An Interesting Recoil Spring Failure

We were on the range the other day doing some T&E work, and my partner was shooting his HK 416 from prone from 50 yards.  I decided to be a smarty, and stepped up on the line beside him, and shot his target with my M&P .40.  I was trying to hit where he was attempting to shoot a group at in an attempt to mess with him.  On my second shot, I noted a drastic change in recoil.  It wasn’t the feeling of a “hot” or over charged round.  It was as if the recoil spring failed.  I stopped, stepped to the side, and kicked the round out of the chamber.  The center round was the one that came from the chamber.  I then inspected the remaining rounds in the magazines, and inspected the recoil spring.  The recoil spring had very little resistance to it, and I could pull the slide back nearly 1/4 inch before the spring would even think about engaging.  I reassembled the gun, and hand cycled the two rounds on the left and right.  I got minor case deformation just hand cycling it.

The spring has about 4500 rounds on it.  I ordered a handful of new ones from Brownell’s and took the gun out of service they arrive.  Not sure what caused the failure, but it is interesting nonetheless.

This entry was posted in Ammunition, Modern Service Pistols, Weapon Maintenance by Jerry Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones has been a Sheriff's Deputy in Kentucky since 1996. Jerry is currently assigned as a patrol deputy, firearms instructor and senior operator/training supervisor with a multi jurisdictional tactical team. Jerry is Kentucky POST certified to teach firearms, SWAT, and sniper operations and deployment at the Academy level. Jerry is also the President/CEO of Operation Specific Training and the Law Enforcement Representative for Apex Tactical Specialties.

8 thoughts on “An Interesting Recoil Spring Failure

  1. My first thought was…”wow, that’s a high round count for a recoil spring”.

    Given that a top shelf spring is quite affordable I’ve always replaced recoil springs on the extreme low side of total round count.

    Wolff is actually recommending recoil spring replacement on compact pistols utilizing multiple recoil springs at a “500-1500” round count! Thus, it is not a one size fits all issue.

    About the only way for a shooter to track recoil spring condition is to take a mental snapshot of where your brass is landing. If it is landing at or near your feet or greater than 6′ away, I would argue your recoil spring is a candidate for replacement.

    I begin and end every square range session with the 5 shot, 1 hole drill. After the drill I make a note to observe where the spent brass came to rest. This gives me a quick insight as to possible condition of the recoil spring. Not fool proof against a pending failure, but simply an awareness item.

  2. I know you are a professional and sounds like you maintenance your weapons regularly, but did you check the Smith and Wesson website for a possible recall on a part? I know my Glock 19 Gen2 had one right after I got it for something with the spring.

  3. HST brass does seem to be very soft, I get case dents around the base of the bullet just from loading them into the magazine. It get worried when I pull the mag to do an administrative, and see dented brass like the center cartridge pictured above. Please look into your spring failure and relay any findings!

  4. I am by no means questioning Jerry’s PMS on his weapons.

    Generally speaking, a shooter should consider changing out parts and supplies that are prone to failure BEFORE they fail. Yes, some manufacturers offer a MTBF stat. But, how good is that number?

    It is like installing fresh batteries in your white light, laser, IR illuminator and NVG before every mission or at least on some sort of planned schedule in a training environment. I’m not advocating changing springs prior to every mission or trip to the range! But, there has to be a planned schedule. Batteries, springs, even magazines are disposable commodities. Mission or duty kit/commodities can easily be moved to the training bin for the remaining useful life if budget is a concern.

    If you don’t keep track of round count, then perhaps you should consider changing your recoil and striker/firing pin springs once a year, once a quarter, when DST starts, at some predictable/regular interval based on how much you shoot.

  5. Can we get a pic of the recoil spring? Was there any sort of damage to the spring? I carry an M&P 40FS and this has piqued my curiosity.

  6. Yikes, what a failure. At least it happened on the range though.

    The important thing is, did you hit where your buddy was shooting and successfully mess with him haha?

  7. In all honesty it seems modern autos still have issues with needing a little more tlc than I would like. I wouldn’t own a gun that needed a spring change after every case of ammo! I guess this is a reason ( in addition to ny’s silly 7 round max mag limit now) I always tend to swing back to 50 year old wheel guns that have not had a single part replaced but still come out swinging

  8. I have fortunately never been where I’ve seen handguns of the same make and model failing in mass. Guns are simply mechanical devices, however, and all are prone to fail sooner or later. Because of that, every armed professional should Barry a BUG.

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