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Old May 31, 2016, 07:28 PM   #1
Model12Win
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Magazine Spring Life?

Hello all, I tried researching this question but came up empty.

I have a Bulgarian Makarov that came with two magazines, and just ordered 5 more magazines which are Bulgarian made and still in cosmoline. So, I've got a total of 7 magazines for it.

But how long will those last? If I rotate mags to spread out the wear, how many rounds will it take to weaken the magazine springs to the point of unreliability? I plan to get another 5 or so mags in the near future. I just love my new Makarov and plan to shoot it a lot. I am just very curious as to long term durability of the magazines.

If anyone knows, please help me. Thanks!
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Old May 31, 2016, 07:45 PM   #2
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I don't know specifically about Bulgarian Makarov mags but, in general, magazines will not wear out if left loaded - if the spring is high quality. Rotating mags by constantly loading and unloading them will actually increase metal fatigue causing them to wear faster. Think of a wire hangar (it was explained to me), bend it once and it won't break; bend it again and it still won't break; keep bending it and it eventually will.

Can you find modern replacement springs?
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Old May 31, 2016, 07:50 PM   #3
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Exactly 102 rounds will turn your magazine springs to jelly. You will need to buy dozens of extra springs. Sometimes they wear out before you even put them in the magazine.
If you learn to shoot your gun upside down, you can dispense with those unreliable springs altogether.
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Old May 31, 2016, 07:54 PM   #4
Model12Win
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^ Thank you but that is not very helpful.

I know that springs shouldn't wear out from being left loaded. But, I know they will wear out from loading and then firing the rounds in the magazine. I am just wondering how often they will need to be replaced to ensure good function.
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Old May 31, 2016, 08:01 PM   #5
M92919m
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Is this an issue related to this specific firearm? I ask because I have a 25 year old Beretta that I have fired thousands of rounds through and have not given the mag or its springs a thought. It has NEVER been an issue. And it has been loaded for years. In fact, I always keep it loaded. I take it to the range and it fires flawlessly.
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Old May 31, 2016, 08:14 PM   #6
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I have several magazines from the 1930s and 40s that have original springs in them and they still function perfectly.

IMO the need to constantly change out springs is way over estimated.

I have a colt combat elite magazine with over 20K though it, a buckmark with 80K, and a victor with well over 100K and they all still work 100%
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Old May 31, 2016, 08:36 PM   #7
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Use them till you have problems; if you have problems... I would suspect your finger will wear out before your mags do.
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Old May 31, 2016, 08:46 PM   #8
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The topic of mag springs comes up periodically. Generally, it shouldn't be an issue. Working springs CAN lead to wear, and leaving some mags fully loaded can lead to greater wear -- it's not as simple as it seems.

For a milsurp gun, or one's that are very old, you might try to find replacement mag springs. Many mag springs for guns of similar calibers and capacities will work in other mags -- as form follows function. I think that most Bulgarian Maks were made for export and were not used by the Bulgarian military -- so they're not really military surplus, and the springs should be relatively fresh. But, if not, you shouldn't have problems finding springs for Makarov mags.

I'm repeating below, what I posted yesterday, in another discussion...
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According to the experts here and on another forum (The High Road), which has included a number of engineers who are familiar with the subject (at least one of them a metallurgist), most springs -- while they will degrade with use -- won't degrade enough to matter, if properly designed and properly used in the gun's design. They'll typically outlive the gun or the shooter. Many of the new SMALL gun designs, or guns with very high-cap mags, however, often push the springs' limits and springs become renewable resources in those cases.

When recoil or mag springs do degrade, due to cycling, it's because they are compressed to or near the point of maximum compression. If the spring doesn't compress to that point (called its elastic limit), the spring (even if the mag is fully loaded, or the slide is locked back) won't degrade much with use. A lot of gun springs, when cycled, are NEVER get close to the spring's elastic limits.

Working a spring alone isn't necessarily a propblem: tappet springs in a car engine are an example -- as they may cycle many millions of times without failures over an engine's life... They're designed with reserve power, and unlike springs in some of the newer gun designs, they're not asked to do more work in less space, with less material than was once the practice.

In earlier discussions here and on The High Road, it was noted that the small recoil spring for the Rohrbaugh R9 -- probably the smallest 9mm semi-auto -- should be replaced every 250 or sound rounds. That gun fires the same round as guns that have recoil springs that last thousands of rounds! What's the difference? That small spring is apparently pushed to it's elastic limits with each shot -- and that spring just can't last as long as other less stressed springs (that are made to fit larger spaces and use more metal). Most spring applications do NOT stress springs that much.

The point of maximum compression is when (and where) spring wear takes place. If the spring is kept loaded, and the spring is near it's design limits at that point -- and, arguably, most mag springs are not be near that limit when fully loaded -- then the spring will degrade a bit more quickly than if the mag is downloaded for cycling or storage. For most full-size, non-hi-cap mags, it's not likely to be a problem. For some hi-cap guns, or for some sub-compacts, it can be an issue.
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Old June 1, 2016, 12:41 AM   #9
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I couldn't help it.
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Old June 1, 2016, 05:11 AM   #10
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Like money and ammo, you can never have enough mags.
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Old June 1, 2016, 06:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mannyCA
Like money and ammo, you can never have enough mags.
Said the guy who's never had to jump out of a landing craft into 10 feet of water....
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Old June 1, 2016, 06:59 AM   #12
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The statement on shooting your pistol, upside down?

The Bren gun has the magazine mounted upside down! And it was accurate!
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Old June 1, 2016, 03:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45 auto
Said the guy who's never had to jump out of a landing craft into 10 feet of water....
That's not a landing craft... that's a floating pier.

Last edited by Walt Sherrill; June 1, 2016 at 05:08 PM.
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Old June 1, 2016, 04:14 PM   #14
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Walt and Bill , this metallurgist says IF it's properly designed and made it shouldn't ever need a new spring ! Even back in my heavy shooting days I never replaced a recoil or magazine spring !
I did once replace aToyota valve spring .Of course it was defective , a fatigue failure .For that type of failure all you need is a little nick in the spring as the greatest forces are on the outside !
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Old June 1, 2016, 04:49 PM   #15
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Springs like those used in magazines don't exactly wear out, they just get saggy and take up less space, reducing their effectiveness.
If you buy new mags, before using them measure the spring length as a base measurement for deciding if and when they would ever need replacing.
Or you could just do what most of us do - just wait until the gun stops working to replace them.
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Old June 1, 2016, 04:52 PM   #16
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As long as Wolff keeps making replacements, you are good!
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Old June 1, 2016, 05:19 PM   #17
Walt Sherrill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mete
Walt and Bill , this metallurgist says IF it's properly designed and made it shouldn't ever need a new spring ! Even back in my heavy shooting days I never replaced a recoil or magazine spring !
I did once replace aToyota valve spring. Of course it was defective , a fatigue failure .For that type of failure all you need is a little nick in the spring as the greatest forces are on the outside !
That's what others involved in this discussion have said -- folks, like you, who are familiar with the technology and the materials involved.

The only CHANGE to any of the variables in this discussion in recent years is the move to new (sub-compact) gun designs that are much smaller (with less room for spring material) or to guns with much higher-capacity mags. In both of those situations, the springs are asked to do more in less space with less material than once was the cvase. In SOME of those cases, the springs can't last as long.

For those of us who are shooting full-size guns and not keeping our very hi-cap mags fully loaded all the time, spring wear will probably not be a problem. (And as others have said, replacing a recoil spring or a mag spring isn't all that expensive or hard to do...)

.
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Old June 1, 2016, 07:18 PM   #18
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No one can really tell you how long a spring will last, because none of us knows if the spring was made "properly" or not.

A spring that fails in a few thousand rounds wasn't "made properly", one that never fails clearly was made properly, but there's no way to tell one from the other until/unless it fails.

IF your spring(s) fail before you have paid for the gun multiple times over in the cost of the ammo you shoot, then, they were bad. If not, then they are ok.

It is stupidly that simple. If it fails, it was bad, if it doesn't it isn't. Don't sweat it.
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Old June 1, 2016, 07:20 PM   #19
Bill DeShivs
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Properly made and designed springs don't get "saggy" or weak. Just the opposite happens- they work harden and break, but it takes many cycles for this to happen.
I have replaced springs, but only when they have been in a fire or were severely corroded-and I'll bet I have handled/worked on more guns than many of you have ever even seen.
I also make springs-thousands of them.
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Old June 1, 2016, 10:41 PM   #20
BigJimP
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I have a 1911 ...with its original 8 Wilson mags in 9mm --- that just went over 120,000 rds thru the gun with no spring issues....in their 8 yr life so far...

.....I strip and clean all 8 mags once a month...and it's possible that some mags get more use than others...and they are all dropped on concrete range floors weekly.

Unless you have issues with the mags don't worry about it...
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Old June 2, 2016, 07:40 AM   #21
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I will never understand the obsession with magazine springs. They are one of a dozen springs in a gun. Every spring in a gun is under constant tension - just like a loaded magazine is under tension. I have never once heard anyone suggest:

"Hey, if I carry my gun locked and cocked, won't that wear the hammer spring?"
"I have dry fired my gun a lot - do you think I need to replace the trigger return spring?"
"How often do I need to replace the striker spring?"
"If I store my gun with the slide racked back, will that weaken the recoil spring?"
"How often do you need to replace the buffer spring?"
"Should I buy some spare extractor springs to keep around in case they wear out?"
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Old June 2, 2016, 08:09 AM   #22
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Agree with Skans, All to often we have another post appear asking about springs and then the obligatiory comments about spring life ensues. I do not change springs. I have Winchesters made in the 1870's era, Colt's from the same periòd, 1911's that are almost a hundred years old and all are still goińg strong. Put the spring issue to bed and go on with life.
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Old June 2, 2016, 08:25 AM   #23
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Spring life depends very much on the design and application.
Coil springs, for example, may not get particularly weaker over time, but they do get "saggy", that is they take up less space and become less effective for the application.
Ask any auto mechanic who works on suspensions and engines.
Check the at rest length of an old recoil spring as compared to a new one for comparison.
Leaf springs, and the varieties of other leverage types, can have different characteristics but the type used on the rear of pickups can get "saggy", too.
But it's a different kind of "saggy."

(Can you tell I like the word "saggy"? - It just sounds right.)
Any spring can fatigue to the point of breaking, just to add to the confusion.
Heck what can't.
Haven't ever run across a broken mag spring yet, though.
So the consensus for worry over mag springs seems to be if it works don't sweat it.
See how easy life can be.
What, me worry?
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Old June 2, 2016, 08:41 AM   #24
Walt Sherrill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skans
I will never understand the obsession with magazine springs. They are one of a dozen springs in a gun. Every spring in a gun is under constant tension - just like a loaded magazine is under tension.
Several points:

1) A lot of folks have experienced spring failures, or heard about them... so it seems like a bigger problem than it might actually be. Obsession might be the proper term, but in a few cases, attention to the issue is appropriate -- but probably not as much as it's discussed.

2) Every spring in a gun is NOT under constant tension. Some are almost fully relaxed most of the time. An unloaded mag spring or a recoil spring with the slide closed may nearly completely relaxed. Some of the other springs (like a slide stop spring) may be under pressure, but at levels that are not near the spring's operating limits. (That matters!)

3) Being under constant tension is NOT a problem unless, when kept in that tensed state, the spring is at or very near it's design/operating limits (what the spring CAN DO, not what the gun asks it to do.) The problems, when they occur, are seen mostly in very small guns that shoot bigger calibers, or magazines that hold an obscene amount of rounds, like 20+ 9mm, 15+ .40, etc. And even then it might not be a problem unless the springs are HELD in that compressed state for long periods.
Mag springs in a 7-round 1911 mag, for example, have plenty of reserve power. That same spring in an older -- not modified -- 1911 mag holding 8-rounds will be under greater tension for longer periods, and may not last as long. (Especially if the mags are left fully loaded.)

The mag springs used in some guns, like 9mm CZs, are the same for 10-round, 15/16-round, or 17+ round mags. In some cases, the capacity differences are the result of different followers and how far the springs are compressed -- and in a few cases to longer bases. Keep those different mags fully loaded for long periods, and you'll see some differences in performance and lifespans. That's why Wolff Springs recommends downloading a round or two for long-term storage with the hi-cap versions.
4) Working a spring only damages the spring if doing so causes the spring to reach it's limits frequently, or for long periods. Working the spring part-way has almost no effect on spring longevity; compressing it fully can affect it greatly. That said, keeping a magazine fully loaded won't always compress the spring to its design limit. Most gun designs avoid that. Some of the newer, smaller gun, do push to or past those limits -- allowing smaller guns with larger capacities to do more than might otherwise be possible. That probably explains why SOME (but not all) hi-cap mag springs don't last as long as others.

5) Regarding storing a gun with a slide locked back, one of the participants in an earlier version of this discussion talked about THAT happening at a National Guard Armory, over the winter, when the NCOIC at the Armory stored the guns in that manner. All of those Beretta M9 recoil springs were, according to the participant, badly weakened by that form of storage, and some of the M9s wouldn't function at all. That's an anecdotal story, and maybe made up, but it makes sense -- those springs, with the slide locked back, have to be tightly compressed.

You can certainly test the recoil spring part of this discussion yourself with one of your weapons. If the recoil spring is close to a stacked state when the slide is locked back, it won't take long to find out. If you have some old, "used" recoil springs try one of them...

g.willikers notes above that he's not run across a broken mag spring, yet -- and that's because coil springs spread the work throughout the material of the spring, while leaf springs tend to concentrate the work area more. But the time a coil spring gets weak enough to break, it will have lost the ability to do work and will have been replaced. Springs fail from microfractures in the steel; with leaf springs those breaks tend to be concentrated in specific narrower areas; with coil springs they tend to occur throughout the spring's material because more of the spring material is actually working/

As g.willikers also notes, it all depends on the design of the gun, on the design of the magazine, and how the springs are used. Some of the new gun designs use springs differently than many of the older designs. Older guns were much easier on springs than some of the newer design. You can't equate an older full-size gun, so some of the the smaller, high-cap compact gun available now.

.

Last edited by Walt Sherrill; June 2, 2016 at 08:46 AM.
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Old June 2, 2016, 10:14 AM   #25
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I'd say our "obsession" with springs today, is an evolution of our obsession with springs in the past, when it WAS a valid and important concern.

I'm sure someone once asked, "is it ok to leave my wheellock spanned?" or "Is it ok to store my musket with the hammer cocked?" and things like that.

For which, the answer is "NO!!"....

Remember what they were dealing with, springs (and guns) made of IRON, or an iron alloy that just barely qualifies as steel by modern standards. Leaf springs (often made by the village smith) powered virtually ALL guns for centuries.

Old leaf springs are notorious for not doing well when left under tension for long periods. They often "take a set", and get weak, or brittle, and break.

And, like dry firing, it was something everyone knew was bad for the gun. By the time we get to the early 20th century, "modern" designs and spring technology had improved vastly, and the old concerns didn't apply AS MUCH. But they didn't go away, they just changed a bit.

My Grandfather got an Ithaca shotgun in 1909. That gun came with a guarantee IN WRITING that the springs would NEVER "take a set" Not "one year from the date of manufacture?, not even "for the lifetime of the original owner" but NEVER. They were proud of that, back then, and said so.

Also have a letter from Ithaca dated 1947, a reply to my Grandfather's concern about their guarantee. They said (in 47) that the guarantee was still good, and valid. Grandpa was also adamant about NEVER storing the gun cocked. AND, NEVER dryfiring it.

The US ARMY, in the 1970s measured the serviceability of the 1911A1 recoil spring by LENGTH. Lacking otherwise apparent damage, the springs were "good" unless shorter than the length specified in the manual, and then they were replaced.

And, not every gunmaker used good quality made springs, even when they thought they were. And also there are all the guns made by all nations under wartime production pressures. Some of them will have springs that aren't the best, especially guns made by the losing sides.

SO, concern about spring life has a long (and for a long time a valid) history. TOday, it shows in people asking questions, and people "automatically" replacing springs at set intervals.

I think it's overblown, and over-hyped today, however valid it may have been in the past.
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