My Unpopular Opinion About Carrying A Spare Mag

A few nights ago I spent 2 hours as the guest in a LIVE video show hosted by two good friends.

You can go watch the whole recording here if you have a few spare hours, but during the show, one of the attendees asked a question that forced me to reveal a less than popular opinion of mine.

The question asked? “Do you carry extra mags on your person?”

And honestly I myself used to think differently about this topic until my friend John Correia shared his thoughts on the subject a few years ago and ultimately changed my perspective.

As an industry, it is considered a GOOD THING to carry a spare mag or a backup gun, and to be clear I don't have an issue with anyone who wants to carry a spare mag or backup gun.

I don't think it is a “BAD THING” I just think it's often a sign of poor priorities or a lack of understanding the reality of the danger that surrounds us.

What do I mean? I mean that you are MUCH more likely to need a tourniquet or a less-lethal option in your daily life than you are to ever need a spare magazine or backup gun.

Could a spare mag come in handy? Yes. But if you carry a spare mag and not a tourniquet I think you have your priorities out of wack.

And generally, the amount of space needed for a spare mag would also accommodate a Gen 7 CAT Tourniquet.

Here is another one. More important than a spare mag are less-lethal tools like pepper spray. Yep, I said it. You are far more likely to need pepper spray than a spare magazine. It isn't even close.

So one day if we are hanging out together and you tell me that you carry a spare magazine I promise I don't have any issue with that but my follow up question is going to be, “Do you carry a tourniquet or pepper spray?”

If you tell me “no,” you are going to get my above lecture.

Sometimes as concealed carriers we get so focused on the gun that we forget there are serious and dangerous problems in life that a gun can't or shouldn't solve.

So when you look at your loadout and EDC, ask yourself if you have your priorities straight.

If you need a good tourniquet I recommend the CAT or if you need something a little more compatible with a pants pocket try the SWAT-T (not as good as the CAT but a potential alternative depending on your carry method). Of course, I recommend having a full trauma kit within an arm's reach at all times like in your car, desk, bag, etc.

If you need to look at pepper spray options, we don't really sell that kind of product at but here are some I recommend:

SABRE Pepper Spray (link to Amazon)
POM Pepper Spray (link to Amazon)

What do you think? If we are really focused on the top priorities what else should we consider carrying on our person before we stow that spare mag? Let me know in the comments below.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.


  1. Howard on May 26, 2020 at 11:51 am

    It would be nice if some of the holster makers came out with accessories that would carry TQ, flashlight, pepper. And spare mag.

    • Blevins on May 26, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      I carry POM spray, a spare mag, a tourniquet, a flashlight and a knife. Several holster makers carry holsters for them including premium holster maker NSR.

      • Kevin on October 3, 2020 at 6:00 am

        The right shorts or pants make it easy to carry what you need. I carry a Pistol and a spare 15 round mag, 2 knives, pepper spray, a small flashlight and a tq. When i teach a class and pull this gear out, students are surprised i have it all, because it does not show.

    • Austin on October 15, 2021 at 4:46 am

      Trees sidecar has options ranging from a spare mag/ ar nag/ to abd even handcuffs. That’s about as much as I’ve seen

  2. Patrick Shaffer on May 26, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Exactly. If I have to clear a room full of tactical ninjas, then I want a rifle, plate carrier, spare mags, etc. For EDC, I carry a single stack 9 with 10 rds, a tourniquet in one of those nifty holders with shock cord, and I always carry pepper spray with a lanyard hooked on my steel zebra pen. I feel that I would have to train extensively, more than I do for monthly IDPA matches, to be able to do a tactical reload under stress. Yes, I could easily carry a double stack, spare mags, a tourney, and pepper spray also.

    In my opinion, FWIW, you are more likely to be in a scenario to deploy the spray rather than the lethal force option. All require training and practice to use effectively under stress.
    Thanks for the article,
    Take it easy.

  3. Mel Albiston on May 26, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    I tend to agree, however It reminds me of a response I received from a question I proposed to the USCCA when they were advocating you should carry handgun, a spare magazine, a knife, a flashlight and a first aid kit.
    I asked if I should bring a wagon as well, and they responded, “A Red Flier or a Station Wagon?”

  4. Chris La Porye on May 26, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    I feel like the spare mag is more a protection against a malfunction, than that l’ll run dry, even with a single stack.

    • Jacob Paulsen on May 28, 2020 at 9:52 am

      Very valid point. Still, in my opinion, statistically less likely to need than the medical or less-lethal tools mentioned above.

  5. Ed on May 27, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Better to have and not need than to need and not have.

  6. Mark Anderson on May 28, 2020 at 7:39 am

    Good ideas!

  7. Brian K on May 28, 2020 at 9:50 am

    As far as the tourniquet is concerned, i carry a RAT. Its a simple one that can be applied in seconds. It takes no space as i wear it around my waist like a belt. Shout out to John Lovell for the pointer.

  8. Shawn Allan Jefferds on June 12, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    This was so good to read. I carry a Springfield XDS with 9 rounds of Hornaday Critical Defense and always thought, I do not EVER expect to need it, but bad stuff happens to people exactly like me every day. I started carrying as much because of the rural and isolated areas I sometimes fish in, encounters with wolves, mountain lions, and the occasional black bear present about the same threat level as a dangerous human. If I ever need to shoot in self-defense, I expect it will be against wildlife.

    From day 1, I always asked if I was being foolish not to carry an extra. Except when in the wilderness, I felt that for me ONLY, doing so was pushing the edge of paranoia. I think that we all owe it to ourselves to collectively present ourselves as being as mentally balanced as possible, there is already so much bad PR out there, I don’t need to create more.

    I have a small day pack I typically carry that has 50′ of paracord, a quality knife, space blanket and poncho, and some very basic first aid supplies. I do have but wasn’t carrying the pepper spray, but will begin, and will acquire one of the recommended tourniquets.

  9. Andre on April 26, 2021 at 3:05 am

    In the end it is all about risk assessment and management much more than what is popular.

    What is appropriate for one situation may be falling short significantly in another.

    People should start to think critically about what they are doing/carrying rather than just following popular trends.

  10. George H Solverson on December 11, 2021 at 12:38 am

    I carry an extra magazine in my pocket because a “MagPelt” mag pouch make it a comfortable practices.

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