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How Many Rounds for Concealed Carry?

This is a guest post by Scott Sylvester45 Firearm Pistol Clip And Hand Gun Ammunition on Camouflage

How many rounds for concealed carry?

Carrying a handgun in a daily basis is one of the surest ways to guarantee your personal safety. A concealed firearm gives you a tremendous advantage in surprise and as a force multiplier when confronted with a threat of death or great bodily injury. Having a firearm gives you options and puts you on equal footing or gives you an advantage against an armed attacker/opponent.

One disadvantage to concealed carry is having to downsize the amount of ammo available to you or when carrying a small or more compact firearm, the number of rounds are now limited. When in a training environment or on duty, carrying around 3 full magazines (or more) is quite common. Even though I carry 37 rounds of handgun ammunition with me, it was still a limited amount when you look at some of the sustained gunfights some law enforcement officers have been engaged in. While I hope to avoid a gun battle which requires me to reload, or reload more than one time, the possibility exists so we carry at least a pair of magazines. Some of my staff who work in one of our most dangerous inner city areas are now carrying 5 full magazines or a combo of the standard 3 mags with a backup gun.

While off duty or in civilian life, carrying 3 to 5 magazines is just impractical, uncomfortable and probably difficult to conceal. The question becomes, how much extra ammo (magazines) should I carry and why? Like choosing a gun to carry this is a personal choice and does not come with a blanket answer, though I will give you my recommendations.

First of all it starts with the gun you carry… allow me to explain.

The first gun I carried concealed was a Glock 17. A single standard capacity magazine holds 17+1 rounds of 9mm ammo. When this was my daily carry gun, I rarely felt it necessary to take an additional 17 round magazine with me. Overtime as I transitioned to the smaller Sig P938, which has an optional 7+1 round magazine, I always carried a spare magazine to bring my total up to 14 rounds… and I was always nervous that maybe I should be carrying two additional magazines for the little thing.

Now that I have standardized on carrying my duty weapon at work and away from it, I have found that the 12+1 capacity is a good balance. Should I have to engage a threat I will have a sufficient supply of ammo already in the handgun, however, I do carry an additional magazine (sometimes two) at all times, but not for the primary reason you might think.

Okay, so the primary reason to carry a spare magazine is to have more rounds available, there is an additional reason you should consider carrying a spare. Reliability! When working with quality semi-auto handguns, the primary reasons they fail to function or fire is typically caused by the magazine. More than any other reason, almost every failure I’ve experience has been to a faulty mag, with the poor quality of design being secondary followed by a broken or worn extractor and lastly by a worn out recoil spring.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need your firearm to save your life or the life of another, it has to work. If you have a faulty magazine that does not seat properly, or have sufficient spring tension to feed the handgun, you will be using a single shot firearm with an immediate action drill between shots. If there is a function problem right away, consider dumping the faulty magazine and inserting a different one. When proverbial excrement hits the oscillating device, you need a gun that functions and having a spare magazine with you, might be the difference between longevity and terminal lead poisoning.

There is one more primary thing to consider when contemplating how many rounds you need to carry. Ability! Probably more important than Reliability, your Ability to make hits with the rounds you have will stop the threat faster.

Wyatt Earp who carried a single action revolver (and won gun fights with it) said it best, “Fast is fine, but accurate is final.” Despite the old west movies we see on TV, cowboys and gunslingers weren’t throwing volumes of fire across town. Having only 6 rounds in a single action revolver back in a day where ammo was unreliable or reloading meant packing powder and balls into individual cylinders, one’s Ability to get good accurate shots on target first was more desirable than more capacity.

When I teach my Defensive Handgun courses I spend a lot of time emphasizing the holes on the target that fall outside the lines. I do this for two reasons: The first is the liability side of the training. You are going to be accountable for each and every round that leaves the barrel of your handgun. Each round that strays from the target is going to hit something, and I ask my students write me a check for $10 million dollars for each “miss.” While this seems silly, it is a teachable moment that allows me to explain to them that they were shooting faster than they were capable, and as a result, are going to incur at the minimum some financial loss… and if the stray round hits someone unintended, the financial loss will pale in comparison.

It is very important to emphasize that a fast draw speed and rapid shots are important skills to develop, but not at the expense of accuracy. I’d rather be the slower gunfighter that strikes my opponent and begins delivering debilitating injury first than be quick on the trigger and wind up as a bullet trap.

As a trainer I will push my students and simulate stress to the best of my ability because I need to know and my students need to know where their failure point is. They need to know that three rapid shots are good hits but a fourth shot is more than they can manage and results in a miss. This is a performance threshold that must be established.

Do you know what your performance threshold is? If you do not, you need to seek out a competent handgun trainer in your area and find the limits of your ability. If you know your performance threshold, how are you training to overcome it and raise the bar higher? Is it time for you to also seek some training? While you are training, you may also discover the capabilities and limits of the handgun you have chosen to carry and find out if the round count and spare magazines you have chosen are sufficient for your perceived needs.

Whatever you decide, spend some time contemplating the questions I have posed. I applaud you for taking personal protection seriously and I firmly believe more armed citizens make society safer. Carrying a handgun is not a decision that is to be taken lightly and equipment selection and set up should be well thought out.

With 2015 just around the corner analyze your Ability and plan to take at least one course in the new year to maintain and increase your proficiency.

Merry Christmas, I hope you have a safe holiday season.

Scott S – One Weapon Any Tool

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