How Often Should You Unload Your Pistol?

How Often Should You Unload Your Pistol?

How Often Should You Unload Your Pistol?

A lot of folks have a gun for home defense purposes only, and choose not to carry concealed. Many of these folks leave these guns in their safes for months at a time and frequently ask me how often they should unload their pistol and “give it a rest?”

Then there are people who do carry concealed all of the time but as soon as they get home they transfer the loaded gun to a safe, and the gun stays loaded all of the time. These people also often ask when they should unload their magazines and guns.

Luckily, the answer is simple.

If you’re carrying a modern firearm you don’t have to worry about unloading it or “giving it a rest.” When I was a police officer and with the Agency, I knew guys who would leave their guns loaded for years at a time.

If you’re carrying a Glock, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Springfield, Ruger, and any other modern pistol then you don’t have to worry about being gentle with these guns. (If you buy a cheap $100 gun then you get what you pay for and I would never trust my life with one of these.)

But here’s the thing…

Even though you don’t ever have to worry about unloading your gun, I still hope you’re getting out to the range with it. Even if it’s one of the many guns stored throughout your home (like I have) you should still take it to the range at least every six months.

Obviously, you want to keep familiar with the manipulation of the gun and you want to ensure nothing has happened to it while being stored. A long time ago, I had a gun in storage that I didn’t use for defensive purposes and it wasn’t loaded.

But when I took it out it had some rust on it. I took care of the rust and it functions fine, but if I was using this gun for home defense purposes I wouldn’t have been happy to find a rusty gun that I may have to bet my life on.

So even though it’s not necessary to unload your gun, you should still inspect your gun and take it out shooting monthly if you can, but at least every six months. You don’t have to do this for every gun you own, but you should do this with any gun around your house that you use for defensive purposes. In other words, if you have a loaded gun in your house then it should be one you keep an eye on and regularly inspect.

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  • AlphaFactor

    I was away from shooting for a period of almost 15 years. I had two Browning Hi-Power mags that were left loaded in my gun safe that entire time. Took them out about 6 months ago and they shot fine, including the ammo that had had been left in them all that time. Don’t worry about it.

  • Cathy McDowell

    The only time I plan to unload mine is in some punks chest!
    Okay, yes, I shoot 50 rounds at the range now and then.
    I really should go again soon.
    My finger itches.

  • 2Awarrior

    A friend’s father had a Remington model 51 auto pistol in his underwear drawer loaded with the same rounds for – I swear – 50 years. He passed away, and we took the pistol to the range and fired it empty. No issues of any kind.

  • SaipanEd

    G’father had a .25 German officer issue pistol. Fired jus’ fine with the original German rounds in 1995! That’s umm ’bout 50 yrs?

  • John Lewis

    Janson, please be aware that magazine springs can become weak, with a light follower tension, if mags are left loaded over an extended period of time. Glock recommends cycling out their mag, once a month, for the mag spring to remain reliable. Light follower tension can contribute to a malfunction, therefore- if you decide to maintain 24/7/365 loaded status, be up on your malfunction drills! Other options include, having plenty of extra magazines to exchange ammo in, or having magazine repair kits on hand.

    • Chuck Haggard

      Glock does not recommend this and never has. I am currently certified by Glock as an armorer, and have been for over a decade.

      • G50AE

        I too have never seen Glock recommend this, and I make it a point to read the Glock Annual every year when it is printed. If this were something that Glock did recommend, I am sure it would get printed somewhere in the Glock Annual magazine.

  • BWGIII

    I’ve never had a problem with my guns functioning even after having a magazine loaded for months. I did have a couple of high capacity magazines that wouldn’t cause the slide to remain open after the last round. A gunsmith showed me how to correct it. He took the mag apart and stretched the spring a bit. It has functioned flawlessly after that.
    Note: I’ve bought some new springs and will replace when these actually fail. Those 2 mags are target range use only until then.

    • Alexandra Meir

      After you replace the mag springs try keeping them loaded but with one or two less than full. For high capacity mags this helps keep them from setting in the compressed shape like others have mentioned.

  • Arc Angel

    I’d like to see the source information for the comment, ‘Glock recommends cycling out their mag, once a month, for the mag spring to remain reliable.’ I’ve owned, carried, worked on, and shot Glock pistols for a good ten years; and that’s news to me! In spite of all the silly crap on Glock Talk, neither have I ever read any statement to that effect – Just the opposite, actually!

    In fact I have AR and AK full capacity magazines that, while they are downloaded by one to three rounds, have remained loaded for years at a time and continue to function flawlessly. All I’ll agree to is that magazine springs can be encouraged to take a, ‘set’; this is, afterall, the usual way to get a new magazine with a, ‘stiff’ spring to seat inside a pistol.

    Leaving a magazine loaded, especially when it’s downloaded by one or two rounds, will not harm the magazine spring. Certain magazines with a capacity in excess of 20-25 rounds DO BENEFIT from being stored in a downloaded condition.

    Why? Because these large springs have been known to take too much of a permanent set – Nothing else. It’s constant flexing, up and down, that wears out a magazine spring and causes it to stretch or take too much of a set. Just leaving a pistol magazine loaded for an extended period of time (years!) isn’t going to harm it in any way.

  • EMIRCITNA

    I READ an article in the National Rifleman, some years back, where magazine spring-tension was being addressed as to concerns about “weakening” over time when the magazine is left fully loaded.

    There was a comment mailed in by a WWII Vet who said that the fully loaded .45 mags for the Govt. model 1911, that he had stored in a footlocker since the end of the war, functioned flawlessly 40 years later!

    Bottom Line; Springs made of superior quality metals will hold their temper…until broken from excessive use!

  • Chuck Haggard

    John, your comment seems to imply that leaving the magazine loaded constantly will contribute to malfunctions. If so, this is false. Cycling wears out springs, not sitting. A spring can not “rest”, it is not a muscle, it can not heal or get better, it either works or it does not.
    An example would be that my duty magazines, barring something like falling in a pond, stay loaded for six months at a time, the duty ammo shot up, the mags cleaned, and then reloaded and carried another six months. I have never had a malfunction since transitioning from revolvers to pistols for carry about 1989.

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    • John Doe

      Chuck, have you ever gone through old papers that had a paper clip holding them together? Ever noticed how when you remove the old paper clip, the paper clip is slightly open (usually about halfway between its brand newl condition and the position it was in when used)?

      Paper clips aren’t a muscle, but metal can shape over time when stress is applied. If a spring is only vulnerable when moving, please explain how stretched paper clips get stressed or compressed car shocks weaken when sitting (you’ll find this on “OPC/grandma’s car” that hardly ever gets driven).

      Magazine springs are not made of fancy titanium or superior metals. You can replace magazine springs for a couple of bucks, which means the manufacturer paid maybe $0.50 for them. Hardly a superior metal if it costs that little. That being said, wouldn’t they be vulnerable to the same intolerances as other common metals?

      • Chuck Haggard

        Well John, your logic fails in several areas, including that paper clips aren’t springs, and neither are car shocks.
        The fact that there are numerous cases of magazines being loaded for decades without ill effect is well established, as is that most cops have their magazines loaded all of the time, without ill effect, and only unload them to shoot yearly or twice a year quals.
        I don’t know of a magazine spring that only costs fifty cents.

        • John

          Paper clips actually are a form of a spring. It’s a metal that is designed to return to its normal position and not permanently bend (otherwise it wouldn’t hold the paper together).

          Regardless, read my post down a bit where I explain my first hand experience leaving my two USP mags loaded for about 6 years (even though I would use them multiple times each year and reload them). Both springs weakened and two separate gunsmiths TOLD ME that I left them loaded, because they see that problem all the time when the gun’s slide fails to lock back when the mag is empty. Stretched the magazine and it worked as a temp fix. Bought a new spring and PRESTO! Problem solved. It’s not theory when it actually happens.

          • Chuck Haggard

            Periodic unloading would not have changed that outcome. A spring either works or it does not. You can’t make it better by unloading the magazine and letting it “rest”.
            Crappy springs quit much sooner than springs made of quality material and built to handle the specific loading it will be subjected to.

          • Alexandra Meir

            I hate your comparison to paperclips because paperclips are soft metal made to bend easily and thus put up very little resistance. However mag springs are made out of harder metal made to bend while keeping their shape, thus making them last much longer than the softer paperclips.

          • Scott

            A paper clip doesn’t have memory when you push paper into it it works like a V the further you push it in the tighter it gets.

  • Fixed Sight Training

    The correct answer is as often and as many times as possible at the range.

    • Mark Buston

      In other words (some people might not catch what you’re saying FST) unload your gun/magazines often by shooting your gun… I dont care how proficient you think you are with it or them… practice practice practice! You can never be too proficient.

  • Nathan

    So what about 20 year old guns? Colt Officers model is one of my ‘bedside table’ guns that stays loaded. I have spare clips and have been in the habit of swapping out clips every six months or so. Leaving the spares empty. A good plan or not?

  • yardbird1947

    I am told that any spring that is compressed or extended beyond the design limit will take a ‘set’ If within limits they are okay.

    I just read an article on the ‘net that I regret I cannot find to give credit. It says that cycling cartridges through a semi-auto may cause the priming compound to loosen and be displaced. This had lead to malfunctions.

    If anyone can track down the source, I will be grateful.

  • Larry Taylor

    I don’t store loaded guns in my safe(s) – they’re not ‘ready to use’ per NRA safety rules. I do keep loaded firearms around the house which are available for use.

    I do, however, keep loaded magazines available for use, mostly in competition. I down-load my AR-15 magazines by 2 rounds for feed reliability. My pistol magazines used in competition are loaded to the max and stored in my range bag that way. Most of my pistol magazines for my non-competition guns are left unloaded and stored in nylon ditty bags. I’ve never been worried about continued spring compression affecting the feeding reliability. On occasion, I have experienced failures to feed with a couple of different pistol magazines; I replace the springs at those occurrences.

  • Dr. Obvious

    Anyone who cycles their mags must also put their car up on jackstands at night. Anyone ever see a car with worn out springs?

    • bob16066

      Yes. Yes I have. The car sits lower.

      .

      • Dr. Obvious

        and there it is folks, out of millions we have one.

        • In the South and Southwest, where cars last more than six or so years because they don’t salt the roads, it is very common to see 20+ year old vehicles with sagging springs, both coil and leaf. They are common enough that there has been remedies to correct both since years before I first started playing around with cars in the early 1970s.

          If you have ever seen an older car with the rear end slightly lower than the front, that is due to worn out springs about 99% of the time.

          I’m sure if I decide to leave the house today I will see several, as there are literally hundreds of antique (25+ years old) cars in my county. Actually, the rear springs on my 1992 F-150 sag a little, but not enough to mess with.

          • Dr. Obvious

            yes, those cars are used, the springs are repeatedly cycled. and after 25 years or so they sag a little. I was speaking of the millions of cars. So I think our mags are safe to store loaded.

  • asoro

    depending on your demographics you should still clean your gun every so often. take it apart and clean it and lite oil, put it back together. This also helps you to remember how that gun works, some are harder than others to break down. You may not have to but I rotate my ammo every 6mo’s or so. and make sure there are no creaks in the casings. I had that happen to me, So now I check them all. and it wasn’t a reload..
    good luck shoot safe!!!

    • Shipwreck

      As an old geezer, I can give you an “amen” on that. I have 4 different caliber handguns by four different manufacturers. All are reliable, even the little Bersa .380,
      but each has its own disassembly/re-assembly process, as well trigger, mag disconnect, and safety characteristics. I admit the .380 is in my pistol of last resort. But like they say, the ‘best gun’ is the one you can reach when you need one.

      I always hope that if someone knocks down my door that I have just finished cleaning & reloading the 870 or am sitting in my recliner (where my .40 caliber Glock’s within arm’s reach).

      Going to the range, cleaning my guns, doing crosswords
      puzzles & exposing bogus “known facts” in emails from my brother,
      are keeping Alzheimer’s at bay, so far. Well, gun-related forums help too.

      • asoro

        good for you……. stay young.

  • BenArnoldJr

    I have never thought much of “resting” a gun, but I do keep one S&W snubnose in my glove compartment at all times. I took it out to check on it, once, and the revolver had frozen. The oil and grease had frozen and I would not have been able to use it at all. I attributed this to the heat of the South Florida sun in one’s vehicle. Now, I check it occasionally to see that the moving parts actually move.

    As for the Beretta I carry in my pocket holster, I take that one in and out and never leave it In the truck unless I’m going into one of the “forbidden” zones.

    • Shipwreck

      My 642 Airweight is my “glove compartment” gun, although it’s behind a door in the center of the dash, much closer than the GC. I also bring mine in-the house
      periodically to unload it, dry-fire it to check to see that it functions, and
      it gets to the range with me for 10 or 15 rounds every couple of month to be
      sure that it & I can still hit what we aim at. Gotta’ love that CT Laser.

      Maybe having the van garaged 90% of the time helps minimize problems with heat, and when it’s parked in sun (never for longer than 2-3 hours) I have a reflective screen for the windshield which seems to keep the temp in the van below “poach” or “fry”. I don’t know if it would help much in So. FL Maybe all these trees in SE TX help out a bit, also. We actually park in the shade occasionally.

      I use the 642 or an LC9 Ruger for pocket carry. That easier for an arthritic septuagenarian than reaching for a IWB rig.

      • I’ve taken up leatherworking as a hobby, although I might manage to find something easy enough to make and desirable enough to sell eventually. I made my own pocket holster to protect the pocket from tearing through and it holds the Beretta upright and has a “hook” at the bottom which holds the holster when I pull the gun out. I’ve been looking to see where I might create and hang a holster nearer to me than the glove compartment for my S&W .38 revolver and still keep it out of sight. The only reason I carry the Beretta, which is a .25 with “Safety” bullets, is because it’s small and I don’t wear a vest or coat to conceal anything larger, except for perhaps two days each winter when it actually gets chilly down here. When I was a child, it got cold and stayed cold for much longer periods; no longer.

  • Shipwreck

    I’ve given all handguns (except 4) to my sons. Each timeI go to the range (which I do regularly on senior half-price days) I take at east 2 of them. I keep all 4 loaded at
    all times, in 4 locations (desk, nightstand, drawer by my recliner, and secured
    in my vehicle. All have a spare mag alongside, jin case of a “miraculous ag malfunction”.

    If the one in the car sounds “iffy”, it is garaged w/doors ocked & alarm set, & the garage is also locked at “sundown” very evening. I didn’t always leave 1 in the car, but after a several trips to the ER in the middle of the night in recent years (we are in our 70s), I changed my habit. I live in a suburb of Texas’ largest city, and not everyone here is trustworthy, especially after dark when the vermin venture North looking for “targets of opportunity”
    in the night.

    I don’t know if it matters, but after one after-market mag that refused to feed reliably, I now have only factory mags (paranoia maybe?).

  • docmagnum357

    If leaving your magazines loaded weakens the springs, why don’t we have to change the springs on our cars and trucks when we get a tune up. I could write a book on CHFs, (common hick fallacies) and urban myths about handguns. Firearms are third only after Religion and politics as concerning the utter stupidity people believe.

  • TexasJester

    Thanks for all the info. I’m pretty new to firearm ownership..

    As a truck driver, while it’s legal to carry in the truck, the vast myriad of laws around the country can lead to my arrest in one area, and an atta-boy in another, so I don’t carry on the road.

    I stay out a couple months at a time; one thing I do when I get home is get the cleaning kit and oil and go over every pistol in the house. Mom – retired and disabled – lives in my house; I also go over her pistols. Amazing how relaxing that is!

    • Remedy

      With all the hijacking these days it is a crime that you a law abiding hard working citizen

      has to risk his or her life because some legislator who never worked a honest day in his or her life

      dictates it.

      I have seen drivers who were hijacked and killed because they were defenseless. Politicians pass ridiculous gun laws that are useless, and by doing so put peoples lives in jeopardy.
      Rest assured the criminals know what States to target, especially the hijacking of trucks
      carrying high dollar loads. As a retired LEO I know first hand that States with severe gun laws
      have the most violent crime.

    • dragon5126

      Get a safe box and lock it up in the sleeper. under lock and key you are safe except in 2 or three states, and you can check the various laws easy enough

  • Remedy

    Have you ever noticed bullets that are turning green, in say a S/W revolver. One reason is the

    two different metals, ( gun/ bullet) produce and conduct a very small amount of current that causes

    this problem,

    I am sure some have seen copper water lines that have turned green in spots where a non-copper support hanger was used, such as a nail ect.

    This is why every month ,one should un-load and wipe down the bullets

    • dragon5126

      it isn’t the dissimilar metals, it is an electrolyte that causes electrolysis between dissimilar metals, but you are on the right track. In this specific thread the electrolyte would be sweat aka saltwater. and this also would affect the metal the springs are made of which would call for cleaning the magazine and either spraying it with a cleaner such as any of the many “CLP” varieties, or spray lubes, or breaking it down and actually wiping it down with an oil rag. But do NOY spray your ammo! just wipe it with a clean rag, inspect it for any form of corrosion, and if you find any pull it out of your “service” ammo and allocate it for target use. never risk your live on green brass

      • Rick

        or what he said …^

      • Remedy

        Thank you I appreciate the information specifically the proper terminology

      • guest

        Green on ammo bad.. Neighbor was cleaning out ammo drawer, had 1 round of 45/70 that he had no gun for… Gave it to me, since I have an old Rolling Block… Just a little bit of green..wiped it off.. Case blew out…Glad I always wear glasses…

        Similar to “When you go where the Husky’s go, don’t you eat that yellow snow”..

        • dragon5126

          That’s why you need to inspect the brass for physical damage from the corrosion. you need to remember that “green fluff” was once brass. if it is just from the surface no problem, but if it goes deep it’s bad news.

    • Rick

      This is called electrolysis., quite prevalent whenever two dissimilar metals come in contact and happens tenfold in a humid environment

    • Rick

      The green is the actual copper itself getting chewed away due to a low PH any PH below 6.0 is very corrosive

      Well water is famous for this, It will leave green stains on your sink if you have a low PH. This is primarily due to the acid rain entering the aquifer & lowering the PH.. |So if you see a lot of green tains in your sink and find yourself replacing water heaters every 4 or 5 years get an acid neutralizer installed and save your pipes

      Way before we humans polluted the environment all aquifers had a perfect 7.0 PH being neutral To remedy the corrosive well water people often install acid neutralizers a cylindrical 3.0 Cubic ft filter filled with crushed limestone , when water contacts the crushed lime stone this elevates the PH.

      Very similar to when town dump in huge chunks of lime stone cut out of quarries to elevate the PH levels in ponds when the fish start dying due to decreased levels of PH. . Why am I telling you guys all of this PH, bull doo doo It has nothing to do with storing a loaded gun I was going to not post iot but figured screw it if it helps one person out it was worth it

      • dragon5126

        the knowledge is important if it is useable at one point or another. The problem we all face is that all too often knowledge that is useable from one source that can be applied to another, just isn’t there. If we all would share real knowledge we would all be better off… how may old farmers do you know that had college educations in everything yet could do damn near everything? AN how many College kids that have multiple degrees that are not as smart as that block of calcium carbonate?

  • dragon5126

    Chuck, Springs are a crystalline alignment of the structure of the metal in a given rod, flat plate or other form that is used to supply tension. and YES just sitting under stress can weaken them, contrary to popular belief. Properly designed magazine springs are not compressed beyond the 50% compression level where damage actually does happen. They are designed with more “coils” than needed so that each level supplies less lift than was used in the past. Cheap mags, Old mags, improperly used mags ( read overloaded, wrong caliber, improper spring and so forth) can all fail due to being left loaded for too long. These are NOT imaginary issues, While I was smithing, I had to deal with this issue in roughly half of the feed issues in auto pistols that came in for service. This is the same issue as buying a car that had been sitting in storage for a couple decades without having the suspension unloaded. it DOES happen.

  • shermr

    I unload my handguns when I clean them, when I allow another person to look at or handle my handgun, or when I need to transport them through a state that does not reckonize my permit. When I unload a semi-auto I examine the top bullet, (the one that was in the chamber), to ensure that re-feeding the same cartridge from the magazine and into the chamber has not changed bullet seating. Shooting your firearm will wear out a magazine spring, leaving your handgun loaded will not. Metal fatigue is caused by use, which is why torsion spings in garage doors wear out, they have an average life span of 10,000 cycles. Leave your car in the garage and the springs will out live you.

  • Brian Konopa

    WARNING— Be aware of rechambering. It is common for semi-automatic pistol owners to have a magazine loaded with “defensive” cartridges. These owners remove the cartridges from the magazine when they go to the range to shoot “target” bullets. In the process they are also removing a defensive round from the chamber. The issue to be aware of is causing setback after shooting at the range. This can occur when rechambering of the same round is done repeatedly. The problem that introducing setback causes is creating an overpressure in the round. It is rechambering of the defensive round that most users don’t realize can lead to problems.

    • Nathan

      One way to avoid this, is to place the defensive load into the chamber by hand, with the slide locked back. Just point the pistol to the ground and let the round gently ‘fall in’ before releasing the slide.

      • tricolordad

        Can’t do that on my sigma. The extractor doesn’t position correctly nor does the slide completely close.

  • Strider72

    Good, bad or ugly… I rotate all my mags every three months.

  • DarylD

    I discovered that I had left an eight-round magazine for a 1911 loaded when I stored it. It had been left loaded for about 15 years. As with most, I buy new magazines to replace older ones and the old ones get put up. Curiosity got the best of me and off to the range it went. Guess what, not one failure. This was not the best magazine on the market, either. It was a magazine that came with the pistol – a pre-ban Norinco 1911. Nothing was changed in this magazine before storage, it held 8-rounds of hollow-point ammunition, and each of them went out the tube without failure – magazine or otherwise.

    As others have noted, magazine springs weaken from use and they need to be checked every so often for proper spring tension and length (one does not directly equate to the other). As recoil springs weaken from use, so do magazine springs.

  • Gina Bautista

    I’m new to shooting and the Glock 19. If I go out to the range once a month using all the ammo in my 10 round magazines, perhaps shooting about 100 rounds, then I think that is cycling them and giving them regular use, right? I’m primarily going to use my gun for target shooting, range shooting.

  • BT

    like your suggestions –I used to go out once a month with my glock and M-4 but with the ammo situation as it is I converted to dri-fire practice and go out every 6 months to see if my head shots are staying in where they should be—have been surprised to learn that the dri-fire keeps me in the chute—plus I still clean all weapons every 8 weeks and inspect ammo for any deteriorations. and of course never leave home without-

  • Sig_Sauer

    I read some where and someone please correct me if I’m wrong, that one should cycle their daily carry defensive rounds at least every three months. The theory is the grains of powder breakdown, becoming small and stronger from your daily activities. About every six months, I even cycle the loaded magazines in the night stand and both cars, not because they have been loaded, but I want to keep them loaded with new ammo.

    • JJ_Swiontek

      Hi Sig, correct on the 3 month cycle, but the powder is not the problem, it is the primers. The physical shock of being slammed into the semi-auto chamber repeatedly /can/ cause the primer crystal to move out from between the cup and anvil. In other words, a misfire. And you want as high as possible reliability that your weapon will go bang when you pull the trigger. I keep track of the ones that go into the chamber and they get used first at the monthly range visits.

  • Powderman

    Chuck and Arc Angel are spot on. My duty mags for my Colt handgun are left loaded at all times. They are unloaded (in a hurry!) at qualification. But if I leave them alone, they do fine. I carry an AR15 pattern carbine as a patrol carbine; one magazine locked, but not loaded; one on the stock for a fast reload and six more in a mag pouch; all are loaded with 28 rounds. Most of these magazines have been loaded for about four years–about a month ago I rotated out the oldest ammo by shooting it at the range. It was flawless in function, locking the bolt on the last shot and the spring tension when I reloaded it was fine.

  • 80M

    Are you saying that since I could only scrape up enough cash to buy a $200 gun, I would be better off without one? I don’t have $600 – $1500 for a top-of-the-line weapon.

    • My $150 45 ACP and 40, have worked flawlessly and I open carry daily, When I can afford a better gun, I will get one, but I have one and am confident

  • My answer is “about once a year, one round at a time through the barrel” – not because of the magazines but because the ammo is not carried in the ideal “dry” conditions for storage. I’ve never, ever had a personal defense round not go bang when doing so. I’m sure they’ll be perfectly reliable for much longer than a year, but I know for sure they’re good for a year for every one I’ve ever carried, well, except for the current carry loads which will be tested in a few months…

  • nitemarejim

    I always thought that you should practice with your defense weapon, so for me, the question is moot.

    • Alexandra Meir

      You should, however many people can’t afford to practice very often or they have many different defense weapons.

  • Edroch

    Feb 2013, I took my Beretta 92F out of my lock box (been there untouched for ~20 years, with magazine still loaded) to go take my CC class. On the range it misfired about every 5th round (failed to eject – FTE). The ammo was purchased in 1984. The range instructor asked me when the last time I cleaned it. I told her. She asked how old the ammo was. I told her. She told me to go get a new box of ammo. I did. Fired perfectly for the remainder of the practice. I qualified BTW. When I got it home I cleaned and oiled it (and the magazine spring too). The following week I went back to the range and it worked perfectly (along with the 1984 ammo). Since then I alternate my magazines keeping one loaded and one unloaded monthly.

  • Steve Rosen

    I realize that you are an expert and I think being negligent enough to toss a gun in your safe without cleaning or rust-proofing tells me everything I need to know about your level of expertise.

    • Alexandra Meir

      You can rust proof something all you want and still have it rust. Especially if you live in certain climates. There are also guns that are or were prone to rusting with proper care. Look up Kimber 1911 rust issues and you’ll find a ton.

  • John Doe

    I have a .40 cal H&K USP that I regularly shoot, but have also kept loaded for over 6 years (it’s my home defense weapon of choice). Within this last year, my slide no longer locked back after firing the last round in the magazine. Two different gunsmiths evaluated it and both said that the magazine spring tension was softened too much… the slide basically returns forward before the magazine follower gets ‘sprung’ into a position to lock the slide. It was only a difference of a fraction of a second. I never told either gunsmith that I left it loaded, but after evaluating it THEY told ME that I’ve left the magazines loaded for years. They had seen this problem before.

    They said to pull on the springs to sample if it was the cause. i extended the springs, re-cycled a few times and the slide would lock back. After a few months of that at the range, they were just too weak again. While the gun functioned fine with weakened springs, my only concern was not knowing when I was out of ammo. While everything I’ve read said that springs keep their strength, from experience, springs CAN get weakened.

    • Alexandra Meir

      Yes they can, eventually. That’s the point where you make one of several choices; Deal with it as is, counting your rounds to know when you’re out. Stretch them when they get too weak, buy new springs or just buy new mags. I don’t think the point was that they never wear out, it was more that keeping them loaded all the time doesn’t actually hurt them. Honestly if you load a brand new mag once and leave it loaded it will work fine decades after you loaded it. It’s mainly loading and unloading and reloading that causes the wear on the spring.

  • Scroll Artist

    there are good points on both sides of the conversation….but as a rookie …never before owning a pistol I am both intrigued and in need of clarity on this topic. Do I simply pick the side that seems to have more knowledge & experience or the side that uses other common sense tactics to say its not necessary?

    • Alexandra Meir

      I’m not new, and let me say this. If it was that faulty that you couldn’t keep it loaded for quite some time, wouldn’t it have been fixed by now? They’re made from hard metals, not soft and malleable like paperclip metals or something similar.

  • Scroll Artist

    other user name TexasRattler74

  • DAM

    I have to say that during my deployment I had the luck of never needing to fire a single round. When I came back one of the mags I carried wouldn’t feed the last round becuase the spring couldn’t go back to the normal postion. So based on my opinion and expericance I will have my mags in a cycle so that a few always have round in them and the others will not, I am also acquiting an extra spring or two so that I can switch them out if need be.

  • Rafal Rybak

    I’ll add a third reason why I leave my firearms with an empty chamber (mind you, I would like to keep them all chambered)… I oil my firearms frequently (between every 2-3 weeks) to prevent rust, and as such frequently would have to unload the chamber – and frequent chambering results in bullet setback – which = KABOOOM… That being said, I often wonder if oiling just the outside is enough to prevent rust…?

  • PSCimo

    You asked ‘Pistol’ not magazine. I was tempted to answer, “How many scum-bags are there?” I carry several magazines.

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