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Reader Ryan Sondalle writes:

Perhaps the most common answer to the question, “How many magazines do you need?” is “You can never have enough.” And while I’d generally agree, the context for that question and  answer tends to refer to AK or AR magazines, rather than pistols. I personally come down somewhere between the numbers three and five. Three seems to offer plenty for concealed carry with one in the gun and two spares, while five help prevent issues on replacement if one is ever lost, broken, or stolen. So what’s your answer? What’s the right number of pistol magazines?

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  1. Well, I have three for my P-64–so I’ll say three. One in the well, a spare to carry, and a spare spare for the house.

    • That’s a good start.

      Add three more for range use (so you don’t have to unload and refill your defensive mags), and two more new-in-package spares (minimum) in case you break/lose one. So eight, total, as a minimum, for EVERY pistol you own. And every time you move a new mag into the rotation, replace it immediately.

      Those who lived through the high-cap magazine ban will not think this is outrageous at all. Every else needs to pay attention to, and learn from, recent history. Magazine-fed firearms are nothing more than poorly designed clubs without a source of reliable magazines.

      • ^^ This ^^. Although I (almost) never train with carry mags as I don’t want them damaged. I make sure they’re bullet-proof and then use the spares for training. Though for 1911s, I admit I usually don’t shell out for 10 Wilson 47Ds per. Usually 3 or 4 and the rest are Chip McCormick’s.

        Honestly, magazines are like ammo. If you can count how much you have, it’s obviously not enough.

        • They can be had for less if you look around and have a little patience. I got 5 McCormick Shooting Star 8rd stainless magazines for $98 shipped via Midway a few months ago.


      • For a P64, you’re talking $25/mag minimum, and could easily pay $35. So adding 3 for range use and 2 “NIB” (which doesn’t really exist for the P64) is talking $125-$175, and the freaking gun only costs ~$250 and was under $200 several years ago. And this is assuming you can find someone to sell you 5 at once.

        Just not really practical for a lot of people, at least not for a P64.

        • If you are depending on this pistol for defensive purposes, the above comment still stands, for the reasons listed. If it’s used for recreational purposes, kept as a collectible, or other non-defensive use(s), then the minimum number of mags can be much lower (down to 2, if you want, but I’d never go lower than three, personally). For foreign imports, it’s actually MORE important to get spares when you can, as they can (and do) disappear on a moment’s notice (or at the whims of a president tossing out an import ban to “punish” some country who has crossed him).

          And those mag prices aren’t really that bad. Check costs for Glock, S&W, Beretta, or HK spare mags sometime. Occasionally you can find them on sale, but local store in-stock prices start about $10-$15 higher than your mags, and go up (sometimes WAY up) from there.

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  2. As many as I can afford, and the cost of spare magazines affects which firearms I purchase. One reason why the Beretta 92 series of pistols are a favorite of mine is because of the availability of affordable magazines.

    In the case of the Beretta 92 I have more then ten and I always have an eye open for additional mil-surp or other affordable mags.

    • Totally agree, never saw the point in buying a gun w/ exclusive high dollar mags that were hard to find. A gun is part of a system.

    • Agree. Nothing like asking BG to hold on while you retrieve box of ammo and start to reload mags. In other words keep a good number loaded and ready to go. Just think WWII GI without clips of loaded ammo. It wouldn’t turn out well.

  3. Since we could lose more than ten round magazines due to a bad election, I say six to ten per pistol. I go with ten per rifle because most AR and AK magazines are so cheap. I went with 20 for my PTR 91 and it was cheaper than buying five Pmags.

    • Bingo. Typically when I buy a new firearm I order 10 additional mags at the time of purchase, plus what comes with weapon. That way I figure I’m covered in any eventuality. Ban, loss, damage etc.

      I also have loaded spare mags for my home defense gun stashed around the house just in case. I figure if I have to get out of bed and grab the gun and flashlight the last thing I have time to grab is a spare mag.

      • For the most part I agree with you guys. I try to buy 10 high capacity mags when I first buy the gun. If it doesn’t have high capacity mags then I don’t worry about it because they (should) always be available. My glock 23 I only have a couple of the ones that came with it, all the others are +10. 3 of them go in the range bag for training only. Then I will order more 1 or 2 at a time, whatever it takes to round out an order.

        • You can get 30 rd mags for the glock 23… unless u live in one of those states that arent part of the union

    • Hell yeah, PTR mags are so cheap, I dont even have one yet but I have a huge box full of PTR mags. At the rate that 5.56 goes into full panic mode shooting .308 might start getting cheaper than 5.56.

      • I did the same thing. I owned the mags before the rifle. What’s also nice about the mags is pretty much all that I find are pre ban so if I lived in a less than free state I could still own them. The only other rifle I can do that with is my 3 pre ban AK mags I bought when I was in MA. I unfortunately could not unload them before I left to some poor sould I left behind. Everyone wanted AR stuff.

  4. 6-8 for each fullsize pistol and 3-4 for each pocket pistol and sub compacts.

    Older C&R type guns maybe 1 spare per 3 guns. Don’t see myself needing spare Luger or Nambu mags really.

    • I agree with you on the C&R stuff. I only buy a few extras for my mag fed C&R guns. The only one I buy lots of clips for is my Garand. They are cheap and I keep a full belts worth of ten clips loaded.

  5. I have a dozen magazines for 1911s, ’cause that’s about how many I want to shoot before stopping to replace the target.

    • That’s where I am at. At $30+ per mag, I’d rather buy ammo. If I make it through 2 mags, I will go to a backup, but I cannot imagine a shootout at my home getting past the first mag. Same out in the street–no one wants me dead that bad.

      • You really should spring for one or two more if it is a gun that you depend on. Two becomes one too easily (loss or damage). What’s the point of having a removable mag if you can’t replace it with another?

  6. 5-10 is a good round average unless you have a competition pistol. For my glock 34 I have 25 or so because when you do mag changes you get dirt and junk in them. Instead of cleaning mags between stages I just grab a new set and socialize.

  7. For my Para P-14 I have 21, 14 rounders most with +2 extensions, I got most of them when Oblome got elected, I think I average 4 to 8 for my other handguns, uhmmmm.. 60 AR mags + 2 Beta C, 25 AK mags, 15 25 round mags for the 10-22, hell I don’t know, a lot?

    When we have the kind of leadership we now have in DC we can not trust them, so I believe that everything I set aside now is something that may not be available “WHEN” the SHTF, and while I may be long dead and dust they will be there for family when the time comes, Freedom requires all of us to be prepared, what is easy to get today may be impossible later, like the P-14 mags, I saw used ones selling for well over $100.00 when the AWB went into effect, as soon as it ended I started collecting and haven’t stopped since.

  8. 3 to 5 for pistols…..Now, my AKs are a different story. 6 each of 30 and 40rnd and 3 90rnd drums.

    A long time ago a dropped magazine might ruin a 1911 one, but no worry at all with modern firearm magazines.

    My pistol is to fight my way to a long gun.

  9. I’d say 2-3 for Pocket pistols I don’t have less than four for full size pistols, the bigger the caliber the more I seem to own. I think you might want at least sixty rounds available, I have more. I pocket carry even around the house and always have a spare magazine on my person.

  10. i have 5 standard capacity mags for my glock. i carry 2 spares. i need to get a couple low capacity mags for occasional travel to slave states.

  11. I usually figure 10-12 per carry hand gun and rotate them on a every other month. Backups 3-4 per. And social rifles get 20 per rifle… And those go in bugout gear truck and carry rig. Remember 2 is 1 and 1 is none!!!!!

  12. 5 is reasonable, but now since our government seems to enact bans at anytime, followed by rush to purchase, 15 minimum for any magazine more than 9 rounds, for any gun.

  13. My baseline number is a Dozen. That gives me plenty of tested mags to fall back on when I damage one–but, most importantly I don’t have to spend half my range time loading. I HATE loading magazines when I could be shooting.

    I have as few as 7 magazines and as many as 30 (for my 9mm Glocks).

  14. Depends on the pistol’s intended use.

    Range toy? 3 or 4.

    Home defense? More, for the reasons mentioned above.

    And while it wasn’t asked … For a revolver, minimum 1 speedloader for range toy, 2-3 for carry or home defense, or an equivalent number of moon clips if your revolver takes those.

    Oh … Almost forgot. Those numbers are for VERIFIED RELIABLE magazines. Ones that might or might not feed don’t count. Ever.

  15. Depends on the capacity. I’d they’re all the same at the range I like to have five, four on the war belt one in the pistol. With different capacities come a new angle. I like to carry a 15 round mag in my pistol and have a spare 19 round mag. So I have three 15 rounders and two 19 rounders. If the parts are ever available I can put together 24 round “competitive” extended mags.

  16. How many magazines should you have?


    All of them.

    As many as you can buy, actually. Which means that you truly never have “enough”. In fact, the only time you could ever have “too many” is when you don’t have enough ammunition to fill them all. Conversely, you can never have “enough” ammunition, either, right? It’s just a (happy) vicious cycle. 😉

  17. Minimum of five. Rather have ten. When you’ve invested half of what you paid for the pistol in magazines, that’s probably enough.

  18. I have 4 for my CZ75, and that’s probably at least one too many for as much as I shoot the damn thing. (It’s especially frustrating since the range I shoot at limits handguns to 6 rounds and rifles to 3..)

    • I try to get up to 4 ASAP. Two loaded for carry, two unloaded for practice. I bought a TON of CZ-75 mags right after I bought the full size and I am now glad I did since Colorado passed the 15 round limit and these mags are barely evil, at 16 rounds apiece.

      I wasn’t too concerned about it, though, when I bought the compact. It came with two 14 rounders, but I didn’t run off and get more of them, because it takes those 16 rounders I just mentioned. I carry a 14er in the gun, and a 16 as backup. I use the other 14er for practice (and a 16 rounder for practicing mag changes).

      I don’t quite fathom why the version in .40 comes with only a ten round magazine; by rights it should hold 12 or even 14 rounds. Nonetheless, it gives me a good “CA legal” gun should I ever visit there.

      Anyhow, I consider 4 mags that will fit your gun the bare minimum, 2 of them (at least) should be the exact size the gun “wants”, the others can be bigger if it’s a compact that is mag compatible with a full size. And I prefer having a LOT more.

  19. As many as you can afford. It might also be good to have a few revolvers and rifles that don’t need magazines, either.

  20. I have a lot. As in hundreds. Most are G3 mags when they were flooding the market. But also a lot of Pmags, M&P, SR9,1022. I have enough to satisfy my needs with plenty to spare. Those spares could go for a pretty penny in the event of another ban. Craigslist was full of ads for $75 Pmags after New Town. Cold blooded capitalism, I know. But also a high probability of it happening again. And that is what we all should be preparing for.

    • I’m with you bigtime. I sold a couple 50cal cans full of GI 20’s and 30’s in January 2013 for a TON of money… And these were surplus mags I had zero intentions of ever soiling one of my AR’s with. Recently I bought another 100 or so for cheap cheap cheap.

  21. Five is the number I consider minimum. I have that number for all my pistols but I’ll add if I see them at a cheap price.

  22. “internet Explorer has stopped working” ok, recovered. Happens every time I go to this website. Anyway, I have four for my S&W BG-380 (one in the gun, one or two spares carried) and six for my S&W M&P Shield 9 (usually one in plus one spare carried). It’s enough that I can practice while leaving one loaded with defensive ammo.

  23. To me, it’s how many rounds you want to have/carry. I think for CC, between 20 and 40 rounds would be perfect. My XD9 SC has 13+1, plus I carry a full sized 16 rounder, too (30 total).

    For HD, if all I had was a pistol, I’d go for a pistol belt with at least as many rounds as I’d CC, and then maybe add an extra mag’s worth for good measure. I have a full sized XD9, too, so that would be three mags there, 16×3=48, plus 16+1 in the pistol, for a grand total of 65.

    For TEOTWAWKI, I’d probably want at least 100 rounds ready to go, which would be an additional layer to my HD kit. So, I’d add another 3 mags (48 rounds) for a total of 113 rounds.

    So, for me, that’s two for the guns, one to carry for CC, three for the HD kit, and three for SHTF kit, for a total of nine. And that’s a bare minimum.

  24. I like the number 5 for each pistol. If I were to only have one gun or only one of some particular type or brand, that number should be closer to 8. However, if a gun could function with mags from another pistol you own (such as a Glock 26 using mags from a Glock 19/17/34), then that number could be fewer than 5. Three mags is an absolute minimum.

    • Also, I like to have the magazines that are loaded for home defense or carry…and then have another 2 or 3 mags that always remain empty. Those are the mags I take to the gun range. Then I don’t have to unload my carry mags every time I shoot the gun.

      • Good strategy to have plenty of mags you can load for the range. I unload my carry mags by shooting through them when I go to the range. I want to be comfortable with my carry ammo. That’s why I pick fighting ammo I can afford to shoot.

    • Just lock that 1911 slide back, and ram the rounds in with a stripper clip. Heck, who needs a removable mag. Just don’t give yourself 1911 thumb when you take the stripper clip out.

      (/sarc and /facetious on so many levels…)

    • We stayed vigilant through the Sandy Hook attempts at a national ban. Even with a Democrat Senate, nothing got out of the Senate. This proves to me that, so long as we do stay vigilant, the chance of getting an AWB on the national level is very low. What we have to watch out for now is “mental health” gun control and administrative ammo bans.

  25. Mag aquisision featured into my purchase of the XDm. The kit came with two and they were offering three more for free at the time. Five mags right off the bat. Not saying i don’t need more. Our government is a fickle mistress when it comes to them so moar is better.

  26. I have the 3 it came with. I would be happy to purchase more but they are 50 bucks per. Love my FNX but those mag prices are nuts

  27. Two speed loaders, one for the truck and one for home and 3 speed strips for carry. I’ve also got 5 for the Beretta 92, but I probably won’t need them unless I’m fighting zombies.

  28. All of my semi-auto pistols have 6 magazines with 3 of them loaded at all times. Once or twice a year I unload the 3 mags and load the other 3 mags.

    My AR has (8) standard capacity (i.e. 30 round), (2) 40 round and (2) 20 round MagPuls. (2) 30 and (1) 40 are always loaded with self defense .223 ammo. The (2) standard capacity use are coupled together.

  29. I gots 5 and 4 for both my pistols plus a few parts for each kind to replace stuff myself if needed. I have several recoil springs also, so there.

  30. The amount varies per weapon/caliber. One thing I make sure to purchase is rebuild kits. Spare springs, followers and a few extra base plates especially for Glocks. I make sure any pistol I have with exception collectibles or 2 sentimentals are ready to go i.e. ammo available, parts out there. I have had 3 people in last 2 years offer to sell or trade me a great shooter Daewoo. DH40 but try and find a magazine same with cz 99’s parts are few & far between.

  31. My minimum is 6 magazines per pistol.

    One in the pistol and two backups, all for carry.

    Three for the range that can also serve as backup for the backup 🙂


    • +1 on the FACTORY (or original equipment manufacturer) mags. Cheap “copy” mags are false economy when it comes to defending your life.

  32. I have 10 per each firearm that are magazine fed except for my M92 and AR15 which I have 25 magazines ea.

    I keep 4 magazines loaded at all times for my handguns and 7 mags. loaded for my AR15.

  33. Three or four each is good. You can average one or two fewer if you have firearms that share the same mags. For example, you can use G17 and G19 mags in your Glock 26, for example. Nit for concealed carry, perhaps, but as a back up. Likewise, some rifles take Glock or Beretta mags.

    Try to leverage your magazines across platforms the same way you do ammo calibers and your money and versatility will go farther.

    • Please reconsider this plan. Under this type of system, if you damage or lose one mag, you have lost use of one of your spares for EVERY PISTOL IT FITS. Unexpectedly pop a snap and lose one of your dual-mag pouches while woodswalking, and you may have lost one-quarter to one-third of your spare mags for ALL pistols. This might be a reasonable system once you get over a dozen guns in the same model series and caliber, but until you’re up to that, I’d encourage counting on a per-pistol basis.

  34. Before my tragic boating accident, my personal minimum was 3 mags per handgun. My G19 had 7 as I had run across good deals. With revolvers I liked to keep at least two speed loaders and two speed strips per gun.

  35. My minimum is 10 per gun, regardless of capacity. Some guns get 10x of the standard and 10x extended capacity (say 10 8rd 1911 mags and 10x 10rd 1911 mags) and, again, that is per gun. Double up on the guns, double up oN the mags.

    Just my $0.02

  36. Rifle/Pistol, minimum 10 mags. for all. Rifle will carry different loads for different game. Be careful out there.

  37. Minimum 6 mags for pistol and 10 for rifle.

    – For pistols, presuming it’s your EDC handgun, 6 allows you to rotate 2 mags per week for spring wear. If it’s also your SHTF gun, 6 mags means two 2 x 2 mag pouches, plus one mag loaded and one in the extra mag pouch on your tac holster.

    – 10 for rifle, presuming SHTF, 4 x 2 mag pouches + one in the well and an attached speed load.

    – For wheel gun fans… 6-7 in the cylinder, plus a min of 2 x speedloaders with 6-7 of favorite flavors.

  38. 0 – Join the old guys and use revolvers…………… no $$ spent past the price of the gun. Kinda forces you to shoot better. 🙂

    • Iam bummed I can’t get a sezure inducing strobe/ ranged, drop comp holo sight /Pink Floyd GREEN lasershow/Lighthouse Beacon flashlight w/ triple bayonet and GPS for my revolver though. Dang I ain’t cool!

    • except for the speed loaders or moon clips and the fancy belts that hold speed loaders.
      and if you use moon clips that fancy tool that you use to put the cases on and off the moon clips.

  39. 6 is my magic number for a gun I shoot only occasionally recreationaly.
    15 for guns I shoot competitively in IDPA or USPSA type events. I like to arrive with all of them loaded.
    10 for any large cap pistol mag I’m afraid will be outlawed (or has been outlawed)
    15 for any machinegun mag

  40. I have at least 4 and as many as 8 mags for my bottom feeders. If I’m carrying a semi auto, I have at least one extra mag with me and most often 2. andy cuomo insists that we carry extra mags to offset his edict.

    Here’s a great tip I got on another site. I neatly store my spare mags in old VHS tape cases in my safe. The are great for keeping them organized.

  41. The number of magazines required really depends on the pistol. Small pocket pistols only need 3 magazines each. My larger pistols that I shoot at the range a lot need 5 to 7 magazines each. Each pistol is a tool and like any tool each one has different requirements.

  42. Depends on a number of things: magazine capacity, magazine cost, magazine availability, concealed carry or nightstand occupant, collector item or range toy, safe queen or off-body carry, how easy they are to reload, how well do I shoot each pistol, total number of auto-loaders, etc.

    The odds of me getting into a shoot out at the OK Corral are mighty slim, especially since I tend to avoid the really bad areas of St. Louis (tourists beware) at night, so my number is mainly determined by range toy needs – 4 to 6.

    For those people in Rio Linda, we’re talking about “clips.”

    • Stackable open-front bins (Akrobins or similar) on shelves, in the safe, and in a lockable metal locker. Label the bins with Sharpie-printed cards or sticky labels on the front of each bin.

      Spare new-in-package mags are long-term stored in metal ammo cans, with small desiccant packs.

  43. Guns i know i will not sell, like my sig 225, 223 ak, 7.62×39 ak, my fal. I have 15-20 mags per gun. I wait, find them on sale and buy a bunch. I have new steyr in oil from the factory fal mags i paid less than ten bucks for. I have 35 rd galil mags used i paid 7 bucks for, and new ones i paid $11 for. I bought 18. Same with 6 buck used yugo mags, and chinese ak mags. Lifetime supply. I could never wear them out even in 30-40 years.

  44. Depends completely on the application. For my competition guns I have 9 mags for one gun and 12 for another. From a carry perspective, I would state 3-5 is enough. Personally I carry with one in the gun and 2 more extended mags on my belt. Since I carry and XDS in .45 I have 5+1 already loaded and 2 more 7-rounders waiting (14 more rounds). I don’t imagine I will need more than that as I would, hopefully, be removing myself from the situation as quickly as possible.

    It is nice to have even more mags as it makes range trips easier.

  45. Not much more that can be said here, but start with three the day you bring the pistol home. When you get to six, it’s okay to start buying them for a different pistol. Then, work them all up from six to ten, or whatever number you choose.


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