From the Spring to the Follower: How Custom Spring Manufacturing Makes for Optimal Magazine Loading

Efficient firearm magazine loading is a direct reflection of the spring behind the follower. It’s no secret that some magazines are easier to load than others and that any difficulty loading the final rounds could come as a detriment to the firearm owner. 

Many firearm owners opt to underload their magazines to avoid the struggle of loading the final rounds or because they believe a fully-loaded magazine causes a loss in spring life.

This article will discuss the key differences between two types of springs that can be used for magazine applications; Flat-steel Conforce springs and Round Wire Compression springs.

The Round Wire Spring in All Its Glory

Round wire springs date back hundreds of years to the fifteenth century, when clockmakers discovered that replacing the system of weights used to power clocks allowed them to build reliable timekeepers. 

Since then, compression springs have made their way into a myriad of products we rely on and use today, including cars, mattresses, medical devices, firearms, and much more.

In 2023, round wire springs are in most firearm magazines we know and use, and they have been for decades. Round wire magazine springs are effective and reliable, so why even consider a change? 

Let’s look at the end user’s main complaint for a little more perspective.

What’s the Issue With Compression Springs?

Every firearm owner has struggled to load the final rounds into a magazine at some point or another. They might blame the follower or the spring attached, but the frustration inevitably stems from the force gradient associated with the commonly used compression spring.

Round wire springs, or compression springs, have a force gradient. They exhibit varied force at different points in the loading process. As each successive cartridge compresses the spring further, the strength of the springs grows stronger. The result? Each subsequent cartridge becomes more challenging. 

The force gradient inevitably limits the magazine design and results in an unfavorable user experience. Yet spring design tests prove that compression springs deliver nearly 4x more loading resistance than constant force springs. 

Enter the Magic Bullet: Vulcan Spring’s Conforce Spring Technology

The Conforce Spring, also known as a constant force spring, brings ease of use like never before, eliminating the severity of the force gradient. 

Greg Melanson, Application Engineer for Vulcan Spring, says, “With a Conforce Spring, the force required to load the last round is only the minimum amount required to insure reliable function.” 

This isn’t to say round wire springs should kick the bucket. In fact, they come with many benefits of their own, such as a lengthy lifecycle. Plus, their force gradient can be customized to an extent. When it comes to magazine loading, though, efficiency is paramount, which is why Vulcan Spring decided to introduce a new contender in the firearms spring sector.

Are There Any Disadvantages of Constant Force Springs?

What’s the catch? Long story short, there isn’t one, but we’ll give you the 411 anyway.

There are only two disadvantages when comparing Conforce Spring technology to compression springs, yet they exist without effect, and we’ll tell you why. 

First, cycle testing reveals that round wire typically lasts longer. However, this “disadvantage” isn’t totally relevant. Why? Before a spring would ever break, the firearm or magazine would inevitably break or need to be replaced. Second, being able to replace a Conforce Spring is more complicated than replacing a compression spring. However, if you ever need to replace the Conforce Spring, the cost and time required to install a new spring would be higher than just purchasing a new magazine. 

Compression vs. Constant Force Springs: Is Pricing Comparable?

Price-wise, Vulcan stacks up well next to its competitors. Typically, the constant force spring solution would be more cost-effective because, even though round wire springs use less material than constant force springs, round wire springs come with more demands. 

Does New Spring Technology Change the Effectiveness of the Follower?

Vulcan Spring has influenced the firearms industry significantly through the introduction of Conforce Spring technology. For over five years, Vulcan Spring’s Conforce Springs have been used in certain firearm models, and they’ve proven to be a well-functioning solution.

While our main focus is on the spring component of the magazine, another significant component is the follower. In learning about conforce spring technology, many firearms manufacturers ask about how the follower will work with the new spring technology. That’s when we tell them how we always think beyond the spring. In our opinion, spring design goes hand in hand with follower design.

In designing a constant force spring for a reputable firearms manufacturer, we assisted in their follower design to ensure an optimal relationship between the follower and spring. As the follower provides such a pivotal function to the magazine, its design should run in conjunction with its partner in the magazine function: the spring. 

Vulcan Spring’s role never ends with the spring. From aerospace & defense to medical devices to firearms, we always ensure that our custom spring design goes hand in hand with the product it serves.

Vulcan Spring: Looking Beyond the Spring

Whether you’re deployed with the military in another country or utilizing your conceal-and-carry license, every second counts regarding magazine loading. That, combined with the shared adversity towards difficult magazine loading, inspired Vulcan Spring to disrupt tradition and pave the way for a new contender to complement the existing, still-efficient compression spring. The magic bullet, our compatible Conforce Spring, is leading the way for new manufacturing trends in the firearms space.

Do you want to learn more about how Vulcan Spring can help with your production and design needs? Reach out to our helpful team today! 

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