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  1. #1
    Gruesome's Avatar
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    How long should I leave a magazine loaded?

    I'm not sure this is a 1911-specific questions - it might belong in general semi-auto - but since the weapon under discussion is a 1911 I figured this was close enough.

    I recently bought a Ruger SR1911 full size. I freakin' love it. In trying to find a comfortable middle ground between having a loaded weapon ready to go and keeping my home safe for my 9-year old, I have decided on this: I keep the 1911, empty, in the easiest to reach part of the locked gun cabinet with a loaded mag next to it. There are pros and cons to this method I'm sure but that's where I am right now.

    So my question is: how long should I let that magazine sit with 8 rounds in it before I start to worry about spring fatigue or some other issue? I've got no semi-auto experience so the finer points of the care and feeding of this beastie is new to me.

    Thanks,
    Gruesome

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  3. #2
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    I have left 1911 (and other) mags loaded for over 4 years with NO ill effects.

  4. #3
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Springs do not deteriorate from being left fully compressed, just as they do not deteriorate from being left fully extended.
    Springs deteriorate only from being repeatedly flexed (that is, loaded and then unloaded) because repeated flexing eventually causes metal fatigue.

    If you (or anyone else) feel bothered by the possibility of eventual spring failure, I suggest buying a couple of spares.
    Better than spare springs would be spare magazines, since a magazine's feed lips are also springs, also flex from use, and also fail eventually from having been repeatedly flexed.

    I own two full-size 1911s and a "shortie," and I have a complete arsenal of spare, unused, G.I. magazines waiting until one fails...or I die, whichever comes first.
    Each pistol has its own set of seven magazines, which were used in a daily rotation.
    So far, after more than 35 years of competitive 1911 shooting, I have had to replace three magazines.

  5. #4
    Donn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    Springs do not deteriorate from being left fully compressed, just as they do not deteriorate from being left fully extended.
    Springs deteriorate only from being repeatedly flexed (that is, loaded and then unloaded) because repeated flexing eventually causes metal fatigue.
    What Steve said. You might consider upgrading to Wilson Combat mags. If you have a 1911 for very long, you will sooner or later.

  6. #5
    Gruesome's Avatar
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    Sweet - thanks guys. I had a feeling I was manufacturing things to worry about and I was right. Now I'll go back to worrying about these extra pieces left over from reassembling the gun. They are like cars, right? Lots of extra bits and pieces that aren't really necessary, right?



    -Gruesome

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gruesome View Post
    Sweet - thanks guys. I had a feeling I was manufacturing things to worry about and I was right. Now I'll go back to worrying about these extra pieces left over from reassembling the gun. They are like cars, right? Lots of extra bits and pieces that aren't really necessary, right?



    -Gruesome
    Correct. That's how you get a start on having spare parts around the shop. You never know when you'll need a spare hammer or firing pin, etc.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by acepilot View Post
    Correct. That's how you get a start on having spare parts around the shop. You never know when you'll need a spare hammer or firing pin, etc.
    That's awesome!
    I thought it was just me who kept ending up with spare triggers, and firing pins after cleanings!!!!
    Now that I think of it... there are a couple spare bake parts from my wife's car that I worked on yesterday! At least when something breaks I'll have spare parts to fix it!!!

  9. #8
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    ...And then there was the time that my father showed me how to clean our cuckoo clock.

    When he was done, there were a few small parts left over, but he wound up the chain weights, and started the pendulum swinging anyway.

    In a few minutes, the clock's hands reached three o'clock.
    The mechanism whirred. The little door opened. The cuckoo came out.
    "What the heck time is it, kid?" the cuckoo asked me.

  10. #9
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    All your life it makes no difference . The urban myth about spring failure has been around a life time and is still nothing but a myth

  11. #10
    malonezn1972 is offline Junior Member
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    While I cannot definitively say that leaving springs fully compressed weakens them, I CAN tell you that as part of one of my former jobs for a major manufacturer, I was responsible for conducting daily quality audits, using numerous torque wrenches. And I CAN tell you that the manufacturers of those torque wrenches recommended storing them with the tension set to lowest setting to prevent the springs from losing tension, resulting in inaccurate torque readings. Therefore, I personally continue this practice with the torque wrenches in my tool box, AND with the magazines for my semi-auto pistols. (Just my opinion.)

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by smitty901 View Post
    All your life it makes no difference . The urban myth about spring failure has been around a life time and is still nothing but a myth
    This ^

  13. #12
    malonezn1972 is offline Junior Member
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    Again, the manufacturers of those torque wrenches did not consider it an urban myth. I would assume that this was based on reliability testing, not pulled out of mid-air. While I cannot say definitively if that translates to pistol magazines, to say that the issue of spring failure in general is an urban myth is, in my opinion, simply incorrect.

  14. #13
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    I believe that, in the case of torque wrenches, the manufacturer may be instructing the user to avoid spring set. This is very different from spring fatigue.

    The first few times that a spring is fully compressed, held, and then released, it shortens by some small amount. In the case of semi-auto-pistol recoil springs, I've noticed a set of about 1/4" in about 5", or around 5%, after the first few strings of shots.

    While this will not affect the function of a recoil spring, or even a magazine spring, it probably would have quite a bad effect upon the spring of a precision torque wrench mechanism.

    It is my understanding that most spring manufacturers make some allowance for the small amount of spring set. I know for a fact that recoil-spring and magazine-spring makers allow for this small amount of set, when they wind their springs.
    Perhaps the makers of the springs for torque wrenches cannot make this allowance, maybe because it would not permit the spring to fit the specified tolerances. Or maybe the wrench maker pre-sets the spring, making an allowance for set, but doesn't want to upset that balance. (I don't know about this at all: I'm just speculating.)

    But I do have a small bit of engineering background, and I do know about springs in general.
    And if you need a more-professional opinion, I suggest that you contact Wolff Springs.

  15. #14
    paratrooper is online now Senior Member
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    All this magazine talk is making me thirsty.

  16. #15
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    I've just finished reading a magazine.
    I was shocked to find a fold-out picture of a naked woman inside it!
    I don't know how much longer I can stay loaded.

    I'll ask Jean what she recommends.

  17. #16
    johnnyballs is offline Junior Member
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    I recently purchased a Kimber Master Carry Ultra.
    I had an issue with the feeding so I called the company.That issue was resolved but I also asked him about this topic of magazine spring wear.
    He is of the idea it's not an issue at all.No solid statistics that I have found.Kind of like the Israeli carry or one in the chamber opinion.

  18. #17
    paratrooper is online now Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyballs View Post
    I recently purchased a Kimber Master Carry Ultra.
    I had an issue with the feeding so I called the company.That issue was resolved but I also asked him about this topic of magazine spring wear.
    He is of the idea it's not an issue at all.No solid statistics that I have found.Kind of like the Israeli carry or one in the chamber opinion.

    I've heard of some carrying w/o one in the pipe.

    That's just crazy and I don't have any idea as to what they are thinking.

  19. #18
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  20. #19
    SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    I always load full minus one in my carry and home defense guns. I have left magazines in this condition for years with no ill affects.

  21. #20
    malonezn1972 is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoy View Post
    I always load full minus one in my carry and home defense guns. I have left magazines in this condition for years with no ill affects.
    Sounds like excellent advice, and completely hassle-free. Install loaded magazine, feed one into the pipe, and simply do not replace the round in the magazine. Pretty much renders the whole spring fatigue/no spring fatigue debate null and void, as well.

  22. #21
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by malonezn1972 View Post
    ...Install loaded magazine, feed one into the pipe, and simply do not replace the round in the magazine. Pretty much renders the whole spring fatigue/no spring fatigue debate null and void, as well. [emphasis added]
    Please explain how loading one round less "renders the...spring fatigue debate null and void."

    (Maybe, before you begin your explanation, you might consult a gun-spring manufacturer, or even an engineering or metallurgy text.)

  23. #22
    SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    My reasons for doing this are several fold. But primarily because with some of my carry guns, that last round is hell to load.

  24. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoy View Post
    My reasons for doing this are several fold. But primarily because with some of my carry guns, that last round is hell to load.
    Speed loaders work wonders for that last round.........

  25. #24
    SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cait43 View Post
    Speed loaders work wonders for that last round.........
    They can and I have a few. But I am comfortable with what I do so I suppose I'll just continue doing it.

  26. #25
    rex
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    I've just finished reading a magazine.
    I was shocked to find a fold-out picture of a naked woman inside it!
    I don't know how much longer I can stay loaded.

    I'll ask Jean what she recommends.
    OOOH if you're still loaded you surpassed the magic age

    I'm not going into the torque wrench deal but I think Steve did a good job on it.

    With guns,we aren't talking the valve springs in an engine that sit compressed for periods of time and cycle at 1000s of repetitions comparably,gun springs are cheaper.The downloading a round came from years ago of poor design and kind of became a wives tale.M16/AR mags put a lot of rounds in a certain space and when the spring was compressed at full capacity it pushed the elastic (or plastic) limits of the spring just beyond what it could handle.Load 28 in a 30rnd mag and all is fine,load 30 and in time it weakened it.An old M1 that was loaded with a CLIP did not behave the same way fully loaded,go figure.When the 1911 went to 8rnd mag conversions they weren't always reliable,go figure.It's engineering,you need a spring to do it's job in the space it's expected to,and pushing the diameter,coils and heat treating to the limit tends to fubar the whole deal.Wilson (and others later) stopped screwing with springs and followers in the 1911s and extended the tube below the frame a touch to keep things in perspective,and it works.

    On recoil springs,they take an initial set and slowly weaken,the specific setup differs.In a 1911 Gov't or Commander size it's suggested 2500-3000rnds,but when the spring is about 1/2" shorter than new it's done.An HK USP recoil spring is good for 12K rounds,hmm.It comes down to engineering and what they want it to do.

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