5 Common Types of Retaining Rings

Retaining rings, also known as snap rings or circlips, are a type of circular-shaped fastener that can be slid onto a shaft or into a bore where they can secure machinery parts in place. Different combinations of size, shape, style, and material allow for designs that can work in a variety of industries and applications. In automobiles for example, you would be likely to find retaining rings in systems like the powertrain, steering, and passenger safety equipment. Of these design variations, the five most common include axially assembled, radially assembled, beveled, locking, and constant section retaining rings. In the following blog, we will be discussing these five types of retaining rings and their possible uses.

  1. Axially Assembled

Axially assembled retaining rings are among the most common types of fasteners. They consist of a tapered ring that is installed axially, meaning that they must be placed onto the end of the shaft and then slid down to a machined groove. Most axially assembled retaining rings have small holes in them, which can be used to help install the ring inside of a bore or over a shaft. Once they are installed, the rings provide a protrusion or “shoulder” for retaining parts.

  1. Radially Assembled

Radially assembled rings can only be installed externally, onto a shaft. Rather than creating a full circle, they have a wide opening on one end which allows them to be installed at an angle perpendicular to the rod. As such, they are easy to install and can be simply snapped over a shaft. Consequently, they accommodate applications with lower thrust loads than those permitted by their axially assembled counterparts.

  1. Beveled

Whereas others may have a cylindrical design to their ring, beveled retaining rings have a beveled edge to generate a more secure hold. Typically set at a 15 degree angle, the beveled edge on these rings prevents them from moving around, holding both the retaining ring and the part with which it is used sturdily in place over the length of its use.

  1. Locking

Locking retaining rings are those that are designed to securely lock in place for one-time-use only. Their self-locking feature consists of a dimple on the inside turn that “locks” into a slot on the outside turn. This feature allows the ring to operate at high speeds, withstand vibrations, and absorb a degree of impact loading. With several designs available, some can be radially assembled whereas others are axially assembled.

  1. Constant Section

Constant section retaining rings are another common type of retaining ring that are characterized by their uniform, circular design. As such, the diameter at any given point in a constant section retaining ring is the same. They are typically made from round wire, such as aluminum, copper, steel, or other metals and are often specified for heavy-duty or impact loading applications.


Retaining rings have found use in a vast array of applications and industries for their simple but dependable functionality. When a part needs to be securely held in place, retaining rings are a lightweight, durable solution. If you are in need of top-quality aircraft fasteners or other aviation grade components, NSN Stocks is here to assist you with all your parts fulfillment needs. We source from a wide selection of leading global manufacturers such as Raytheon Company, Raytheon Technical Services Company, and Bombardier Corp to provide our customers with access to high-grade aviation components at unbeatable cost savings. Browse our online catalog of available parts at your leisure and/or take advantage of our 24/7x365 RFQ service to receive competitive quotes for your comparison on any of our featured items.


September 21, 2022

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