How Many Magazines Should You Carry on Your Plate Carrier?

How Many Magazines Should You Carry on Your Plate Carrier?

How many magazines one should carry is an age-old question in the military circuit. Its something every soldier has a passionate opinion about. In this article, I am going to share my point of view on the question of how many mags you should carry on your plate carrier. And eventually, try to guide you to your own answer by giving you some guidelines to consider.

Let’s start from my point of view. Based on my experiences, the short answer would be: as much as possible! Firefights take up a lot of ammunition, so the more you carry the better. But overall a good starting point would be anywhere from 3-6 mags. Because that should be enough to get you through a smaller firefight or an ambush.
That said, there are still a few things to consider before you stack your plate carrier and all of your gear full of extra magazines and ammo. So here are 6 helpful tips to consider:

1. Consider the mission at hand!

This is a rule that basically applies to all of your tactical gear. You should always think about what task you need to perform. And basically what you need the magazines for in the first place. So what is your mission? Are you in an assault team raiding some kind of an enemy compound? Are you going on a standard patrol? Are you a member of a swat team? Are you setting your gear up for home defense? Or are you just heading over to the range? From here you can asses the threat level of the task and how much ammunition you might need for it.

2. Don’t forget about the weight!

Nowadays soldiers equipment already weighs a literal ton. And every extra pound in your gear affects your performance. So you have to think about the total weight of your plate carrier. Every extra mag you fit on your carrier adds extra weight to it. You have to think long term here. The more your plate carrier weighs and the more overall weight you have to carry around will but a bigger strain on your body and thus affect your performance. Just remember that you will have to be able to wear the carrier for longer periods of time. And be able to run, jump around and perform various other tasks in it.

3. Every magazine takes up space on your plate carrier!

The space where to fit all of your essential gear on your plate carrier isn’t endless and cant be stretched out. Every extra mag you place on the carrier takes up extra space. Space you might need for other mission-essential equipment (or plate carrier essential gear). So you should think through your overall plate carrier setup and what else you need to fit on it (for example you might need to bring extra smoke grenades, frags, night vision equipment, extra medical equipment and so on)

A good way to solve this problem is to either use mag pouches that can fit multiple magazines in them or stack your magazine pouches on each other. Although keep in mind that this is also limited. Too much stacking might make the carrier bulky and restrict your maneuverability.

4. Resupply?

Before stacking your gear full of magazines consider your resupply options. (do you even have them? And what they might be?) So can you get an ammo resupply while on the mission? The main thing to consider here is whether you have to complete your task with whatever you have on your plate carrier at the moment, or not!

5. Do you use a battle belt or an assault pack?

Are you just wearing your plate carrier, or do you have other forms of gear you could store extra mags at? Depending on your mission assessment and your resupply options, you should consider other possibilities for storing your extra magazines and ammunition. For example, if you are wearing a battle belt you could try fitting one or two of your extra mags on your battle belt setup. An assault pack or some other kind of a backpack would be a great place to hold all that extra ammunition you might need. Ultimately the point here is to try to find alternative places for your extra mags.

6. Sidearm magazines?

What about your sidearm magazines? Well when it comes down to sidearm mags, I would recommend keeping them off your plate carrier. Either carry them on your belt with a belt clip or on your duty belt/ battle belt. The reason for this is pretty simple, it comes basically down do two points. Firstly its called your sidearm for a reason. You most likely only have to use it in special circumstances (like when you run out of ammo and so on). Secondly, as I mentioned before the space on your carrier is already limited and you should use it wisely.


In conclusion, there are quite a few things to think about when figuring out the mag count for your plate carrier. The golden rule should be to keep it minimally at about 3 to 6 magazines, to combat your essential needs. But overall it will come down to your specific mission needs and your personal preference.

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