Is 10 Enough? How Many Rounds for Daily Concealed Carry?

Every concealed carrier faces a critical question: how many rounds should be on hand for daily defense? While statistics suggest an average, real-world situations are unpredictable. This article navigates the nuanced terrain of ammunition capacity, exploring what truly helps us prepare for a self-defense encounter.

P365 With SIG 365 V-Crown Ammo

The SIG P365 performs exceptionally well with the 365 V-Crown 115 grain loads optimized for a gun, like the P365. The 365 V-Crowns also performed very well in ballistic gel tests for a defensive load.

The Average Number Of Rounds Needed Method:

The average number of rounds fired in a defensive gun use (DGU) is a statistic that prompts debate and speculation within the concealed carry community. It's important to approach this figure with a critical eye, recognizing that averages can sometimes mask the wide range of scenarios that may occur. Studies show that the typical defensive gun use involves the discharge of approximately 2 to 3 rounds.

While this figure is informative, let's remember that self-defense situations are unpredictable. They can vary widely, from a single attacker to multiple threats, and from close-quarters encounters to situations requiring accurate, long-range shots. The high-stress nature of DGUs can significantly impact an individual's accuracy and decision-making abilities.

Massad Ayoob

As a result, relying solely on the average number of rounds fired can lead to a false sense of security.

It's my opinion, it's prudent to err on the side of caution and equip oneself with an ample ammunition capacity. This approach ensures that you're adequately prepared for the unexpected and provides a greater margin of safety in any life-threatening situation. It's not about planning for the norm, but preparing for the extraordinary.

I think carrying an EDC handgun with a capacity of at least 10 rounds provides the best opportunity to respond effectively and decisively in an unpredictably violent world. I tend to agree what well respected Massad Ayoob said, prefacing his research into the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies’ switch from 5 to 6 round revolvers to 15 to 18 or 20 round semi-automatics;

“5 to 6 rounds was usually enough, but usually isn’t always.”

While there are many instances of “one shot stops” consider the encounter where Tim Gramins, an on-duty police officer, had to shoot an armed and violent suspect 14 times with his .45 duty sidearm. Six of those shots were considered vital-hits that should have stopped the suspect more quickly. Here is how he described the encounter when we spoke to him on the Concealed Carry Podcast.

Gun Capacity, Size, Weight and Conceal-ability:

I offered the “minimum 10 round capacity” statement as a general guidance, because I find there are many reliable, and concealable semi-auto handgun models that hold at least 10 rounds of 9mm ammunition. Guns like the Sig Sauer P365, and Springfield Armory Hellcat, hold over ten rounds in a tiny, shootable gun. While the Smith and Wesson Shield Plus, and Glock 48 hold 10 rounds.

For everyday carry (EDC), my recommendation is to carry the gun with the highest capacity that you can conceal and carry comfortably. I typically carry a Glock 19 which holds 15+1 rounds of 9mm self defense ammunition. With the proper holster, I think most people can comfortably conceal a Glock 19-sized firearm with a capacity of 15 rounds. Check out this post called: Consider a Larger Gun for Concealed Carry.

lexington holster optimum design features

The Lexington Holster from KSG Armory.

It is true that a larger gun is heavier, and more rounds add more weight. So, in addition to size, the weight plays a role in concealment and comfort.

If you have a well-designed holster and appropriate EDC belt, and still have trouble carrying that size of a gun, consider something even smaller, like the above mentioned Sig Sauer P365. Occasionally, I carry one, and it holds a respectable 12+1 rounds.

There may even be times or circumstances where it's difficult to conceal a gun as small as a Sig P365. For these instances, people can opt for a mico-compact semi-auto handgun like the miniscule .380 Ruger LCP, what holds 6+1 rounds.

Trading Capacity for Caliber:

Some people think that they can stop an attacker with fewer rounds if those rounds are a larger caliber. So, they carry a gun with reduced capacity. I think this is a flawed approach.

Not only does the larger caliber-fewer rounds not always work out on a single attacker, it doesn't take into consideration the most important thing in a gunfight, accurate hits. Not all hits are equal, and in the big scheme of things, we would rather have multiple well-placed shots with a smaller caliber like 9mm, than a few scattered hits from .45 ACP. I explain this in more detail in this post.

You can find some additional info on this topic in this article: An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power.

P365 12-round Magazine 12+1 Capacity for concealed carry

This shows roughly how all those rounds fit inside the 12-round magazine. The design incorporates 3 new patents related to the magazine body and follower to cram everything in!

Concealing a Spare Magazine With Your Every Day Carry Gun:

You may be wondering about carrying a spare magazine if you opt to carry a gun that holds fewer rounds. This is certainly an option, and some people carry a spare magazine regardless of how many rounds their gun holds. Here are a few quick points to think about when considering carrying a spare magazine every day.

Carrying a spare mag increases the number of rounds you have access to, but it doesn't increase the gun's inherent capacity. Someone who practices magazine changes can become quite quick and proficient, but it still takes time and is an additional failure point.

Many people struggle just to carry a firearm, and adding a spare magazine is difficult. Especially if you want to carry things like less lethal pepper spray, a knife or multi-tool, or trauma gear.

Sometimes stoppages in semi-automatics are magazine related. Carrying a spare means you may be able to fix these types of issues, which could save your life. In the end, you need to prioritize what you carry every day.

Semi-Auto Handguns and Revolvers for Concealed Carry:

So far, I haven't mentioned one thing that almost always comes up when talking about how many rounds someone should carry concealed on a daily basis; that is revolvers and semi-autos.

Without controversy, it's safe to say that generally, revolvers offer lower capacity than a similarly sized semi-auto handgun. J-frame type revolvers used primarily for self defense, and typically have a cylinder that holds 5 rounds. This is about half of what I recommend as my minimum for self defense. However, the revolver might be the best EDC gun for certain people and in certain circumstances.

Revolvers are easily concealable, easy to operate and while they don't handle recoil, as well as a semi-auto does, revolvers typically point naturally in the hand and are great guns for confined places or when entangled with the attacker.

There is some confusion on the topic of revolver reliability. While revolvers aren't susceptible to the same stoppages as semi-auto guns, they have their own potential failure points. And some of these failures result in a catastrophic stoppage that you can't fix during the fight.

Some Final Thoughts:

I typically carry a Glock 19 which holds 15+1 rounds of 9mm self defense ammunition. Occasionally, I carry a P365 that holds 12+1 rounds. What do you carry? Why? If you haven't thought about why you carry what you carry, consider checking out this link. What is Your Everyday Carry (EDC) Gun, and Why?

I think the need for increased capacity is even more relevant now as we see more instances of unprovoked attacks by multiple attackers and even sometimes large groups of people. Furthermore, it's appropriate to consider what types of firearms attackers might have, and adjust accordingly.

Focus on finding a gun that you can carry as often as possible. Part of selecting that gun should be its capacity. Like most things, selecting your EDC gun involves give and take.

The question is not how many rounds is enough, because it's impossible to know. For many of us, the answer to that question is zero. We won't ever use our gun, or if we do, we may never fire it.

For others, they will fire the average 1-3 rounds. In these cases, a 5-shot revolver is more than sufficient.

And still others may be in a fight for their life that requires 10 or 15 rounds. In these situations, a revolver wouldn't have won the day.

What you carry and how many rounds you carry is a personal decision that requires careful consideration. I hope this info helped prepare you for that decision.

how many rounds for concealed carry?

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.

22 Comments

  1. Charles Records on October 5, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    Carry 15 in the weapon and another mag with 10

    • Dennis on October 11, 2023 at 1:48 pm

      That is what I carry! Smith-Wesson M&P 9 Pro Series CORE M2.0

  2. David on October 5, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    Personally carry what you can cofortably carry, but enough for a worst case scenario

  3. OldConservativeGuy on October 5, 2023 at 6:36 pm

    My EDC is a Ruger SR9 which is 17+1. I carry it loaded at 16+1 to take a little pressure off the magazine spring. I also have a S&W 642 J-frame that I carry sometimes because it is a shrouded hammer. Obviously, capacity of 5. Frankly I find the Ruger just as comfortable and equally concealable. 17 vs. 5. Guess what I carry most days.

    • Traditional Bowyer on March 20, 2024 at 10:04 am

      Just a heads up. You don’t need to worry about magazine spring pressure. As a former deputy and someone who carried a full magazine for years and years. The springs will not wear out from being full. They will wear out from repeated use and were talking in the thousands here.

  4. Milo Hernandez on October 5, 2023 at 7:20 pm

    I went to the retires range today. I had not gone
    for a few years🤷‍♂️🙀I had purchased a used RUGER 9e. Nice pistol and it shot good ( I qualified) 👍🇺🇸😂But what bothers me was the fact that I could not hold the gun up right hand unsupported. But I could with my left. Dammm I’m getting old🫵🏼🤷‍♂️🙀🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

    Milo H

    • Mark Purnell on October 10, 2023 at 9:36 am

      Yep, that age thing. I’m working on hand strength now.

  5. Pascha Banda on October 5, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    Good interesting article, legit factors to consider. I personally carry an HK P2000SK in.40 cal., it holds 9+1. I also carry extra mags nearby.

  6. Herb on October 6, 2023 at 12:45 am

    I carry a 380, 6+1 and a 6 round extra mag. If I can’t handle most situations with that, I am screwed anyway.

  7. Sarge on October 6, 2023 at 8:15 am

    Yes you can break a revolver and yes with repeated rounds fired you can get unburned powder under the extractor star, but in over 6K, yes 6000 shootings NYPD recorded zero (0) malfunctions with they’re duty revolvers. Show me any autoloader that can make that claim!

  8. James A. "Jim" Farmer on October 6, 2023 at 11:20 am

    My only EDC handgun, which likewise serves for self defense/house protection/concealed carry, is my own Ruger SP-101 .357 Magnum revolver: stainless, with 4.2″ barre, target sights, and five shot swing out cylinder. It likewise serves as a kit, trail, and camp gun. Before I ever cross the California State Line I unload revolver, lock it inside it’s original Ruger carry box, with the ammo stored separately and locked inside trunk of car. Personally I would be very uncomfortable carrying a high capacity 9mm semi-automatic pistol (Glock 17) while crossing the California State Line, even if it were locked inside trunk and secured in the lock box and ammo stored separately. And especially so for a Colt AR-15 style rifle under the same conditions. So is 5 or six shots adequate? Yes and no. I depends on the circumstances of course. Nobody can predict what they may face while traveling on the road, trip, highway, rural or metro region or wherever. Yet, it’s still best to have a personal firearm vs. being totally unarmed and defenseless! —Jim Farmer Klamath County, Oregon.

  9. Ironman on October 11, 2023 at 2:27 pm

    My edc is the sig p365xmacro-tacops it’s extremely easy to conceal with one magazine I have 17 rounds plus 1 of either gold dot or hst depending on availability. It’s 3.7 “ barrel outshoots my brother’s glock19 its definitely worth the price of admission.

  10. MC on October 11, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    Well, in my Socialist State (WA) 10 round mags are the max, yeah, if you’ve got “hi-cap” mags you can use them at the range, or carry at your home, but in public it really depends on the LE who shows up if you must discharge.
    So, carry the max you can by state law (10+1) around here and at least 2 additional mags.
    If the event exceeds what you have, you’re in over your head.

  11. Bugs on October 13, 2023 at 8:29 am

    my EDC is a Kahr CM9 with a 7+1 which gives me the MOST flexibility for carrying concealed, pocket,IWB,OWB, and my shoulder rig for use under heavy winter clothing , my reload is 10 rd. mag carried next to my phone.

  12. Lynn on October 13, 2023 at 9:12 am

    I carry a Glock 48. I would go back to the Shield if they would ditch the grip safety.

  13. Cowboy on October 13, 2023 at 9:06 pm

    I carry a Bersa thunder plus 15+1 most days with a 15 round spare mag and occasionally the Springfield Hellcat 10+1 with the 13 round mag as a spare.

  14. Mike in a Truck on October 14, 2023 at 6:31 am

    I won’t get into which gun to carry. I’ll leave that to the “experts” that have never been in a handgun fight. More to how to carry. I’m fortunate that I say what my wardrobe of the day is. Pockets! Pockets is what I need but doesn’t scream “He’s Carrying”. Forget the camera/ safari vest…not my look. So it’s a cargo style pants or shorts. Summer it’s a Duluth coolmax shorts and the same thing in long pants. With those I can carry a spare mag in a sleeve, a CAT, a mini streamlight, an Emmerson folder, and pepper spray. Oh…and a Gerber tactical pen. My handgun- revolver or pistol is carried in an MTR cross draw holster…yeah yeah spare me your wisdom about cross draw I dont recall asking you. When you’ve drawn a 1911A1 from a flap holster while a mean angry little guy is coming at you with a bayonet and survived then pipe up. So that’s it. Use what works for you.

  15. saint on October 15, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    More rounds doesn’t always make for a favorable outcome. I’ve seen far too many shootouts with hundreds of round flying and less than a handful of hits. That’s fear & adrenalin, neither of which will serve you well. Each round carries with it a measure of risk and liability. Extra capacity is nice, but it’s not a solution for poor marksmanship. Killing an innocent bystander with an errant round as well as hitting a vital organ on a perpetrator must be on every CCW’s mind.

  16. Carroll on October 16, 2023 at 7:41 am

    It is important to remember that the locale in which you carry also has a bearing on the capacity allowed. For instance, in DC it 10-rounds in the weapon, and two additional 10-round magazines.

  17. ERIC JENSEN on December 29, 2023 at 2:05 pm

    Even in the most unwelcome areas of CA my revolver draws the least negative attn. I travel in an RV, but if I had to fly home for a Dr’s appointment or some other emergency and my flight was diverted to San Francisco my revolver draws the least reaction.

  18. Duke Henderson on March 3, 2024 at 8:43 am

    I carry a Glock 43 with a 8 round mag most of the time but sometimes just a 6 round mag, 7-9 shots is good enough for me. I also carry a Ruger LCP II .380 with monolithic fluted copper bullets that are loaded to the max SAMMI pressure in the summer, it conceals very well

  19. Steve Sr on March 31, 2024 at 12:02 pm

    In my younger days I carried a Springfield XDS in 45. I never needed to use it but, the number of rounds being limited, well, was always in my mind. Why? Because one cannot MAKE SURE each round connects at all, let alone where they want. Pressure, fear, etc etc all take a toll and never towards the “good” results. Practice,practice, practice but even then…..it’s just not enough (but mandatory).

    Looking now, I’m torn considering a EDC firearm. SO many choices but it will be 9mm, I know that much. Like everyone else, size (both width and grip size) along with capacity and weight come into the picture.

    To me, I think too many choose to pick ONE for EDC, regardless of weather and or type of scenario. I’m going to choose AT LEAST two. One…as thin as possible with at least 10 rounds (I’m badly overweight) for light dress situations and a second for decent concealability with more clothes on, of higher capacity that will double as a home protection unit so availability of very large capacity mags would be a plus.
    OR……..(LOL) Buy a third, full size piece with optic of choice, maybe comped, an HUGE capacity mags.
    True, one would need to “master” each piece but “shooting more” has never been any kind of a downside. Not to me anyway.
    Just my 2cents. Use what you can shoot well. No 1 rule! Your opinion may vary.
    Not a bad thing though, right? If we all thought alike we wouldn’t have the huge number of EDC and home defense handguns from which we CAN choose.
    God Bless each and their families.

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