The Primary Reason to Carry a Spare Magazine

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There are several debates that endlessly rage in the firearms community, and one specific to concealed carry is whether or not to wear a spare magazine on your person when you are armed. A strong argument can be made that reloads virtually never happen in civilian self-defense, as the typical protocol seems to be people shoot until empty and then break contact. If the defender starts shooting, the criminal element most often becomes late for a different appointment. Therefore, in the vast majority of civilian defensive gun use, we don’t see reloads.  

Still, this author leans towards having and not needing rather than needing and not having. I almost always carry a reload. I can confidently say that many people I know and respect who carry all the time do not carry a reload, while others do. Therefore, it is impossible to suggest the right thing to do here. The chance of needing the gun on any given day is slim, and the chance of needing to reload it in a fight is minuscule. However, concealed carriers opt to go prepared rather than just rely on statistical probabilities.  

Historically, low-capacity handguns and no reloads on-person seem to have most often been all that is required to get the civilian self-defender out of trouble. This will probably continue to be the case most of the time. What about the minority of the time? With an undeniable increase in mob violence that involves multiple assailants, as well as an increase in active killer attacks, which have proven to demand distance shooting and a significant amount of rounds fired to neutralize the threat, carrying a reload makes more and more sense.

Even here, though, the most pressing reasons to carry a reload are seldom discussed. Consider the following more likely reasons that may warrant a second magazine:

The Magazine Can Go Missing

Yes, you read that correctly; a magazine can go missing. Especially during the stress and chaos of a fight. How does a magazine go missing? You inadvertently eject it out of the gun. If that happens, would you prefer to reload with the second magazine on your belt or in your pocket, or would you rather search around on the ground for the one you dropped while violence is occurring? According to my way of thinking, this is the primary reason to carry a reload.  

Many will declare that they have never dropped a magazine unintentionally, so why discuss it? Those who say this have probably never shot beyond a flat range’s predictable comfort and casual atmosphere. I was at an IDPA match years ago when a competitor, who was a good shooter and an active duty cop, accidentally ejected his magazine from his Smith and Wesson M&P twice during a single stage. After the stage, he told me that he had fired thousands of rounds through that gun, and that had never happened before. I asked him how many matches he shot with the gun, to which he replied that this was his first. Thus, even the stress and faster pace of a match induced malfunctions that this shooter never before experienced. Do you suppose that in the stress of a fight, you might do something differently compared to what you have done only at the range?  

Beyond just the always-present possibility of dumping the magazine due to stress-induced mishandling of the gun, environmental factors can come into play. I know of an instance in which a police officer experienced the base plate of the magazine in the gun getting ripped off by the seatbelt as he hastily exited the vehicle. This is less likely to happen to a gun under concealment, but there are other factors as well. I have seen people draw their guns at the range, and the magazine immediately hit the ground because it became unseated while in the holster because the release button got bumped. It can happen.  

Contact Distance Fighting

Anyone who has done force-on-force training fighting with simmunitions guns knows how easily they can malfunction when in a contact distance fight. Admittedly, sims guns malfunction more easily than real guns of a quality make. Still, the magazine is often ejected during a struggle. In a real contact distance fight, this is of high likelihood. If you are in a fight and break free of the attacker, you now may be holding a gun with only a single round in it, if not empty. Being able to reload from the belt or pocket is a much better solution than searching around on the ground for a dropped magazine.  

While a gun with no reload on body will likely do what is needed if you face violence, a reload may make all the difference, should the unlikely event become even more unlikely. Like the gun itself, the reload is something to have and not need rather than need and not have.  

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