Single vs Double stack gun?


October 19, 2008, 07:00 PM
In layman terms, what's the difference/benefits between a single and double stack handgun?

Thanks! :D

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October 19, 2008, 07:18 PM
Magazine capacity. Compare a 1911's magazines to a XD's. Instead of one straight, not staggered line like a 1911's, the XD's magazine is staggered to allow higher capacity.

For example, a .45 1911 has (from what I understand) a traditionally thinner grip and a 7 or 8 round magazine whereas a doublestacked handgun such as an XD .45 has a wider-set grip and a 13 round magazine.

October 19, 2008, 07:49 PM
jpatterson got it but i would like to add that a single stack is usually thinner than a double stack

Marcus L.
October 19, 2008, 08:03 PM
Single stacks consist of a single column of ammunition stacked one on top of the other.

Double stacks are two columns of ammunition stacked together in a staggered manner(looks like a zipper). As the rounds are feed into the pistol they are pushed into the top magazine taper which acts as a funnel to feed into the pistol.

Single stacks are inheritantly more reliable in that they require less pressure to feed, and they put limited friction on the rounds being fed into the pistol. They are also less prone to suffering from drop jumbles where if you drop a loaded magazine on the ground the ammunition stays aligned properlyl.

Double stacked magazines give you about double the magazine capacity of single stacks, but they are "slightly" less reliable for two reasons. They are more prone to drop jumbles and the ammunition loses alignment and won't feed without fixing the problem. The second reason is that as the rounds are being fed into the top taper of the magazine the cartridges roll against themselves and if there is dust present, it can cause slow feeding speeds and malfunctions. Then of course, there is additional pressure needed from the magazine spring to push the cartridges up through the magazine taper and weak springs will cause malfuctions.

So, both designs have their own advantages and disadvantages.

October 19, 2008, 08:49 PM
single stack less rounds, but normally better for concealment/ thinner.

double stack more bullets, normally wider, still able to ccw, but not generally as easy as a single stack like a 1911, kahr series etc.

October 19, 2008, 08:49 PM
Awesome. Great thorough replies. Thanks a lot

Do most police officers and civilians carry single stack? I would think so since the double stack sounds pretty unstable..haha

October 19, 2008, 08:57 PM
the double stack isn't unstable at all, and the majority of military and leo's, and i would even venture to say ccw holders carry double stack guns on a much higher scale that single stack guns. the 1911's are out there and they are alot of em, i have one, but i carry my xd service or sc model, and they are both double stack guns.

Marcus L.
October 19, 2008, 09:20 PM
Most law enforcement and military agencies now days carry double stacked magazines. Now days, double stacked magazines are very well designed with state of the art spring technology and you can trust them to be very reliable. The only real advantage with modern magazine technology in using single stacked magazines is the ability to have a more slender grip.

In the past it was different. For instance most western European(and eastern)nations like Germany issued single stacked 9mms up until the late 1970s. Up until the 1970s, double stacked magazines were not all that reliable. Spring technology wasn't all that great, so magazines lost their tension a lot more quickly leading to feeding problems with the tapering feeding of double stacked mags. Weak springs and dust made them combat nightmares. One reason why the Germans went with the single stack P38 in WWII instead of the new double stacked magazine technology at the time.

October 19, 2008, 11:09 PM
Oh ok, it's good to know the double stack is stable since I can definitely see it's advantage. Thanks for the help! :)

October 20, 2008, 12:36 PM
Any centerfire magazine that holds more than 8 rounds is going to be a double stack.

Marcus L.
October 20, 2008, 12:54 PM
Any centerfire magazine that holds more than 8 rounds is going to be a double stack.

Not necessarily. Most flush fitting .45acp single stacks have a 7rd capacity, however sometimes magazines extend beyond the grip and hold 8 and 10 rounds. Another example is the Sig P239 which has an extended 10rd magazine.

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