full size magazine backup

Carrying A Full-Size Magazine As A Backup For Compact Pistols

There's a relatively common tactic for people who like to carry extra rounds which is to carry a full-size magazine for a compact pistol. The idea is that if a person has to resort to the backup magazine, there will be plenty of rounds available.


It's a popular tactic for carrying a spare magazine but the trick is that it requires a compatible pistol to be able to employ this carrying strategy. Not every make and model is capable.


A Spare Magazine For When Things Go Seriously Wrong


backup for full size magazine

Generally, you carry a spare magazine for two contingencies. First is in case of malfunction, as one of the most common malfunctions in autoloaders is a magazine failure. (The others are recoil springs and simple cases of poor care, such as insufficient lubrication.)


The second is in case the ammunition that you already have in a carry gun are not sufficient.


In case of the latter, a number of people will carry a full-size capacity magazine for use in a concealed carry pistol, if possible. This gives the user an additional three to five rounds, which can make a difference.


For those who can use a full-size magazine in an otherwise compact pistol, this idea is certainly a valid one. If one has to resort to the backup magazine, it might as well hold more than the first one.


Requires The Right Kind Of Compact Pistol


compact gun for ccw magazine

To carry a full-size backup with more rounds than the normal magazine, it requires a compact pistol that is capable of using it and not every make and model of compact pistol is capable of doing so. In order to use a full-size magazine in a compact gun, one usually has to have a compact pistol that's a condensed variant of a full-size gun. Not every compact pistol made by every gun maker fits the bill.


There may be some exceptions, but the general rule is that you have to have the compact version of service pistol of some type.


For instance, one of the most popular guns that people carry a full-size backup magazine for is the Glock 19, and similar Glocks in different calibers, such as the Glock 23, 32, and 38. The Glock 19 can use magazines from the Glock 17, which holds two more rounds. Granted, this isn't much of a difference but it's still two more rounds than one would have had should a backup magazine be needed.


A number of other pistols similarly can use the full-size magazines of the parent gun to gain additional capacity. Other examples include the CZ-75 Compact and P-01 family of pistols, the entire Springfield Armory XD/XD Mod2/XDM/XDS range, the Beretta PX4 family, Sig Sauer P320 family of pistols, and also the Smith and Wesson M&P Compact pistols, which can accept the full-size M&P magazines. (The Shield, however, does NOT - those guns are single-stack pistols and as such cannot accept a double-stack magazine.)


In some cases, the full-size magazine will require an adapter piece be threaded onto the magazine. In some cases, the difference is less than a half-inch of gap between the end of the grip and base of the magazine; it's up to the owner to determine if they want the adapter. Many aftermarket versions exist as well as OEM, so happy hunting.


Additionally, 1911 pistols all use the same magazines, though the Officer-frame compact variant takes a shorter magazine, usually holding 6 instead of the usual 7 or 8 rounds.


A Practical Extended Magazine


extended magazine for backup carry

In this regard, carrying a full-size magazine for a compact pistol is perhaps the most practical way to carry an extended magazine. Typically, there is no practical way to do so in concealment as the sheer length of most extended magazines makes them far too obvious. However, a full-size pistol magazine is short enough to conceal in an IWB magazine holster.

Provided a person has a compatible pistol and the means to conceal a full-size magazine, it makes a lot of sense to carry one. After all, one never knows what might happen and a few extra rounds are a good insurance policy.




Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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