Over at gunsmagazine.com, legendary gun guru Massad Ayoob tackles the contentious question How Many Rounds Should A Pistol-Packer Pack? A Peck! OK, I added that last bit. As you might expect, Mr. Ayoob is not a great fan of the J-Frame-related reply . . .

In those Internet debates, you’ll always find the guy who says, “If the five rounds in my J-Frame aren’t enough, I’ll get the heck out of there.” Unfortunately, if getting the heck out of there had been an option at all, the J-Frame would probably never come into play in the first place.

With all due respect, most snubbie owners would use their guns to help them get the heck out of there, rather than try and find out if their rounds are “enough.”

As you might expect, Mr. Ayoob doesn’t finish his article recommending a specific number of “spare” rounds:

A gun without spare ammo is a temporary gun! We all have to face the fact we might need to fire the darn thing. High-volume events are indeed on the far end of the bell curve of likelihood, like house fires. Think of spare ammo as analogous to your fire insurance: “It’s not about the odds, it’s about the stakes.” Extra rounds are like the gun itself: “better to have and not need, than to need and not have.”

No matter what gun I carry, I have one reload on board. Do you carry spare ammo? If you do, where and how do you carry it? (Hopefully not like the boys above, who keep it in their hair.)

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98 Responses to Question of the Day: How Many ‘Spare’ Rounds Do You Carry (If Any)?

  1. I try to carry an extra mag but its a pain. I don’t like loading myself down with gear. I tend to carry one about 33% of the time

  2. As one of my instructors once said, the only two times you can be carrying too much ammo is when you are either drowning or on fire.

      • Ouch! Thanks for that though, I don’t see it often mentioned. I’ve had low back problems for years, and when it’s bad it definitely can change what and how I carry. That said, switching off my belt and into a good shoulder rig helps. These days it’s a Miami Classic w/G19 and two spare mags, always 2 spare mags though, regardless of my primary. I don’t carry spares for my back up gun, but even for a gear heavy nut like me there are limits…

  3. I’m currently carrying a Heckler & Koch P30sk 9mm 10+1. I used to carry a spare 10 round magazine in a OWB pouch, but I recently started taking advantage of my Aliengear Tuck3 holster and I now tuck my shirts in. This means my shirt no longer covers the OWB mag pouch, so for now, I’m not carrying a spare.
    I’ve been looking for a way to carry the spare mag, either in a pocket or with an IWB mag pouch. With the IWB, I might need to go up one size in pants.
    Aliengear has recently released their Tuck Mag holder which can be worn either OWB or IWB. may need to investigate that.

    • Snag Mags are an awesome way to pocket carry, as long as people wouldn’t look at you sideways if you carried a multitool or something similar in your pocket.

  4. I’m with you, RF, I always carry one extra mag, unless I’m carrying a Revolver, in which case I carry two Speed strips if I’m carrying concealed, or two speed loaders if I’m carrying openly. Why Carry a Revolver at all? I Pretty much only do on days when I am going to be spending a fair amount of time in the woods. If it looks like it’s going to be a bout 50/50 woods and town, I carry I concealed revolver, more woods than town, open carry revolver, more town than woods, conceal carry an auto.

  5. In daily dress, I carry a Glock 19 and 2 extra 20 round mags….. unless I have my briefcase, then I carry the above plus a takedown AR and four 30 round mags. Now that bad guys come in bunches with AK rifles, there is no such thing a too much firepower!

  6. I never go out of the house without a triple combat load on my person. That’s 900 rounds of 5.56, 135 of 9mm, and an anti-tank rocket. It’s the only way to be prepared.

  7. We keep having this question asked and I give the same answer every time. One extra magazine for double stack and two for single stack. The principle reason for the extra double stack mag is to protect against magazine failure. With a single stack pistol it is one for capacity and one for reliability. In any case you are unlikely to get beyond five rounds anyway.

  8. I carry a Ruger LC9s Pro in a pocket holster. The supplied magazine holds seven, so that’s eight in the pistol, plus I carry one 10-round magazine in a left side pocket (I’m a rightie).

  9. I’m currently carrying my Shield 9mm with the HYVE +2 base pad at 5 o’clock. I have another spare mag in my purse, and if I’m driving I also have a mounted Glock 33 under the wheel.

    • I’m with you on this, generally one spare load no matter the handgun. I live in a rather rural area, so normally I would be concerned about one or two potential assailants at most. However, when traveling, and passing through or going to a big city, the number of potential bad guys rises rapidly. In that case, if I am out of the local area, I always have a semi-auto pistol with TWO spare magazines.

  10. When I carry a semi-auto I have one spare full sized magazine, if I’m carrying a revolver then two speed strips.

    If there is any place That would likely require me to carry more ammo then I don’t need to be there and if for some reason I absolutely had to go to a place like that I’d bring a rifle or shotgun.

    I’ve seen people who think they are concealing their 2, 33 round Glock magazines and I hope they realize they are not fooling anyone.

  11. No extra. I’m just not a big scenario creator, which is endemic among POTG. I’m still watching for all those gunfights out there that require 30 – 45 rounds or so. I just don’t see them.

    • A lot of the reason to carry a spare mag is in case of mag failure, not necessarily to have the spare ammo.

      • It just isn’t that complicated Dan.

        Multiply your odds of ever needing a gun in a defensive gun use times the odds of a magazine failure. Pretty high number on the bottom. No thanks. One operable firearm is enough carry for me. May I assume you carry a back-up gun in case one of your primary weapon’s internal parts fail?

        • No, because if there is going to be a failure, it will be substantially more likely to be the magazine, and a magazine can be quickly replaced, where spare parts cannot. Also, there are numerous stories of people who get in self defense cases and accidentally eject the magazine as they draw their gun. I would rather pull a second magazine from my belt then gave to ask the criminal assaulting me to wait while I fish the magazine from the ground.

          By the way, straw man arguments are not valid arguments, despite my being able to provide multiple reasons why your argument was weak.

      • I’ve been shooting a long time with (maybe) one mag failure. If my mag fails in some alley, I guess it’s not my day. The once with a question mark was in Vietnam, shooting for fun and familiarity (we killed people from airplanes, not with rifles), I had 800 rounds in mags, blazing away like a madman, ran into one mag which had 3 jams. Set it down, and when the next mag ran fine, I tossed it down the line and used it as a target until it was out of sight.

        I carry a spare mag because my gun only holds 7. My bride does not carry spares for her 5-round revolver.

    • Ditto. My gun holds 8 rounds. I live in a “city” of 100,000 people. There are rumors that there are gang members here, but they mostly quietly sell meth and probably heroin, but otherwise keep their heads down. (they may sell pot, but I live in a pot growing area, so it is not a big trade.) Drive-by shootings have happened a couple of times in the last 30 years, but I don’t live in or go to those neighborhoods. In the last 30 years, I’ve seen one fight outside one grocery store (lasted less than a minute), even though the homeless frequent those places (at certain times of year). I buy gas, almost always, during daylight hours.

      I have a high level of respect for Mr. Ayoob, however house fires are exceedingly common while gun fights with empty magazines (for people who are not gang bangers) rarer than hen’s teeth. And if someone tries to break into my house, well I have large noisy dogs to warn them off, plus extra guns and spare mags, should the need arise. I don’t need to carry all that with me.

    • I agree. I try not to get too worked up about things that are substantially less likely to happen than getting struck by lightning.

    • This gave me a wonderful mental image of someone dragging around a cop in one of the little kid harnesses. Thank you.

    • Both strength and cardio in one carry package. Nice 🙂

      Training, not the cop. The donut reloads must weight a ton by themselves.

  12. I carry a G26 and a Taurus TCP, but no extra rounds or magazines for either on my person. In my vehicle, I have an extra standard mag and 33 rd. mag for the G26, in case I got stuck some place on my own, like while travelling.

    Carrying the two pocket guns affords me extra rounds for sufficiency, but also redundancy in the event of firearm or magazine failure.

  13. Time machine! To the early 90’s when a young Doc Samson was rockin’ Dokken on the boombox, growing his sweet, sweet mullet, and crankin’ reps with his plastic covered, cement Weider weights!

    “sigh” Good times!

    Uh, what was the question?

    • Hmm, watching the graphic equalize on the rack stereo flash and dance with the music, sweating under a motorcycle jacket both too hot to wear and too cool to take off, and practicing….something with a butterfly knife, a young Ardent could have joined you.

  14. I suppose one can never be too well prepared. However, it’s getting to the point where the well equipped person needs one more item — a wheelbarrow to carry it all.

  15. I learned the hard way. DO NOT just throw a mag in a pocket. It will fall out. I am still just as mad about the lose of 16 rounds of RIP ammo. Get a proper mag holder

    • The RIP ammo was a waste of money to begin with, the part that sucked was you could have at least shot it at some water balloons and filmed in in slow motion instead of simply losing it.

      • You’re not wrong. ShootingTheBull410 analyzed the ammo for us and found it was less penetrative than a .22!

  16. I carry a spare mag in a Dale Fricke horizontal OWB holder. It doesn’t take up any precious pocket room, and I am insured against mag failure.

  17. Forgive the long-winded reply to follow, but these are my thoughts on the subject developed with some study and life experience. I usually carry a pair of J-Frames (640 & 642), two speedloaders downloaded to 4 rounds apiece and a speedloader (in the wintertime). If 19 rounds of .357/.38 spread over two guns isn’t enough I fail to see how 19 more would do the trick. I understand the arguments about carrying more because of multiple attackers but, I’m of the opinion if you’re beset upon by numerous people (more than an average shooter can realistically engage in a short duration, I’m thinking like a real life el presidente Drill, 10-15 seconds-ish) then you’re best bet is they haul balls when the first assailant gets ventilated. Human nature, self-preservation and some evidence would indicate that is the case. If not, and this hypothetical mob is armed and willing to stand and fight despite their losses…then you’re fucked. If such is the case then you better hope they kick down your door…where you keep your long-gun and plate carrier handy.

    Years ago my now wife and I were assaulted by a rather nasty flash mob (6 “men” and 1 woman) in D.C. (who referred to themselves as the “Showout Gang,” google them, they’re A class assbags). Despite being grossly outnumbered and unarmed my mere willingness to resist, coupled with a hasty retreat when the opportunity presented itself carried the day for my date and I. These were some nasty fuckers, they beat people up all over the city but they were apparently unwilling, despite their numerical advantage to tangle with a 6’3, 300 pound man.

    If there’s evidence to the contrary, where a *civilian* CCW holder emptied a full size semi-auto, reloaded, and then emptied it again, thereby dispatching a bushel of bad-guys, and then I’m all ears.

    Just my humble, and somewhat thought out opinion.

    • I agree, the only way I see some one doing a reload during a gun fight is possibly in a terrorist attack. Even then they are going to be much heavily armed, so unless that first mag stops them you probably are not getting a chance to reload anyway.

      • Gotta make sure you drop at least one terrorist with your carry gun. Then you can transition to his. I taught myself how to use an AK for this very reason, even though I’m not a fanboy. I could never remember safety up or down until I shot one. Berettas, Glocks, 1911’s, etc., I try to familiarize myself with all the common types in case I am ever forced to use one under duress or safely unload one. May sound stupid to some, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

        • Renner, I feel you, and agree with you so long as your goal is to barricade and/or shoot to live. That being said, it’d take some tactical magic on one’s part. Carrying the fight to 7-10 armed men is a daunting…almost Hollywood-level task. If you haven’t yet, check out security cam footage from either the Westgate Mall shooting or the 2015 Paris attacks. I find it curious how despite using squad size elements these asshats split up into twos and threes…and they look pretty lackadaisical for that matter. So, I suppose it would be plausible to launch a counter ambush…provided of course once isn’t crippled with fear.

    • The odds are surely against such occurring, but if I did have to shoot my way out of a mob, I like the odds better with 3 rapid 15 round mag dumps than fewer rounds at at slower pace. Or, as long as we are in mob hypothetical mode, more shots without interruption would seem to me a better chance than drawing multiple guns. Is 46 rounds overkill, most likely, but then, some would say 2 guns is overkill too.

  18. I think a j-frame revolver (with five rounds in the cylinder) is perfectly adequate for stopping a garden variety mugger or rapist.

    If you want to be prepared to stop a suicide attacker or an attacker who is high on PCP or LSD, then a j-frame revolver with five rounds may very well prove inadequate. A j-frame revolver would also be inadequate for multiple determined attackers. In those instances, I would recommend at least 24 rounds of 9mm or larger caliber.

    I have 15 rounds in my semi-auto pistol that I carry daily. About 96% of the time, I also have a spare magazine with 14 rounds. I carry that spare magazine in a belt holster … although I occasionally carry that spare in a pocket. If I were going to church for Easter/Christmas service or a shopping mall near Christmas, I would want to carry two spare magazines in a belt holster for a total round count of 43+.

  19. Always have my hk45 with 1 10 round spare with me and 90% of the time I also have my p90 (sbr in a backpack) with 2 spare mags for a total of 150 rounds

  20. PPS .40s&w 7+1 and a six round mag in the poc. Also a NAA .22 mag in the opposite pocket. All I have to do is make it back to my truck from wherever I am…then it’s a whole other story.

    • Indeed. G19 with 2 native spares plus a Bodyguard. 380 with no spares, all to fight my way back to where I left my rifle (the truck). If I make it that far, lack of firepower won’t be the problem.

      I’ve come to think of my SUV like a care package in a video game, it’s got guns, ammo, tools, armor, food, water, first aid, shelter and you can live or leave in it as needed. If you’re in desperate straights, finding the golden SUV might save your life.

  21. If I’m carrying a G26 or 27, I carry a G19 or G23 mag as a backup. If it’s my P938, I carry two extra 7rd mags.

  22. FIRST – ALWAYS an autoloader. Next, ALWAYS at least 2 (TWO) spare magazines full. And always concealed, unless in the “woods”.

  23. I carry a Glock 26 loaded with the flush fit 10 round mag. If I’m going to be out running errands or travelling, I carry an extended 12 round mag as a backup.

  24. Ayoob makes some good points now and then, and he was “in the trenches” so to speak as an LE . . . but after seeing his thought processes when it comes to handloaded ammunition I lost respect for the guy to point is I do not listen to a word he says/writes. His ability to make leaps in logic, all the while making himself look like a tool by patronizing anyone who disagrees with him, casts doubt on anything he puts forth.

    • The only article I saw was MR Ayoob recommending against the use of hand loads because they can bias the jury/ judge into thinking you where some rabid gun happy freak who wanted a fight. He also gave a case, a little more far fetched to my mind but apparently real, where the prosecution convicted a gun owner based on some faulty ballistics.

  25. I mostly carry in a shoulder rig these days, due to hip problems making belt carry very painful, so by default I’m carrying 2 spare mags. So either 45 or 37 rounds on tap, depending on whether I’m carrying the 9mm or the .40S&W.

  26. Based on the experience of an acquaintance, I now have a clearer explaination for why I have always carried a spare mag with my 1911.

    As a retired NYC ADA, he favored a 5 shot snub nose revolver in .38 Special – he thought I was crazy for carrying a ‘Hand Cannon’, and blood thirsty for carrying 14 rounds.

    Then, one evening, he met a fellow he’d prosecuted successfully a few years earlier and a pair of that fellow’s associates in a parking garage. He was on the ground before he managed to draw, but aqquited himself well with his five rounds, hitting two of his assailants, one fatally, while the other ran off.

    He called 911, opened his car, grabbed the spare rounds he had in a speed strip in the center console, and promptly fumbled it, scattering rounds under the car.

    Now, while waiting for Police, or the missing assailant ( possibly with more friends, or a pistol of his own) he was searching around under the car with an empty pistol.

    The Police arrived first, fortunately. But the following week, I helped my friend purchase a GLOCK19 and a few spare mags.

    So while I doubt that I’d need more than a single magazine for an encounter, I believe I would find great comfort in being able to have a fully loaded pistol in the aftermath.

    • This. After you’re pretty sure the shooting is over, why wouldn’t you want to swap for a full magazine? The odds of ever getting into a shooting situation as a civilian in the US are pretty low, but I’m willing to bet they’re higher than baseline in the few minutes after you’ve just been in one; some not-nice people have not-nice friends.

      • My thoughts exactly. At the first opportunity after a DGU, top off. Much more likely than needing to reload during the fight.

  27. It’s like spare cigarettes. . .

    Got an extra cigarette?

    Nope, only 20 come in a pack and they’re all there. But I can offer you one of these.

    The goal is to just be the last man to ask St. Peter if he’s got a “spare mag”.

  28. If temps below 55 degrees: Glock 17 on hip (2 spare mags), Glock 26 in jacket (2 spare mags), and Glock 43 in pocket (1 spare mage): total round count = 96
    If temps above 55 degrees: Glock 17 on hip (2 spare mags), Glock 43 in pocket. total round count = 59

    So, I guess I’m more “vulnerable” in the Spring/Summer!

  29. One speedloader. BTW- when I took MAG40 3 years ago, Mas carried a custom 1911, 2 spare mags on his belt and a Smith and Wesson 442 in left front pocket.

  30. I carry 2 extra mags for my 9mm shield on my belt all the time. One 8 round and one 7 round with an 8 rounder in the gun. For everyone concerned about showing 2 mags. I carry mine in a cell phone case with a Velcro flap. Works well with a little practice and no one is the wiser.

    • What’s involved in a New York Reload? Driving home to Massachusetts to pick up more ammo?

  31. How will I know if had any spare ammo until the gunfight is over? Perhaps my second magazine of 17 rounds will be just right.

  32. yall are ridiculous….if you just stick to Gun Free Zones you don’t have to lug all those evil guns and bullets around.
    Now I am not an idiot, I realize that some evil people will break the rules, therefore, coloring books and puppy petting rooms should be available in all Gun Free Zones. This will provide the proper “safe space” for these troubled persons (no gender pronouns here please)…. Lastly, all GFZ signage should be at least the same size as the sign that Bans hurtful speech.

  33. LOL, I’m going to listen to RF instead of Mas?! I think not!

    I carry one spare mag. Not necessarily for the extra 17 rds. but in case the mag in the gun goes FUBAR for some reason.

  34. Zero.

    Carrying an extra mag IS a pain, and… Statistics say that most attacks end with just the presentation of a gun. And that when shots ARE fired that the attack is more often than not stopped with three rounds or less. For the average citizen, the hassle of carrying an extra mag is too much preparation for too little a chance of needing it. Have a good, fully loaded gun on you and know how to use it, and you’re prepared for all but the most unlikely event. Unless you’re an armed professional often going into high risk situations, an extra mag is overkill.

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