In an age where overkill is underrated the number of pistol magazines you should have is often a point of discussion. So, how many pistol magazines should you have? More importantly, how many should you carry? In short, you should have a minimum of three magazines for each pistol you own. However, I recommend that you have between 5-6 magazines for any pistol you plan to use as your everyday concealed carry pistol.

I can see people on the other side of the monitor shaking their heads as I type this message. But, let me explain my reasoning behind the minimum number of pistol mags before you go writing me off.

how many magazines should you have and carry?

Let’s start out with the basics. How many magazines do you intend to carry with you as part of your everyday concealed carry? First, there is the magazine you load into your handgun. Second, you’ll want to keep a secondary magazine in a holster should you require extra rounds. Finally, some will argue that carrying a third magazine is prudent in the event of a magazine malfunction.

Whether you need a third magazine is up for debate. However, you should always have at least one spare magazine in a mag holster or pouch with you whenever you carry. During my interview with several law enforcement and/or military personnel, I outline why at least one spare magazine is necessary. According to the Military Police handbook, soldiers are required to carry “individual weapon and 6 magazines” but it is unclear whether this is for their sidearm, rifle, or a combination of both.

Legislation On Magazine Capacity

Another reason you might need to up the count of magazines you carry is due to restrictive legislation in your state. If you’re in California for instance, you’ll be restricted to magazines with 10 rounds or else be breaking the law. Similarly, the Virginia governor has vowed to pass similar legislation which may require me to adjust the number of magazines I carry.

Number Of Magazines For The Range

reloading pistol how many magazines you need

Alright, we’ve covered the number of magazines you’ll be carrying on the regular and what may impact that number. But what about other activities? Assuming you practice with your firearm regularly, you’ll need extra magazines for use on the shooting range. If you practice any drill that requires a reload, you need a minimum of two magazines. However, it is a more effective use of time to load magazines in bulk while on the shooting lanes. Therefore, I recommend between 3 and 4 extra magazines.

If you have a “range gun” or any handgun used beyond concealed carry, you will still need to practice cycling the weapon to be proficient. Regardless of whether your handgun is for concealed carry, home defense, or just a range queen you’ll still spend time reloading magazines which takes away from your lane time.

Differentiate Between Carry & Range Mags

number of magazines for the range

At this point, you’re probably thinking that the most pistol magazines you’ll need is four. After all, why can’t your carry magazines function on the range? Well I am glad you asked. Generally, your carry magazines will be loaded with hollow point or other round variant. These types of ammunition are usually forbidden at the shooting range. Therefore, if your carry mags double as range mags you’ll constantly be unloading magazines before you can shoot and reloading them before you leave the range.

range ball ammo and carry ammo in different magazines

As I’ve touched on in this article, repetitive loading and unloading a magazine can cause the spring to deteriorate. Having your carry magazines double as range mags may result in the magazine spring wearing out prematurely. Either you will need to replace the spring, or replace the magazine.

The More Mags, The Merrier

On a long enough timeline, EVERY magazine will wear out. Therefore, I don’t believe you should set a limit on the number of magazines you have at your disposal. The numbers I presented in the opening are my recomended MINIMUMS. Eventually manufacturers will cease production of your firearm because of a new model or revolutionary new design. Afterwards, the availability of magazines will slowly decline and eventually you’ll have to pay an exorbatant amount of money to replenish defective magazine. Rather than wait until prices skyrocket, you’re better off stock piling guns as well as ammunition.

Parting Shots

How many magazines you carry on the regular is a personal choice. However, hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought about how many magazines you should have at your disposal. Do you have strong feelings about the right number of pistol magazines you should own? Leave a comment below to share with our viewers.