Storing Magazines Loaded: Yes or No?

Let’s talk about a hot topic that’s been buzzing in the gun world: should we store our magazines loaded or not?

It’s a debate that just doesn’t seem to go away. On one side, folks argue that storing magazines loaded means you’re always ready.

But then, there’s the other camp worried about the wear and tear on the springs, thinking that keeping them loaded all the time will cause failures to feed.

Storing Magazines Loaded: Yes or No?

Whether you’re someone who likes to keep your magazines ready to roll or if you’re worried about messing up those springs, we’re going to cover it all.

Is it bad to keep magazines loaded

The short answer is No. It is not bad to store your magazines loaded.

We recommend that you do so, so buy some extra magazines, load them up, and store them for when Hamas decides to fly in on paragliders.

Now that we’ve answered that question and put this debate to bed, let’s get into why storing magazines loaded is ok.

RELATED – Best AR-15 Magazines: These are The Top 5

Concerns About Long-Term Magazine Storage

The common belief among gun owners that leaving a magazine loaded will wear out its spring is largely a myth.

This misconception is rooted in the idea that a continually compressed spring will lose its effectiveness. However, this is not entirely accurate.

Springs in firearm magazines don’t significantly wear out from being left compressed. Instead, it’s the cycles of compression and expansion, such as repeatedly filling and emptying a magazine, that lead to wear.

The quality of the spring is also a critical factor. A low-quality spring, even when compressed, is more prone to breakage, highlighting the importance of using magazines from reputable manufacturers.

Magazine springs generally fail due to three main reasons: repeated high stress from constant loading and unloading, fatigue from a high round count, and corrosion.

Here is what former Marine Recon Sniper and now mechanical engineer, Chet Peters, has to say about this debate.

Spring steel is made of a very specific alloy called music wire, and it is designed to stay in a permanent state of stress. YES you should leave your magazines loaded! The act of loading and unloading is actually worse for your magazine springs.

While the spring is a crucial component, it’s not the only part that can encounter issues, especially in all-polymer magazines. For example, polymer-feed lips under constant pressure can weaken and eventually break.

However, higher-quality magazines are designed to minimize these risks. Some manufacturers, like Magpul, even provide dust covers for their magazines to relieve pressure on the top round, although many users have reported no issues with their magazines even without these covers.

Lancer has even addressed this issue with their hybrid magazines which are designed with steel feed lips.

Lancer L5 AR-15 223/5.56 30-Round Advanced Warfighter Magazine

at Gunmag Warehouse
Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s also worth noting that cleaning and maintaining magazines is an invaluable practice. It’s not just the spring’s condition but the overall magazine quality and maintenance that determine its longevity and reliability.

RELATED – Magazine vs Clip: What is the Difference Between The Two?

Pros and Cons of Different Magazine Feed Lips for Long-Term Storage

storing loaded magazines
BCM Metal Mag (Left) Magpul PMAG (Center) Lancer Hybrid (Right)

Old School Metal Magazines


  • Durability: Metal feed lips are known for their durability. They can withstand physical impacts and resist deformation over time.
  • Reliability: Metal feed lips provide a stable and consistent platform for feeding rounds, reducing the likelihood of malfunctions.
  • Heat Resistance: Metal is more resistant to heat compared to polymer, making these magazines more suitable for rapid firing situations.


  • Corrosion: If not properly maintained, metal can rust or corrode, especially in humid environments.
  • Cost: Typically, metal magazines are more expensive to produce and purchase.

Magpul Polymer Magazines


  • Lightweight: Polymer magazines are lighter, making them easier to carry in large numbers.
  • Corrosion Resistance: They are less prone to rust and corrosion, making them more suitable for various environmental conditions.
  • Cost-effective: Generally, polymer magazines are less expensive to manufacture and buy.


  • Durability Concerns: While high-quality polymer is robust, it may not be as impact-resistant as metal, especially in extreme conditions.
  • Feed Lip Wear: Over time, polymer feed lips may wear down or deform, especially under constant tension in loaded magazines.
  • Temperature Sensitivity: Extreme temperatures can affect the integrity of the polymer.

Lancer Hybrid Magazines with Metal Feed Lips


  • Best of Both Worlds: Combines the lightweight nature of polymer bodies with the durability and reliability of metal feed lips.
  • Reduced Wear and Tear: The metal feed lips are less prone to wear over time, even when magazines are stored loaded.
  • Heat Resistance: The metal component provides better resistance to heat and deformation.


  • Cost: Hybrid magazines can be more expensive due to the combination of materials and complex manufacturing process.
  • Balance of Properties: While they offer a compromise, they may not fully match the complete benefits of all-metal or all-polymer designs in certain aspects.

When considering long-term storage, the type of magazine feed lips can play a crucial role.

Metal feed lips offer superior durability and reliability, while polymer ones provide lightness and resistance to corrosion. Hybrid designs aim to offer the best of both worlds but come with their own set of trade-offs.

Ultimately, if you take care of your gear, your gear will take care of you. All three of these magazines have proven themselves over time to be reliable, so the choice becomes more of a personal preference. Regular inspection and maintenance will keep any of these magazines running for a long long time.

Storing Loaded Magazines Long Term

When it comes to storing firearm magazines, both for security and easy accessibility, the choice of storage container is important.

Many gun owners, like myself, keep a variety of magazines, some locked up securely to prevent unauthorized access, and others more accessible for self-defense purposes.

A popular and effective option for storage are the old-school green metal ammo cans. These cans are favored for their excellent sealing properties, weatherproof nature, and affordability. They are also easy to lock and can be secured further with a cable, making them a practical choice for storing loaded magazines.

Fortress 50 Caliber Metal Ammo Can

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

For those looking for a more specialized solution, MTM offers a range of polymer storage cases that are both cost-effective and designed specifically for magazine storage. Their magazine cans, equipped with foam inserts and cutouts, enable magazines to be stored upright, ensuring easy accessibility.

However, it’s worth noting that while these magazine-specific cans are convenient, they can be somewhat inefficient in terms of space usage, often accommodating only a few magazines.

In contrast, MTM’s standard ammo crates offer a more space-efficient solution, allowing for the storage of a significantly larger number of magazines. Ultimately, the choice between these options depends on individual needs for capacity, accessibility, and security.

MTM Ammo Crate Utility Box, Brown, Medium

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

If you don’t want to mess with ammo cans or crates, and just want to store them on a shelf inside a gun safe or cabinet, you can do that too! Although I do recommend keeping at least one ammo can full of loaded mags for easy grab and go.

No matter what storage option you go with, you’re going to need to keep humidity levels in check.

RELATED – Best Way To Store Guns To Prevent Rust

Humidity Control

Being that one of the factors that can affect magazine springs is corrosion, being able to control the humidity level where they are stored will extend the life of the magazine.

If you keep your loaded magazines inside a gun safe, closet, or cabinet, here are two options for humidity control.

First, The Eva Dry Wireless Mini Dehumidifier is a compact, yet powerful solution for maintaining optimal humidity levels in small spaces such as closets, cabinets, cars, bathrooms, and gun safes. Ideal for boat and marine enthusiasts, this device is essential for preserving sensitive items like loaded magazines over long periods. Its non-toxic crystallized silica gel technology efficiently absorbs up to 6 oz of moisture from the air, ensuring a dry environment without any risk of leaks or spills.

Eva-dry E-333 Mini Dehumidifier

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Uniquely designed for convenience and longevity, the Eva Dry Mini Dehumidifier is completely renewable, operating without batteries or cords, and remains effective for up to 10 years.

The intuitive moisture indicator beads change color from orange to green, signaling when it’s time to recharge the unit, simplifying maintenance. Although product designs may vary slightly, the effectiveness and ease of use of this dehumidifier remain consistently high, making it a reliable choice for long-term storage solutions.

Second, The Golden Rod Dehumidifier Rod from Lockdown is a highly effective and efficient solution for maintaining the ideal climate inside your gun safe.

By simply plugging the rod into a standard 110-120 volt AC power source, it gently raises the temperature inside the safe. This increase in warmth circulates through the safe, effectively eliminating moisture, mildew, and condensation.

LOCKDOWN GoldenRod Dehumidifier Rod

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

The Golden Rod’s low profile design is another standout feature, with the 36" model capable of covering up to 500 cubic feet, making it suitable for virtually any gun safe.

Available in four sizes (12", 18", 24", and 36"), the Golden Rod offers exceptional versatility to fit any safe size. Each rod is filled with Vermiculite, a material that enhances air circulation.

This ensures that regardless of the size chosen, the effectiveness remains consistent, providing thorough air circulation and preventing stagnant, odorous air. When selecting a Golden Rod, simply measure your gun safe to determine the most appropriate size for optimal dehumidifying performance.

The Golden Rod’s consistent circulation and discreet design make it an ideal choice for humidity control inside your gun safe or closet.

People Also Ask

Is it OK to store magazines fully loaded?

Yes, it is considered safe to store magazines fully loaded. Modern magazine springs are designed to withstand long-term tension without degrading their performance. Storing magazines fully loaded should not weaken the spring significantly. However, it’s important to periodically check and maintain them for any signs of wear or damage. For optimal preservation, consider storing them in a controlled environment, free from moisture and extreme temperatures.

Will keeping magazines loaded weaken spring?

No. Magazine springs are made from piano wire which is designed to be under constant stress. What weakens a magazine spring is the repeated use of the magazine (loading and unloading). Chances are you’ll neve experience this unless you’re shooting extremely high round counts.

Is it OK to leave your AR 15 magazines loaded?

Yes. Load your magazines and store them somewhere safe. It’s not uncommon to see the old-school metal magazines that have been loaded for 18 years or more and then function just fine.

Table of Contents

  • Is it bad to keep magazines loaded
  • Concerns About Long-Term Magazine Storage
  • Pros and Cons of Different Magazine Feed Lips for Long-Term Storage
  • Old School Metal Magazines
  • Magpul Polymer Magazines
  • Lancer Hybrid Magazines with Metal Feed Lips
  • Storing Loaded Magazines Long Term
  • Humidity Control
  • People Also Ask
  • Is it OK to store magazines fully loaded?
  • Will keeping magazines loaded weaken spring?
  • Is it OK to leave your AR 15 magazines loaded?

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