Just in Case: The Rationale for Spare Gun Magazines

By Keith Coniglio
Gun writer & activist, Keith Coniglio, makes the case for why you can not have too many spare gun magazines. Of course we think you will agree.

Gun Magazines
Just in Case: The Rationale for Spare Gun Magazines
Second Call Defense
Second Call Defense

USA-(Ammoland.com)- Whether it's because of the inconvenience of yet another item to carry (and conceal), or the old saw, “if I can't get it done in [insert an arbitrary number of rounds here], more probably won't help,” many gun owners who carry a defensive firearm “just in case” deride fellow CCW holders who choose to carry one or even two spare magazines … “just in case.”

The pragmatic focus is usually on how many rounds you may “need” in a defensive shooting.

Spare Gun Magazines

An FBI statistical figure of 3.7 rounds is often cited.

Confusing a calculated average with an ironclad guarantee that you won't be the statistical outlier, however, could be a fatal error.

Just ask Sergeant Timothy Gramins, formerly of the Skokie, IL police department.

In 2009, he was in pursuit of a suspected bank robber, who slammed his vehicle to a halt and bailed out, firing at Sergeant Gramins. Gramins, a “master firearms instructor and a sniper on his department’s Tactical Intervention Unit,” immediately returned fire. In an exchange that lasted less than a minute, the robber fired twenty-one rounds and Gramins fired thirty-three, striking his assailant fourteen times – including six wounds in supposedly “fight-stopping” locations.

Except they failed to stop the fight. He was down to four rounds remaining when he was able to make a fatal head shot, ending the gunfight.

There is another, sometimes overlooked reason for carrying spare magazines: mechanical failure. I am a quality assurance engineer – a tester – by trade. It's my job to not only make sure things work as they should under ideal circumstances, but to probe for weaknesses and envision ways something could fail. And trust me – magazines do fail.

A detachable box magazine is simply that – a box, usually with a removable floorplate, containing a spring under a good amount of pressure. They are simple devices with few parts, but they aren't impervious to wear. A weakening of the spring or split in the feed lips can cause feed failures. Floorplate failures, while rare (I've witnessed only one in the last three decades), will unload your entire magazine in the blink of an eye, scattering loose rounds across the ground.

In a defensive encounter, having the ability to immediately eject the now-empty magazine body and replace it with a functioning unit could be the determining factor in the outcome.

Given that you will never know if fate is about to deal you a “Gramins moment” or a mechanical failure, carrying at least one spare magazine is a small choice that can offer major advantages. You know – just in case.

Stacks of Brand New GLOCK Magazines
GLOCK Magazines, is this too many, or just enough, you decide?

Did we change your mind on extra mags? We recommend you get new gun magazines online here at Brownell's. ~ AmmoLand

About the Author:

Keith Coniglio is a father, software tester, NRA-certified pistol instructor, and devoted Second Amendment advocate. He is also the editor-in-chief of Descendants of Liberty Press, a site dedicated to rekindling Americans’ passion for – and defense of – their Constitutional rights and personal liberty. Keith write more at Descendants of Liberty Press : www.dolpress.com

About Second Call Defense:

Second Call Defense the first insurance-backed membership organization in America to offers immediate, comprehensive, nationwide, 24-hour support for gun owners who are forced to defend themselves or their family with a firearm. www.secondcalldefense.org

  • 21 thoughts on “Just in Case: The Rationale for Spare Gun Magazines

    1. For my Wilson Combat Beretta 92G Brigadier I have 4×15 round Beretta mags, 2×20-round MecGar mags and
      2×18-round MecGar mags. All function perfectly and I can actually load the MecGars without mechanical assistance!
      I have 10×15-round G22 mags and 4×22-round Gmags for my G35 when firing .40 S&W and .357 Sig. I have 10×17-round G17 mags and 2×33-round G18 mags for my G35 when firing thru the 9mm conversion barrel.

    2. A spare magazine or two is the only way to carry! For proof I refer to mr. Massad ayoobs excellent articles on actual gunfights . It’s riveting thought provoking reading!All true not some pseudo experts theory. When it’s my life I always aim to stack the odds in my favor. A miss or two me and nothing as you always have more rounds at the ready; forget trying to count rounds -won’t happen ,just keep firing on target until you stop it from doing what made you fire on it to begin with! Sure ammo is heavy but so are the consequences of running dry. Whenever I go armed carrying concealed or whatever I always have a spare loaded mag or two ,even when carrying my ten plus one pistols and when plinking out in the middle of nowhere I Never shoot untill I am completely out unless on my own property and have spare ammo in the truck,a tv or saddlebags It came to me one day on a fishing trip with my girlfriend who owns a shiny red corvette t was her turn to drive and we parked on a small hilltop lot next to the lake that blocked our view of the lot and their view of my spot. Four obviously drunk Guys came down the hill carrying a cooler full of beer and a extra shoes. They looked us over and I was instantly sorry I had reluctantly agreed to her demand to leave my gun at home. Me unable to fight after an accident and a female . We were no match for them had they been up to no good. Luckily they were just some locals out for a swim. After that she saw the light and I now never go out without at least two ten rd. mags and a box of ammo in the car as backup!

    3. I understand both sides as I occasionally carry with only weapon with inserted magazine. I sometimes carry a spare magazine. It depends on what I’m wearing, where I’m going or what I’m doing. As for the reasoning, I think it is silly. The exact reasoning could be used on why you should carry two firearms instead of one or why you should tow another car behind your car. Whatever works for you.

      1. I think it is silly you would rely on one magazine when your life is on the line. Not like another magazine or two on your belt will disrupt your lifestyle (unless you are lazy).

    4. When traveling I always carry two guns. Plus spare magazine. I sometimes carry 2 gun concealed depending on where I’m going. It’s kinda of like going
      Out on patrol. You access situation then decide how
      Much firepower you may need. Hoping you don’t need to use any and make it home safely, but like
      Anything else choice is up to you.

    5. When I buy a new handgun, I will always insure I have 5 magazines for it to start with, more if that pistol becomes a favorite.

      1. Same with me. You need to load a couple every once in a while and unload some to “REST” a while.

        1. You don’t need to let modern magazines ‘rest’ but if that makes you feel better go for it. Far more important is swapping out carry ammunition on a regular basis.

    6. One is none and two is one. If you only carry one gun or no spare mags you may risk your life or others on it working correctly. Should you have a malfunction in either the gun or mag you will be screwed. Thus carrying two guns increases the chance of having a working firearm, also you can arm another person to further increase the odds in your favor.

      Having just one gun is better than none, weighs less, and is easier to conceal. Pros vs Cons… you decide.

      1. i have sig that holds 8 rds any questions why i have eight mags? all loaded of course!! i may or may not carry all of them however they are not far from reach!

      2. Please cite me a specific example of anyone sharing ammunition during a defensive shooting. I will be waiting…..

    7. I always carry two spare mags. With a single stack 9 I drop two mags in a cell phone case and no one even notices the extra ‘cellphone” on the belt. Before I retired I carried two mags on the belt (like everyone else) and two speeds strips in my pocket for the Dick Special on my ankle. I never met or heard of anyone who said they wish they would have had less ammo in a gunfight.

    8. When I do range time with my glocks, I preload all my mags a head of time. I have ten spare 15rnd mags
      for my g19-gen4, and one 50rnd drum. I also have ten 17rnd mags for my g34 that are preloaded if I choose
      to take that with, but if not they all fit the 19. While most people are constantly reloading with 2-3 mags I’m
      still plugging along. The only down side is the ten spares for the g42-43 you still load more often for obvious
      reasons, but I do have the extra 2rnd extensions to help out. When you pay hourly for an indoor range, you
      want to get as much practice, and lead down range as possible, unless you want to buy their ammo at inflated
      prices, then you can shoot all day for the first twenty bucks. I know, most ranges are less, but for me, that’s
      the going rate in my area. So yea, you can never have to many. Guns, or mags. shoot straight, shoot often.

      1. The cops get annoyed around here if you transport with loaded mags and you don’t have a concealed permit. Silly state law. Still, many do preload their mags and simply keep the ammo and guns separate. Never heard of anyone getting in trouble for loaded mags but it helps to at least be aware.

        1. @Robert, I do have a valid ccl, and even if I did not, in my state they did change the law that you can infact carry loaded magazines in the same box\bag as the pistol, but they better not be in the weapon at the time of transport. Even with a ccl I’m sure the leo’s would have questions, but with whats going on in the world today with gun violence, a person would have to be nuts to carry, or transport any kind of gun illegally. My range bags are usually in the trunk, or on the floor in plain site, but I still carry loaded with a shoulder rig, and if stopped, the first thing I would do is keep my hands in plain site, and notify the officers that I am legal, and am carrying. I do want to be around for a while longer. Have a nice day.

        2. @Robert Thomas, In addition to a spare magazine, I like to carry a pepper spray and a set of handcuffs so that I have more options than just deadly force. I supposed that that is a topic for another day, but I am curious as to what your cops would say about that.

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