Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How many magazines is enough?

Every now and again, I hear someone talk about magazines and "How many is enough?"

As an answer to the question, I've heard everything from "two per gun" to "Obama per gun".

In a magazine-fed weapon the magazine itself, by virtue of being detachable, is the weak link; it's the part most susceptible to loss or damage, and therefore it behooves one to keep a spare. I know that for my collectible autoloaders I try to keep at least one spare and I even have an extra Lee-Enfield mag should the original on either my No.4 or SMLE get lost or go Tango Uniform.

On my recreational/range guns, I go further than that: The five 9mm 1911 mags I have aren't really enough to make me happy, and the even dozen I keep for my Marlin .22s feel like just a good start. For my serious pieces? I'm north of two dozen .45 ACP 1911 mags and 5.56 AR-15 mags, and I buy more every chance I get.

So I throw the question to y'all: How many magazines is "enough"?


drjim said...

I've got ten for each of my 1911's (total of 20), along with five for the 22LR conversion kit, and five for my Sig P226.
My other guns don't have detachable mags, so I don't have to worry about 'em!

Firehand said...

Depends; how much storage space is available?

Tirno said...

It would be reasonable to stop before you create a gravitational singularity.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I'd like to have three or four more for the 1911. That would make a total of five or six.

I think I'd lose track of more than that. But I don't hit the range anywhere near as often as most of y'all, either.

Tam said...

I could probably toss you a couple spare Chip McCormicks if you want, Nathan.

Next time we're at the range together, I'll let you try 'em and see how they run in your gun.

If they work and you want 'em, buy me a beer at a blogmeet.

Unknown said...

I believe that magazines should be marked. A lot of guys in my industry use "A, B, C, D..."

So long as you replace your magazines everytime they go down (If "B" becomes a trouble mag, either destroy it or re-label it "B-P1."), then I would say you need to keep up to "F" for duty mags. Rotate through them, and leave at least two unloaded.

Trent said...

When I buy a mag fed gun, I buy enough mags at the same time so that the mags that came with the gun + the extras = 5. I don't know why I picked that number its just what I'm comfortable with.
I buy more but I consider that
minimum which is sorta like enough right?

Caleb said...

How many mags is enough? At least one more.

And a great big ol' ++ to marking your magazines. I zero index mine, with the oldest being labeled "0" with the numbers getting higher the "younger" a magazine is. If you can, buy spare parts for your mags as well, springs, followers, basepads, etc. However, with some mags, it makes more sense from a cost standpoint to just buy more - I have 5 or 6 mags for my XD right now, and I'd like to have at least 20 or 30 total.

Unknown said...

I think it depends on why you are stock them. For just recreational shooting or game shooting as many as you can store is fine, but operationally, I agree with Matt label and rotate the amount you can carry and walk for 12 hours, plus 2 extras and 4 spring/follower sets.

Tony said...

I've read somewhere - and found it a good suggestion - that the minimum amount of magazines would be three 'sets'. As in, there's your duty magazines, equal amount of training magazines, and a third, spare set of magazines.

Of course, this is just the minimum amount. As for the maximum, I find Tirnos suggestion to be reasonable. :)

TheRock said...

10 per pistol

30 per rifle

This is talking about the standard type of magazine out there for said firearm.

If you are talking an AR variant, try 50. The USGI magazines are made from aluminum and they wear out.

If you don't wear them out, you probably aren't using them enough.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Thanks, Tam! Looking forward to it.

Top of the Chain said...

As many as you can comfortably afford and have storage space for? Budget for them if you can't purchase as many as you want all at once.

aczarnowski said...

For the safe queens I don't stock much above what came in the box.

For my working guns, I like what Tony said; stock three sets. Since my pistol load out is typically three (1 in gun 2 on belt) that's nine. Rifle load outs are higher but Tony's idea still works out about right for me.

More is always better, but three sets feels like a good initial goal.

Bring the spare set with you for training though. It can't do its job if it's not there.

Flight-ER-Doc said...

I calculate the minimum number as 3x whatever my standard carry is for that particular firearm.

For example, my daily carry gun is a G30. I (nominally) carry 3 magazines for it - one in the gun and two spares. So, my minimum for that gun is 9 magazines.

In reality, my wife has a G30 as well - so 18. And we often carry G21 mags (which fit) as the backup mags, so I have a minimum of 18 G30 mags, and 18 G21 mags.

As it happens, we have 4 G30's...so 36 G30 mags, and 36 G21 mags.

And we have 4 G21's...36 more G21 mags.

And as I said, those are minimum numbers. For my AR platforms, each one has at least 24 magazines. My M14's...21 each.

And so on.

We have a couple of FAL's...I bought 200 FAL magazines back when they were cheap (like a buck each).

We also have a couple hundred G3 mags, for our PTR-91's, I got those at around $0.50 each.

Now, there are a few autoloaders I don't have quite that many for, (P38, Mk I bull barrel) but it gives me a goal.

Since the mag is the most fragile part, it makes sense to stock up. Especially while we can.

T.Stahl said...

I derive the number of mags/stripper clips I need for a gun from the largest imaginable, yet still practical combat load.
Glock - enough mags for 309 rounds.
x-esse - ten 10rd mags which fit in a G3 double mag pouch (together with two 50rd packets to rise them up), so I need an 11th for the gun.
Enfield - one mag, 29 stripper clips, 14 fit in a gutted G3 double mag pouch.
SL8 - ten 30rd mags, two 10rd mags, twice the issue load of the Bundeswehr.
K31 - one 6rd mag, 16 clips, 8 fit in a gutted G3 double mag pouch.
AIA No4Mk4 - two 20rd mags, one 10rd mag, need a few more. Anyone know of a good source for M14 mags?

Total number of rounds in mags and on stripper clips - 1036.

Kristophr said...

I won't buy more than twice as many as I can wear.

If I end up with more, I'll sell them or give them away.

Alan said...

I try to go with 10 per pistol and 30 per rifle like mentioned above.

I have 80 for the SMG though.

Steve Skubinna said...

I suppose theoretically it depends on how many you use at any time. In practical terms, it means buying another one or two whenever they cross your path.

A carry pistol, I'd say one in the gun and two on the belt.

Yeah, okay... and two or three more loaded up in the gun safe, plus another dozen empty ones, plus the two or three that have failed to feed but you won't throw them away until you look at them and maybe fix them...

Oh, and the dozen or so you keep in your range bag. But that's it!

Me, I have at least one GI ammo can filled with Garand clips. I can't walk past a table with them and not buy more.

mousestalker said...

One more than I have.

Hunsdon said...

Think Bruce Willis' satchel in "Last Man Standing."

Stretch said...

Mag fed defensive handguns (.45s) 3X carry load. Full moon clips for the 625 number well over 25.
"Sport" guns (.22s) 2 to 10. At $45-50 each I don't buy may mags for my ca. 1929 Woodsman.
Rifles for serious social work: 10 to 25. I've replaced all springs and followers in past 7 months.
I honestly don't know how may stripper clips for the '03 are in the box and ammo belts.

Jay G said...

How many is enough?


All of them?

Solo Survivalist said...

Enough that if I can't get anymore tomorrow, my kid won't run out in her lifetime.

I tend to go overboard on mags, and just can't stop buying them.

theirritablearchitect said...

Last count, I think it was around 45 for the PTR.

Carbine was 'round 30.

Ten to fifteen per serious (martial types, not the fun or old stuff) handgun is my typical.

The Duck said...

at least 6 per gun

For my AR's I have around 100,
for the Brownings I have around 85
7 for the M&P,
6 for the SIG
1911 45 25 or so
1911 9mm 10 for 2 guns, need to find more

Astra A70 about 5 they are hard to find,
M1 carbine, 12, Ruger Mini 7 or 8

Zdogk9 said...

All you can carry, plus one.

Aaron said...

Good, combat-use magazines: 150% of the basic load, rounded up. Thus, I own 11 AR mags, 5 M9 mags, and 5 1911 mags.

Trainers: All the mags that used to be carry magazines, plus whatever cheap crap I find at gun shows. It's fun to scramble when they fail, so I have very low standards here.

NotClauswitz said...

Thanks for the help! Six for the '43 Colt is not enough. Seven for the Sig seems about right for now, until I take a class.

Revolvers OTOH...

Adrian K said...

This is why I love this blog.

I'm surrounded, all the day long, by women who'd call up HR and have me out on the street in 3 minutes flat for merely saying that some equipment had gone Tango Uniform.

Thankfully, the liquor store hasn't run out of tequila yet.

Dixie said...

Enough that you could lose half, and not be desperate for magazines. So, double the number you need.

Old NFO said...

I average 20 mags per pistol, all numbered; 30 for the M4gery; I buy more when I get them for a reasonable price...

Unknown said...

It's like ammo...You can never have enough.

See Ya

Anonymous said...

I feel under prepared with only 60 AR Mags.


I think I have around 20 Glock 19 mags and upwards of 15 Glock 21 mags. But I'm not sure.

Unknownsailor said...

I myself have 30 USGI AR mags, plus one hundred PMAGs of various colors.
I have roughly 30 mags for each of my pistols.

I have so many because I hate stuffing mags when I am at a sleep in school. I prefer to take my breaks sitting down, drinking ware, and allowing the information I am receiving at sustained fire hose rate to percolate.

Don M said...

My handgun is a 625 smith, so the problem almost solves it self, but I confess to having 16 full moon clips.

Or "Last month's issue of Guns and Ammo on the coffee table.

Robert Langham said...

Two or three. I take Smithsonian, National Geographic and Archeology, but I'm thinking of cutting one since Smithsonian and Nat Geo have gone green and lefty. You gotta have at least one, right?

Anonymous said...

The Ultimate Answer is 42!

Oh wait, wrong question.

I'm thinking three. SHTF rifle, five


Anonymous said...

Plenty of different ways of looking at it. As many as it takes to get through a long day of shooting without spending any time stuffing mags is one way. For product testing I go by that standard, which can mean up to about 1K rounds, preloaded in mags for a rifle, carried in several bags of mag pouches for transport. Same goes for clips if your rifle loads from them. I guess I keep at least 750 rounds loaded on clips, minimum, with a few hundred more in battle packs. Otherwise, dunno-- "one pile" I guess.

Funny now that I think about it-- I have exactly two mags for my carry pistol. One in the gun and one spare. That's the smallest number for any detach mag fed gun I own. Hmm.

I guess I never thought of the possibility of a protracted shootout with a belly gun, or a long unplanned Walkabout with just the CCW piece. Then again I always travel with far more firepower within reach than what sits on my hip.

Part of the formula is how many you can keep track of. That question's beginning to play in my case. (now where did I put the rest of those M-14 mags?)

Nice query though-- sure to get lots of varied comments, which of course it did.

Here's a question that's been of concern for me-- If you keep a bunch of rifle mags loaded, are they all filled with the same exact load, or are there several loads represented, and do you keep track of what's what? I tend to label the mags with what's inside 'em, 'cause sure as hell I'm going to forget. -- Lyle

David said...

When you run out of space to store your mags you have two choices - stop buying mags or move to a bigger house.

Tam said...

"I guess I never thought of the possibility of a protracted shootout with a belly gun, or a long unplanned Walkabout with just the CCW piece."

While zombie apocalypse is always a consideration, there's also the more likely situation of just plain losing or breaking one of the two, and then you've only got one 'til you can get to an open gun shop.

TXGunGeek said...

First off, the only time you can have "Too Much Ammo/Mags" is if you are going swimming.

Second, My favorite excuse is I'll load mags at the house in the A/C then when I go to the range all I am doing is shooting. Not loading mags.

Typical is to spend at least half the cost of the gun on more mags. Sometimes that goes a bit higher such as race gun. More like I've spent more no mags than the original cost of the gun.

Anonymous said...

Approximately 1 less than the Spouse will lose her mind over when having to move them around to get to her own ammo and magazines.

I usually find when you are at the gun show and try to pick up another 7 Pmags and you get the eye roll plus the question, "Zombies again…” You are rapidly approaching that limit.

Gun Blobber said...

Well, this question is complicated by the fact that I'm not just buying for SHTF/etc. (i.e. "actual potential need"), but also for profit/backups/etc. in case of another AWB or other ban of normal-capacity magazines. I have what I would consider "enough" nor-cap mags for purpose #1 but not enough for #2.

Also I have to consider that my AK's would be the current choice in SHTF due to the ammo stockpile compared to the relatively small amount of 5.56 that I've got. So I've got more AK mags than AR mags, and more PMAGs for the AR than standard aluminum mags. I've got more than enough SIG mags because I stocked up when I found a good deal on them.

Stretch said...

The only time you can have too much ammo is when your house is on fire.

Sigivald said...

The real question is, why isn't someone making replacement magazines for the AG-42, ideally in 20 round sizes?

In its case, I believe "one is enough", because spares are scarce as hen's teeth.

Jay G said...


Ditto that for my VEPR .308, whose magazines are apparently manufactured out of compressed unicorn tears...

Anonymous said...

Not sure, but think
there's a direct relationship
to the amount of hard drive
space needed. Possibly by a
factor of point seven?
Anon, Don

Steve - The Firearm Blog said...

... as many as you can afford

Dedicated_Dad said...

What I have, plus whatever I can find that I can afford at the time.

I'm forever stumbling over mags I bought and saying "Oh yeah - I remember that..."

Need to get out and wring 'em out a bit...


WV: "arinater." I LLOLed...

Anonymous said...

As with guns, you can never have enough.

There is a minimum though. For handguns it is at least 1 mag for every place you may be carring (home, car, backpack) plus one in the gun and one spare in your pocket.

If you have 2 one may fail, then you only have 1. IF you have 3 your odds of having a reload increase dramatically, so why stop there?