What the heck are Retaining Rings?

What the heck are Retaining Rings? 


Retaining  Rings  

Welcome back to our “what the heck is that” series, where we discuss some of the unique fasteners and electronic hardware that manufacturers use in the design and assembly of their products. Today, we will introduce you to the Retaining Ring.

What is a Retaining Ring?
Retaining Rings are yet another way to position, locate and retain parts within an assembly. Shaped like an open ring and made of metal, Retaining Rings can be coiled from wire, stamped or laser cut. They come in a variety of styles and materials, each solving a unique fastening problem.

Generally, Retaining Rings work together with a bore or a shaft by snapping into a groove or being pushed into place to create a high strength shoulder to retain parts.

AKA – Also known as…..
The Retaining Ring is a funny little guy and answers to a bunch of different names – some of Retaining Ring’s favorite aliases are: snap rings, wire rings, circlips, retainer clips, spiral rings, wire clips, c-rings, grip rings, klip rings and push-on rings.

Who uses Retaining Rings?
Any application with a bore/housing or shaft that requires a shoulder to keep parts in place within an assembly is a candidate for using Retaining Rings.

Retaining Rings are broadly used across various applications in many industries, including: aerospace, drive shafts, electrical motors, hydraulic equipment, instrumentation, lighting assemblies, machinery, nuclear equipment and many more. Retaining Rings are very common in the automotive industry.

Why use a Retaining Ring vs. a screw or a bolt?
When a shaft or bore design that includes assembled components needs a shoulder, it can be costly to machine the shoulder, mate threaded components and fasteners together and drill and coordinate threaded holes and access holes to fasten the assembly. Retaining Rings can serve as a cost effective and time saving alternative.In addition to cost, Retaining Rings offer 2 special benefits a) they can be more resilient than screw assemblies in high vibration environments, b) they are made from less material, hence they are cleaner and gentler on the environment (aka Green!).

What styles are available?
Retaining Rings come in a variety of styles and materials.  The most popular styles are: External (used on shafts), Internal (used for bores) and E-Style.  The most popular materials are Carbon Spring Steel, PH15-7 Stainless Steel and Beryllium Copper.  The most common finishes for Carbon Steel Rings are Phosphate, Zinc Clear and Zinc Yellow.

Are there other factors to consider? 

  • As discussed, Retaining Rings are often referred to by their brand names, which can often be substituted by generic equivalents. Popular brands include: Anderton, Rotor Clip, S&M and Waldes/Truarc. We can supply the brand name or generic alternatives. Note: Currently, Rotor Clip (Waldes/Truarc) and S&M are the only full-line USA manufacturers.
  • Retaining Rings often show up under their Mil-spec numbers, which can be crossed to commercial equivalents. Some common Mil-spec series for Retaining Rings include: MS16624, MS16625, MS16626, MS16627, MS16628, MS16629, MS16630, MS16631, MS16632, MS16633, MS3215, MS3217 and MS90707.
  • Sizes available vary based on the style. The general range is from 1/16 to 10″. Metric sizes are also available.

Retaining Rings at MF Supply

We offer:  

  • The full range of commercial and mil-spec parts, including parts that are DFARS and ROHS compliant.
  • Brand names and generic equivalents.
  • Custom made parts per print.
For more detailed information on Retaining Rings, visit us at
And if you don’t see it listed, as always, ask us. Finding the right screw for you is our tag line after all!

One Comment on “What the heck are Retaining Rings?”

  1. Amit Joshi says:

    I really liked the way you have explained the details about Retaining Ring. I was searching for the details of rings online, and found your article most relevant about retaining rings. Keep posting such informative articles.

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