Why so many rounds?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Kano383, Dec 28, 2016.

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  1. Kano383

    Kano383 Member

    Dec 3, 2016
    East Africa
    Why so many rounds in the magazine? I’m not talking of SWAT team members or LEOs who may find themselves at anytime under fire from multiple armed ne’er-do-good, but of the guns used as daily ballast in the waistband by Joe-you-and-me.

    My thoughts are that for the realistic threat faced by the vast majority of us, non-professionally involved in violent action, there are more disadvantages than advantages to the trend of more-is-better.

    High capacity magazines are heavy, and add a lot of bulk to handguns’ grips. So much so that many, if not most, people prefer the feel of a single-stack to that of any double-stack - but they still get a double-stack...

    I’m wondering because I’ve spent quite some time trotting across the wilderness, chasing critters sized like a small bungalow, and as friendly as an escaped lifer high on PCP. In my nick of the woods, we do so with bolt action rifles having a magazine capacity of three to five rounds. Some even elicit to use double barrel rifles with the grand total of two (2) rounds before a cumbersome reload. The logic behind the double is that it’s faster than any bolt for the second shot, and if a problem happens and you don’t sort it in two rounds, you’re dead anyway.

    The speed at which events unfold out there is such that there is no time for spray-and-pray, and no scope either: if you shoot “center of mass or thereabout”, you’re not going to stop anything coming for you, and whatever you’re shooting at will mash you into a pink frothy pulp before it even starts feeling dizzy.

    The only way to terminate an attack with immediate effect is to switch off the control panel, which means a direct hit to the brain - preferably the brain stem, or the highest part of the spinal cord. This is achieved with aimed shots. When two tons or more of pissed-off thing with sharp horns, teeth, or tusks is incoming at 20-30 miles per hour from fifty or even a hundred feet away, you have a couple of seconds to hit the right spot, three if you’re lucky. You hit it once, you’re good for a stiff one by the campfire in the evening. You miss it fifteen times, they’ll need a scraper to get you all in one heap before throwing you in the bed of the pickup.

    It may be of passing interest to know that in Zimbabwe, the law states that the red line within which you can invoke self-defense for shooting a charging elephant is ten meters. Eleven yards. At 20 mph, do your maths - but hurry up...

    Now, whether the critter stands on two legs or four, the general blueprint is the same: pump and piping outlay, electrical system, computer box, intake, air filters, exhaust, ball joints, suspensions. And gunfight after gunfight relentlessly hammers the point home: too many times, shooting “in the black” does not end a fight. One hit in the right place does.

    So, watching videos of encounters where one or the other shooter empties fifteen rounds in one-and-a-half second in the general direction of whatever bothers him at the moment, I always think “Why the excitement, why not aim?”.

    Sitting perilously at my desk, with the luxury of a rewind button, I play and replay, and still think “Why so many rounds?”

    Could it be because the high capacity magazines have led people to rely on quantity instead of quality? Was it like that when the usual load was six in a wheelgun or seven in a 1911?

    I’d be curious to hear from the old school guys around here...
  2. 4thPointOfContact

    4thPointOfContact Member

    Oct 13, 2007
    If someone believes that it's advantageous to have a lightweight single-stack over a heavy, clumsy double-stack, all they have to do is load only 5 rounds into the 17 round magazine. Easy-peazy.

    But, if you NEED more than 5 rounds, it's much quicker to just pull the trigger than to reload.
  3. jeepnik
    • Contributing Member

    jeepnik Member

    Sep 25, 2011
    Well, we choose high capacity magazines, semi autos and so on mostly as a friend used to say "Because we can". While there are places trying to rid us of our right to choose such things there are many more where those freedoms haven't been infringed.
  4. cslinger

    cslinger Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    I don't claim to be a good shot.
    I am not a capacity is the end all be all guy either.

    That being said can't somebody carrying a Glock 17 with 18 rounds ALSO be a hellofa good shot? They are not mutually exclusive.

    Carry what makes you comfortable. More rounds than necessary will never be a detriment except in your own personal comfort.
  5. bds
    • Contributing Member

    bds Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    Northwest Coast
    I can't speak for Zimbabwe but here in the USA, there are places where multiple intruders/attackers can endanger my life and family's lives where 5 rounds may not be enough. I prefer to use Glock 22 for home and carry Glock 23/27 with 10 round magazines and spare magazines because I am limited to 10 rounds in the state I live in. If I am in a different state without 10 round limitation, I would use/carry maximum number of rounds my magazines will allow.
    Some carried spare magazines or speed loaders and had to resort to "pistol whipping" after the pistol was emptied.
    While head shots are good, it is not practical/realistic for most "average" people and they often practice shooting center-of-mass (COM). While COM shots may not disable/neutralize the threat instantly, they can slow down the threat for you to aim more carefully at other parts of the body.
    Because defensive shootings do not occur like a carefully planned sniping event rather unexpected often chaotic situations where defenders "react" more often than "respond" to threats. With deliberate training, we can better respond than react but we are human and human emotional response will kick in when we are faced with stressful events.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  6. Malamute

    Malamute Member

    May 12, 2004
    Rocky Mts
    The situation with large animals and crooks isn't exactly the same. For one thing, crooks often travel in groups. Those same crooks that police have to deal with are the same ones that bother ordinary people, that is how they often they come to the attention of the police.

    Pistols are wimpy compared to rifles in the killing or stopping department. If shots aren't perfect, it sometimes does take more then one or two "good ones" to shut someone down instantly. They are often moving also, as well as may be shooting at you, compounding the issue of shooting well. Id venture that most that carry handguns aren't as good at shooting as those that hunt dangerous game, though the sport hunter after dangerous game also has a backup in the professional hunter. On the street, youre usually on your own.

    Its not a given that if one has a gun that holds many bullets that you aren't allowed to aim, and are somehow compelled to shoot as much as possible and not do it deliberately.

    Grip thickness. Lay the grip of a GI a1911 butt to butt with a glock 19, then tell me which is thicker.

    If all things are generally equal, more rounds is fine with me, I see no down side. I also don't venture out hunting with only the rounds in the gun, theres usually around 30 spares on my belt. YMMV of course. Ive never been done hunting, hiking, or whatever out in the hills and thought "Oh crud, I really wish I had less ammo". Its simply never caused me a problem to have more than I needed. I'm never positive when I step out the door how many whatever happens that day will require. Sometimes its not what youre looking for that may be the problem, but what may find you that becomes the problem. Despite what emphasis is placed on bear guns, few live around them or hunt around them, though a few of us do. Its part of my thought process every time I step outside my door, except when they are hibernating in winter, though once in a while they didn't get the memo and decide to come out and have a look around.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
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  7. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Leavenworth, KS
    Simple really.....

    I prefer a mid sized sub-compact pistol made of polymer in 9mm or larger caliber. It just so happens that the majority of them are double stacks of 13-15 rds or so. Now I could challenge myself personally by downloading the magazine to 7 or eight, but since the added weight of those extra rounds isn't exactly killing me, I might as well keep it topped off.

    Wise man once said the only time you've got too much ammunition is when you're swimming or on fire.

  8. 375supermag

    375supermag Member

    Sep 14, 2013
    Southcentral Pennsylvania
    I carry the amount of ammunition that I think is prudent given where and when I am going.
    I cannot predict what threat may materialize at any given time, so I carry what I think wise.
    If I could predict such things, I wouldn't need to carry any weapon because I would know where to and when the bad people were and would simply avoid them.
    Decoy80 and Merle1 like this.
  9. oldrevolverguy

    oldrevolverguy Member

    Oct 19, 2007
    I attended and wrote a published article based on a highly professional force on force course delivered by Tac Pro in Texas. The training pistols used were limited to 10 rounds. I can say with immense sincerity that the combination of the adrenaline dump, human combatants and the fog of conflict, I wished I was carrying a crew served weapon in every scenario.


    Keep in mind I had been training, teaching and competing in the combat arts for over 25 years at that point. Force on force training is the closest thing to a real gunfight most will ever experience. I pray that is as close as you and I ever get. In my, thankfully limited experience, there is no such thing as having too much ammunition in a gunfight (or a reasonable simulation of same.) I will continue to carry my Glock 19 with 16 rounds on board and a 17 round mag worn on the weak side. Your mileage may vary.
    bannockburn likes this.
  10. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

    May 7, 2015
    My preferred platform, the one I shoot best while trying the least, or in haste; browning hipower.
    It just so happens to have two rows of bullets in the mag.
  11. Billyzz

    Billyzz Member

    Dec 12, 2016
    In my mind the only reason we see footage of guys spraying is because they can.
    I bet if a lot of those guys carried a five shooter like i do.
    We would see a lot more aiming.
    I wouldnt mind a 17 shot .45
    But never got around to one
  12. CZ9shooter

    CZ9shooter Member

    Jul 29, 2012
    I carry a J frame.... seriously.
  13. bds
    • Contributing Member

    bds Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    Northwest Coast
    17 round 1911 is quite a handful and heavy.

    I prefer to carry 10 round double stack Taurus MilPro PT145 which is comparable in size/thickness to G19/23.
  14. danez71

    danez71 Member

    Aug 17, 2009
    Considering that the Hi-Power came to be in 1935, before many many wheel guns in production today, I'd say it's not a recent trend or fad.
    zaitcev likes this.
  15. Omaney

    Omaney Member

    Mar 13, 2007
    N. Central TX
    @Kano383 - I would submit that your examples are of the wild, non-sentient, beastie ilk. Those of us carrying mags with "so many rounds" are treading a different wilderness. There is no way I can conceive of being in a self defense scenario against the evil human animal(s), that I will have either the time or wherewithal to place a shot in a "dead right there" spot that may be less than the size of a tennis ball. I have always been trained to place shots in the most likely place to disable an attack, center mass. I truly don't believe the number of available rounds has any bearing on that. The popular self defense pistol in those places where such pistols are allowed?...They're going to be of a type with the most firepower in the simplest, most comfortable package.
    HonorableHojutsu and Steve Cover like this.
  16. JohnBiltz

    JohnBiltz Member

    Aug 17, 2010
    Phoenix, AZ
    First of all, I prefer the feel of a double stack in my hand. I never liked the feel of a 1911 but the first time I gripped a BHP I thought this is how it should be. It just felt right. And yes I'm old, I started shooting before the Wonder Nines made their invasion in the 80s.

    I read your post, I sort of had the sense from it that you think everyone should draw from a holster, take up a stance, a dueling stance by choice, take a breath and as your letting it out fire one carefully aimed shot. It is not like that. The reality is that a mugging is twice as likely to be two people rather than one and just as likely to be more than two as just one. So only one time in four will it be one person. Three times out of four it will be multiple people. I think you have convinced yourself what the fight will be but the fight you get will be the fight you get and it may not be anything like what you think it will be. Personally, I don't want my last thought to be, "I wish I had more ammo".
    Chuck R. likes this.
  17. Bang!

    Bang! Member

    Jan 3, 2013
    Mid TN
    I'd say it takes nerves of steel to take careful aim at the brain stem of a charging elephant. My hats off to you on that one.

    10 meter elephant charge? If that elephants' handler whipped out a Glock 17 from his waistband you'd need to get in an even bigger hurry to start shooting. Give him time to take the first careful aimed shot and your dead. You still being alive is proof that a human can aim and shoot a small moving off switch faster than an elephant can charge ten meters. How fast you get lead going his way may change the odds. Get lead center mass and your odds will be improving greatly. Find your sights before he fills you with lead and you might not be the stiff one. Bullets are faster than any critter on this big blue marble, as far as I know.

    But.....charging elephant seems downright scary.
  18. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

    Feb 7, 2004
    Cause it's better to have and not need than to need and not have.

    There are cases of "Joe-you-and-me" having to be "under fire from multiple armed ne’er-do-good".


    Simple as that.

  19. Good Ol' Boy

    Good Ol' Boy Member

    Apr 26, 2016
    Mechanicsville, VA
    The whole premise for carrying a gun is that's it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

    From there it's a matter of perceived threat in the environment. Comparing being on safari in Africa to EDC in the US is apples to oranges.

    If I was in the middle of "nowhere Africa" I'd probably have a semi shotgun with slugs and a couple of shouldered .44 mags of some variety. Somewhere like Chicago? Something like a G17 with a spare mag.

    Fortunately I live and stay (mostly) in an environment where I feel comfortable carrying a 7+1 9mm with a spare mag the majority of the time.
    zb338, bannockburn and cfullgraf like this.
  20. usp9

    usp9 Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    Bowling Green, Va
    I'm confident my 6+1 pocket gun would suffice as a game changer in 99% of realistic potential threats.
    CZ9shooter, Zendude, buflow and 2 others like this.
  21. Dog Soldier
    • Contributing Member

    Dog Soldier Member

    Sep 8, 2016
    S.W. Wyoming
    We don't have Elephants in the Western U.S. An Elephant does not eat his prey. But we have male Grizzly bears that can weigh 900 lbs and out run a cow pony for a quarter mile. They throw you around like a rag doll bury your body until it is ripe and then consume it. And you think an Elephant is bad?:(
    adcoch1, zb338 and Steve Cover like this.
  22. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    One difference is the size and power of the cartridge and the gun required to hold it.
    A DGR has to contain the size and pressure of a big rifle round with enough mass to control recoil but not too much to swing. There's not enough room for more than 2-6 rounds.
    A pistol can hold a lot more tries hopefully adequate on a naked ape.

    A pistol loaded with Dick (Skylark) Seaton's Xplosive bullets would be more flexible.
    The Mk I charge for urban predators, Mk V for aggravated megafauna.
    (Do not fire a Mk X on a planetary surface you want to use afterward.)
  23. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

    Jul 9, 2012
    SC (Home), VA (Work)
    If people want a single stack, they'll buy a single stack. Plenty of people do, in fact. Just as people who want a double stack will buy a double stack.

    What videos? Select videos that show exactly what you're complaining about? I'm quite sure there are plenty of videos that don't show shooters doing magazine dumps in 1 1/2 seconds.

    Could be because you're only playing and replaying videos which show exactly what you're complaining about. Try some others.

    For some people, I'm sure quantity over quality is their mantra. But not everybody thinks this way.

    And yes, there were (and still are) people with wheel guns and 1911s who thought this way as well.

    You'll ALWAYS have people across the entire spectrum on this subject. You can't lump everybody in one corner or the other.

    The beauty about the whole issue is we have the choices to choose from as we see fit.
    Sammael94 likes this.
  24. loneviking

    loneviking Member

    Apr 28, 2008
    Carson City, NV.
    Most of your self defense shootings happen very quickly , so it's very unusual to have more than three or four shots exchanged. There's an interesting Youtube channel called 'active self protection' that has dozens of actual defense incidents caught on video from around the world. These videos show that few rounds are generally exchanged, aimed (but fast) fire is most effective and situational awareness counts for a lot in keeping yourself safe. These videos also occasionally show that the bad guys don't always go down even when a killing shot is made center mass. One video out of south america of a bank holdup shows a bad guy shot in the chest, making it back out of the bank and getting on his motorcycle before he finally collapses and slides to the ground.

    'Back in the day' though, gunfights were fought and finished very quickly with six rounds or less. A New York police officer named Jim Cirrilo has written books about those days. I think one of the best was 'Tales From the Stake Out Squad'. Even back then, it wasn't unusual for cops to carry two guns for those occasions where more shots were needed. But what cops encounter and what the general public experiences are two different things.

    I kind of get the feeling that this is one of those confidence boosting threads trying to say that six , seven or eight rounds is enough--especially if you aim and aren't spraying rounds. I don't feel undergunned carrying a .357 or a .44 because I have confidence in my ability to use these guns. But, I also don't begrudge those who want fifteen rounds and I don't assume that they won't be aiming just because of the number of rounds.

    Find a gun that shoots well, train to be fast and accurate with it no matter how many rounds you have.
  25. TEAM101

    TEAM101 Member

    Aug 7, 2009
    I'm not sure I'd consider having more bullets in a gunfight a bad thing.
    RetiredUSNChief likes this.
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