Storing magazines and the effect on the springs. 20 years later…

Eric B
by Eric B

Ever since I picked up shooting I’ve listened to the debate about the dos and dont’s when it comes to storing magazines loaded or unloaded.

I am going to throw some fuel to the fire to this ever-lasting debate. A person I know, let’s say he used to work in the business but now retired, messaged this story a while back and I think it’s interesting to share and get some feedback.

Translated from the original text:

“I wanted to check the truth about the springs in the magazines. Can you really store the magazines fully loaded?

Said and done, I measured the free length of the magazine springs marked “Colt” (they don’t make them themselves) and put the magazine back together.

I topped the magazines with 30 rounds of military 5,56 in January 1987.

Then I got married. Then we moved and had children. The magazines were the least of my worries and I forgot about them.

In the spring of 2007 I found the magazines again.

WOW! 20 years had passed!

I emptied the magazines and measured the free length of the magazine springs again.

I call Bulls*it that you should only use a maximum of 28 rounds if you’re using a high quality magazine”

Measurements made:Free Length of magazine springs – 20 years storage 30 rounds – Colt magazine

Jan -87 April -07 May -07
1 269 mm 264 mm 265 mm
2 268 mm 265 mm 265 mm
3 269 mm 265 mm 265 mm

I realize this “test” is probably not to be considered conclusive at all, but it’s not everyday you get twenty years of data like this.

Heckler & Koch metal magazine

I guess the most interesting part would be to know if the magazines actually worked in a rifle? Unfortunately the story doesn’t tell.

What’s your take and experience? Do we have any more people here with long-term stored magazines who can share their experience? Steel magazines? What about Magpul PMAGS?

Eric B
Eric B

Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics, thermals and suppressors. TCCC Certified. Occasionaly seen in a 6x6 Bug Out Vehicle, always with a big smile.

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2 of 114 comments
  • TimRoy TimRoy on Dec 21, 2018

    I suspect it's more likely that the practice of leaving two rounds out of a thirty round mag had nothing to do with wearing out the spring, especially over a day or week time span. A full 30 round stack would be a lot tighter with more spring force and more odds of a failure to feed / jam on a fresh mag, especially under adverse conditions like dirt, wear or bent feed lips.

  • Nodilliger Nodilliger on Dec 25, 2018

    i found some my fathers old 1911 magazines in his old duffle got a cool ike jacket in there too ,but there were 6 loaded magazines with 7 rounds in each of wwll hardball in them ,very cool ,i took them ,and shot them all as is not a single hiccup out of 1972 model seventy i call bs too after almost 60 years ran just fine no rust ,no jams brass was pretty tarnished but the lead hardballs weren't even oxidized with that bad battery look .i was surprised they ran so well ,i suppose i could say they don't make 'em like used to ,but ballistics and gear are better now so i won't