New Magazines: Do You Need to Break Them In?

Everyone loves getting new gear for their firearms, magazines included. Sometimes, this new gear needs to get broken in before it functions just as it should. So, do you need to break in magazines?

New gun magazines need to be broken in before they function smoothly. Magazine springs, as well as the polymer that makes up the mag body, need time to wear in so they can work as intended.

This isn’t to say that they will function badly when they’re brand new, however. There are a few different factors at play here. Down below, I’ll go over everything you need to know, as well as how you can break in your new magazines faster.

Do You Need to Break in Magazines?

Magazines do need to be broken in a little bit. However, they should still be fully functional when they’re brand new, they just need a little time to work smoothly.

Until then, it may be difficult to load rounds into the mag, and it may be difficult to load the magazine into your gun.

There are two major causes behind this: stiff magazine springs, and polymer that hasn’t broken in.

Pile of 5.56 and 9mm magazines.

Most magazines today are made from polymer, in contrast to the metal magazines of the past. This polymer can take some time to form itself to the unique shape of your gun. Polymer mags can also vary from mag to mag, and these small differences can make it harder to load the magazine into your gun.

In short, each gun and each magazine are not exactly the same, and these differences can make it hard to load mags when they’re new.

Magazine springs are also very stiff when they’re brand new. This is good because spring tension is what actually pushes rounds up and into your gun, but being too stiff can make things hard too.

When magazine springs are new this extra stiffness can make it hard or even impossible to load the last few rounds into your mag.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, next, I’ll get into how you can break in magazines faster.

How to Break in Magazines

Magazines can take some time to work perfectly. How can you break in magazines?

The best way to break in new magazines is to use them. To speed up the process, you can repeatedly load and unload your magazines to break in the springs. You can also practice inserting the magazine into your gun to wear in the polymer.

There’s a little more to this, so I’ll go over the rest more in-depth.

Breaking in magazine springs

As I mentioned before, the biggest issue is with stiff springs. Thankfully, due to the nature of magazine springs, they can be broken in by repeated use.

Image is a joke. There is no need to hit your magazines with hammers (in most situations).

Loading mags and leaving them won’t really break them in, however, and they require applied tension and then released tension to actually wear in.

This means that to effectively break mags in, you need to load and unload them. If you do this enough times, you’ll loosen them up enough.

Until this point, you can also underload your mags. This means that you leave out a round or two when loading instead of loading to full capacity.

This can help alleviate the issue of not being able to load in the last few rounds in a brand new magazine.

Breaking in magazine polymer

To break in the body of a magazine, repeatedly load and unload your mag into your gun. This will help shape the polymer of your magazines to perfectly fit your gun.

If you have issues with your magazine seating fully, check out my article on common magazine problems! It’ll show you how to solve this problem and any others you might have.

How Long It Takes to Break in New Magazines

It really shouldn’t take long to break in a magazine. Loading and unloading your mags a few times over the course of a week or two should do the trick, especially if you happen to have a magazine with stiff springs.

Again, just leaving your magazines loaded won’t break them in. Metal, especially metal designed to be used in springs, doesn’t wear by force itself, but the repeated action of bending. So, if you’re trying to break in springs, you need to repeatedly apply spring tension, most likely and commonly by loading and unloading your magazine.

All in all, it shouldn’t take long to break in new mags. If you’re still having issues after loading and unloading for a while or shooting a few mags worth of ammo, there’s probably a deeper issue than what we’re covering here.

How Long Do Magazine Springs Last?

This is a hard question to give a real answer to, but magazine springs should last a really long time if you use proper maintenance. Even when left loaded, magazine springs should last 10-20 years at a minimum, and oftentimes can last even longer than that.

In short, you’re more likely to sell your gun or break the magazine in some other way before the springs lose their tension.

Of course, you have to take care of your stuff. Proper maintenance and cleaning can greatly extend the life of your springs, magazines themselves, and pretty much anything else that you ever own.

Really, you shouldn’t worry about magazine springs wearing out unless you’re for some reason shooting hundreds of mags worth of ammo out of the same magazine every day.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that while magazines do need some breaking in, it doesn’t take long. They should still work without any major issues right out of the box.

The best way to break in magazines is to use them. Using mags and cycling rounds through the spring is the quickest way to relieve extra tension and make it easier to load rounds.

You can also break in the polymer body of magazines by repeatedly inserting them into your gun, using as much force as necessary to make the magazine seat properly.

Overall, breaking in magazines isn’t and shouldn’t be hard. If you’re having more extreme issues than difficulty loading rounds or slight trouble seating the mags, and the issues don’t go away after light use, there’s definitely a different issue either within your magazine or your gun itself.

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