The Do's and Don'ts of Magazine Maintenance

Don’t Let Your Mag Spring Fail You
Anyone who has spent a day on the range knows that loading magazines over and over again can be a daunting task – often leaving us with sore thumbs.  Because of this, magazine loaders have gained widespread popularity in recent years, allowing us to speed up the loading process and reduce hand fatigue by helping to compress the magazine spring.  Popular models that we see frequently on the range include the maglula UpLULA™ and the Caldwell® Mag Charger®.  While these products are incredibly helpful for loading magazines quickly and painlessly, using these tools requires extra vigilance so as to prevent overloading of the magazine.

Knowing why and how magazine springs become damaged will help you avoid jeopardizing the reliability of your magazines.  Loading magazines by hand might be slower than using a loading device, but there is an upside -  it’s very difficult to depress the follower to the point where the spring is completely compressed..  Assisted loading devices, on the other hand, provide an excellent mechanical advantage, and as a result – if used incorrectly -  can fully compress the magazine spring and increase likelihood of damage that leads to functional failures when firing.

Make certain that you always use a “soft touch”, especially while using magazine loading devices.  Remember: always count how many rounds you’re loading into your magazine – loading more than the stated magazine capacity can completely compress the spring.

Magazines are designed to operate with a certain amount of spring pressure.  When a magazine is loaded past its capacity, the spring can take a “set” and reduce the amount of upward pressure that it applies on the next round to be loaded into the firearm.  A magazine with an incorrect amount of upward pressure can cause malfunctions at the range.  While these types of failures can be frustrating at the range, they have the potential to be devastating in a self-defense situation.

To prevent unintended failures, use caution when using load-assisting products and inspect your equipment regularly.  To inspect your magazine, you should verify that the spring is not bent or damaged in any way, is inserted into the magazine tube in the correct direction, and that the catch and floor plate are undamaged and installed correctly.  Magazines should be free of debris and lubrication, and nothing should inhibit the free travel of the spring.

If you have questions about your magazine, consult your owner’s manual to perform a routine inspection.  Should you have additional questions, please call our customer service number at 1-800-331-0852 or consult a qualified gunsmith. If you find that you’re in need of a replacement spring, or complete magazine, you can purchase these, as well as other popular accessories and replacement parts at store.smith-wesson.com

Stay tuned for more articles on how to keep your firearms in tip-top shape, and help you find more success shooting.