Keeping Magazines Loaded

Back when I was first introduced to firearms, I was told not to load my double stack (pistol) magazines to full capacity. The reasoning was that it could cause feeding issues over time. So what I’ve done is keep my 16+1 Springfield XD-9 loaded with 16 rounds — 15 in the magazine and one in the chamber.

However, I’ve not heard that advice since. I believe LEOs keep their duty guns fully loaded at all times and, to my knowledge at least, they don’t have widespread feeding issues when they have to use them. I’ve also read many advertisements that claim this gun or that gun can be fully loaded without running into feeding issues.

So my question is this. Was there any basis for that advice? Was it something specific to my gun? Or something left over from decades past?


Do you store your magazines loaded? - Guns & Gear - USCCA Community (

Loading Magazines - Max or No? - Guns & Gear - USCCA Community (

Loading Magazines - Max or No? - Guns & Gear - USCCA Community (


Cliff notes:

It is okay to keep modern, in spec, properly designed and manufactured magazines full loaded to their manufacturer stated max capacity.

Cycling is what primarily wears magazines out. Loading, unloading…using.

The only time I personally consistently and purposely “download” a magazine, is I will load spare magazines -1 from their full capacity. In the event I need to reload a gun when time is a factor, I want to minimize the odds of not seating the mag all the way…full mags on a closed action can be tight.

This also gives a great place to put the round from the gun when unloading it


IMHO it’s on the internet, repeated and reposted, so it must be true.


Thanks Bruce26, I tried to use the search function to find an answer but didn’t see any of these threads. I’ll read through them. Thank you!


Those 2 threads linked by @BRUCE26 are mostly about rifle mags.
So i think we can continue to discuss this problem in relation to pistols.

I personally didn’t find any issues with loading the full capacity other than impossibility to load the last round into the mag caused by tight spring.
But once the last round was loaded - no issues at all.

Some manufacturers require “break in” period and allow the tight fit elements to loosen a little after some time. But it has nothing to do with reliability.

Because we have a big variety of firearms we can choose from, there is no “break in” period needed. I always choose the tool that works right out of the box. For me it is equivalent to reliability.


:laughing: Has to be

Just to weigh in, I keep mine loaded to capacity. Sigs and Kimber.


I have had the same HK USP mag loaded since 2006, it has been shot regularly for years and then reloaded. Never had a problem. before worrying about leaving them loaded most people should consider cleaning them lol


I recall this as the reason a couple of instructors have advised keeping my SD mags loaded with JHP defense rounds and segregated from the several mags used for routine practice and training. They also advised renewing the carry loads once a year by firing all the JHP in them, reloading the mag once, and returning it to carry-only/no-practice use. Finally, if you use the same gun for EDC and for practice, go ahead and add the one EDC JHP you had to eject when swapping mags as a practice round, topping off the EDC mag with a new fresh round when you co back to carry mode.


That’s good advice.

I also do that, I recall talking about it in the thread about marking your magazines.

My self defense or carry magazines get tested and proven for reliability, and then rarely used after that, and never abused. I don’t cycle them a bunch at the range, drop them in mud, step on them, drop them from five feet onto concrete, etc. I do that with “range mags”. Not with the go-to mags.

Keeps defense mag springs fresher and also just keeps the mags in better condition.


I actually advocate opposite method.
Mainly, I use one handgun, rotate 4 magazines all the time.
My average round count is around 600 - 650 per month, so it’s 150 - 162 rds per magazine.
If they work - means no issues at all.
I don’t trust in something what is not tested frequently.

What I can understand - some manufacturers may use lower quality materials for their mags parts and frequent usage may shorten their lives. But… as I always have been saying - life cannot be measured by amounts of money… especially mine.


I suppose it’s a matter of degree. I think we all want to ‘prove’ reliability of our gear, and I think we all also understand that everything wears out eventually, so, it’s a balance of those things.

Do you use your gun/mags indefinitely unless and until they fail?


BTW, I know law enforcement use was mentioned above…when I was at the police department, officers had Duty Mags that were separate from range use training mags. All of the training and shooting to get spun up as a recruit was done with range mags and FMJ.

Then the final run at the qualifications was done with new Duty Mags and duty use JHP ammo. Requals quarterly were to be shot with the JHP and duty mags, all other training on the range was to be generally done with the use and abuse range mags.

I don’t know if other departments were similar. This was a department of around 800 sworn personnel


I use different mags for training and carry. I have had both fail because of either dirt or being fallen on or sudden impact.


Nope. I can figure out when parts are not doing their jobs well anymore.
I learned how to feel the gun and all its parts. That’s why I use one only.
Others are “backups” or are used for other tasks.

In some platforms parts are not going to wear at all or it takes years to start wearing. :slightly_smiling_face:

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How do you feel when a magazine spring is worn to the point it might induce a malfunction, but hasn’t yet?

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there are few factors to helps figure it out.

  1. loading process - I load my mags by bare hands. It’s so easy to feel pressure difference during loading
  2. cleaning process - I have one original/spare spring that I’m using for comparison if I suspect that old one needs replacement. When I clean the springs I can feel tension difference between old and new one.
  3. feeding problems - once occurred it’s a time for deeper magazine investigation. So far never had this problem

All is about the maintenance. I actually like to clean firearms and cleaning process is a great moment to check if all parts are working properly. I do this at least once per week, so I cannot miss single problem.


Not a problem with this gun … Always keep it fully loaded.


Unfortunately, not all mags are created equal. I’m referring to “substandard” mags that may sell for less than half of an OEM mag. Major driver in the cost of a good mag is the quality of the piano wire spring. All things being equal, cheap mags have cheap springs. Without a good spring you don’t have a mag - just a block of plastic.


Who’s ‘Cliff’?
and why do his ‘notes’ hold so much weight w/ you? :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:Oh, I kill me! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: Just having a little fun Sir!

Honestly when a Mag (for me) is suspect (Possible failure or actual bad feed that Mag is gone).
It is either placed in my range bag (tagged w/ Blue Masking taped on the butt, or sent into the garbage.
I have had only (2) types of Mag’s actually Fail, ETS clear Polymer–I don’t like them or use them anymore
and My Ruger P-89 (ancient). The Gun has been through HELL. Sandstorms, Water etc. The actual gun is fine but the mag’s took a beating so I found ‘used’ replacements in the bargain bin at local LGS’s and now I have (10) for her I feel confident using. She’s not a frontline gun anymore for me, She’s retired.
I can’t risk it failing while on my job. Mags are cheap, My life isn’t.

No step on snek!