What is the best ammunition capacity for a concealed carry gun? It’s highly subjective, actually; it really comes down to how much you want to carry around at any given time. Some people are just fine with a 2 in a derringer, 5in a snubbie or 7 in a 1911…but some people prefer to have 15+1 in a Glock 19.
How Much Ammunition Is Necessary?
The eternal debate is just how much ammunition is necessary, and a lot of different people have different preferences about the amount of ammunition that they prefer to carry. Again, some people are just fine with 5 or 6 in a snubbie, some people are just fine with that amount or perhaps a couple more in a single-stack subcompact (or a 1911 of any size) and some people want a compact double-stack holding a dozen or more.
In a more objective, data-driven sense, the truth is that you don’t know how much ammunition you’ll need until the moment a defensive shooting happens and you can’t anticipate what that’s going to be. What data there is (such as FBI and police reports of officer-involved shootings or the scant few regarding citizens defending themselves) indicate that most defensive encounters are resolved with only a few shots fired and at close range.
Since that’s what could roughly be presumed to be “on average,” a carrying capacity of 5 to 8 rounds is probably sufficient.
But there are plenty of instances where that wasn’t enough. There are plenty of documented instances of officer-involved shootings where two to three magazines were needed to stop the threat. Then there are incidents where a dozens, if not hundreds, of rounds are needed, such as the 1986 Miami shootout or the 1997 North Hollywood shootout.
So, how many rounds does a person need to carry? The truth is that if you needed to shoot in self-defense, probably only a few…but you might need more.
Capacity Balances With Concealability
However, there’s another factor that should be considered along with capacity, which is concealability. Just like with anything else, desired attributes in a carry gun involve a trade with another. What goes with increased capacity is overall size, as a larger carrying capacity dictates that a firearm be large enough to accommodate the number of rounds. For instance, a lot of people carry a Glock 19 every day, but some people insist that the 19 is too big to be a daily CCW.
For instance, if you carry anything other than a Glock 26 in an appendix carry holster, the Reddit CCW page will lose its collective mind.
The point is that the easier a gun generally is to conceal, the fewer rounds it will generally hold. Not always, but that’s often the case. If you are wondering what type of ammo to carry, then check out alien gear’s guide to ammunition.
Granted, there is always some leeway. The bigger the person, generally the bigger the firearm they can effectively conceal.
Why does this matter? Because a person may have to balance the capacity they want to carry on a daily basis with a pistol they can effectively conceal. As a result, every person is going to have to figure out for themselves how many rounds they want to carry and plan accordingly.
The perfect amount is really a balance between how many you want to carry and what you can effectively conceal.
by Sam Hoober
Sam Hoober is the Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a concealed carry holsters company, where he writes about concealed carry, gun safety, and more.