As a high round count type shooter, you are probably recording your rounds fired so you can keep your firearm in the highest state of combat readiness. Oh, you mean you don’t keep a round count???
Get with the program
Well, first off that sucks. If you are relying on a firearm to save your life or the life of a loved one you better get with the program. I mean honestly, how hard is it to right in a wheel book the total number of rounds to fire. I know you have to add it up to keep a running total and that can put a large demand on your brain, but that’s why you have a smart phone. I try to emphasis the importance during every class, I mean you change the oil in your vehicle right???
Cycle of operation for dummies
So, what’s the big deal about replacing the springs in your firearm anyways. Well, in case you are aware most of the modern day semi-automatic pistols are “recoil operated”. That means that after the round is fired the slide and barrel unlock as they move to the rear. In the process the spent casing is being extracted, ejected and the firing mechanism is being re-cocked. At the further most rearward travel the energy from the fired round is expended and the RECOIL spring brings the slide forward, scraping a fresh round from the top of the magazine, feeding it into the chamber and locking the barrel into battery.
One of the most common problems with modern day semi-automatics is the resiliency of the recoil spring. As the firearm is used over and over, the wear on the spring eventually takes it toll and the strength of the recoil spring to accomplish it’s task starts to diminish eventually leading to a stoppage. Add a dirty gun, harsh environment, poor ammunition and you are compounding your problem. While many manufactures recommend replacing the recoil spring at certain intervals, I cannot find a consensus between each manufacture, much less each caliber. As a rule of thumb, 3,000 rounds is a good start point.
In my experience, I can start to feel the slide slowing down. The movement is not quite as definitive, it has a sluggish nature of sorts. While you can clean your firearm and apply a fresh coat of lubricant, that is only delaying the inevitability. You are going to have to change your springs at some point. And that is why it is so important to keep a round count, so you have an idea of where you are regarding your spring replacement. Your mileage may very, which is why you need to observe and record your results on your own. I have found that for my .40cal’s I need to replace the springs around 2,000 to 2,500 rounds and my 9mm around 3,000 to 3,500 rounds. While yes, I can push them further and often times on my training guns they get very little maintenance, but for all my duty guns I keep on top of them.
Peace of mind
It is a very small investment actually, many of the recoil springs cost about $30 or so and the peace of mind knowing your system is at peak levels of performance is priceless. Now, if you don’t keep a round count then what are you to do to maintain your recoil spring? Something I have done is monitor my round count, then compare the recoil spring in the firearm with one that is brand new. If the used spring is shorter by two full coils then I go ahead and replace them. I have found that according to my round count that is pretty damn close to the recommended interval. During one of my classes recently I started to feel some issues brewing, when I got home I compared the springs and sure enough it was within the range and I went ahead and replaced it with out breaking a sweat.
A lot of people ask why we replace the factory captured recoil spring on our TRICON ProCarry with a traditional one. And now you know.