- Are we alone in the Universe?
- Is there a God?
- Why am I here?
- Do magazine springs really set if you leave the magazine loaded for an extended period?
All these are weighty questions that deserve reflection, but I'm focusing on the last named today.
As all shooters know, the magazine is a critical part of any weapon. Detachable box magazines are found on most self defense weapons today, be it rifle or pistol. Any problem with the magazine and the whole system may not function.
As long as I've been interested in firearms, which is back to the 50's, the question of spring set has been argued, pondered, and fought over. Doubtless people have worried about it since integral magazines using old steel leaf springs appeared. It's a valid question, though. A weapon is not very useful if it's not loaded. You can leave a revolver loaded forever without ill effect , because the rounds sit in the rotating cylinder and there's no pressure on any springs. But a weapon that uses a box magazine, when loaded, keeps the spring compressed and under pressure.
I'm working from memory here, but I think it was the mid 1990's that Guns and Ammo magazine hired a top flight German engineering firm to settle the question once and for all. That organization did tests, and their verdict was that spring set did not occur in modern magazines using modern steel springs. Adherents of that view also pointed to a famous incident in Holland that supported the German conclusion. In the 1990's, a row of old houses dating back to World War II was being demolished to make room for new housing in Holland. During the course of the demolition, a German MP-40 machine pistol was found in the wall of one of the buildings. It was fully loaded. So that magazine spring had been completely compressed for around 50 years. Before the weapon was taken to a museum, the Dutch police, out of curiosity, tried to fire it at a range. The MP-40 functioned flawlessly. No spring set there.
On the other hand, there's the Ishapore 2 and Ishapore 2A to consider. Those are the Indian "built from scratch" Enfield MK.III rifles in 7.62X51. Those rifles saw a lot of service, both on the Chinese Indian frontier and as a transitional training weapon as India switched to the L1A1. The Ishapore is notorious for failing to strip the last one or two rounds out of the magazine. The fix? Replace the magazine springs. This could be spring set, or it could be some design flaw with the original springs. No one knows for sure but it's curious.
Spring set matters to me because I have a lot of semi-auto weapons I keep loaded here. No children live anywhere near this place, and I keep weapons at different locations in the buildings, because I don't know where I will be when the need arises to have one to hand. Right now, through long habit, I unload the magazines and switch out the magazines every month or so. I don't know if I am wasting my time or not. It's more of a safe than sorry thing. Magazines are expensive, and when I use a firearm I want it to function. So the ritual of swapping out mags continues at my place, even though logic would dictate it's a waste of time.