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ammo capacity for a ccw

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Ammunition for Concealed Carry?

There may not be such a thing as too much ammunition for concealed carry…but then again, all you may need is one round. The amount of spare ammunition to carry is something everyone will have to work out for themselves, whether you wish to concealed carry a revolver or a semi-automatic handgun.

Most defensive shootings are concluded quickly, with few shots fired from a concealed carry gun. Some, however, are not and a reload may be required. You also won’t know what the case is going to be beforehand. As a result, it is something you’ll want to think about.

The Modern Shooter Prefers More Capacity...But Defensive Shootings Favor Accuracy


The modern handgun shooter prefers the greatest amount of handgun capacity they can get within the limitations of the handgun they purchase for its intended purpose. In other words, they prefer their large pistols for range day or home defense to hold as many as possible.

For concealed carry guns, they want the slimmest, smallest pistol possible with the greatest number of bullets. That's why the Sig P365 and Springfield Hellcat are so popular these days, and before that it was compacts like the Glock 19 or Walther PPQ that were the standard for daily carry guns.

That's what the typical handgunner of today wants.

The corollary, of course, is that there's what people want in a gun and there's what real-world shootings dictate is likely needed from one. Defensive shootings involving civilians are short, fast, and usually up close and personal; rarely is a reload or more than 5 shots involved. It does happen, but fewer than a few instances per decade.

What doesn't ever change is the need for accurate hits in the shortest possible time. Accurate shot placement is ultimately what counts; the size of the magazine almost never does.

Revolver Ammunition Capacity

revolver ammo capacity

Revolver ammunition capacity is no great secret. Often called a "six gun" in western movies or TV shows, the reason is that most revolvers carry six shots. Some carry five, depending on the exact design of the revolver. Though there a few model revolvers that can accommodate up to ten rounds, though they generally aren’t well-suited to concealed carry.

However, despite the perceived low capacity, revolvers are still very capable concealed carry guns. Certain calibers are only available in revolvers and certain types of carry ammunition doesn’t chamber well in semi-automatics, which some people believe confers an advantage.

However, revolvers are also dead simple. Load the cylinder, lock it into place and pull the trigger. Or, if you prefer, cock the hammer. With proper care and cleaning, revolvers will provide years of reliable service. They rarely fail, if for some reason they do, just aim and shoot again.

When carrying a revolver for defensive reasons, carefully consider the caliber of gun and ammunition you plan to use. Gun of less than .32 caliber are thought to be too small to provide sufficient stopping power, though some of the .32 Magnum rounds, such as .32 H&R Magnum or .327 Federal Magnum offer much more than older .32 caliber loads such as .32 S&W.

Most popular, in five- to six-shot snub nose revolvers or service-size revolvers are .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Anything larger, like the .44 Magnum famously used by Clint Eastwood’s "Dirty Harry" character, verge on overkill for defensive use. They can be difficult to fire rapidly and you are likely to shoot through your intended target.

Revolvers do come with some drawbacks. Obviously, the limited capacity and longer reload time come to mind, but speed loaders can be very helpful in this regard. With diligent practice, a person can become proficient enough in their use to load as quickly as a semi-automatic.

Semi-Automatic Pistols and Ammunition Capacity

auto pistol ammo capacity

Semi-automatic pistols offer the advantages of speed and capacity for concealed carry. Most average shooters find the semi-auto easier to shoot quickly and combined with higher capacity, are well-suited for defensive concealed carry. On average, a 9mm or .40 caliber handgun with a 10 -15 round capacity can be adequately concealed with little or no print signature.

There are a few critical factors to be considered when choosing to conceal a higher capacity semi-auto handgun. The first factor is focused on you - the person who will be carrying the semi-auto. If you are a big man or woman (by that I mean a tall, muscular or heavier-set person), a higher capacity gun might be effectively concealed and carried. Something as large as a Glock 19 with a 15+1 capacity can arguably be concealed carry fairly well with an outside the waistband (OWB) holster. An inside the waistband (IWB) holster might be a little trickier and probably way less comfortable to concealed carry something a large as the Glock 19.

Another factor to think about is the style of ccw clothing you wear. Wearing baggier clothing will obviously make it easier to carry higher capacity firearms and perhaps extra magazines. If you must dress in a more professional style - shirt and jeans or slacks (or pantsuits), you will probably want to carry something with a smaller magazine capacity. I’m not a very large man, but I can comfortably concealed carry my six-round mag Glock 36 .45 cal. without printing concerns.

So Which is Best - High or Low Capacity for Concealed Carry?

high capacity ammo for ccw

Only you can decide whether a larger or smaller capacity handgun will work best for you and your situation. Some subcompact pistols compromise between concealability and capacity, such as the Glock 26, a 9mm double stack compact that holds 10+1 rounds.

According to federal law enforcement statistics, most violent encounters end within a few seconds, and are resolved after two or three defensive shots have been fired. In most cases, merely drawing your weapon will neutralize a dangerous situation without firing a single shot.

The option that works for one person may not be optimal for another. You’ll want to take into account the environment or attitude towards concealed firearms in your workplace. Do they even allow it? The area or neighborhoods you travel through on a daily basis is another consideration. Do you feel safe enough that a smaller capacity handgun will offer enough protection, or do multiple potential threats make a higher capacity concealed carry pistol a necessity?

To learn more about the different types of ammo and which ammo is best for concealed carry is covered in our complete ammo guide.

Michael Cambron

About The Author

Filled with Aloha, Michael Cambron has lived in the Newman Lake area with his wife and 2 golden retrievers for the past 16 years. He graduated Cum Laude from Gonzaga University in 2014 with a degree in Public Relations and Promotions. When he’s not writing, he can be found in the gym, on the golf course, kayaking on the lake, or at the gun store.