People don’t usually have just one magazine for each gun they own. Heck, most guns even come with more than one magazine. So, what does one do with those extra magazines?
They need to be stored. But, should they be stored loaded, or unloaded? That is the topic of the day. I don’t typically flip-flop on ideas, but this is one where I’ve found myself leaning different ways at different points in time.
I’ll discuss the thought process behind both ways, touch on their respective pros and cons, and ultimately reveal which side of the fence I now reside on!
LOADED VS. UNLOADED
The main concern that you’ll hear and that I believed myself at one point, is that if you store magazines loaded, the magazine spring will wear out and potentially break. I mean, without thinking about it too much, it still sounds plausible.
However, it’s been proven that it’s more so the act of constantly loading and unloading a magazine that will wear the springs out. The spring constantly being compressed and then relieved causes significantly more stress on it than being left loaded.
I’ve also heard in very few instances that the distance between polymer feed lips can become ever so slightly widened from the upward pressure being exerted by the rounds of the full magazine, but I’ve never experienced that myself or heard of anyone I know personally having that issue.
So, with the potential damage concerns somewhat debunked, what are some of the pros to leaving them loaded? I’m glad you asked.
Whether it’s having dozens of mags ready to go for the zombie apocalypse, saving time at the range by not needing to reload your mags, or saving space in your safe by reducing the number of ammo boxes, there are so many reasons why storing mags loaded can be justified.
If you’re on the fence still, you can always rotate your magazines. Some take the approach of giving their loaded magazines a temporary break while grabbing some others from their supply to load in the meantime.
While I don’t think it’s necessary to rotate magazines for the sake of saving the springs, I do tend to find myself taking magazines I’ve loaded much longer ago first to the range. That way, I’m essentially rotating them.
TIPS FOR STORING MAGS
Regardless of whether they are loaded or empty, your mags and ammo should ideally be stored in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment, away from the elements.
Moisture, even the smallest amount from humidity and condensation, can wreak havoc on guns, magazines, and ammo. That moisture leads to rust, which leads to a very bad time. Thankfully, there are many easy and affordable ways to prevent moisture. From cheap silica gel packets to expensive in-safe dehumidifiers, there are effective options for any budget.
It’s not just moisture though, extreme temperatures or direct sun should also be avoided. Especially with polymer magazines, they can become weak and brittle if left out in the sun for extended periods or the opposite in freezing temperatures. Keep them inside and you should be fine.
To further keep your mags and ammo safe, you can use ammo cans with O-rings, that create water-tight seals. I highly suggest ones like the MTM Tactical Mag Can which comes with custom inserts to hold your mags and strong latches, in addition to the O-ring seal.
MY FINAL TAKE
As I mentioned earlier, I have switched sides, so if you haven’t guessed by now, I can finally reveal my take on the topic.
Keep them loaded! At least that’s what I do and have not run into an issue yet. I prefer to stay ready so I don’t have to get ready, save time at the range, and save space in my ammo cabinet. It’s a win-win-win in my book.
Ultimately, do what you think is best, but at a minimum, try to keep your magazines and ammo out of and away from the elements.
As always, stay safe, train hard, and have fun!