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Alien Gear Holsters' Quick Guide To Using Mag Carriers

Some people carry a magazine holster or two and a spare magazine or two with them. Others figure the magazine in their gun is likely all they'll need if they ever have to use it.

This much is up to you. There are good reasons on either side of the "to spare magazine or not to spare magazine" issue.

But, let's say you DID want to pick up a magazine holster for daily carry. What's the best way to use it?

Hard-Molded Or Soft-Sided Magazine Carrier For EDC?

Before we get into how they're used, you might wonder if you should get either a hard-molded or a soft-sided magazine carrier for EDC use.

Both have their place, of course...but both also have their pros and cons, so it's something you should put some thought into.

A hard-sided magazine carrier, typically made by molding a hard polymer such as Kydex, Boltaron or some other polymer, will usually be a little less comfortable to carry but has more structural integrity.

mag carrier

A soft-sided magazine carrier, typically made with some sort of durable textile, will be more comfortable but will often lack something in terms of function, either in terms of retention (some can be a little loose for some people's taste) or collapsing on the draw.

Therefore, it comes down to what your priority is. Quality examples of both are perfectly safe and functional for daily carry, so you need to decide which is more important. Or you could decide not to decide at all.

Some people will get both.

The idea is using the hard-sided mag carriers for range days, training and competition, and a soft-sided mag carriers for concealed carry. The technique remains the same, but repeat drawing and reholstering isn't something you'll do with a mag carrier you carry everyday.

This is all up to you.

So, with that out of the way, how do you use a magazine holster for concealed carry?

IWB Magazine Carrier

iwb mag carrier

Naturally, the most obvious is to carry a spare mag with an IWB magazine carrier. The gun and holster go inside the waistband for easy concealment, and so does the spare magazine.

Concealment is obviously easy; just drape with your cover garment and you're good to go.

It's just too obvious, isn't it? While it certainly is, what isn't quite so obvious is that you have to get the right mag carrier for IWB use or else the enterprise will be dead on arrival.

In other words, it works very well if your gear works for you. If it doesn't, it won't. The idea here is that there's not much wiggle room, not much margin for error; your gear will either work for you or it won't, and you'll know almost right away if you've struck gold or cow pies.

Some people have no problem with a hard-sided magazine holster in the waistband, and others can't stand it. This much is up to you, but - just like a concealed carry holster, if you don't like using it, you'll find reasons not to.

Just as with positioning a holster, you'll need to experiment to find a ride position that conceals easily under your cover garment but that's also comfortable.

Most users seem to find their mag carrier will work best in front of or behind the hip, essentially the same as appendix carry or behind the hip carry on the strong side. Again, your mileage may vary, and some folks who find carrying their IWB carrier on the hip is no big deal.

You may have to fine tune the placement a bit for sitting as well as standing. With that all said, most people report - as mentioned - that either your mag carrier works for this purpose or it doesn't.

Get the right gear, you're in the clear. Do this not, and it's worth squat.

Wear Yours OWB For Easier Use...But With A Bit More Complication

mag holster

The obvious alternative is to wear an OWB magazine holster. While it seems simple, there are some additional complications it introduces.

Concealment is rather easy. So long as your mag carrier is high riding enough to be covered, a loose shirt can easily conceal it though a longer hem than your typical t-shirt is advantageous.

In terms of comfort, you'll need to experiment with placement and especially if you have a spare tire or, as we like to say in the business, a tactical muffin top.

In front of the hip, the magazine is likely to dig into your gut and/or love handles. Some people have no issues, others can't wear an OWB mag carrier there. Many users have to put the carriers behind the hip, but also find the carrier will print if they bend over.

On the hip prevents the tell-tale printing to a degree, but not everyone finds a magazine carrier in this position to be comfortable enough to carry presuming the mag carrier is oriented vertically. Most of them, after all, are.

However, some magazine carriers can be canted horizontally. This makes OWB concealment far easier, as well as more comfortable to carry.

horizontal mag carrier

That said, carrying a magazine outside the waistband isn't without some drawbacks. The cover garment has to have sufficient hem to cover the magazine carrier for starters.

Another inherent problem with carrying your magazine holster outside the waistband is that you can easily run into things with it. Door frames, furniture, car doors; you can snag it pulling on your seat belt. And so on and so forth.

So, it's a bit easier to get a mag carrier for OWB use, but comes with its own set of problems. As with anything else in life, you get to choose the set of problems that you prefer to deal with.

Training With Your EDC Mag Carrier


Regardless of what kind of mag carrier you choose for EDC purposes, you need to train with it. Having a range day/competition rig is all fine and good, but you need to prepare to fight with the gear that you'll actually have on you.

One of the things that's essential is to put yourself and your gear through some paces, especially on the clock. Some people can nail that 1-second reload with range day gear, but slow down dramatically when having to reload from concealment.

Therefore, make sure you train with your street clothes and the gun, holster and magazine carrier you'll actually have on you.

If you haven't taken, get yourself some professional training in practical marksmanship. That's how you'll learn the basics of actually using a gun.

There are plenty of great reloading drills for honing those fundamental shooting skills along with the reload. You can try malfunction drills or any shooting drill that involves a mandatory reload.

One great example is the El Presidente, a classic fundamental skills drill invented by Jeff Cooper. It's shot at 10 yards (the classic version is at 10 meters but anything metric gives us the willies) with three silhouette targets three yards apart.

The El Presidente calls for a controlled pair to each target going from right to left (or left to right; it's your choice) then reloading and repeating the treatment. It's sort of a total package drill, and will reveal any deficiencies in your fundamentals. 10 seconds or less is a solid time.

Simple malfunction drills are also a good way to work on reloading under time stress. How you set it up is really the dealer's choice, so to speak; you can have a friend randomly load a dummy round or load one yourself if you're training solo.

When the dummy round is struck, you clear the gun, insert a fresh magazine, reload and continue firing, or whatever the drill you select calls for.

Point being, there are a lot of different ways to practice reloading.

Whatever it is that you choose to do, it's important to do it on the clock. It's not enough to just go through the motions; you have to add time pressure.

Adding the stress of time will help you develop consistency and efficiency, which is what you need to develop to start developing muscle memory. Under the stress of an actual life or death struggle, you'll default to your training and practice, so make sure you're doing it.

Keep in mind that a gun and carry gear is only a tool; the tool itself matters less than the craftsman using it. If you can't reload your way out of a wet paper bag, it doesn't matter if you're carrying a spare magazine.

Making a good selection of gear is all well and good...but it doesn't make any difference if you don't know how to use it.