How Many Magazines Do You Need For Each Gun?

As gun owners, we need to understand a few different things very well. One of those things, and the topic of this article, is the need to own more than one pistol or rifle magazine for each gun. There are reasons as to why it's important to own more than one, which we'll go over below.

While there are general rules that we like to go by, I would also like to say that it is dependent from one person to the next, as well as from one gun to the next.

In short, you can never have too many magazines. And in fact, I've got some magazines that I have in my desk drawer that are still new in the packaging because I haven't gotten to the point where I need them yet.

What are our considerations for this?

Many of the more experienced gun owners out there will tell you that the magazine is one of the weakest parts of the entire semi-automatic firearm.

This is true.

There are things that can wear out past serviceability. When I was in the Marines, I experienced this firsthand as the armorer would issue a magazine past its life expectancy all the time. Then at the range I'd be forced to do a tap-rack procedure (to clear the malfunction), while at the rifle range.

I even have some old AR-15 mags that I've currently got that are marked “bad” because they no longer feed ammo right.

None of that is really the point, though. Instead, the point is that because magazines can stop working either because they break or wear out, you should have extra magazines so you or your firearm aren't sidelined for any period of time while you wait for a new one to get to you.

So, how many magazines do you need per gun?

It depends on the gun and its intended purpose. However, because you're here reading this article I assume that you must be a carrier of guns or are planning to be. If it's your carry gun or a gun you'd use in home or self-defense, the more mags the merrier.

That said, magazines can be expensive, so I will say that you need without a shadow of a doubt at least two on the bare minimum. And I can't believe I just said that because my minimum number is three for each gun.

For me, there is the magazine in the gun, the spare, and the spare's spare.

In fact, I can't understand it when a gun manufacturer doesn't include three mags when they know better than anyone that it's a weak point. And when they don't include at least two mags I scratch my head (like my SIG Sauer P938, which only came with one mag).

Depending on the gun and its use, I may own more than three magazines.

For example, my sporting rifles usually have several mags for each one. As of right now I only have one gun that takes standard AK47 magazines, but I have so many mags, many of them unopened as of yet, that I'm not even sure how many of them I own.

I clearly need another AK47.

Same thing with my AR-15 rifles. I have a couple ARs, but no clue how many mags I have from many different manufacturers.

And when I buy anything from someone like Brownells, I always add a mag or two to my order as a default because they break and I don't want to run out. AR-15 mags especially are cheap enough that it makes sense, but even some of my pistol mags get brothers and sisters added to the family from time to time.

At the end of the day, having more mags than necessary is not a bad thing, especially when there is always some sort of magazine capacity restriction on the horizon AND the fact that magazines are something that will eventually wear out or break.

What say you? If you've been around for a while how many magazines do you recommend a new gun owner get? Let us know in the comments below.

About Joshua Gillem

Josh is a lifelong practitioner and student of the gun. He grew up shooting/hunting with his dad, and was given his first gun, a 12 gauge shotgun, when just a small boy. After high school, he joined the Marines where his love for firearms blossomed as he qualified with an M16A2, an M9, and a 240G. Josh has been writing about firearms and tactics for several years, owns the blog Gunners Den, is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, and believes that each individual person has the right to self-defense by any means necessary. Currently residing in gun-friendly NC, he carries a concealed gun on a daily basis, even in his own house.

15 Comments

  1. Lew on February 11, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    For me it’s, “the more the merrier” LOL! Handguns I do three, one in the weapon and two extra. Rifle, well, like I said, the more the merrier. And like you, thinking of the capacity limits looming on the horizon, I keep several low capacity mags for each one.

    • Jane on February 25, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      My reloader has many guns and rifles. He has 10 mags for each. I have 10 for each competition gun so I don’t have a lot of reloading at matches.

  2. Kris on February 11, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    20 minimum each for Semi auto riles like my AR and AK
    5 each for my CCW guns
    35+ for my competition guns (mags get wrecked fast when shooting competitions)

    I break these down like this:

    – 10 match magazines (only for matches)
    – 10 mags in reserve ready to go for matches when my match mags need replacement
    – 15 practice mags (these used to be match mags but are getting beat up)
    – XX Dryfire mags – when they no longer can reliably feed ammo for even practices purposes they go in the dryfire pile. I don’t need these to do anything other than hold dummy rounds.

  3. thebardsfarm on February 11, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    For an AR style 5-10 magazines are issued for combat plus 2-5 magazines
    for a side arm. Given potential failure to feed multiple back up equipment is like an
    insurance policy. If you got but don’t need your golden; no got and do need your are TOAST!!

    V/r,
    O G (Old Geezer)

  4. Milt on February 11, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    Minimum of three magazines per gun. If the mag capacity is 7 or less, double it. I never leave the house with less than 3 for my 7-8 round single stack CCWs. When I carry the P365 or the Hellcat, 2 will suffice to overcome a malfunction, should one occur. I think I have 6 30 round magazines for my AR-15. When I buy the second one, I will probably buy 6 more. No such thing as too many magazines.

  5. John Van Epps on February 17, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    The correct answer is 46…

  6. Al on February 17, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    If your gun is no longer being manufactured, like my .22 PPK/s from 1970 (never seen for sale recently) you’ll have to mess around online for a while. I bought the last five mags from an obscure online dealer.

  7. Marcus Baird on February 17, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    I like 6 in active use of some sort. But when I can get a really nice price when AR’s are below the average cost for 100, well you know… we got friends. 🙂

  8. bob onit on February 17, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    Any one ever hear a complaint about having too much ammunition???

    • David on February 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

      Hmmm. If you are being told that and you feel it may be an issue, hit me up. I’d like to buy some of that from you :p

  9. Bill on February 23, 2021 at 10:35 am

    A minimum of three for defensive pistol. But definitely, the more the merrier. Any ready magazine beats having to load one up right when you need it, and that includes even at the range.

  10. William on February 23, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    I don’t think “how many magazines?” Rather, I think in terms of “basic load” – that minimum number of rounds that I think are prudent to carry to meet my need in an extended fire fight – the idea being that I want to reload the firearm and not the magazines in the middle of an engagement. For my 6+1 CCW the number is 24 additional rounds – so that’s 4 more magazines minimum. With my shotgun & rifles without magazines it’s a full bandolier. For an AR it’s at least 6-8 depending on my vest carrying capacity. These are minimums and don’t count maintenance/replacement spares.

  11. banzi on February 23, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    I like to have six per pistol. I shoot matches with the same guns I carry so a few extra saves loading magazines at the match. I carry two spares and one in the gun.

  12. Alex on February 25, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    As more collector than CCW person, I will answer – it depends. for pistols – at least 4 mags, unless it is very rare gun, then I am happy with 2.
    for single stacks double it unless it is really collectors’s item (with corresponding price).

    for SMG/PDW like APS Stechkin, Polish P-63, UZI, PPS I will say “double combat pouch” it gives 150-200 rounds and 5-8 magazines.
    for semi-auto rifles from “combat load” to “double load” .. 7-15 mags. for AR or AK

    for repetiers, esp. precision rifles I go with “combat load” which is usually 4 pouches with 10rd magazines plus one in the rifle .. total five.
    If it is AICS Short I keep couple more because it is plastic and I have 3 rifles using them.

  13. Michael on February 27, 2021 at 11:56 am

    There is no such thing as having too much ammo or too many magazines. There is a real issue of not having enough ammo or magazines. Most of us are experiencing the latter now. I’ve always subscribed to the 1,000 rounds / 5 magazines per weapon philosophy and spares as needed. Carry weapons and guns you shoot more are going to go thru mags more so it is in your own interest to have more of those. Stock up as you need based on space and finances. My grandfather gave me excellent advice when I was a little kid. ” Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it ” . That smart advice works for almost anything in daily life. I just wish I applied it buying ammo before. Way behind playing catch up sucks.

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