How Many Magazines Should I Have?


If you have to ask how many magazines you should own, you probably don’t own enough. You can never have enough magazines per firearm. We are seeing it all over the country, states passing magazine bans. Most recently was Washington State, as well as, a capacity law in Vermont. Luckily, these states had grandfathered in prior ownership of the magazines. That screws over new gun owners though. They may have to conduct some shady business to acquire standard capacity magazines.

Pistol Magazine Quantity and Storage

Pistol magazines are super important to have lots of. Luckily, pistol magazines can handle abuse much better than the AR patterned magazines. I personally, have only had a couple fail in over 12 years of gun ownership.

Pistol magazines are super easy to acquire and there’s plenty of variations in manufacturers to supply up on. A lot of times, the factory magazines are also produced by Mec-Gar. You can find more affordable solutions to backup pistol magazines by not buying from the factory. I use the Armageddon gear or vertex pistol magazine organizers for pistols that are in rotation. I have Rubbermaid totes full of magazines that aren’t in use. Then I have Rubbermaid totes marked in use where I rotate through all the current magazines that I’m working out of. I tried to have between 6 and 10 magazines for every pistol. I have between 12 and 20 magazines for my carry guns. I shoot them so often that it is important to track their use and test them often for defects or failures.

AR-15 Magazine Storage and On Hand Number of Available Magazines

The AR-15 Magazines pictured are DURA Mag Speed 556 AR-15 Magazines and they are wall mounted to a Gadsden Dynamics Mag Rack. These are located in a convenient location in my home and the AR magazines are generally jammed with defensive ammunition in the first few slots, and target ammunition in the remaining slots. When I have downtime in the home, I routinely top them off with ammo. I do shoot a lot, so they aren’t jammed up for long. I typically have twelve AR 556 magazines and twelve 300 BLK magazines in rotation at the ready. I used Rubbermaid totes on designated shelving for longer term storage of unloaded magazines. Contrary to popular belief, magazines can remain fully loaded at 30 rounds for extended periods of time. They do not damage the magazines or weaken the spring. Modern day springs and metallurgy have come a long way, it is Fudd Lore that magazines weaken in storage over time.

Mag Rack with Dura Mag AR15 Magazines. Pink prevents other from stealing dropped mags at the range!

AK & Kalash Pattern Magazines and Storage

AK magazines are certainly a guilty pleasure. I have been a huge fan of the Bakelite and Plum magazines for a long time. I made sure to stock up on old Surplus magazines years ago. I do shoot a lot of 5.45x39mm and also have a pretty good stockpile of circle 10 magazines. I keep all my AK magazines that are not in use, unloaded and stored in Rubbermaid totes.

Rubbermaid tote of 5.45x39mm magazines

Backup Magazines to Your Backup Magazines

Extra magazine storage is super important as well. I have a couple cases of original Gen 2 Magpul PMAG magazines. Since they are brand new and in pristine condition, I keep them in cardboard boxes taped up with 24 mags per box. They are more an emergency backup supply of magazines outside of what I already have in rotation.  think it’s pretty important to have backups to your backups. Sitting on a personal quantity of around 150 AR-15 magazines. 

Box of Gen 2 Magpul PMAGs from 2012

Importance of Marking Your Firearms Magazines with a Paint Pen

Marking magazines is very important. Identifying your magazines on the range is paramount if you don’t want to have magazines mixed up with other participants in firearms training classes. There are only a few high qualify firearms magazine manufacturers these days, so odds of having a similar or same magazine as another classmate is likely.

I like to mark my magazines with a paint pen with my initials, and some sort of moniker or numbering system for the style of magazine. So if I have ten Stainless Steel Dura Mag 556 Magazines, and want to make sure I know which one is a bad magazine if it gets damaged in training; I mark them like so, AC (initials) and 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, etc. If I have other magazines of similar style and color, I will mark them accordingly as well. I may use the same monikers, 1A, 2A, etc. or I may change them to a 1B, 2B, 3B, etc. When one is damaged, I remember the moniker designation and toss it, or attempt to service it.

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