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


  1. 15 in the gun and a spare magazine in my pocket. 50 rounds in my car bug out bag

  2. My S&W Airlite holds 5 rounds and that is enough if you know how to shoot. However I keep 5 extra rounds in all my cars just for feeling of security.

  3. 15+1 and two spare mags and a back up gun incase you need to arm someone else.

  4. I teach take your time fast my students compete against each other shooting the same target a clay bird loud noise gives his opponent more time to place his shot

  5. He did not have gun under his shirt. It not the same. Try getting your gun out when it is under a bunch of clothes

  6. Depends on where you are and what you do for a living as well as the caliber of the gun. For duty usage I prefer a standard 1911 with one or two spare magazines FMJ. Same approach for use inside of a car, off-duty; Bersa with +P FMJ. From thereon, rush slowly!

  7. 15 in the CZ-75, and 50 in my car bug out bag.

  8. PJ Colorado says:

    If I carry my Glock 27 it has Pierce + 2 magazine extentions on each of the 3 magazines so I carry 2 spare mags and that’s plenty. In colder weather I carry a Glock 23 with 2 spare magazines. I would rather have more and not need it then not enough and need it. I think these days the bad guys are loading up and out gunning the good guys in many cases so I like to at least have a fighting chance. Just think if there are multiple bad guys you wanna be able to cover your rear end.

  9. TwinReverb says:

    I carry 15 in my Glock 19 and fifteen more in a spare magazine (because my 5.11 pants have a pocket for a magazine).

  10. larry van zant says:

    S&W MP 8+1 .45 cal after that there should be at least one weapon on the ground to pick up.USMC training. Another 7 or 27 rounds aren’t going to help.

  11. 6+ 1 in a Glock 42

  12. Pt111 G2 13 and a spare mag of 12. Glock 27 11 plus 10 in a spare mag. Always carry at least one xtra

  13. 13 in the gun and sometimes another 12. 50 rounds in my car

  14. I carry the CZ P09 with the magazine extension. This gives me 21+1 on the first mag, out of habit (2 is 1, one is none theory) I still carry 2 spares on me. I hope to never need ’em, but if I do…

  15. 8 plus one in my H and K 45c, along with one spar mag

  16. 15+1 at home with 3 extra mags, for CC limited to 7+1. I also hope I never have to find out, but as criminals are opportunists and cowards, once the shooting starts, the will undoubtedly flee.

  17. 8+1 230g Golden Saber in the 1911 at 3:30, and 2x 8-round spares worn horizontally in a modified cell phone case at 8:30-9:30, equals 25 rounds. If I wear the shoulder rig I carry 2x 8 or 2x 10 spares under strong-side arm. If I’m feeling really squirrelly I can still carry the cell phone case and max out at 45 rounds. If I’ve got the right (multi-pocket) jacket over that, I *could* easily throw 4 or 6 more mags on top of that.

    My “New York reload” would likely be walking beside me carrying her own 25 rounds of 9mm (8+1 and 2x 8).

  18. In the winter months a 1911 on my side with a combo light/mag holder on other strong side. And usually at least 2 or 3 extra guns. Kahr PM9,S&W 342ti or Ruger LCR .38, LCP. Those 5.11 holster shirts are great! In the summer months in HOT as HELL FL I’ll use a smart carry with a PM9 & snub nose.

  19. Shayne O'Shea says:

    I carry 5 extra rounds for my CA Bulldog .44 spl in my right front pocket. I belive the cops should be there before I need 10 rounds. If not then 10 will have to do and I should be able to pick up one no longer needed firearm if I need to.

  20. Bryon wilkinson says:

    Kimber solo 9mm

  21. Todd Hitchner says:

    Glock 22, 3 mags on me, one in the chamber and two more mags in my bag…..i base it on a simple scenario, i get caught up by 3/4 carjackers (or whatever) while driving downtown, simply put nobody is going to stand up and be able to take 4 well placed shots to stop them all so i want back up….while i hope to never need them, i refer back to the old adage: it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have….i might mention there are also 4 boxes of Hornady Critical Defense also in the bag

  22. I’m back to my old S&W 469 (12+1) and a spare mag when I decided to downsize from .45ACP.

  23. I’m carrying an SR9c. On the gun I carry a ten round mag with no pinky extension, plus a 17 round spare mag in case 10+1 can’t resolve the situation. I usually use Hornady Critical Defense as my defensive ammo, but I also like to carry Federal HST from time to time.

  24. 8 of .357 in my Smith 686 PC. I can shoot them well and accurate so 8 is plenty for me.

  25. 7+ 1 in the gun and 2 spare mags on my belt all day every day and no one has time to go to their car

  26. There is another product out there that I use. It’s called ExtraCarry. Their website is

    I have three versions. One for my 1911 and one for you Keltec 3AT and my S&W Bodyguard 380.

    It conceals your spare mag in your pocket. But it looks like you are carrying a knife. It actually locks on your pants pocket, unlike similar products. So, nothing special to do when you pull out your spare magazine. Nothing to snag or magnets that get in the way. Seems just as fast as having my mag on my belt.

    There is a video that show it in action on Youtube.

    They have other versions for Glocks, S&W, Springfield, Colt, M&P, Keltec, Sig and the new Remington RM380.

    I hope this is helpful.

  27. Rene Monzon says:

    M&p shield w/ modofied mags with a product called “mag guts” it replaces the factory mag spring to add +1 om each mag..So at my 4:00 I have the 8+1 ,tjen 2 extra mags with 9+1 Each..Total of 27 9mm HST 147 grain.

  28. watchingthweasels says:

    Another thing to consider – in today’s world you might end up in a situation where instead of one crackhead you have to deal with three of four Achmeds. More is better.

    Great writeup!

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