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This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

Ohio –-(  There is an old saying that says, “There is no such thing as bringing too much ammo to a gunfight!” Those concerned with personal protection and concealed carry seem to have accepted this as fact. Yet, FBI statistics indicate that on average most violent encounters are over within a few seconds and that if gunfire is involved, only 2-3 shots are fired. If this is true, then why is there so much concern about ammunition capacity in firearms used for self-defense in the United States? Prior to the 1970’s . . .

most American law enforcement agencies carried 6-shot revolvers and even the military carried 7-shot semi-automatic pistols or 6-shot revolvers. In Europe, revolver and pistol capacity was similarly in the 6-8 round range. The standard centerfire revolver cartridge in the U.S. was the .38 S&W Special with some agencies using the .357 S&W Magnum, while the .45 ACP was the predominant centerfire semi-auto pistol cartridge. In Europe, semi-automatic pistols were much more popular than revolvers were. The standard pistol chambering was 9 x 19 mm (aka 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum); although in most countries the use of this cartridge was limited to the military. For civilian and law enforcement use, the 7.65mm (.32 ACP) or the 9mm Kurtz/Corto (.380 ACP) were the standard.

Browning HP 9mm High Power FN
Browning HP 9mm High Power FN: The high-capacity handgun of the day was the 13+1-round 9mm Browning Hi-Power that came onto the market in the mid-1930’s.

The 1970-1980’s was also the timeframe in which firearms manufacturers were coming out with new 9mm pistols in anticipation of a change in the U.S. military from the 7-shot Colt Model 1911 in .45 ACP to a pistol chambered for the NATO standard 9x19mm cartridge. With several false starts — the decision to change to the 9mm cartridge/pistol combination was not finalized until 1985— the manufacturers turned to the law enforcement and civilian markets to sell their new generation of higher capacity, double-action service pistols. During this timeframe, the most popular of the new generation of 9mm semi-auto pistols were the S&W Model 39 (8-shot) and Model 59 (14-shot), the Beretta Model 92 (15-shot), and the Glock Model 17 (17-shot). Still, acceptance of these new, high-capacity semi-automatic pistols did not really take off until the U.S. military decided to adopt the 9mm Beretta Model 92 as the replacement for the venerable Colt Model 1911 in 1985.

Beretta USA 9mm Model 92FS Pistol
Beretta USA 9mm Model 92FS Pistol

Demand for these new pistols took off as the losers in the military pistol competition needed to recoup their R&D costs by selling their products on the civilian market. The high ammunition capacity of these new pistols was one of the primary selling points they used because the public needed a reason to accept the smaller 9mm cartridge.

Most American firearms experts like Colonel Jeff Cooper believed that the .45 ACP was all anyone needed for self-defense applications.

Still, the market for high-capacity semi-automatic pistols was largely limited to law enforcement and that segment of civilian users that were involved in the new action shooting sports. It was not until states began enacting broader concealed carry laws that the demand really grew. Accepting the premise that high capacity was good, the demand was now for smaller handguns suitable for concealed carry that also had large ammunition capacities. This first manifested itself with the downsizing of full size service pistols to “Commander”-size versions. The Glock Model 19 is probably the primary example of this.

Glock 19 Pistol
Glock 19 Pistol

There were still advocates that said the .45 ACP was the only real self-defense cartridge that should be considered, but there was just no way to make small, high capacity .45 pistols that had a grip that a normal person could comfortably hold onto. And, the 9mm’s ability during some high-profile shootouts between law enforcement and criminals was calling that cartridge’s stopping ability into question. One result of this was the development of the 10mm and .40 S&W cartridges. The .40 S&W was especially popular because pistols for this cartridge were the same size as those built to chamber the 9mm cartridge. Glock adapted their Model 19 to .40 S&W. The result was the 13-shot Glock Model 23. Except for caliber, it is exactly the same size as the Model 19

The demand for higher ammunition capacity was not lost on traditional revolver manufacturers either. Companies like Smith and Wesson have recently come out with wheel guns accommodating 7-8 rounds instead of the traditional 6. However, this results in the cylinder being larger in diameter and thus even more challenging for concealed carry than the 6-shot revolvers are. Other companies like Ruger worked with ammunition manufacturers to develop smaller, more powerful revolver cartridges and designed pistols for them that are the same relative size as the 5-shot S&W J-frame revolvers, but instead hold 6 rounds of ammunition.

The primary example of this is the .327 Federal Magnum cartridge which is more powerful than the .38 S&W Special, and approaches the performance of the .357 Magnum, but in a much smaller cartridge.To correct the perceived deficiencies in the 9mm cartridge, ammunition manufactures focused on improving its performance. New powders and bullet designs resulted in performance that rivals that of much more powerful cartridges. Because of lower costs and less felt recoil, these new 9mm cartridges have been targeted at the civilian market which has largely stayed with that cartridge, while most law enforcement agencies have transitioned to the .40 S&W cartridge.

Even the “Commander”-size pistols were deemed by many to be too large for concealed carry.

For a long time the only other viable alternative were the small, S&W J-frame revolvers in .38 Special, .38 Special +P, and .357 Magnum. However, these revolvers typically only accommodate 5 rounds and this was felt to be too few for serious concealed carry use. So the focus more recently has been on the .380 ACP caliber pocket pistols. The somewhat anemic performance of the ammunition held these pistols back from widespread acceptance until ammunition manufacturers once again stepped in to up the round’s performance. The latest .380 rounds rival the performance of the original 9mm cartridges and a plethora of small pocket pistols are now on the market. Perhaps the most popular is Ruger’s LCP and the similar Kel-Tec .380 pocket pistol. These small, light-weight polymer frame pistols typically accommodate 6 rounds of .380 ACP ammunition in their magazines.

Ruger LCP Pistiol with Crimson Trace Laserguard
Ruger LCP Pistol with Crimson Trace Laserguard or Good Luck Charm? You decide.

So, what is the right answer to the question, “How much is enough?”

I guess it all depends. If you think the biggest threat you will face comes from a single assailant, then one of the small .380 caliber pocket pistols or .38 caliber J-frame revolvers is probably adequate.

However, if you think you might be confronted by multiple assailants — something that seems to be occurring with increasing frequency, especially in urban areas — then a handgun with a larger ammunition capacity might be more appropriate. Because they tend to be faster to reload, semi-automatic pistols are the preferred option. They are also flatter and thus easier to conceal.

Handguns with 10-15 round capacity, yet small enough to be easily carried seem to be the “sweet spot” that the firearms industry is targeting right now. One such model that I’m particularly fond of is Ruger’s 10-shot SR9c 9mm pistol. While larger than their LCP model, this gun is smaller than the “Commander”-size semi-autos.

The SR9c will also accommodate the larger 17 round magazines used in the full-size Ruger SR9 pistol.

Gary Evens is an NRA-Certified Instructor and Range Safety Officer.

Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots political action committee dedicated to defending and advancing the right of Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities. Visit: cebook

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  1. I don’t even consider carrying spare magazines for my Kahr PM9 (6+1 9mm).
    The chance of 1) me being in a gunfight, and 2) needing more than 7 shots, is so miniscule Its not worth even worth the inconvenience for the 1 in a billion chance it could save my life.

    • You can do as you please, but an extra mag for that gun is not a lot of extra bulk unless you only wear spandex bike shorts. Try it for a week. (The extra mag, not the bike shorts.)

    • Except the typical idea for conceal carriers having a spare magazine is for magazine failures (MUCH more likely fail point for semi-autos than anything else).

      Plus since the size and weight are minimal, what’s the harm even if it is for more ammo? You’re already in a ‘non-average’ situation by having to use your firearm, who’s to say what you have is exactly enough?

    • I agree. 8 rounds in my CW9 is enough in my (sub) urban area. (It is a small city of about 100,000.) When you add in the pocket knife, wallet, phone and other pocket paraphernalia, I am carrying around enough stuff as it is.

    • The thought of a magazine failure must be out there in left
      field with your minuscule chance of ever needing to fire your firearm in self-defense. :huh:

  2. I’m actually taking a step back on that myself this year…

    Primary carry was the FNX9mm with 1 spare magazine (34 rounds total).

    I recently picked up a Ruger LCR in 38 –(5 rounds, probably carry 1 or 2 reloads on speed strips too – but realistically chances of getting into a protracted gun fight are statistically 0) with the intention of this becoming my primary carry. (Especially for walking the dog/ jogging).

    I’m in a rural area – and while an encounter with a group of 2 legged predators is possible – I feel my most likely scenario is actually going to be running into a predator of the 4 legged kind. Either way presumably take out the Alpha & the betas will scatter. That’s what the plan is anyways — If that plan is ever needed I guess I’ll find out if I’m inadequate.

  3. No comment on the article, but what’s with the weird pitch change in the typeface in the second paragraph after the glock photo?

    • If I was grading a term paper, I would have to guess copy-and-paste from another source. I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume he edited the document on his phone and formatting must have gotten screwed up – which is what my students usually claim happened.

      Otherwise, thank you to the author for an interesting read.

      • The TinyMCE WYSIWYG text editor that WordPress uses (along with nearly every CMS everywhere) is really sensitive to extraneous code. You’d be surprised how much gobbledygook a word processor crams in behind the scenes. Some of that stuff translates into HTML, which then overrides the website’s default styles.

        As a content manager/copy editor for websites that have a lot of contributors, I see that all the time. I’ve had to get fairly efficient at using the HTML viewer to strip out the offending garbage.

        Maybe not the answer, but it’s one answer, anyway. 🙂

        BTW, I wouldn’t accept that excuse for a term paper; word processors aren’t as code-sensitive as websites, and the presence of multiple fonts is reason enough to suspect that someone is playing fast and loose with the rules of academic writing (though it doesn’t necessarily prove it). It’s a good thing for journalists and website writers in general that the standard for citing sources in the real world is so darn low.

        • vis-à-vis term papers, they were way back there for me, and included typewriters, but I still was expected to proofread my product before submitting it, I cannot imagine someone today submitting a paper with multiple fonts, why not just change it? Unless you never looked at it, much less authored it.

  4. Personally, I carry a FNS9 (IWB) with 1 chambered and 17 round mag. Plus one extra 17rd mag on the weak side belt.
    I chuckle when I think that my friends/family on MA need 4 mags (unless they have pre 1999 mags) to carry that many rounds and in NY, my cousins would need 5.

  5. My usual EDC is a S&W M& P 40pro 15+1 with a spare 10+1in M&P40c/ 27rds I think I’m good. I recently stopped carrying a double mag carrier for +30, it started feeling paranoid.

  6. 6+1 in my pistol, another 6 in one spare mag. If I need more than a baker’s dozen to get out of what I’m in, I’m probably a goner anyway. But if I lived in a confined urban area featuring packs of feral “yoots” I would feel differently, I expect.

  7. For me, I feel that one 15-round mag of 9mm hollow points ought to be enough for me to fire and get away.

    Somehow though, this question reminds me of Burn Notice, where they never seem to carry more than 2 mags or one tube’s worth of shotgun ammo, and that’s if they brought the shotgun, all this despite the increasing frequency of their gunfights. “Hey do you think we should bring some more ammo?” “MOAR? We’re just helping out this not-for-profit clinic. Its not like they’re involved with drug cartels or anything.” Then they act all surprised when they do run out.

  8. Well, not being blessed with the ability to foretell the future I have no idea what I will need – I may not need to carry a gun at all. I can only control what I will have within the legal constraints of the jurisdiction I happen to be in at the time.

    I would rather have too many rounds than too few, but again, until attacked I won’t know what the amount necessary will be.

    • I believe this to be the best answer to the, realistically, unanswerable question. Carry what you are comfortable with. For some, that may be a 5-shot J-frame. For others, a full size Glock and two spare mags. There’s no one thing that works for everyone. What you have on you is better than what you left at home. Not the best, but something is better than nothing.

  9. Seems many people that carry a pistol do so in order to be prepared for the worst case scenario, but within that preparation some folks have a lot of optimism that they will only need to use it under the “best” or ideal scenario. That is, the standard issue: one assailant, 2-3 shot, 2-3 second that is bandied about. Or they have a strange fatalism of “Well if I can’t get it done in five, screw it, I’ll just let myself die or whatever.” I can’t really agree with either of those approaches or trains of thought myself.

    I agree with the sweet spot the author identifies as something 9mm and up, in a semiautomatic, with 10-15 capacity or thereabouts, with a spare mag. Ya know, in case you miss, or you face more than one threat, the threat is on bath salts and wants to eat your face 🙂 or you have to clear a malfunction, or whatever.

    • >> Seems many people that carry a pistol do so in order to be prepared for the worst case scenario, but within that preparation some folks have a lot of optimism that they will only need to use it under the “best” or ideal scenario.

      That’s perfectly logical if you look at statistics. The chances of being in a situation where a handgun is hugely beneficial are low, but not low enough to not warrant doing anything about it. But the chances of being in such a situation where having 3x ammo are hugely beneficial are several orders of magnitude lower. Obviously, different people will draw the line differently on those things, but I don’t see why you find it surprising that for a lot of them, that line ends up being drawn somewhere between A and B – there’s a lot of ground there.

      • It’s an extension of the same question that leads some people to not carry a gun and others not to own guns at all.

        The odds that you’ll ever need to use one to defend yourself are incredibly low. The odds that you’ll need to fire at all, even if you bring a gun into play, are lower still. The odds that you’ll need to fire more than 3 or 4 shots are almost infinitesimally small. Yet it does happen. And when it does, the consequences of not being prepared with a functional gun and enough ammo can be severe and permanent. (Death is irreversible, as far as I know.)

        So that’s what it comes down to. How much trust are you willing to place in favorable odds? And how worried are you about the consequences if your (almost but not quite) sure bet doesn’t work out?

        Me, I fall into what I’d call the “reasonable precautions” camp. I carry a full-capacity compact 9mm wherever allowed by law. I practice with it as often as I can and keep it all in clean working order. Carry a spare mag in case of malfunction? Maybe. But anything other than that, no. By the time we allow for all the what-ifs that have to take place in order to find a scenario where my 14 rounds of Gold Dot self-defense ammo (and maybe a spare magazine) can’t do the job, we’ve gone well past lightning-strikes-twice territory. No precaution will ever be 100% effective. There comes a point where that tiny imponderable remainder isn’t worth the sacrifice of my peace of mind or everyday convenience.

        • Yes, exactly. Every step you take increases your chances, but those increases become really minuscule at some point – there’s a huge leap going from no gun to some gun, and a noticeable leap going from something like .22 to even a .380, but it’s getting smaller and smaller from there on. On the other hand, every step you take, you pay for with convenience (larger caliber, higher-capacity magazines and more of them means more to carry, less comfortable to carry, and fewer carry choices; it’s not exactly easy to pocket carry a .45, for example). Where the balance between the two lies is entirely subjective.

          There’s actually one more variable here, which is money. For example, you can get a .357 snubbie that has the same size/weight profile as a typical .380 mousegun, but it’ll cost you 4 times as much (S&W 340PD vs Ruger LCP). For myself, I felt that the price sticker for 340PD warranted the little extra piece of mind that it gives me when carried compared to .380, so I went with it and I’m happy with my choice. But then I could afford to spend that much (and then more on ammo etc for practice); I understand that not everyone has that as a viable option. And the nice thing about the current .380 market is that they’re all cheap to super-cheap. More options accessible to more people is always good.

    • I’d bet there are plenty of people (though not on this site) who carry a gun with NO ammo, and according to most sources that will be enough, most times. If threatened, wave it around, and bad guys depart. If not, oh well, I couldn’t possibly shoot someone. I carry 7+1 and a spare 7, but the spare is deep and in a leather dust cover, there will be no tacticool rapid reload. If confronted by a bunch, I intend to forget double taps and put a hole in about 2, then look for cover. If pursued, which I really, really doubt, a couple more holes while digging for my spare. If I am still in danger, we’re talking a jihadist mob looking for virgins, using my remaining ammo to escape and evade, hide, etc. looks like the best I could do even if I had my AR. Seems to me, if you’re carrying multiple 17 round mags or whatever, your plan includes a high speed mag dump as an opening gambit. Your choice, but I sure don’t plan to do that.

      • For the jihadist mob, I would posit that the proper way to handle that would be to use whatever handgun you have to get to your car. Your car does have a “trunk gun” with a few loaded standard capacity magazines alongside it, right? 😉

  10. XD-S 9mm 7+1 with a spare mag of 9. I mostly carry the spare mag in case of a feed failure that a slap`n`rack doesn’t clear on the first try. Mags have never failed me, but it’s easy to carry the extra single stack. 😉

    • +1, with the 9rd in a Snag Mag.

      Occasionally I carry the 9rd and another 7rd in a dedicated IWB 2 mag holder. The snag mag is more comfortable and convenient but only because of the extra waistband space needed for the IWB mag carrier and my pants are my normal sized pants and aren’t upsized for carry. Pack the IWB holster and IWB mags and I need a larger waistlined pant if I want to breathe.

    • I carry a spare mag for the same reason, in case of a failure. While I doubt I’ll need more than 7 rounds, I don’t think a failure to feed problem is a vast improbability.

  11. 15 rounds in my G19, with one spare magazine. I carry the spare so I can stay in the fight after clearing a potential malfunction caused my mag #1. Having 30 rounds at my disposal is just an added benefit. My HD rifle wears a redi-mag for the same reason. Most malfunctions are caused by either mags or ammo.

    • This. Exactly this for me, this is pretty much how I carry my pistol. Except for when I’m hiking, then I carry MORE ammo.

      • I carry a G32 with thirty rounds between two mags and the one in the chamber. I like it. It gives me some incentive to carry something bigger than my typical compacts. Which I do carry an extra mag for them as well.

  12. It depends, for a trip to the grocery store or the mall, a Ruger LCP fits the bill.
    On a road trip out of town an G21 with two spare magazines.
    Last week on a road trip a guy saw the two mags and asked if we were anticipating trouble, I answered we were not anticipating, just being prepared.

    • Agreed. It is conditional. Very much like you’ve listed, I carry my P238 for quick errands, and a bit more firepower (full-sized plus extra mags) if I’m on the road somewhere (except when I have to cross the border into the PRC, since my ‘damn near everywhere’ CCWs aren’t good there).

    • +1

      Local = Sig 938, no extra mag

      Traveling = Sig 938, 2 extra mags AND 1911, 2 extra mags

      When I’m traveling I carry a cabled lock box and secure whichever one + mags that I’m not carrying that day.

      Subject to local laws and reciprocity of course.

  13. I carry enough ammo because jackals run in packs. Will I ever meet a pack of jackals? Who knows? But if ever I do, I’ll be ready. I buy car insurance to be prepared for the unknown, same with extra ammo.

  14. I carry a S&W SD9VE with 16+1 of 9mm in a OWB holster. Spare pistol mag in the vehicle. AR-15 is in the vehicle,along with 8 30rnd PMAGS. Last pouch in the rifle bag carries my bipod for my AR.
    Home Defense is my 870 12Ga with 3″ shells in the tube and a sidesaddle with 6 shells of 2 3/4″ 00 buckshot.

  15. I never go anywhere without at least six extra magazines on me for my primary gun, plus four more for my backup gun and no less than two extra mags for my backup backup gun., in case a race riot or gang war should happen to erupt around me and I want to make sure I’m properly prepared. Sure it’s tough to walk with all that around but it’s not so bad as long as you have a really good pair of suspenders.

  16. Why is there so much concern?


    Any time a mandated constraint is placed upon what should be a personal choice, concern is warranted.

    Caliber, pistol or revolver, action type … Often there is no single answer that suits one person all of the time, let alone that the population as a whole would find appropriate.

  17. If I’m in a position where I need more than 1 spare magazine, then I’ve wandered into a combat situation and seriously miscalculated.

    Right now, I should be good to go when it comes to most threats. I will reevaluate, however, if society continues on its current trajectory.

  18. What a crap article. To ask a question in the title, then answer it with “it depends”. Seriously?!? Fear-mongering at its finest.

    I do, however, agree with your assessment of the Ruger SR9 and SR9c. I have one of each. Good, accurate, easy to shoot pistols.

  19. For me the question is “Is another 12oz of 5.7 enough of an inconvenience not to bring it with me?” At 61 rounds total I suspect that my chance of running out by firing it at attackers is comfortably close to zero. That it may be nearly as close at 21 is not something I feel the need to contemplate much. However, I was also quite comfortable only carrying five .38s for a year or so a while back, and probably would be so now. I don’t really worry about it one way or the other.

  20. Do you think one full magazine is enough for your a night on the town?
    Or do you think you’ll need two extra mags to go to the mailbox?
    How many angels can dance on the head of a .357 magnum casing?
    Some of these things we can only know in the past tense. How to prepare for the unexpected is up to each of us as an individual, and we’re only accountable to ourselve or to our families. My EDC compliment – whether it includes 4 spare magazines or no gun at all, is my business, and subject to my discretion. Nobody else’s.
    This kind of discussion serves all too readily as a vehicle for blowhards to preach their opinion, and nothing positive ever comes of it.

    • I wouldn’t say that nothing positive ever comes of it, I made my carry decisions based in part on discussions like this one. I found the gun I wanted, but didn’t really know where to go from there. The internet is a great resource, and forums like this one can be an invaluable tool for people like myself. I made the decision to start carrying on my own, and I am the only person in my family who sees the benefits of doing so.

      By reading endless discussions like this objectively I was able to formulate my own educated decisions on how to get involved in carrying a firearm, and I am grateful to have this type of information so easily accessible.

      • I agree. It makes sense to compare and contrast with what others do from time to time. I haven’t made it through all of the posts yet, but I haven’t run across one yet that was disrespectful in this thread.

  21. Simple answer to the need for more ammo. Hollywood. With Rambo, McClane, Ah-nuld and the like firing an uzi in each hand against armies of well trained and equipped bad guys people are being influenced to go over board.

    99.99% of citizen dgu’s can be solved by a j frame .38. But everybody wants to prepare for the outlier because all their lives they’ve had the fear ramped up by news and Hollywood.

    People are indeed, sheeple. Doesn’t matter if they’re from the left or right side of the aisle.

    This is America. Carry what you’re comfortable with. You can have the mini gun with backpack full of ammo. I’ll take a j frame.

      • Years ago in Newark NJ 6 guys started approaching a friend of mine with the intent of doing him harm. My bud pulled out a snub nosed .38 and ask them “Which one of you MF’s do I shoot first?”

        They all ran away as fast as they could.

      • Actually. it’s not my freedom. I live in Alameda County CA. No permit for me. I walk the same streets that free people would walk with guns, backup guns and spare ammo up the wazoo.

        I get to Oakland at least once a day. And I do it unarmed except for a folding knife.

        • I’d feel a little nervous in Oakland with nothing more than a pocket knife. Then again, I’m an Iowa country boy, so maybe someone from Oakland would feel nervous walking down a gravel road in Iowa with nothing more than a pocket knife.

    • Hey now, If I could walk around with a mini gun and a back pack full of ammo I sure as fuck would! “Hey! Gimme your wall-” ZZZZZIIIIIIIPPP* Splatter*

  22. From the article, “… FBI statistics indicate that on average most violent encounters are over within a few seconds and that if gunfire is involved, only 2-3 shots are fired.”

    So, how much ammunition to carry? Decide the worst case threat profile for which you want to defend yourself. If you want to be prepared for the “average violent encounter”, a 5-shot j-frame revolver in .38 Special or 6-shot compact semi-automatic handgun (with enough ammunition for one reload) in .380 ACP or 9mm Parabellum is a fine choice. If you want to be prepared for one to four attackers, then a semi-automatic handgun with a 13+ round capacity and one spare magazine is in order. If you want to be ready for a concerted school or mall attack, then you want a semi-automatic handgun with 13+ round capacity, two or more spare magazines, and a backup handgun (which you would probably share with an unarmed person).

      • One person with a full size semi-automatic handgun and two or more spare magazines is almost certainly incapable of stopping all the attackers in a coordinated school or mall assault. The equipment that I stated does, however, give someone a decent chance of getting out of a school or mall attack alive. And multiple people equipped as I stated have a decent chance of stopping all of the attackers in a coordinated school or mall attack.

        Of course a long gun is far superior for combat. Unfortunately, there is no practical way to possess a long gun when you are in a school or mall … at least not without receiving a lot of unwanted attention.

        • Actually what you stated would be enough, if your smart and pick up the weapons and ammo off the terrorists you kill and use them on the rest. You know, the old, “use knife to get pistol, pistol to get rifle, rifle to get machine gun..” line of thinking.

    • Every U.S. School or mall attack I can remember (except columbine) could have been stopped with one properly placed bullet.

      I am sure there are other mass shootings that involved multiple attackers, but I can only think of one.

      Riots on the other hand…

      • Joel,

        Look how many rioter went elsewhere to loot and burn when even one armed guy defended the place. They never had to fire a shot.

    • In a concerted mall attack or whatever, I’ll double tap one bad guy with my puny pistol, then drop my gun and pick his up, with a few hundred rounds of reloads. So, in that dramatic and far fetched scenario, I’ll need to be carrying about 2 shots.

  23. Bersa Thunder Ultra Pro9 holds 10 rounds, optional 13 round magazine available. I’m pretty accurate with this pistol, regardless of what I carry concealed, Ruger .38 LCR is always in my pocket. That should do it for the highly unlikely event I ever have a draw a weapon for self dense.

  24. When I carry, which is most of the time, I always carry a spare magazine for my G19. I also carry a third in my car, and if I anticipate going into a bad area for an extended period, I’ll pack a G18 mag in my car as well.

    I do this because there’s no good way to predict what kind of problem you’re going to have. If I lived in a rural area, I would probably carry my G20 with the spare mag and call that “overkill”. But when you live in the suburbs near highly populated areas, simultaneously close to both very high-income and very low-income areas, there’s no way to know what you’re going to go up against.

    Add in the large number of mosques in both in my county and in the neighboring counties (I live in Broward County, Florida, and both Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are less than 20 minutes travel, albeit in opposite directions).

    Certainly I hope to never fire a shot. That would be ideal. But the weight of the G19 and the spare mag is small; I barely notice it. I’m strong enough and big enough that I could walk around with a military loadout’s worth and not tire from the weight. And it’s better to have more than less, because when you carry, what you’ve got with you is _all you’ve got_.

  25. Currently I carry an SR9c, 10+1. I would carry a spare mag if I had bought the gun with one, being in NY I couldn’t get the 17 round mag. I have a spare 10rd mag on order but apparently they’re hard to come by…

    At the very least, at least I’m in part of NY that will let me carry the 10.

  26. “Even the “Commander”-size pistols were deemed by many to be too large for concealed carry.”

    Since when…???

  27. I like to have 13-15 rounds for sel defense so if I am carrying a double stack pistol I carry one spare mag in case of a magazine failure. For 1911 carry I take two. One for the extra rounds and one for magazine failure.

  28. Ya’ never know until ya’ know. Could be ya’ need none b/c of deterrent effect. Could be you’re isolated with determined assailants and you’re running out of lead with no phone signal and-or distant cavalry. Plan ahead for the environment and come ‘dressed’ for the occasion.

    Personally, I ‘generally’ keep mags or speed loaders on me or at hand for a total round count between 20 to 30+. About the same capacity ratio as I keep functional fire extinguishers around the house and in my vehicles.

  29. Meh…carry whatever you want. In my neighborhood south of Chicago there ARE roving bands of young men on the street. I also frequent Chicago. So statistically I guess the multiple attacker thing could be in play for me. I just don’t worry about it…

    • The vast majority of multiple-attacker encounters also end with just a few shots fired, because the attackers tend to vanish as soon as lead starts flying in their direction. Yes, there are cases where that’s not true, but they’re pretty few and far between. Most thugs are not looking for a gunfight, and when they find out they’ve started one, they generally beat feet.

  30. My nanny State of California feels that ten rounds is enough for anyone. I don’t remember voting on that and I seldom miss an election.

  31. Most times I’m just carrying my little NAA pug with (5) .22 WMR’s.

    But have to say I feel much more confident with my G19. Usually don’t carry an extra mag, but probably should.

    I don’t think there’s a ‘correct’ answer for this. If I could carry 1000 rounds worth of 40 megawatt burst capacity in a handy little 9 oz package I would. Reality dictates otherwise. Hence the Pug. If I ever get in a real bad spot, it gives me a shot to get out. If I’m going into a higher threat environment, I bring the G19. If I knew I was going to get into a firefight, I’d bring a rifle and a bag full of PMAG 40’s.

  32. A lot of good comments, including the one about mags being the most likely failure point. So a spare mag is about, well, a spare mag, and not necessarily the extra ammo, per se.

    I’ve never had a mag failure that wasn’t well expected and long overdue, from lengthy service. I wouldn’t carry one in such condition as an EDC, though.

    Still, it’s smart to consider the totality of the firearm, like mags, too, and not focus on particular elements to the exclusion of others.

  33. Spare mags are for fixing jams and to have spare ammo. Mags are the weakest link in the system. While the “average” fight may be 2-3 rounds, there is no guarantee that your gun fight will be average.

    As Tom Givens from RangeMaster says: “With one foot on fire and one foot on ice, on average you are comfortable.”

    • That math doesn’t check out. The foot on fire is going to be 400+ degrees F. The ice one could be as warm as 32 degrees, but we’ll call it zero to make the math easy. The average is still 200 degrees. Very uncomfortable. 😉

  34. For me its conditional. Work carry is a .40 Smith 4006 TSW 11+1 with 2-3 spare mags, AR&870 in carry, 5-20 round .223 Pmags, 2 – 50 round boxes of Ranger 40.

    Off duty is a 0-2 spare mags depending on the neighborhoods I plan on wandering. That’s 11+1 or 13+1 in the gun (G27 or G23) with 15 round .40 cal G22 / G35 spare mags.

    • If you are a California cop, that means you do not live in San Francisco. Under SF’s mag ban, officers can carry issued “extra capacity” mags while on duty, but not while off duty, according to the City Attorney, At least while they are in town. But they can’t bring their personally owned high caps into town either….

  35. Lately, I’ve been carrying my G19 and one spare mag. But, I’ll admit, sometimes I carry my LCP with no extra mag, it just depends.

    Carry whatever you want, just carry.

  36. What’s the Boy Scout motto? Be prepared? I agree that in most one on one scenarios neither is there time nor need to reload so whatever you feel is enough rounds to eliminate the threat. For me that’s 16 rounds. One in the pipe and 15 in my sig mag. But what about being caught in a Westgate Mall scenario? I always carry 1 backup mag and usually keep a third in the car. Hopefully I can take out one of the bad guys and use his gun and ammo until the cavalry arrives.

  37. Like many, many things in life, I view my choice in this matter as a compromise. The chances that I’m going to be involved in any sort of incident where I’m going to need to use my defensive firearm–mostly due to where I live and where my daily travels take me–are quite small indeed. And the odds that the 10 to 16 rounds I carry (depending on which EDC firearm I have with me) are going to be sufficient in that incident is quite high.

    I could see needing far more rounds if I were to find myself in a Westgate-type of incident (in Kenya last year), but (for now, at least), I figure the odds of that occurring are quite insignificant, even compared to the “run-of-the-mill” self-defense situation.

    So, I compromise with a full stack in the magazine and trust that Lady Luck might look upon me favorably.

    Life’s full of compromises.

  38. Around town one extra 15 round mag. Traveling – one extra mag on belt, then a fall back ammo box full of 17 round mags and 100s of rounds of ammo in the vehicle …

  39. There is an old saying “Theres no such thing as too much ammo unless you’re on fire or drowning”.

    However I believe that was meant for combat troops. I’ve never been in a shoot out so I have to agree with the author and a few commenters and say whats in the mag is enough.

    If its not you need to spend more time on the range, you need to get the hell out of there or your dead and don’t need more ammo.

  40. When I started carrying a duty weapon (686 Smith) I had 18 rounds on my belt – six in the pistol, and two speed loaders. I also had six .25ACPs in the Beretta Model 21 ear gun I carried in my left front pocket. These days I carry a Springfield Mil Spec 1911 and 40 rounds total – one 8 round mag in the pistol and four single stack 8 rounders on my belt – and 12 rounds of .380 in my left pants pocket – six in my LCP and six in a spare magazine. When I’m off duty my routine is whatever pistol I’ve got – Kimber Ultra Carry II, Smith 640, Ruger LCP, Charter Arms Bulldog – and two reloads. I figure that’s enough to hold off the bad guys until the cavalry arrives.

  41. I suppose another angle on this is, if you did have a DGU, what would a court of law think about how much ammo you had on your person?

  42. Interesting article, however I wish when article like this are made more sources for claims were provided.It’s not so much as that I doubt the claims such as the claim that “something that seems to be occurring with increasing frequency, especially in urban areas” but rather that the claim can be better qualified. For instance some might claim you need X amount of ammo based on study A while someone else may claim you need Y amount of ammo based on study B. A classic example of this is when people come differing conclusions in caliber wars based on different stats or gel testing. So even though we can of course look this stuff up for ourselves I think it would be wise when someone states “a majority of defensive shootings occur within 7 yards” they include their source so someone who may have read a different study stating it was 3 yards can know where the person is coming from and better compare the sources when making their decisions. I aint saying this to pickon anyone , its just a thought I felt like sharing, possibly more for my own curiosity than my benefit I suppose.

  43. I EDC a full size mp and carry 2 extra mags. If I am at work its a shield also with 2 extra mags. I feel naked without extra ammo!

  44. LCP 6+1. I’m not looking for a fight, but if the fight finds me, 6+1 ought to buy time to run. Plus, consider the ensuing court case. “He was LOOKING for somebody to harm. He had a spare magazine… An ARSENAL of 13 bullets…” Then half the jury subconsciously shakes their head in agreement.

  45. I carry a Smith humpback as primary with a five round strip for reload. Lately with cold weather I’ve also been carrying a Springfield RO Compact 1911 with three six-round mags in additon. Mini-griptilian in addition. I’m a reform Teamster and a leftist in a big corrupt northern city so I prefer a big bore for winter with enough rounds just in case.

    Am thinking of switching out the 1911 for a Charter Arms 3 inch Bulldog and two speedloaders. Almost carried two j-frames the other morning but it was cold and dark and the thought of just carrying 38 special wasn’t so comforting.

    Wouldn’t mind an AK underfolder in the truck just in case, but massa won’t let me do that.

    I like j-frame size revolvers and single-stacks in a big bore because I follow the Bill Jordan school of point shooting, shoot through pocket etc and I want the gun to fit my hand.

  46. Thoughts:

    1. Everybody is entitled to his opinion, and the right answer to this question is going to be largely dependent on individual circumstances.

    2. That said, I do not personally buy into the idea that anyone who carries more than one spare mag is off his rocker because if you need that much ammo you are probably done for anyway. The point of carrying a larger gun with more ammo is to prepare the best that you can for a low probability, high impact risk. The fact that the odds of me being jumped by a gang of 6 muggers simultaneously are ridiculously small ceases to matter once I get jumped: at that point I need to find a way to stay alive.

    3. I personally carry as much as I can get away with comfortably. Most of the time that is an M&P 9C with a full-sized backup mag in one pocket and a Kahr P380 in the other, for a total of 37 rounds. One mag in a pocket and a .380 in the other does not inconvenience me at all: for me it makes no sense not to take what are essentially 24 free rounds. About 1% of the time it will be as little as just the P380 with one backup mag, for a total of 13 when my wardrobe restricts me to that weapon. I also carry an M&P Shield rather than the 9c when I have enough clothing to conceal a single-stack 9mm but not enough to conceal a double stack. In that situation I typically also carry an extra mag and the Kahr, for a total of 23 rounds.

  47. My two carry guns are:
    -Ruger LCR 38 Spec +p with 2 reloads (I love 5 star speedloaders) of Speer 135 grain Gold Dot Short Barrel
    -Kahr K9 9mm with 1 extra mag of Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain

    So my solution is always to have at least 15-16 rounds on you when you carry.

  48. I carry a either a glock 21 with 1 spare mag or my snub 66 with one or two spare speed loaders. I sometimes up those spares. A good belt is a must!

  49. I am shocked by so many of you having mag failures. I have had one on a Llama that was used and one on a glock 17 that I purposely did not replace the springs annually. The glock magazine was 12 years old and had countless rounds through it.

  50. To me the necessary round count depends largely on the power of the cartridge. Very few self defense situations require more than a few shots, but if you’re shooting a weaker round I’d prefer the option of putting a few more holes in the BG. I carry a 3″ 6 shot .357 magnum with Double Taps and a speed loader in the truck and usually a speed strip in my pocket. I feel pretty sure that I’ll never need any of the 6 rounds, let alone any of the spares.

    If I found myself in a combat situation, I’d probably prefer my Beretta 92 with 17 round mags and +p ammo. On the other hand, I love that pistols like the LCP exist since it means that if you’re a bad guy there’s absolutely no way to be sure that anyone is not carrying, no matter how small the person is or how snug they wear their clothing. But I’m a big guy in a baggy shirt, so I can carry just about anything.

  51. Recently I’ve been carrying my G17. I typically slip a spare mag in my back pocket.

    I know the odds are against me ever needing to use my gun in a defensive scenario. I also know if I do ever have to use my gun the chances of me needing the full 17+1 capacity is minimal. But for me it is easy enough to slip a magazine in a back pocket I might as well go ahead and do it.

    On the other hand the 33 round funstick/hatestick I keep in the center console of the car I don’t have a great excuse for, my main reasoning behind that is “I have it so, why not”. I’d probably be better off keeping a long gun in the trunk (I’m not quite ready to do that just yet).

  52. I don’t even know why we still ask the question “How much ammo is enough?”

    Who knows? If you could predict with certainty when you were going to need a gun, how many shots you needed to fire, and how many shots you actually hit with, you would just not go to that place at that time.

    Maybe in one shooting, your big 230-gr. .45 stopped the threat on the first try, while your zillion-round 9mm wouldn’t have done the same damage. But maybe in the next shooting, the 14th round from your 9mm stopped the threat, while if you had your .45 you would have stuck with an empty gun.

    Who. Knows.

  53. I carry a sr9c, 10+1 in the pipe with a 17 in my belt, gives me enough assurance in case of another BG or two? I don’t want to wish I had another round. Always watch your six, if not at least your flank.

  54. I carry a full size M&P 45 with the 14 round extended magazine and two spare 10 round mags…..too much? It is bloody heavy!!!


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