased cartridges not to mention picking up all sorts of metallic crud in the mechanism which could cause failures.

    Still, I’m not going to poo-poo the idea entirely and hope to see how this technology develops.

  • ctc833

    it would be a great idea if it works, like the spring system takes up quite a bit of space in the mag just to get that consistency so to speak, so if the magnetic loading system works then surely you would increase your magazine capacity? (provided the magnetic system is smaller than the spring system?)

  • Pt

    What about steel case ammo?

  • Would make it really hard to grab a new mag out of a pouch. Grab one mag and they all come out, then you have to use two hands to separate them.
    Magnets can be annoying.

  • Doug

    Aside from sitting in the sun, what kind of heat is the magnetic magazine going to encounter?

  • john

    as stated heat will weaken the magnet, but more importantly, percussion weakens it too so the recoil will quickly degrade the magnets. imagine how strong the magnet is, then imagine all of your gear sticking to it. not a good idea, but is definitely interesting and i like their creativeness.

  • Woodroez

    I wonder what problems this may cause to the electronic equipment that may be near the gun, including electronic equipment attached to the rails of a rifle. I haven’t done any hard research into this, but as far as I know it is impossible to insulate against magnetic fields.

  • Mr Maigo

    Thats nice, too bad it’s the feed lips that always fail furst

  • As someone already mentioned, magnets lose their magnetism over time. Neat idea though.

  • JKEverett

    My guess is that it’s a series of round magnets stacked on the rod you see protruding from the floor plate. They’re probably stacked in such a manner that each repels the others around it.

    Nifty Idea, but, in addition to the aforementioned snags, it seems like finding a suitable way to guide the magnets so there isn’t a guide-rod throughout the mag would be difficult.

  • DavidR

    Very interesting. It should be possible to make these–round-for-round–smaller than spring-mags.

    However, I’m guessing this would NOT be a good idea for steel-case ammo!! :O

  • Yog-Sothoth

    This idea is totally stolen from the video game Battlefield 2142. And no evidence or cogent argument will convince me otherwise.

    In the game the benefit of using magnets instead of a spring was that you could fit another round or two into the magazine.

  • I believe impact can also cause a magnet to lose it’s magnetization.

  • John C

    Theres really no problem with the mags people have used for 100+ years. As long as you don’t load a magazine past its recommended capacity, the springs will always return to their original shape. And of course always use good quality steel springs, etc. This is a neat idea, but I don’t really see an application for it.

  • Vitor

    Samarium-cobalt is very resistant to heat.

  • Don

    Spring technology is actually pretty sophisticated now regarding metals, design, tempering and annealing treatments etc. (we’ve had a lot of time to work on it)

    Springs will not interfere with the sensors in your INS system you use for navigation in GPS denied areas. Springs also do not generate any externally detectable phenomena. Think 25 cent magnetometer as an IED trigger.

    -D

  • Andy

    I wonder what problems this may cause to the electronic equipment that may be near the gun, including electronic equipment attached to the rails of a rifle. I haven’t done any hard research into this, but as far as I know it is impossible to insulate against magnetic fields.

    Sure you can. Take the magnets out of a hard drive for an example. They are quite strong.

    And if you disassemble a drive to see for yourself, expect data loss. πŸ™‚

  • DarrenS

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the question of whether the design can reliably keep up with an enhanced rate of fire. I would have been much more impressed if the video was a ten or twenty round full-auto mag dump.

  • Tanner

    Anyone whoknows how springs work knows that they don’t get worn out from being compressed for a long period of time, they get worn out from being compressed and released repeatedly.
    Do the shock absorbers in your car wear out from sitting in your garage? No.

    This is an elegant solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  • dg13

    Another answer to a question that was never asked…. How can we make magazines more complicated, more expensive, heavier, and less reliable?

    I still applaud them for trying it, and it’s cool to see the idea work. Maybe a good design can fix the problems with it. But a $25+ magnet system is not going to replace a $0.25 spring any time soon IMO….even if you can get 1 or 2 more rounds in it.

  • jaekelopterus

    I’d be concerned with a powerful magnet interfering with any electronics I may be bringing into the field. Also, I’m surprised and relieved no one has any stale juggalo jokes yet!

  • Chase

    I agree wholeheartedly with Yog-Sothoth, this idea was stolen from Battlefield 2142.

    I have two problems with this idea: One, magnetic field strength falls off by the inverse cube rule as they get farther away, while spring strength drops much more slowly. This probably means that normal thirty-round magazines will NOT work as well as that ten-round one, if at all. Two, all your gear that contains iron alloys will stick to your mag pouch and the magazine of your gun.

  • Scott_T

    I imagine a stack of magnets will weigh more than a spring too

  • CMathews

    Hmmm… So, if one lines the baseplate with a magnetic material and then lines the bottom of a no tilt follower with like poles facing each other you then have a magnetic magazine. It would only work with straight aluminum or straight polymer mags. Using a 30 rd curved mag would move the magnets out of alignment. As far as the magnets losing magnetism, that is a fact from both heat and shock. I would like to see a test of this though. I may make one of these myself and try to improve upon the design. If the magnets can hold magnetism longer than a spring would last then we have a winner! Go find Steve!

  • William C.

    For awhile now I’ve believed such a technology would eventually replace magazine springs, and it is good to see a start. But I believe it will be a long time yet before we see such a thing ready for real combat operations.

  • JC

    That’s what I was thinking too. Drop it on concrete, and who knows.

  • gunslinger

    The heat everyone is talking about is from the bullets themselves. notice how the receiver/barrel of a gun gets hot after firing it? That heat could be enough to demagnetize.

    as to “durabilty” the problem is that there is always going to be a “first failure” so one takes the spring out of the equation. well, as another poster said, it’s usually the feed lips that go first. will the magnet cause additional stress? what about if now the standard 30 round mag can hold 40 rounds using magnets, would that play?

    also what about the curvature of mags. the vid looked like he was using a straight mag. and physics tells us, curves behave differently than straight lines. it’d be interesting to see the math on that one.

    the one thing i like about this is that it still means we are innovating. we all know of the “famous” edison quote ‘i didn’t fail x times, i proved x ways NOT to make a lighbulb’ so hopefully this pushes us forward

  • Cyle

    Springs only lose tension during expansion or compression.

  • Marcus

    This isn’t new, and it still isn’t a good idea. Introducing more problems than you solve is not novel engineering.

  • Other Steve

    Geezus. Do some of you THINK before you post comments? I love this blog, but sometimes I don’t know about the commenters….

    @SpudGun: You should know better! This thing has nothing to do with steel cases. The idea is that two magnets are pushing N-N or S-S against each other. Fix one to the bottom of the mag, fix the other to the follower. It has nothing to do with the cartridge which could be made of steel, plastic, chocolate, or even other magnets.

    PT & DavidR: No, steel case has nothing to do here. With the exception that the rounds close to the follower would be pulled towards the follower magnet which is itself being pushed from the bottom magnet. Two opposite rare earth magnets are going to push away from each other a lot more than a bit of steel is going to be pulled towards the bottom. I suppose if you got to the last round, the follower’s magnet would be pulling more that case more than bottom would be repelling the follower, but as long as the follower is at the top of the mag it wouldn’t matter.

    The real issue here is that the combined opposite force of the two magnets is going to greatest when the mag is loaded. This makes sense to everyone I hope. The more the mag is unloaded, the weaker the push force is on the follower. At the end of a thirty round mag the force required to keep the follower steady at the top would have to be at least equal to it’s spring counterpart. With that required force in mind, I do not see the two magnets being small enough to save any space or weight.

    Magnetic force is neither uniform nor linear. The size and force of the magnets, at least the permanent magnets I’m thinking of would not “save” anything over keeping a spare spring or two on hand. Not even mentioning tolerances, for deformation over time/heat/whatever you guys got fixated on.

    There is potential for small mags, like the 10round used in the video. Large caliber or bolt guns, but no magnet system will ever be lighter than a wire spring. So what does this system offer?

  • Joe

    Heat, jarring, and time will all demagnetize the magnets. With every shot fired the magnet would get weaker. Its neat, but I can’t imagine it lasting *LONGER* then a spring without some seriously expensive material, and at that point you could just buy a more resilient spring… or 10 of them.

  • Komrad

    I see less issues over magnets losing power over time or protruding guide rods, and more of an issue with creating high capacity mags
    magnets lose there attractive and repelling qualities exponentially with distance, meaning, to double the mag capacity, you may need to quadruple or quintuple the magnet strength or size, or use 4 times more magnets

  • Jacob Jared Kenworthy

    That was my idea!
    πŸ™‚

  • Speed

    EMP

  • Gary

    I recall reading that research from spring manufacturing specialists has shown (oddly) that identical springs lose their tension at the same rate over time, regardless of whether they are compressed or relaxed.

    Loss of springiness (?) seems to be a function of time rather than tension, compression or relaxation.

  • Aaron

    But… Magnets-how do they work?

    πŸ™‚

    More seriously, I’m military…will they screw up my compass (at normal chest-hold distance), or even my GPS? Will they affect the data card on my camera? I use it for TSE, mission debrief attachments, etc.

    I like the idea of not worrying about spring life, but these are some things I’d want to know.

  • Michael

    I thought of this literally a few days ago and wondered if it would be possible. Now I see it here today and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner.

    The biggest design challenge will probably be high-capacity magazines that typically require a curve to feed properly.

  • Yogsothoth

    @Other Steve: Chocolate cartridges! πŸ˜€ I see no drawback to this delicious idea. Maybe I’m not fully thinking it through.

    @Chase: Thanks for the support.

    In all seriousness, I just think springs are so cheap and simple there would need to be a lot more benefit than that you can fit 1 or 2 more rounds and it lasts somewhat longer.

    And sure springs loose springyness (that is, its spring constant decreases) when kept in steady tension. Even room temperature is warm enough to allow dislocations within the bulk of the metal to move into a more relaxed (lower energy) state. This would be incredibly slow at room temperature and faster at higher temperatures. The spring constant would also decrease do to regular changes in tension, however this would be due to fatigue damage to the metal (that is, dislocations building up upon each other at certain points in the bulk of the metal thus causing it to become more brittle).

    Wow! That degree in materials engineering is really paying off.

  • SpudGun

    @Other Steve – I should know better, but you credit me with far more intelligence then I actually have. πŸ™‚

    Where I could see a massive advantage in this type of magnetic feed system would be in large belt fed cannons. With magnets built into the feed chutes, it could be feasible to do away with a disintegrating links all together.

    As long as the magnetic feed system is reliable, then there is a lot of savings in terms of cost, time and weight (very important in aircraft) and you don’t have to worry about broken / misaligned linkages.

  • abc123

    What about pressurized air or other gas?

    Springfree!

    Also, how do magnets work?

  • WJS

    I think it’s a bad idea, especially if you want to keep the mags fully loaded all the time. Other than temperature (neodymium magnets start demagnetizing at temperatures as low as 80 degrees centigrade) and shock, magnets will also degauss when held together closely with like-poles repelling each other. The mutual magnetic repulsion will result in the magnets demagnetizing.

  • Reg

    Might work in an urban environment, but it would get you killed under field conditions. The last thing a magazine needs is a dirt attractor.

    Iron oxide coated sand grains are *very* common in many environments. As kids we used to drag a magnet through the pebble where the water came off the roof and collect bits of magnetic sandstone. Ruined a nice speaker driver of Dad’s πŸ™

    And that ignores the compass problem which would be quite severe.

    NB It would not affect GPS locations, but would affect headings. No effect on electronics.

  • DaveR

    “PT & DavidR: No, steel case has nothing to do here. With the exception that the rounds close to the follower would be pulled towards the follower magnet which is itself being pushed from the bottom magnet. ”

    @Other Steve: that’s *EXACTLY* what I was referring to. Ammo sticking to follower=fail.

  • jdun1911

    I have overheated many guns in my time but never had one that is so hot that I could not touch the magazine with my bare hands. Heat transferring form the barrel to the magazine is a non-issue.

  • hugh_D

    Umm, the only people who think that springs wear out from being left in a compressed state are internet armchair engineers who have zero education in the field of engineering or materials science.

  • Rob

    @SpudGun How do you figure that exactly?

  • RH

    “Theres really no problem with the mags people have used for 100+ years.”

    People probably said the same kind of thing about revolvers when semi-autos first arrived on the scene. I love innovation like this. It may be one of the many dead-ends in firearm evolution, like duplex bullets or toggle action, or it could end up as commonplace as short stroke piston operation. Only time will tell.

    No disrespect to the great Jeff Cooper, but the kneejerk “solution in search of a problem” response to anything different from the norm is rather closed-minded.

    Also, f**kin’ miracles. πŸ™‚

  • Someone
  • Kevin

    Interesting idea, however, I assume that the magnets must be pretty powerful to allow proper feeding. Is there a chance that the magnets could interfere with various electronic optics, such as red dots and flashlights?

  • Ryan

    From reading the comments here I suppose not many people looked at the comments of the you tube video streamed above. When asked about how long the magnets will work or the amount of heat they can take in the video the user responded:

    “These are small neodymium ring magnets, they are classified as permanent magnets and when used in this kind application, well lets just say that we would not live long enough to see it fail. Permanent magnets do not wear out in “normal use”. They will retain their magnetic properties indefinitely, or until heated beyondο»Ώ their Curie point. They are incredibly powerful, are very light, and they’re not very expensive.”

    Now I’m not informed on how magnets work but I’m sure a quick google search could yield most of the information being asked.

    • SJC

      “Fucking magnets man, how do they work?”

      /meme

  • Avery

    It’s an interesting idea, but people here have already determined some drawbacks. I think one way around the demagnetizing may be to make them electromagnets, but that adds in another power supply.

    If that’s the case, if man-portable railguns become a reality, then we know how we can feed them.

  • SpudGun

    @Rob – figure what exactly? My earlier ill informed comment or my newer ill informed comment?

    If you mean my new comment, then it’s very simple – the metal links that connect large cannon shells have weight and take time, materials and money to attach and even the more modern linkless systems are heavy.

    If you can make a reliable magnetic system that cuts down on weight, then you use less aircraft fuel and you don’t have to put in an extra electric engine to power the linkless system, thus saving more weight.

    Over the 30-60 year life span of a helicopter / jet, if you can save a couple of hundred pounds every time it takes to the air, then it is a massive reduction in both fuel and maintenance.

  • subase

    Sounds like a good idea.
    Advantages:
    Easier to clean.
    Less friction.
    Cheaper in the long run as the magnets are reusable
    More reliable feeding as there is less pressure on the feedlips
    Bigger magazines can be made as it doesn’t rely on spring tension
    Disadvantages:
    More expensive initial cost.
    Anything iron based can get stuck in the magazine.

  • subase

    Also the biggest disadvantage is that these magazines will be alot heavier. A big no no for military use.

  • AnointedSword

    I am all for R&D. Bring it on!:)