How Many Gun Magazines Do You Really Need? ~ VIDEO

AmmoLand Video Editor, Jim Grant wades into the eye of the storm and lays down video testimony to make his case for How Many Gun Magazines Do You Really Need…!?

U.S.A. -( “How many mags do you need?” is an often-asked, albeit somewhat pointed, question by wives to their husbands when a gun collection is seemingly growing out of control. And to the non-gun-person, it seems like a straightforward one – but it’s definitely not.

Why? Because the answer is, “it depends” and if you’re already imagining your wife’s furrowed brow, read on. I’ve got the perfect answer, and a rule of thumb to abide by when trying to answer that imponderable question to the most important person of all – yourself.

How Many Mags Do You Need?

All of them! OK, no, not all of them, but that often feels like the right answer. But like I said before, the proper response to that question depends on a number of factors as well as the gun itself, the role that gun serves, and the manufacturer and age of the gun. So let’s dive right in.

Most Basic Answer ~ 3-to-5

For those of you reading who have the attention span on a gnat, buy between three and five magazines, and you should be solid. Three magazines means you’ll have enough to shove in a bugout bag without having to worry about having enough ammo on you for a life-or-death scenario, while five ensures that plinking sessions on the range are spent shooting and not loading magazines.

Personally, I’m not happy when I buy a new gun if I don’t at least have three magazines for it. And this is a rule I followed even when I was a poor college kid literally eating instant noodles to save up enough cash to buy ammo and magazines for my favorite guns. And before you tell me that inflation has made this infeasible, I did so in a ban-state, Massachusetts. So I was paying $30 for AR-15 and AKM magazines that the free parts of the country only had to spend 10 bucks on.

But there are vastly more factors to take into account, so read on.

Arsenal SGL-21 Russian AKM
For shooting sessions on the range, I recommend a minimum of three magazines with a capacity greater than 15 rounds, like this 30-round Romanian AK magazine in my Arsenal SGL-21 AKM carbine. IMG Jim Grant

1st Exception – Magazine Capacity

The aforementioned rule isn’t a hard one at all. More of a basic guiding principle. In fact, I normally suggest new shooters go with a minimum of three magazines for magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. This just helps with extending shooting range sessions and preventing them from having to fight sore fingers from loading magazines when learning the basics of shooting.

For guns like the M1911 that only hold between seven and 10 rounds, I recommend a minimum of five magazines. That allows a shooter to load an entire box of pistol ammo in magazines which makes transportation easier with the benefit of not having to constantly load magazines at the range. One exception to this exception (exception inception?) is concealed carry and home defense guns. For these guns, I always recommend a minimum of five mags.

Yes, this can be expensive, but as I mentioned previously, spend your time wisely practicing, not loading magazines. This is doubly so for shooters who don’t have access to a private range or have to drive a long distance to one. After all, do you really want to drive 90 minutes to the range only have enough time to shoot 50 rounds of 9mm before driving another 90 minutes back?

9mm Mauser P08 Luger
Some guns have very limited availability for magazines and parts, like this 1936 Mauser-made S/42 Luger. For these sorts of guns, buy as many magazines as you can find whenever they’re available at a good price – since they likely won’t get any cheaper. IMG Jim Grant

2nd Exception – Firearms Mag’s Availability

While your favorite gun may have cheap, plentiful magazines available for it right now, who knows what the future may hold? This is why when surplus AKs and accessories were coming in from overseas at very affordable prices, I told friends to buy as many magazines as they could afford because they’ll only become more expensive. Ask guys who bought FALs 20 years ago, or M1 carbines in the 1970’s – ammo and magazines have gone up exponentially in price since then. An older shooter once told me, “Today’s high prices are tomorrow’s deals.” and his advice continues to prove itself true.

So how many magazines should you buy for a gun whose magazines are currently affordable? Ideally, a minimum of 10. But if you see them for an insanely low price, buy more. I own several dozen firearms and hundreds of magazines, and not once have I ever said, “I wish I hadn’t bought so many magazines!”

PTR 9CT 9mm Holosun 503 gun magazines
While the PTR 9CT roller-delayed 9mm pistol is fairly affordable, the same can’t be said of its MP5-pattern gun magazines. So if you see any on sale for a good price, buy’m up! But don’t break the bank buying a dozen or so at full retail. IMG Jim Grant

3rd Exception – Budget Gun Magazines

While I’m sure most of you know this, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t bring it up. Stay within your budgetary constraints. Don’t prioritize magazines, ammo, or guns (unless things are looking very dire, and you don’t have anything to defend your family and yourself with) over any essentials. Yes, it would be very cool to own a Barret 50 with enough ammo to keep it fed for years, but if doing so results in your family living in rags,  it probably wasn’t the right choice.

How Many Gun Magazines Do You Need for Your Sniper Rifle? Savage 110 Tactical
How Many Gun Magazines Do You Need for Your Sniper Rifle? Precision rifles like the Savage 110 Tactical featuring a Saker ASR suppressor from don’t really need many magazines, because shooters tend to take their time engaging targets. IMG Jim Grant

4th Exception – Role, How Many Gun Magazines Do You Need for Your Sniper Rifle?

I already touched on this early with the concealed carry guns, but some guns don’t really need many magazines. For example, a PRS rifle probably doesn’t need five magazines, since you’ll be taking your time firing the rifle at long distances, and basically never doing a tactical reload. Another example would be a British SMLE or a SWISS K31 – yes, both of these guns take detachable magazines, but they can just as easily be reloaded with stripper clips, and spare mags for them are prohibitively expensive.

Final Answer of How Many Gun Mags You Need is…?

Again, while the exceptions above still apply, if I’m buying a gun for hard, serious, or competitive use, I like to have five magazines. To me, this strikes the balance between efficient use of time at the gun range and minimizing the monetary impact on my bank account. But maybe I’m crazy, and I actually need 50. Tell me how many magazines you think a shooter needs in the comment section below.

The Magazines Seen in this Video.

Check Sale Inventory at the Top Magazine Retailers:

About Jim Grant

Jim is one of the elite editors for, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.

When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, Ammoland will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
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In this Republic, founded by free men, who asserted their free nature as created beings of a benevolent God, my answer is two-fold: first of all, it’s none of your fucking business, and second, get off my lawn.


Now that’s the right answer.

Wild Bill

Hey Sempai,

Long time no hear from. What you been up to?


100% agree. I am now imagining a sign posted at the end of your driveway that says ” YOU ARE NOW IN RIFLE RANGE ‘


Very bad idea if you are in a self-defense situation. The prosecutors are looking for ANY reason to deny your self-defense assertion. The sign proves you were just waiting to shoot someone.

Henry Bowman

I need all the mags I can get, because you know full well that the Dems will ban std-cap mags, then limit ammo purchases, as they have ALREADY done in the People’s Soviet Socialist Republik of Commiefornia.


I never thought of that as a reason… now I have an even better reason to get one.

Henry Bowman

Several 100rd drums and a forced reset trigger are golden. Four (20rd) boxes M855/SS109 to one box XM856 tracer.


Why do I need a 100 round mag drum? Because they don’t make a 200 round Mag drum…

Henry Bowman

A 200 round rig would be awesome, get a Shrike upper and linked 5.56, and a lower with a forced reset trigger (Rare Breed) – when they ban hi-cap mags, belt-fed doesn’t count! [LOL]


Have you priced a 5.56 belt fed upper? You can buy enough ammo and mags for an entire Platoon.For a significant battle,

Henry Bowman

Yeah, the Ares SHRIKE is like $6-7k and out of my price range (I’m on a fixed income). But if I could, I would!


Don’t forget your hernia belt.


They did it nationwide from 1994 – 2004. Thank God for the sunset clause! I snatch up AR and other mags when I can. I fear this will happen again one day, whether at the hands of Democrats again, Republicans, or a combination.

Henry Bowman

Everything is on the table in spite of SCOTUS ruling on Bruen; they are openly defying Clarence Thomas’ strict ‘Text, history and tradition’ test.
I have my AR’s all decked out & been buying shitloads of Pmag’s in preparation for the big cowabunga! Durkin Tactical sells Gen2 mags for the awesome price of $6.99!!


In 1995 I threw away a box 2 foot by 2 foot by 1 foot deep FILLED with 30 round AR mags I collected while I was in the service. I deeply regret that now.


As many as I want or, I can afford! Not the Government or anyone else’s business but mine! THX


“How Many Gun Magazines Do You Really Need?”

The only correct answer is always:
…Just a few more.


An old GUNNY once told me: “You can never be too rich, too handsome or have too much ammunition”!

Green Mtn. Boy

There is no such thing as too many magazines or ammunition.

Boris Badenov

Be sure to check the expiration date on the ammo.


I wouldn’t be too concerned about it if its stored properly. I have some surplus .30-06 AP headstamped “DEN 43” that still works well enough for my purposes.


I’m not that good a shot, so I’ll need atleast 10, or maybe 50 to be on the safe side.


Seven is a standard battle load-out. Then you have training mags. Then there are fresh in bag back-ups. How many firearms use the same mags? Think it is time to hit up botach for more…

Ryben Flynn

Good idea. I should get more magazines for my 300BLK and maybe a few more for the 5.56.


Hey there, if you don’t mind me asking since I’ve never shot a 300 Blackout, could you give me your personal View on the differences in recoil between your 556 AR and your 300 Blackout AR?

I’m considering a 300 Blackout upper but I’m just not sure. I have some serious neck vertebrae issues that’s the reason for asking.

Thank you for your time.

Green Mtn. Boy

My thought is it’s pretty much a wash on felt recoil between the two, with slightly more felt recoil to the mid weight supersonics in the Blackout.

I have 4 herniated disc’s and it docent bother me more than 5.56 or any of the other mid sized cartridges do but remember felt recoil is a very subjective thing.


Thank you for getting back to me I truly do appreciate it! The reason I asked was because Bear Creek often run specials on side charging 16-in heavy barrel complete uppers for between $240 and $300 in 300 Blackout and I was definitely interested. The only thing that really gets my attention is that cost per round for the 300 Blackout. The problem I’m facing is that the complete upper from Bear Creek would only be an interim on the way to getting what I really want concerning recoil, ballistics, and all around shoot ability, which is an AK-74 from… Read more »


I agree with Green Mtn Boy between the two on recoil. It’s pretty much a wash. The ballistics is where the differences will show. I also have a 350 Legend that I built which is in an AR15 frame that has better ballistics than the 300BO and less felt recoil that either the 5.56 or 300BO. It uses a straight wall cartridge. Because of the cost of ammo, I got into reloading shortly before the ammo shortage and accumulated reloading materials as I could budget them. It’s carried me through the worst of the crunch and beyond, if Biden continues… Read more »


It’s time to buy more mags but, I’ll never buy from Botach again. I ordered a set of level IV SAPI plates and, they just threw them in a box with no padding whatsoever. They arrived all dented and cut up around the edges. Then, they wouldn’t answer their phone or respond to emails. I tried for two weeks and then resorted to disputing the charge on my card. That’s when they finally reached out. It took three more attempts to get a return shipping label. Nope, I’m done with them.

Green Mtn. Boy

I’ve read so many horror stories that I shy away from anything Botach.



Green Mtn. Boy

No such thing as too many magazines or ammunition.


I remember seeing someone post two exceptions to that rule. One was if you’re trying to swim to shore. Don’t remember what the second one was.


Exceptions are swimming or on fire.


how about moving cross country and yuo have to PACK and LOAD all your gun stuff to securely tramsport……. but that is a shortt erm temporary issue.

Big George

Simple answer is…as many as you can afford! But then again sufficient ammo comes into question. Reminds me of John Wayne’s quote in the ‘Longest Day’…“ya’ can never have enough ammo…until ya’ run out!”.


How many magazines do you need? How many tubes of lipstick does a person need? The United States currently has no requirement to prove a ‘need’ for something that is legal to possess. We already have a plethora of restrictive laws pertaining to firearms, ammunition and accessories; we need to keep this can of worms tightly closed. Once opened, we will be inundated with the overflow, because the antigun crowd will be on it like a sparrow on a hot horse turd.

Last edited 1 year ago by ExGob



I lived through the Assault Weapon Ban, so I’ve been stocking up for years. I have 90 high cap Glock mags and 131 rifle mags. AR-15, AR-10, and Mini-14.


I became a “gun person” during the AWB, and remember paying $75-80 each for three well-used Glock 17 standard capacity mags at the gun show at which I bought my G17. In the absence of the ban, these mags wouldn’t have been worth more than $10-12 (in 2002). Now, I have mags for several popular guns I don’t even own. I figure I might wind up with one in the future. If there’s a ban, I already have a few standard cap mags. If I don’t get one, I have some trading stock. Magazines are a wear item. If you… Read more »


Yep! That was a long ten years. Not fun at all.


One thing I believe was overlooked by the OP; It’s not how many magazines one has – it’s how many ~working~ magazines. Even for an AR15 (&/or clone) not all mags are equal. It’s especially notable for the Ruger Mini-14. Many alt. mfgrs have come and gone, and the one’s that survived are still spotty on Q.A. E.G. ProMag; 10 or more years ago I bought some that were almost identical to Ruger factory mags, down to the last detail. They worked. I have heard many complaints about current production. I don’t know that I’d take the chance on buying… Read more »

Boris Badenov

Flooding is bad too, amazing how loaded safes can be washed away.


ammo too lost all my link 50


None of your business.


Asking about magazines for guns. How many THOUSANDS of AK magazines have the federal government bought?


My bare minimum for a pistol is 3 – two for the mag carrier, one in the pistol. This is the typical load-out for the type of training I do. For my AR, 4 – three in the chest rig, one in the rifle.
One point that no one has brought up is that mags break. They get dropped, stepped on, slammed into the weapon, etc. Mag springs and lips eventually, wear out too! Springs can be replaced, the lips cannot.


One is none, two is one, so a minimum of go-bang mags is 6 for me per pistol. Rifles, even more. And spare springs and followers and base plates if applicable. And as BillK states – mags break, not so often, but often enough, so I include an additional amount of mags designated for range practice so I don’t ding up my go-bang mags.


For most pistols, I agree on 3, but competition pistol has 10 mags. For AR style rifles, a battle load out of 7 mags, with plenty of spares and unopened backups in case you need more down the way. Precision rifle only has 2. And only one is used regularly.



WI Patriot

I’m set, thanks for your concern…


How Many Mags Do You Need?



I got mucho :]


How many gun mags do I need? You ask. As man6 as I want and can afford. Same for guns and ammo! I’m glad we got that straightened out!


I’m going to say, you need hundreds or even thousands of magazines. You never know what’s going to happen and, if the SHTF, magazines can be used as currency.


I say the more the better

Country Boy

IMO you need as many mags as it takes to load all the ammo you own into magazines. because you’ll not have time to reload ,mags when SHTF…and it looks like Joe Biden is trying to ensure that’s soon to happen IMO.

Knute Knute

So you think one battle is a whole war? No offense meant, but I’d recommend a “bigger picture” sort of outlook on life. Life is a process, not a single moment.


Classic Firearms has sales with cheaper prices, with lower shipping costs!


16 mags for two AR’s, 4 for a M&P 9mm and and 3 each for LCP, LCP2,LCPMax 380’s.

Boris Badenov

I absolutely agree with the 325, but it could be a touch excessive. Because I’m behind enemy lines and my grandkids don’t need any inheritance most have 5 – 7 for non-AR, but each evil black rifle has 5 of a capacity that is normal.

Big George

You must also be in Commiefornia. I’m looking forward to the next ‘Freedom Week’!

Boris Badenov

Komrad, it is Kommieforniastan, a true turdworld country, led by a real turd.


aka Calizuela


Didn’t read all of the prior comments so someone else may have already gotten it. When (not if) the schumer hits the fan you will likely be one full magazine short or have one ‘extra’ just in case. It is like having too much ammo – only if you are on fire or in water over your head…………………….


I wish I had bought more mags for my 1006 when they were available for less than the $90 they are selling for now. I bought 3 extras for $29.95 eight years ago, not realizing they would become unobtanium shortly thereafter.


At least 3 with me when at the range and a total of 5-10 total for all magazine guns, but that’s just me.

Deplorable Bill

The simple fact is; If you have a magazine fed tool, the magazine IS the weak point. There is no such thing as too many mags as long as you have the ability to deal with them. There are MANY AR’s and AK’s out there and they are very good defensive tools. MOST of the time up until now, having several mags pre loaded to 90% capacity will handle MOST of the troubles we have seen on the news and, a few of us, personally seen. Three or four 30 round mags will handle most of the trouble. That being… Read more »


It really depends upon your needs and uses. Do I need five 4 round mags for my Winchester XPR in .338 Winchester Magnum, the hunting rifle which will serve as my Sniper Rifle if SHTF? Not really, and the same goes for a numberbof guns in my modest collection. My EDC Compact and Full Size Semis which will serve as a sidearms if SHTF is 6, including the one kept in the guns. But my High Standard Model B Target Pistol I only keep three, because they cost nearly $80 per mag. I’ve six AR’s that I keep a minimum… Read more »


It’s entirely a private matter. Already fought that issue supposedly. There is no right answer as it all depends on each individual’s perceptions & choice.


I buy my mags like women buy shoes, when their on sale I buy them.

Last edited 3 months ago by Beowulf

Many home invaders operate in squads. Knock-knock burglary rings operate the same. Keep your mags everybody. You cleared the new “extended” background check. And probably a lifetime of other stupid harassment checks. And the leftist liberals are going to shut up and honor it too!

Last edited 3 months ago by Ledesma

One day back in 1995 or 1996, I dumped approximately 65-70 30 round AR magazines that I had collected over 8 years in the military. I look back on that now and consider it one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life.


Had no idea K31 took detachable magazines. I ‘only’ have a K1911 and have yet Tom see a stripper clip for it. Given my use for it and the ever increasing cost for its specialty ammo, same as K31, I’m OK with slowing down to load individual rounds. Don’t remember what I paid for case of GP11, but lower quality commercial ammo is in multiple dollar per round range if one can find it. So very fun, but expensive to shoot. this gun may well be my motivation to start reloading.


Has your K31 been “sporterized”? I have seen a few 1903(&A3) that has their stripper guides milled away as part of the process.

Ryben Flynn

I’m magazine poor. 1 ten round for my 350 Legend AR, 2 twenty round for my 300BLK (1 for pistol, 1 for rifle), 3 ten round for my 458 SOCOM, 3 twenty round for my 308/7.62X51 AR10, 6 thirty round for my 5.56 AR and 1 25 round .22LR for my CMMG conversion AR.
2 12 round and 3 17 round for my PT111 Millennium G2 9mm. EDC.
Forgot. 12 en bloc clips for the M1 Garand and 1 ten round magazine for the 1918 Enfield SMLE MKIII*. 1 ten round .22LR for the Savage 64F.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ryben Flynn

Me too. Twenty 30-round 223 mags stolen & some other burned in a fire.


Is that because you have never owned a boat to have had an accident in?


No, just sold it too soon. Damn. Well, still have the tender…


As many as you can afford. Same goes for firearms.


Old article that is resurrected but it hasn’t changed. I need enough mags that I have at least 120 round in each truck, boat, quad, motorcycle and 10 30 round mags in the house and motorhome and buried in the back yard and all over the mountains and for all my friends and their friends and anyone else.

The more the merrier and the bigger the better.


We all passed the highly acclaimed new “extended” background check. Many of us held top military clearances way before that. Both are invasive background inquisitions designed by the gun-hating liberals themselves. So mags no mags, they’re gonna trust us either way.


IMHO for my MBR, 24 is bare minimum, 12 to use and keep loaded and 12 in Reserve, but that’s just me… I’ve been told I’m Crazy


Being that most rifle magazine bandoliers allow you to pack 6-8 magazines, I would say 6-8 mags per rifle. As for pistol? I just received a “Glock Perfection” pouch that holds 10 mags, so, for THAT pistol, it gets 10 mags. I also boosted the number of “10” to each of my pistols. Like the man says, why spend time loading mags hen you can be shooting?


Need at least one more than your bandolier holds as you’ll also need one loaded. Like pistol capacity #+1 for the chamber.


I have an FNH FP40 with 8 mags. I came with 3, I bought 5 more when they were on sale shortly after I bought the pistol. They don’t make them anymore. Of course they changed the mags for the new guns so they don’t fit.


My go-to answer is whatever came with the gun when I bought it, and 1 box of ball ammo, and I only have 1 gun that I keep with me at all times. I play everything close to the vest. I don’t want anyone knowing what I might have. I never go to a public range, where my stuff can be on display to anyone I don’t know. That being said, buy as many mags as you can afford to fill with quality ammo. If shit goes sideways you don’t want to be reloading the 2 mags that you own,… Read more »


With the internet I don’t need as many magazines as I had in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Back then it was always more magazines. Shooting Times, Guns, Guns And Ammo, The American Rifleman (before I knew better), Gun World, and so many more.


Last edited 3 months ago by Grigori