Magazines, not clips, let’s get that straight here and now. Clips don’t typically have springs in them and more often than not, are used to feed the cylinders and magazines of revolvers and some rifles like the M1 Garand. Magazines for the purposes of this post are box-type feeding devices that are readily detachable from the gun.
We’ve recently been asked whether or not it’s harmful to keep magazines fully charged for extended periods of time. The short answer is generally no, it’s not harmful to the magazine or spring. That said, it’s not unheard of, over time, for a magazine spring to take a “set” such that it no longer forces the rounds up for feeding with the same authority as it might when new. Eventually, this happens slowly enough that it can and does interrupt the feeding cycle. There’s no set time limit or time period in which one can expect this to occur but when it does, it’s time to either replace the magazine spring or replace the magazine entirely.
As rule, pistol and rifle magazines are expendable items. They are meant to be used and eventually discarded. Smart shooters will individually mark their magazines so that problem units can be readily identified and segregated from those that are functioning properly. Feed lips and magazine bodies can get bent such that the magazine no longer falls freely from the gun when ejected or don’t positively hold and feed the top round. Some will choose to “fix” this by bending or pressing on the body and lips to restore function but, I’d rather relegate those magazines to my “training” group or discard them altogether.
Opinions on whether to discard or repair will vary but, under no circumstances should a problem magazine remain in frontline service while its function is in question. Replace it with a new magazine immediately if it’s a gun used for defense or duty. If your personal defense or duty gun has magazines that are so expensive that you can’t possibly consider divorcing yourself from one when it fails to function, you need to review your priorities and equipment choices. $120 magazines are just one reason that few if any serious shooters carry STI widebody pistols for defense or duty guns. We may play with them on weekends but, they aren’t typically carried on the street.