Mags: Too Many Is Not Enough

4-Apr-13 – 15:10 by ToddG

As threats of a new federal ban continue and some states already find themselves subject to new stricter limits, a question that arises often is, “How many mags should I have?

mag130404The simple answer is that you can never have too many magazines. Get as many magazines as you can reasonably afford. Beyond that, I’d say:

  • Twelve (12) total magazines, minimum, for a double stack carry gun.
  • Fifteen (15) total magazines, minimum, for a single stack carry gun.

At a minimum I want¬†at least six range magazines. This makes reload practice more convenient and means I’ve got enough magazines to deadline one or two without impacting my practice too severely. For single stack guns I usually keep twice that many in my range bag simply because it’s convenient to have a metric ton of ammo loaded and ready to go.

I want completely separate magazines for carry or home defense. Personally, I tend to carry one spare magazine for high-capacity pistols or two spare mags for low-capacity pistols. After being loaded for a while, I’ll cycle these magazines out to range duty. “A while” varies depending on the type of magazine and, candidly, how many spares I have lying around. It could be months, it could be a couple of years.

I also want two sets of fresh replacement magazines. If I carry one in the gun plus one spare, that means four extra mags; for single stack guns it would be six. This allows me to replace my carry magazines at a whim and still have another whole set in case of a problem. These mags are kept new and unused until they’re needed.

Magazines are wear items. As a general rule, as soon as a magazine becomes suspect for any reason — worn spring, bad follower, questionable feed lip geometry — I throw it away.*¬†Magazines are intended to be disposable. Sure, you can replace that spring or follower but if one part is worn out how long before another causes a problem? If you have a couple dozen magazines for your chosen handgun it’s a lot easier to throw one in the trashcan than if you have only four.

Keep in mind that you do not have to buy all of these magazines at once. Two or three probably came with your pistol. If you’re lucky enough to have an identical spare or training gun, you’ve got twice that number. When circumstances and finances allow, buy one or two more. It’s easier to spend $40-60 once in a while than to pay out $500 all at once just for some mags.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

* As anyone who has followed the various gun tests knows, this rule isn’t followed during those evaluations. Evaluating the source of problems, even magazine-related problems, is part of the process. Even then, no magazine that is questionable will ever get used again for carry or any other non-range purpose.

  1. 10 Responses to “Mags: Too Many Is Not Enough”

  2. Before the panic it was a common practice that if I was buying something online gun related I would buy an extra mag or two if the store in question also sold mags.

    I have quite a large number of AR mags.

    By Jesse on Apr 4, 2013

  3. The “magazine = disposable” mentality often leads to buying cheap magazines of questionable quality and spotty reliability, when actually it’s an integral part of the firearm. I don’t see the thick, fully laser welded magazine bodies of my mec gars wear out anytime soon, so I will replace worn out springs.

    By Marc on Apr 4, 2013

  4. That reminds me, I need to buy more mags.

    By Patrick Henry on Apr 5, 2013

  5. I agree you can never have enough magazines and I will add ammunition to that mix. I am concerned with a patchwork of laws in different states and localities that might make felons out of gun owners. A simple diverted flight due to a storm or crisis that lands in New York, instead of a nearby state, could be devastating to a gun owner.

    Matches will be impacted, travel will be impacted. Freedom is eroding quickly; exactly as those wanting others to be dependent on government planned.

    By steve b on Apr 5, 2013

  6. I agree to an extent, only because mags are hard to get here at the best of times. Properly taken care of, mags can be rebuilt many many times. Springs are cheap, followers too, and feed lips are easily bent back to spec. Once they start cracking, then it’s time to toss. Although I know others who then break out the welder…

    By Rob E on Apr 5, 2013

  7. I think with supplies coming back, now is a great time to buy more high cap magazines for your primary platform, as well as another dozen or more, if possible, for platforms you might want to shoot in the future. I just did that for the Beretta 92 even though I have never shot one.

    I suspect magazines are at least as good as any other investment I have, and in high cap form, likely to be unavailable for purchase well before handguns are.

    By GJM on Apr 5, 2013

  8. I treat training mags as disposable. On a hard training cycle (reloads in concrete floor environments, etc.) I will break a mag or so a week. I took to using KCI aftermarket mags (standard capacity) for the Glock for that purpose when they were only a few bucks a piece – and while they worked well enough in training they did give me the added bonus of a few extra failure drills now and again. Not so much point in that now that prices are what they are, but hopefully things will stabilize soon enough.

    Wish there were similar good options for other platforms. I break fewer HK mags than Glock mags, but I have still destroyed my share.

    Carry is factory only, and these do get rotated and tested periodically. I treat these as wear items, but not quite disposable. (The ones that show any signs of use get dropped into the training mag bin). I usually say one should have on hand at least 20 magazines to account for wear and replacement rates. Seems somewhat in line with what Todd’s rationale is above.

    I know the folks that got themselves an extra mag here and there even when they thought they didn’t need it are in a much better place than those who didn’t. I can recall quite a few cases where the extra turned out to be needed more than the owner would have thought.

    During the crisis buying, a lot of those options became less easily exercised – but there are still ways and means.

    By abu fitna on Apr 6, 2013

  9. My rule of thumb used to be a gun and 5 mags for it. Recently, as I have standardized platforms, I am in the habit of buying and buying and buying. The Glock .40, 1911, and AR are the most common platform in my household, and I would estimate I have the least of Glock .40 – and that is about 30. The 1911 – I don’t like to discuss that.

    By MH167 on Apr 6, 2013

  10. Having lived through the Ban Years, I’m a little compulsive about magazines.

    It’s paying dividends now.

    By Tam on Apr 7, 2013

  11. I have fumbled and dropped magazines trying to reload in competition, but I had more than enough on my belt. Carry two spare magazines if you can. Two in case the first one fails, three in case I fail. When you find good magazines for a good price, buy three, or five, or ten.

    By Suburban on May 3, 2013

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