Village Praxis: Slings and Magazine Gijutsu by Bill Buppert

Ocean thousand mountain thousand.”

Japanese Proverb

Publisher’s Note: I have been busier than usual and neglected posting new essays to the blog so this is a half-way measure to address some practical tactical topics.

If you aren’t using the communist-lite regime of the Orange Julius to supplement your skills, weapons stores and collapsitarian accoutrement (h/t to Skip), you are blowing an opportunity. I am hoping you have also paid attention to the Michael Collins wear options to blend in with the populace in the coming Endarkenment. Five thousand dollars of UCP and Kryptek kit will get you got in the future unpleasantness in America. Wakarimasu?

In other news, I will be presenting a paper entitled Sisyphus Rules: The Antifragility of Insurgency in June in the PRK on the Left Coast at a yearly symposium I attend.

Stay tuned, boppers. -BB

The Sling

If you have neglected the sling in your training and equipping of your riflery, you are neglect what may the most important part of rifle accuracy once you have mastered the six steps to firing the shot.

SIGHT ALIGNMENT — Line up the front and rear sights

SIGHT PICTURE — Keeping the sights lined up, bring them onto the target

RESPIRATORY PAUSE – Deep breath, exhale partially, hold breath as front sight touches bottom of target

A. FOCUS YOUR EYE — Focus your eye on the front sight

B. FOCUS YOUR MIND -– Keep front sight on target

TRIGGER SQUEEZE –- Squeeze straight back while front sight stays on target

FOLLOW THROUGH — Sighting eye open, take mental picture of where sights were when rifle discharged, and follow through with trigger

Thanks Appleseed!

The Gods designed you right out of the womb with a bipod which happens to be your support hand and when you properly employ a sling in concert with natural point of aim, you are unstoppable until the indirect fire starts to rain on your position.

I highly recommend you spend a few hours every month configuring your ideal prone positions and every other month do it on an uncomfortable surface like gravel or pine cones so there are no surprises if you ever have to conduct some philosophical terraforming employing physics against those who wish you harm.

I recommend the Magpul series of slings for the semi-auto platform and the Riflecraft RS3 for the bolt gun. An advantage of the RS3 is that it employs a loop sling system built into the rig.

A tip I learned from the Village Armorer, Skip, is to secure the sling to the rear of the weapon on the side opposite your support hand shoulder, you will discover that when you employ the sling on the support side, you will not be strangled and more effective in delivering disciplined rounds during the conduct of social work.

I can’t emphasize enough how important the sling is to effective long gun employment.

Magazine Spring Myths

My oldest son is a mechanical engineer in UT, he, like my other sons is a natural born abolitionist and rifleman of the highest order. I asked for his scientific analysis of storing your ammo in P-Mags.

Kyle asserts:

“The short answer. Assuming a respectable manufacturer (Japanese/Korean/German – American engineers are mostly garbage, and Ruger is American…) I am highly skeptical that keeping magazines loaded will lead to premature failure. That doesn’t mean premature failure can’t happen, I’m just skeptical that keeping them loaded is a cause. Shitty materials, shitty engineering, and corrosion are my guess to the leading causes of failure. I could be wrong, but I have yet to be presented with a legitimate argument.  I would recommend disassembling your magazines from time to time and cleaning them.

The long answer. Better sit down for this. There are many variables at play, and I’ve never seen legitimate data, which is what really matters. Perhaps no one wants to conduct a multi-year long experiment. In these arguments, people always assume the design engineers are infallible, but that’s simply not the case. I’ve witnessed plenty of half-ass engineering in companies respected from the outside.   Also, engineering is a game of first order effects, where second order effects are often ignored. Sometimes second order effects are negligible, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes engineers also forget that “laws” they learned in school are also approximations.

As long as the spring is designed such that stress at full compression is well below the yield stress, Hooke’s Law says it will perform elastically and should always return to the same spot when unloaded. This is the first order effect. Probably even the shoddiest of engineers get this right.

I’ll come back to Hooke’s Law, but first I want to address the effect everyone brings up in this debate. Creep is an effect where materials under elastic deformation slowly dissipate strain energy and relax under load. This effect happens at higher temperatures – usually noticeable above 35% of melting temperature.  At room temperature, for spring steels, this effect should result in less than 0.1% relaxation a year. Anyone who says creep is a factor is dead wrong.

Design calculations are often performed assuming nominal geometry and perfectly homogeneous material. And design engineers LOVE (especially American engineers) to ignore manufacturing variances. Good engineering (read: Japanese) performs analysis at the extremes of variance – e.g., the thinnest or thickest spring. I’ve never designed a spring myself, but I can imagine that if a spring was designed to be at 80% of yield stress at full compression at nominal thickness, any springs on the thinner side are closer to 90 or 100% of yield stress at full compression. And yield stress is a fuzzy line. Close to this line there could be mostly elastic deformation but small amounts of plastic deformation, causing failure over time.

Materials are never perfectly homogeneous. Spring steels are alloys with other elements mixed in, and the distribution of these alloyed elements is not perfect. Good materials are ones where good manufacturing ensures good homogeneity and materials are regularly tested for performance. Good engineers will use performance data from the metal manufacturer and not data out of a text book. Different manufacturers are probably using different materials for the springs, and while strength matters, you can account for that in the design by thickening the spring, and so the quality of the material is probably the more important factor

Finally, there is also the issue of corrosion. Even “stainless” steels corrode given enough time. There are also different types of corrosion depending on what the metal is exposed to. I know there is lots of “crappy” ammunition with corrosive powder in it, and probably some of that makes its way into a magazine. I’m not super educated in the chemistry of ammunition powders and primers, but my guess is that even the best ammunition has some amount of corrosive elements in it that over time could have an effect on your magazine spring. The best engineers are probably accounting for this. Cleaning your magazine from time to time probably helps this.

So, in summary. The best engineers (Japanese/German) are probably accounting for all this, and so magazine spring failures should be the least of your worries. Shitty engineers (American) probably aren’t, and their springs are probably failing from fatigue and corrosion and maybe failure from being loaded for a long time because full compression was close to yield stress because they didn’t account for manufacturing variances and/or shitty materials. But definitely in neither case are failures occurring from creep.”

11 thoughts on “Village Praxis: Slings and Magazine Gijutsu by Bill Buppert”

  1. Kyle is wrong about American engineers. I have seen them do analysis well beyond the simple examples he mentions and back it up with testing to failure. Of course this isn’t done every time, and any product in the consumer space has to be designed to price.

    Kyle also missed one fact of material – any metal corrodes, and corrosion happens fastest at areas of maximum stress. This isn’t to say springs can’t be stored in compression – but in some cases it might cause them to fail sooner.

    1. Of course not all American engineers are garbage, I just find that on average American engineering is careless and half ass in comparison to the Japanese or Germans. Of course my opinion is limited to the industries I have experience in, none of which have involved spring design. For sure, American automotive engineering is trash in comparison. Aerospace I think is the exception.

      I didn’t claim to cover every possible second order effect, and stress corrosion cracking seems like a plausible concern, but the magnitude of this effect is very dependent on material type and what attacking elements it is exposed to. So I remain skeptical without data. Do you have data you can share to back up your belief that springs shouldn’t be stored in compression?

  2. I made it kind of a game to test out the weakened spring theory over my military career.

    No formal test plan really, just load and store magazines (G.I. 5.56 and SIG 9MM) and test them out every now and again. I personally never had a failure with a rifle magazine that I can recall, but did have a few with the pistol mags. Interestingly, many guys from my time in thought it was required to put only 28 rounds into their 30 round magazines, to, you know, “prevent jamming”. I would always ask them 2 questions: 1: Do you download your pistol mags to prevent jamming? {receives blank stares, mouth agape} 2. Is it possible that the engineers that designed these rifle magazines were smart enough to consider the loading stresses and weights and all the other math-with-letters factors of using 30 cartridges within the magazine? (more blank stares, followed by profanity).

    I retired in 2012 after 26 years in, and after moving to where I am now, I found some old magazines still loaded in some old gear bags, They even had that chalky corrosion on the top couple of rounds. I estimated they were likely loaded in the 1990’s. I took them out with a well lubed rifle, and burned them all up without a hitch, 30 rounds per magazine.

    Nothing scientific here at all, but my general conclusion has been the spring weakening thing is BS. Maybe you don’t need every magazine you own loaded 24/7, but having a little “speedball” made up of loaded mags of whatever types for a quick replenishment wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    Download the mags and load up fresh every year on your birthday or something, or just don’t worry about it!

  3. I would like to see some discussion of materials (ie: chrome-silicon) and round wire vs. flat wire vs. braided. Not to imply that anyone would live long enough to see any of them fail in a loaded magazine. I have two completely original two-tone Colt mags that came with my commercial 1911A1. Serial number puts production of the gun around 1931 (no, I did not buy it new). Those two mags run fine. So, use whatever gives you peace of mind.

    I like the dust covers for the Magpul p-mags, as they depress the cartridge column slightly, taking the load off the feed lips.

  4. I love the wisdom of these comment sections. I have literally hundreds of empty MagPul mags, still in their packaging. Sealed in air tight heavy plastic totes. I get what the poster above Is saying, but theirs more to the story. Having hundreds of loaded,mags, makes zero sense, in MY application. Perhaps his situations different.

    A couple of surefire 60s accompany my home greeter m-4s.

    The wall of mags is cool, for my own application useless. I appriciate the organization, just not practical, at Casa Da Williams. Simply no room.

    Their are some fantastic slings on the market, all my long range rifles have what I consider to be the best slings out their for sniper grade rifles. My mid range stuff, .308s FN, M-14 BMs also have very good slings, for Bills stated reasons.

    About ten years ago I put a biathlon sling on my .338lm, centers the rifle in mid back, if I’m moving long distances, use to carry the colt commando, 10 inch with 4 mags as a squirted gun.

    Where I,worked I had no spotter, was head cook,bottle washer, comms and my own security. The perils of working for a small agency, with a HUGE Mexican Cartel marijuana grow population.

    The sling mention came out of Texas “Rifles Only” the quality is very high, more importantly very comfortable. Allowing comfortable carrying of the Colt up front.

    A complimentary set of useful tools, Icarried a tree sling,,and a tree hook, in my gear. 1/4 pound, the hook screws into a tree with a wood screw design. The sling is not as stable as I liked, but funtional especially on steep uphill/downhill slopes, where prone for more then a few minutes was a problem.

    I never liked having to carry all the associated kit. Carried a very high end tri pod, thru several high end sniper schools, used it once. Could not justify the weight some of these guys are packing with gadgets, and cool guy shit.

    Mother Nature provided lots of natural tools.

    Bill great article, I’m just to the point in my life that I’ve identified the tools I need, and I’m not interested in re inventing the wheel every year, like I once did, seeking good kit, then replacing that good kit, cuz some cooler shit,came out. Got closets full of stuff, that worked well, just wasn’t the latest greatest. I,guess I was a gear junkie, but then aren’t we all?.

    At 62, I’ll make due with what I’ve sourced to date. Rather spend the money on good
    IPA Oregon made beer, and hot chicks!. Actually my wife.

    Thank you for the thought provoking articles. I keep coming back, you continue to challenge my learning curve by continuing to ask the question of ” Why”.

    Question authority, question often what one thinks they know and understand.


  5. My mom has a little beretta that she left the mag loaded and seated in for years. One of those little .25 ACP’s where the barrel flips up. A few years back when she said she started carrying it again, I asked to look at it. It was dirty as I expected. I asked her how old those rounds were and how long they’d been in the mag, and she had to idea, but that it had been 10-12 years at least. I’m betting it was longer than that. I told her the gun won’t work like that, she had to take care of it, etc. She insisted it would be just fine. I took the thing to the range, without cleaning it or lubing it, or messing with the (covered in green corrosion) ammo in the mag, thinking there was no way this thing would function. And, provided I didn’t blow my face off, I could go home and tell her about how the gun wouldn’t feed right, wouldn’t cycle, and the rounds wouldn’t feed out of the mag since she’d kept it loaded with the same ammo for so long, all that kind of shit. Armed with the fact that the gun didn’t work, I could then lecture her again on the importance of not ever doing that again.

    Well, it didn’t work out like that. At all. The dirty, dry little gun with the shitty ammo loaded into the mag for 10+ years that was covered in corrosion worked flawlessly. As did the other ammo she had in a little bag. As did the 25 or so rounds of new ammo I shot through it. No failures at all. It was pretty impressive for that dinky looking little gun. Even rapid fire, no issues at all. Beretta does know how to build them, for it to function that well after that much neglect. I bought her a new magazine anyway ,along with another box of new ammo, and cleaned and lubed it. Probably hasn’t been cleaned again since.

    For myself, despite seeing this and how Ive seen mags treated at work, I kinda split the difference. I keep a few loaded mags each of Hornady ballistic tip, M855, and cheapo bulk .223. I usually load separate mags for the range and leave those in the safe, but every now than then Ill just grab those and shoot whats in them, and then replace them with different mags with new ammo, and put the mags that were in storage into the pile with the rest of the spares. Doubt any of them spend more than a year with rounds in them, but I don’t doubt that they could. Same with my truck gun. I carry something else on my person all the time, but the truck gun stays in there, as do the mags. To hedge since i rarely shoot the gun and don’t change out the mags like I should, I load them 1 round shy of being full. Probably unneccessary, but it doesn’t hurt to be safe. My two cents.

  6. “usually noticeable above 35% of melting temperature”

    shouldn’t that be:
    usually noticeable about 35% of melting temperature?

  7. downeasthillbilly

    I am a mechanical engineer. I perform stress analysis on steam piping and spring hangers in power boiler systems. Aside from premature failure modes, a spring will degrade based on the number of compression / expansion cycles, not the time spent in either compressed or released state.

  8. Pingback: ZeroGov | Village Praxis: The Sling is the Ring of Power by Bill Buppert

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