It clearly states in my SIG P365 owner’s manual that I need to change the recoil spring every 2,500 rounds. This seemed fast to me, so I thought I’d do a hefty amount of research to answer the following question:
How long does a recoil spring last?
A recoil spring will last between 2,000 and 10,000 rounds of shooting, but as a general rule of thumb, it depends on which gun we’re talking about. If it’s a concealed carry gun, one you’d depend on for your life, changing the spring out at regular intervals to ensure functionality is necessary. If it’s a gun that sits in the safe and only sees moderate use, changing as needed is the best course of action. “As needed” may be defined as when the gun starts malfunctioning.
Why We Recommend Changing The Recoil Spring
The truth of the matter, is that the recoil springs are made out of metal, and sprung metal always looses its springiness after a while. Likewise, a new spring will be somewhat longer than a well-used spring is. After repeated use and a lot of shooting, the recoil springs must be changed based on how often you shoot.
The best way to describe this is by round count. For example, SIG Sauer recommends that I replace the recoil spring in my P365XL every 2,500 rounds (that link, by the way, goes to my first impressions review on that gun).
False Thinking on Recoil Spring Replacement:
If you spend any amount of time in the gun forums with all the experts running around, you’ll see things like: Run it till it breaks, and, I’ve got 25,000 rounds through my Glock without a single issue.
Good for them. Really.
But what they don’t see on the inside is that by them not replacing their recoil spring they’re putting unneeded stress on other parts of the gun (more on that in a minute).
Furthermore, maybe that’s fine for the safe queen, or the range gun. What’s not okay is for your to run that long between replacements of your primary EDC gun. When you rely on the gun you carry to maybe one day save your life, you don’t want it to break down because you were too lazy or cheap to replace a $15 part.
I’m religious about changing my recoil springs at regular intervals in the guns I carry. Because I write gun reviews for a living, I carry a lot of different guns.
When to Replace The Recoil Spring:
Ideally, it’s best to change your spring or the entire recoil spring assembly as a whole as you approach a specific number of rounds fired, dry fire cycles, or both. That way, you ensure you don’t have an inoperable gun during a self-defense encounter.
The best idea, is to read your owner’s manual to see if they have any special considerations to how often you should change your recoil spring. Sadly, not all manufacturers include this info so it can be hard to find. In fact, it has been my experience that most do not include it.
As a base starting point, Glock recommends that we change our recoil springs about every 5,000 or so rounds. Smaller guns, or those with hotter loads (like .40 S&W or 10mm) may require more frequent changes.
Let’s take a quick look at why we recommend changing the recoil springs on all pistols at different intervals (even before noticeable failure).
Why we Recommend Changing Your Recoil Spring:
The first reason why is because your recoil spring has a lifespan and is responsible for a lot of your firearm’s function. For example, it obviously absorbs the recoil, but it also puts the slide back into battery as it reciprocates.
If it starts to lose its ability to cycle the firearm properly, it can cause malfunctions. A telltale sign of a recoil spring starting to wear out are consistent failure to eject or failure to feed malfunctions on your firearm that otherwise used to work fine.
And, if you’ve got a malfunction when you’re least expecting it, it can wreak havoc on you.
But, let’s say that you’re not experiencing malfunctions yet, but you’ve got 10,000 rounds through your Glock which is plausible. What could be happening without you knowing? You could be putting extra stress on other parts of the pistol that aren’t meant to take that amount of stress.
Counting Rounds For Recoil Spring Replacement:
As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to keep a round count on your current setup so you know about when to change it.
More than that though, and something many people don’t realize but manufacturers suggest, is that your dry fire training counts toward your overall round count if you need to cycle the slide to reset the trigger. What this means, is that every time you rack your slide during your dry fire training it counts as a cycle in the spring’s life.
Many people don’t count that dry fire practice when thinking about the life of their recoil spring. If you know you’re dry firing 20 times per day on your gun, which is certainly doable, it’s a good idea to count them towards your recoil spring’s life.
When the time comes, it’s a better idea to replace your recoil spring than to take a chance. In fact, I try to recommend for people to keep a couple extra springs for the main concealed carry gun, as well as other guns they shoot a lot, in their range bag (<–Range bag review of ours).
That way, if you’re at the range and start to notice consistent malfunctions without a clear reason as to why they’re happening, swapping out that assembly is a good place to start.
The way I like to look at it, is that it’s a form of cheap insurance. For a relatively cheap cost here at Brownells or somewhere else, you can ensure that your gun is running like a top for many years to come.
Recoil Spring Replacement Chart:
Below I’ve tried to list some recoil springs or assemblies for guns that are more popular so you can just go right over to Brownells and buy them. Really, it’s highly recommended that you have extras, and they are cheap enough that it just makes sense to have on hand.
All of the following links will bring you to the corresponding recoil spring for your gun to buy at Brownells. If your gun has different generations, like Glock, make sure you verify that the right generation is linked to before you buy.
I hope this helped to answer you question about when to change your recoil spring on various guns of yours ranging from safe queen to EDC gun. Just be sure you keep your guns in tip top shape so when you need them, they work right for you.
Leave any comments or disagreements in the comments below.