Spare Magazines

Is carrying a spare magazine for daily carry really necessary? The justification for a spare magazine isn’t always just because.

It will depend largely on the standard capacity of the carry pistol as well as your perceived threat levels. As we have discussed in the past we do not recommend for daily carry a magazine capacity less than 10 rounds and here’s why. A large percentage defensive shootings will involve more than one threat, maybe not initially, but before the dust settles things get more complicated with more than one opponent.

While we don’t like to consider a “one shot” stop sufficient for any type of defensive shooting what is the high end of rounds fired. I don’t think there is a safe bet on this one that can be backed up with any sort of data so rather than go into that I choose to consider with a 10 round capacity that gives me approximately five rounds if I’m looking at two threats. The way I look at that is I have up to five rounds to try and solve one problem hopefully leaving me five rounds to solve the other.

While not set in stone it is at least a good place to start and if your magazine capacity is greater than ten does that mean you have more per threat, not really. I choose to look at a magazines capacity greater than 10 allows me to engage more threats. So, if instead of two threats, I’m theoretically good for three. Is there any type of scientific data to support five rounds be sufficient to neutralize a threat. Not really, but it gives us a place to start when we start when selecting daily carry platforms.

Now this in no way says you are “required” or obligated to fire the five rounds we discussed, it simply is a logical though process that would provide “up to” five rounds and still have sufficient rounds to deal with an additional threat.

In comes the spare magazine justification, if you had the legal justification to fire five rounds to neutralize a threat against your life and there wasn’t any additional threats in the immediate vicinity is it a good idea to “top off”. Absolutely, it is common practice you see on the range all the time. Almost like blind obedience, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying it should be avoided. I am challenging conventional wisdom as it relates to the justification “because”.

When I discuss this issue with folks a lot of times I am not convinced folks have really given it much thought. Which is fine in some ways, but my thought process has a bit more logic involved. I tend to be more inclined to allowing the situation to dictate. Some will argue, “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” That maybe true, but you can also find yourself going down the rabbit hole. Like, if one is good then two will be better or if there was a need for one pistol then there could be a need for two pistols.

Being able to justify carrying a spare magazine goes deeper than “because”. Can you really come up with a better reason than that or the other commonly thrown out reasons, have you put thought into it over just because.

2 thoughts on “Spare Magazines

  1. TMOUL1 says:

    Jeff, you made some really great points in your article on spare magazines. When off duty, I primarily carry my duty weapon (Glock-17) with its 18-rounds and no spare magazine. The justification for this is based largely on why I am carrying a concealed firearm in the first place–personal defense of me and my family. Living in the city where I work, running into my customers off-duty is a realistic concern. Off-duty intervention on behalf of anyone outside of my personal circle is an exception that will occur only in the case of preservation of life. I’m not, for example, stepping in to assist mall security in capturing a fleeing shoplifter. On the other hand, if the shoplifter transitions into a deadly threat to anyone, I will act as long as my family (if with me) is safe.
    Over the years I have carried different (lighter / smaller framed) weapons off duty. I the end, my duty weapon has proven to be the most reliable in terms of personal performance, capacity, and reliability. Eighteen rounds may not be enough to stop even one determined threat, but it increases the odds in my favor as long as I do my job in terms of shot placement–I have to hit the threat to have any hope of incapacitating him/ her. The realities of a lethal force confrontation make it highly likely that it will take more than one, two, or even five rounds to induce incapacitation, even if every round fired by me hits my opponent.
    A second/backup magazine is just not something that I choose to add to my already full pockets or belt line. I’m sure some folks will disagree, and that’s ok with me. Make your choices and commit to formulating your personal off-duty / concealed carry SOP, and commit some time to practice and personal mental scenario time.

  2. flashback says:

    Great post,
    I would have to say that carrying a spare magazine for me is based upon “just in case” and not “just because”. In taking part in some local IDPA matches I’ve seen other participants have issues with their magazines and they become inoperable for whatever reason…always nice to be able to quickly fix the issue and figure out what went wrong after the fact…which would more than doubly apply in a self-defense situation.

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