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Do you carry a spare magazine? A lot of concealed carriers don’t. They consider it too much of burden, too uncomfortable or too “paranoid.” And yet you can shoot even the highest capacity magazines dry in seconds. Or less. And there’s never been a self-defense shooter who faced down an enemy and said “Wow, I wish I hadn’t brought all these bullets with me!” A spare mag (or two) isn’t just for extended gun fights. It’s also a vital replacement for a damaged magazine. What are the odds? Higher than you’d think. Feed lips get bent, springs weaken, followers jam—the magazine is the semi-automatic firearm’s weakest link. As back-up mags are mission critical, you’ve got to manage your spare resource properly. Here are Seven Rules of Handgun Magazine Management:

1.  Make sure the magazine(s) within the mag pouch faces the same direction every time. Without directional consistency, you won’t know which way to load your magazine into your pistol. Checking the mag’s orientation slows the reloading process. While most shooters face the bullets towards the front (as I do) some people prefer to orient them “backwards.” No matter. Consistent orientation is the key to fast and successful reloads.

2. Never place empty mags back into your pouch. When you reach for a magazine, it must always be loaded with bullets. Eject your empty mags onto the ground during reloads. You can pocket partially spent mags, but only full mags should reside in your pouch.

3. Never catch an ejected “empty” magazine. Your job: get your pistol reloaded as fast as possible. So let empty mags fall onto the ground—they won’t do you any good. As this harsh treatment damages mags, it’s best to have two classes of magazines: practice and carry. When I arrive at the range, I remove and secure my carry mags and replace them with my practice mags. When I leave, I replace my carry mags.

4. Shoot your carry magazines at least every six months to ensure all is well. Don’t drop your carry magazines when they’re empty. Keep them as pristine as possible. Change the springs in your carry magazines annually. I put the weaker springs into my practice magazines; they’ll induce failures, creating more opportunities to practice failure drills.

5. Label your magazines. As mags wear and become damaged, you need to know which one is causing you problems. I mark my carry mags C1, C2, C3. I label my practice mags P1, P2, P3… I recommend writing the designation on the bottom of the mag in large letters with a paintpen (found at any hardware store) .

6. Reach for your spare magazine before you jettison the mag in your pistol. In the stress of a fight, it is possible to forget you’ve already reloaded your gun. The magazine may have fallen out during a scuffle or run (we see that a lot in force on force training). You may forgotten to include one in your daily dress. You’re better off keeping a partially loaded magazine, or running away, than trying to load a phantom mag.

7. Carry one spare magazine, two for practice and own eight more. Mags are disposable; they will not function forever. With the threat of anti-gun loons removing our ability to buy full capacity magazines, I recommend that you own at least 10 magazines per gun.

 

 

31 Responses to Seven Rules of Handgun Magazine Management

  1. I misread the title. I thought this was going to be a piece about how to manage a gun magazine. You know, as in how to make the editorial match the advert properly.

  2. I generally do not carry a spare magazine on me, but as I am sitting at work this morning, I just so happen to be wearing it. It is normally in my computer bag, but I decided to give the tuck-able magazine holder I bought one more try.

    It is quite difficult to find a comfortable place on your waist to wear one of these things. It feels like you are wearing a small brick – t doesn’t give any at all. Finding the right place for it can be difficult. I considered the front pocket, but it makes too much of a bulge. Maybe I will get used to it. I’ve had it on for about an hour so far today, and I will see if I can at least make it back home before taking it off. That is sure to make for a long day.

    On a normal day, I would have a spare magazine in my driver’s side door pocket, and one in my computer bag. I rarely go anyplace without my computer, so a spare mag is usually not to far away.

    With all that being said Rabbi, where and how do you carry your back up magazines?

    • I wear my holster at 4pm, and my mag and light at the same position on my support side which is 8pm. Although I carry my handgun in an IWB holster, I find IWB carry of a mag and/or light uncomfortable so I carry OWB. I also use a separate pouch for my light and mags as I have not found a dual carrier to be comfortable. That’s just me, your mileage may vary.

      If you need a reload in a fight, you need to get your gun reloaded instantly and won’t have time to go find a mag in a computer bag, car door pocket anywhere other than from your body. I am not a big fan of pocket carry for a magazine, but if you do so it is imperative to use a pocket holster to keep in upright and in the proper position and to help keep dirt out.

  3. I read one account of a SWAT member who did a tactical reload during a training excerise–and promptly slipped on the empty, as he had just dropped it. [AR, not a drop-free pistol magazine.] His lesson learned was to toss the magazine behind him.

    Now, he’s SWAT, and going in one direction, and probably carrying several mags, so his lesson learned might not be too useful for us. But it’s a thought–don’t make new trip hazards. Maybe not an issue with smaller pistol mags, I dunno.

    Would it be wise to stamp a purchase date onto the magazine, along with your own tracking number? Lose your book tracking all this info, and at least you’ll know how old it is.

    • Never hurts not to step on a dropped mag–SWAT or us! Personally, I don’t need to know the age of my mag, only the date of the last spring change. Pick a time of the year and do them all at the same time–like your smoke detector batteries!

      • I usually forget to change ’em twice a year, but manage to do it at least once (then again, most of mine are AC/DC units). I have taken to putting a post-it on the batteries, with the last change date. If I forget, I can chastise myself when I realize it’s been a year (or more).

        I’ve been meaning to take a logbook with me to the range, record how I shot and what I shot. Seems like a great place to also jot down “P3 gave grief today”.

  4. Rabbi, on rule 4, I hope you mean you put the weaker springs in your practice mags. It currently states that you put the weaker springs in your carry mags to induce failures, which is not when I want to practice my failure drills. Great article though.

  5. I carry 7 + 1 .45ACP IWB at 3:30PM. In my weak-side front pocket, (in a specially made mag pouch 🙂 ) I carry 10 more

  6. I’m wondering why nobody makes something that looks like a cell phone pouch (top opening, magnetic flap) that would carry one (or two) magazines in a horizontal position. That way, could could carry OWB, but it would look like a cell phone or (if you’re really old) a pager.

  7. I’m not sayin’ you’re wrong, rabbi, but ten mags per gun is a whole lotta mags for someone who has a whole lotta guns. I think that ten mags might be a good idea for an EDC, but not for a range toy where ten mags might cost more than the gun. Right now, I have six mags for my AR and four for each handgun, and also twenty stripper clips for my Nagant because stripper clips are a tad flimsy.

    • I guess, that depends on how dedicated you are to shooting, how long you plan on shooting and how dedicated you are to shooting that gun in particular. I have about 150 mags for my AR15, a few dozen for my AR10 types and at least 10 for every handgun. (AR mags are the first to become hard to find in a pinch)

      I just bought a $500 handgun and spend another $350 on mags.

      I assume that I won’t be able to buy any normal capacity mags tomorrow and buy accordingly.

      • Good point, rabbi, and that’s another thing that really frosts my cake. I’m limited to ten round mags in MA unless I can find so-called “high capacity”mags that were made before the ban went into effect. When I relocate to a more sensible state, I expect to buy a bunch of legal mags that hold more than ten rounds. Until then, I’m stuck with castrated magazines.

        • Yupper. If possible, buy the normal capacity mags now while you can and have them sent to someone in a free state that can hold them for you. You never know when a ban or panic buying will happen and it might be before you regain your freedom.

  8. Nothing about emptying out loaded mags periodically?

    I’ve heard it’s good practice to swap out your loaded mags periodically so the spring won’t degrade from being fully compressed all the time (I remember a Massad Ayoob article that reccomended this). I make sure to do this once a month, taking the ammo out of my loaded mags and putting it into previously empty ones.

  9. Rabbi, I think you get credit for the next Question Of The Day: How Many Magazines Do You Own For Each Firearm? My own (non-Rabbi approved) answer: between two and seven. I also have four speedloaders for my 686, though…

    I think I’ll hit up an online dealer today and get one more for each of my defensive pistols.

    • For the same reason my dad keeps old electronic components, fasteners, pipe joints, and carpentry supplies laying about?

      I haven’t acted on it (my wife would think I was secretly buying guns) but I’ve thought it might be a good idea to have two or three Glock 9mm, AR-15, and maybe Beretta 92 magazines around. Even though I don’t own any of those guns, I might get one some day when normal-capacity magazines aren’t available.

      And I did just buy another magazine for my carry gun.

  10. WTF!!!! Rule #7. Are you smoking something. Who the hell has enough money to have 10 magazines per gun!!! The rest of us hourly wage working little peons can barely afford 1 extra mag. Thank goodness I purchase alot of Taurus products. They all come with 2 mags. At an average price of $30 to $35 for an ”extra” magazine!! I’d have to give up things like,I don’t know,electricity for the month. Like alot of people who read this blog,I live paycheck to paycheck,I sometimes have a hard time affording gas and food between paychecks much less having money left over for ‘extra’ magzines for my pistols. Get a grip dude. I’d be happy to supply you with my address if you would like to buy me a few ‘extra’ magazines for my firearms. Until then,stop thinking everyone else out here can afford what you suggest. You’re naieve and sound like a rich elitest.

  11. There’s no need for you to have hissey fit just because the Rabbi suggested that we own a certain number of mags, he didn’t tell you that you’re required to do anything. I own more mags and DRUMS than anyone I know and most likely even more that the Rabbi owns. I may be a “rich elitest” as you suggest, but it sure is nice to be able to buy whatever I want whenever I want to do so.

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