How many spare mags for CCW

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B.D. Turner

Dec 5, 2005
Eastern North Carolina
My present carry gun is a Springfield GI .45 loaded with one eight round mag plus one in barrel. I am a good shot and the crime rate here is fairly low. Should I carry another mag of ammo for just in case? Would two spares be overkill?
Carrying two extra magazines is just plain smart, especially considering you have a single stack .45. Three magazines is pretty much standard for both the military and law enforcement, one in the weapon and two in a magazine pouch.
The best answer I ever heard was carry as many as you think you'll need, plus one more

Which is why I don't carry any or just one. Might keep an extra one in the car.

If I go through say 15 rounds of .40 S&W and I am still on my feet and fighting I need a rifle and body armor, not a reload. But just about everyone I know that carries, carries one or more spares though. Don't know a single person that ever needed it even when they needed their gun.
The real reason to carry a spare.

The real reason to carry a spare mag isn't for extra ammo. When packing a bottom feeder, an extra mag is the fastest way to get a down pistol back into play when you need it.

I don't feel unprepared with one extra, but frequently carry two.
1911 guy is correct. The instructors in my Tactical Shooting and Advanced Tactical Shooting courses advised us to "If you have a failure, drop the mag. If it fails twice, drop the pistol and draw your back-up".

I carry a back-up pistol of the same make and caliber, and 4 extra magazines. It is not so much about number of shots, but the ability to continue defense in the face of magazine of pistol failure.

Glock 19 &
Glock 26

Colt Commander &
Colt New Agent
Carry as many as you can.... or you can play the odds and believe the average gun battle is over before more than 2 rounds are fired.
I dont carry any extra mags for my kel-tec p3at. If i need more than the 7 rounds that i have 1) im in a situation i shouldnt be in 2) im in a gun fight with the wrong gun anyway.

My p3at is on me to get me out of a very close-quarters situation, and if it cant do that im going to run like hell.
I am thinking about having a leather wallet made to hold two single stack mags in the back pocket. Would you use the same ammo in both spare mags? Would there be any advantage to a mag of ball?
Let's say your at the Mall and someone starts shooting, your first priority is get your family safe if they're with you, then and only then do you worry about drawing your weapon. Lets suppose you've done that and the shooter is coming your way, you draw your weapon from your pocket holster and you've hit the mag release on the way out and you mag hits the floor and slides away from you. If you carry a second all you do is take it out of your pocket and slam it home and your good to go. But if you don't carry one then you have to start worrying about retrieving your dropped one and exposing yourself to the shooter. SO I always carry at least 1 mag on me.
With a two-stack gun, where I already have 13 or more ==> ZERO spares.

With a 1-stack gun, where I only have 6-8, I like to carry ==> ONE spare .

Carry as many as you can
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Always carry at least one full reload. There's NO reason not to and, since we cannot predict the future, you may need it.
With my Glock 36, two spares, since its only 6+1, so another 2 mags gives me an extra 12 and two mags in the event there is a magazine issue.

With my Glock 26, its 10+1 and its either a Glock 17 mag (17), or two Glock 26 Mags (10). With my last carry gun, a S&W 457, its only 7 rounds a magso its at least two extra mags also.

I don't even carry my other guns since they are either too big for my preference, or they are target guns/range guns.

While I hope to never draw and shoot, I'm more than likely to duck and run before I have to engage an active shooter in a public place. Its just safer that way for both me and innocent people around me. Not to bring that into the discussion, but its best said anyways.
I always carry at least one.

But the extra mag is for the extra mag, not the extra ammo.

Surprise close quarters, drawing your gun to your pectoral, firing, backing away, firing - it's very very easy to dump a full mag at just one target in a matter of seconds.


...that's just doing drills against stationary paper targets. Guys with 1911's easily fire to slide lock on these drills. Even Glockers drop the mag and realize they only have 1 or two rounds left.

In the street with a major adrenalin dump, tunnel vision, and no reload, you'll find yourself holding a $500 club. That's especially bad if the bad guy has a friend.

Yes it's true that in 90%+ of defensive gun uses, zero or only a few shots are fired. Pray to avoid becoming a statistic and carry extra mags to mitigate the 10%.
I carry a wheel gun, but I keep 2 speed loaders on me, no mag failure problem but the extra 12 rounds may be useful someday.
That depends... are you planning on conducting an offensive? or just for self defense in a social situation. Most defensive shootings involve less than 3 rounds being fired to end the threat. I only carry 1 spare mag for my Glock 26... I think it is enough for 99.999% of the situations I may encounter in my daily life.
Here is mine. Colt's Lightweight Commander .45 ACP with an eight round magazine plus one round in the chamber, and, one extra eight round magazine.


If I can't handle it with that, then I'll just resort to that old line of dialogue from an ancient movie, "Feets, don't fail me now!" ;)

B.D. Turner.

Two questions you had. First, I carry a 1911 myself and find that two mags conceal nearly as well as one. The only time I carry one is when forced to tote my pea shooter IWB due to concealment issues. That's not often, I mostly carry OWB

Secondly, you'll probably experience trouble with carrying mags in your back pocket. Every time you sit down, you'll run the risk of bending and ruining magazines. You're already wearing a belt to support the pistol, so get a good double mag pouch. I have a Galco double and a Fobus single that see pretty frequent use. There are better out there, but these work for me.
Always carry at least one spare

Never, never be without at least a spare mag. You may drop one, break one, or who knows...

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Rule of thumb:

you should have 4 mags for every pistol.

3 of them should be loaded at all times. Every month, rotate the unloaded one, so that every mag gets a month off once every 4th month. Number your mags so you know which one is next for it's month off. Doing this makes the mag springs last longer. Also, when your mags are numbered, you can keep track of failures and see if one particular mag is causing all the problems. If so, Replace it with a new one. And don't give the new one the same number as the one you remove from the rotation. For instance, if you throw out #4, it's replacement should be labeled #4A, #4*, or #4', or some such.

Carry one spare or two spares, it's up to you. You should have a 3rd ready and loaded at all times even if you don't want to carry it. You never know when you will have a good reason to change your mind and carry 2 spares.

This is, as I understand it, the "correct" or ultimate way to maintain mags for SD pistols. If anyone has an alternative methodology, I'd like to know what it is.
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