Gun Digest

Concealed Carry: Is Spare Ammo Necessary?

With the opportunity to expand on his previous work in Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, Massad Ayoob took the opportunity in Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry 2nd Edition to talk about the issue of concealed carry and spare ammo.

An amazing number of people who carry loaded guns carry them without a reload. I’m not going to dump on them here—in my (much) younger days, I used to be among their number. Hell, I had a gun, didn’t I? And I was a good shot, right? How much ammo was I likely to need, anyway?

The years taught me the fallacy of those arguments, as well as others that I hear from folks in gun discussions, particularly those on the Internet. There seems to be a strange “Interwebz” ethos that says, “If you carry more (or more powerful) guns and ammo than I, you must be a paranoid mall ninja … and if you carry less, you must be a sheeple.” I dunno about that. Let’s look at some of the excuses not to carry extra ammunition.

The SnagMag yields a spare Glock magazine from a trouser pocket. At rest, it looks like a pocketknife.

Odds are I’m not gonna have to fire this thing at all, let alone run it dry and still be in a gunfight.
True enough. Trouble is, we don’t carry guns because of the odds of needing one, or most of us wouldn’t carry at all. We carry because if, against the odds, we do need one and don’t have it, the cost of being unable to save our own life and the lives of those who count on us to protect them is so catastrophic as to be simply unacceptable. If you are in the uncommon situation where you run the gun dry and the danger is still present, you’re back to not having a loaded gun when you desperately need one.

If I need more than the five shots in my snub-nose 38, I couldn’t have won the fight with more.
No. If you haven’t won the fight with five shots, all it means is, you need more than five shots to win the fight. In the 1970s, the Illinois State Police gave me free rein to poll their troopers and study their gunfights, back when they were the only troopers in the country carrying auto-loading pistols. I was able to identify 13 troopers who almost certainly survived because they had auto-loaders (single-stack 9mm S&W Model 39s) instead of the six-shot revolvers they carried before. Nine of those were survivors of “snatch the cop’s gun and kill him with it” assaults, and prevailed when they felt themselves losing the struggle for the pistol either because the bad guy couldn’t get the gun off safe, or because the trooper had pressed the magazine release button and activated the disconnector safety that kept the chambered round from firing.

This lady carries Speed Strip in a watch pocket to back up her Smith & Wesson Airweight .38 Special.

More germane to the topic at hand, however, four of these officers survived because they had more firepower remaining when they went past five or six shots. Trooper Ken Kaas, with the seventh shot from his 9mm, dropped a shotgun-wielding attacker who was rushing him. (The gunman survived and reportedly told his attorney that he had been counting and was sure the cop had fired “all six” and emptied his service revolver when the perp broke cover and charged the trooper; he didn’t know Illinois troopers carried semi-automatic pistols.) Sargent Glessner Davis shot and killed a shotgun-armed murderer with either the seventh or the eighth shot in his department issue Model 39. Troopers Bob Kolowski and Lloyd Burchette shot it out with a homicidal outlaw biker and both emptied their 9mms, with Kolowski reloading and sustaining fire before the gunman fell dying.

They had fired 20-some rounds between them and hit him 13 times before he was unable to continue the fight. Illinois troopers in uniform today carry Glock 22 pistols loaded with sixteen 40-caliber hollowpoints and backed up with two more 15-round magazines on their duty belts.

To read Massad's discussion of more “excuses” for not carrying spare ammo, as well as his pointers on methods for concealing spare ammo, pick up a copy of Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry 2nd Edition from the Gun Digest Store today.

Remember to use promo code INSIDEGDB to get free standard U.S. shipping on your order. (Promo code fine print: Items which ship directly from the manufacturer do not qualify for free shipping.)

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