Are Ten Rounds of Ammo Enough for Concealed Carry?

Ten rounds of ammo may be enough, but is it? Research suggests carrying fifteen to twenty rounds may be more optimal, if possible. Having more ammo on your person accommodates for misses or any misfires you may encounter.

Is a Round and a Bullet the Same Thing?

If you are new to ammunition, do not confuse a “round” and a bullet. A round is not synonymous with a bullet. Although a “round” is equivalent to one shot, the bullet is the only part that discharges from the barrel of the firearm.

Furthermore, not all weapons shoot bullets. Shotguns, for example, shoot multiple pellets known as “shot.” 

Since we are dealing with a CCW, we will review the parts of a handgun round:

  • The bullet: The bullet is at the front of the round. Upon firing, the bullet propels from the round.
  • The casing: Have you ever noticed in action movies how a bunch of metal pieces fall to the ground when someone shoots a gun? You are looking at casings. Casings eject from the gun after firing and make up the majority of the exterior of a round. 
  • The primer: The back of the casing contains the primer. Primers ignite the propellant used to discharge the bullet. 
  • The propellant: Once the primer ignites the propellant, the propellant builds up gas pressure that catapults the bullet.

All of these pieces make up a “round” of ammunition.

How Many Rounds of Ammo Do I Need?

The idea that you can carry less ammo as long as you are a good shot is a typical gun myth. Mainly because very few people put in the required training to be proficient during stress.

It is often perpetuated by the cliched adage, “if you can’t do it in six, you can’t do it at all.” However, current research debunks this myth. The truth is carrying extra ammo could make the difference between life and death in a gunfight.

So, how many rounds do you need? Self-defense expert, Massad Ayoob, examined this while studying law enforcement firearms practices. When reviewing the transition from 5-6 round revolvers to 15-18 round semi-automatics, Ayoob found that 5-6 rounds were not always enough to defend oneself. That is why having additional capacity or ammunition is recommended. 

Why Do I Need More Rounds?  

Physiological Stress Response

It is easy to make clean shots on paper targets when you are practicing at a range. But don’t let your target practice fool you.

The human body acts much differently in fatally stressful situations. Some side effects include loss of bowel or bladder control (yes, it happens), tunnel vision, audio/visual impairments, and decreased fine motor skills. All of these conditions will inhibit or reduce your accuracy.

Low Hit to Shot Ratio

Even professionals do not have one-hundred percent accuracy…far from it. Studies conducted by the NYPD, LAPD, and FBI calculated hit-to-shot ratios less than twenty percent. Now imagine if you only had ten rounds at your disposal. According to those numbers, you will be lucky to make two hits, which will not indispose your opponent.

Lethality Does Not Make a Considerable Difference

It takes more to incapacitate a threat than you may think. It all comes down to the energy imposed by the round. Most handguns average an impact between 300-500 lb/ft (41.5-69.1 kg/m). In perspective, it takes 1000 lb/ft (138.3 kg/m) to kill an elk. So, it may take multiple hits to vital organs, no matter the gun.

It May Takes Multiple Hits to Address a Threat

According to the Buckeye Firearms Association, it takes 5.55 shots to make one hit and 2.45 hits to incapacitate an assailant with a 9mm handgun. With that math, it would take an average of 13.6 rounds to take down an attacker.

While this may seem excessive, your goal should be to stop the threat to a point they cannot pull the trigger, even if their body is failing. 

As you can see, considering the factors above, there is good argument to why you may need more than ten rounds.

How Can I Carry More Rounds?

So we have established that carrying more rounds may be a good idea. But how can you accomplish this?

Here are some ideas:

Carry an Extra Magazine

Carrying an extra magazine is a free and straightforward way to carry spare ammo and most handguns come with at least one spare magazine. Your biggest obstacle will be finding how and where to conceal it.

You can carry a magazine carrier on the belt line, inside the waist band, or in the pocket using something like the NeoMag. All are various options and it will just depend on what you’re comfortable with and how you train.

Invest in a Comfortable Holster

If you are carrying more ammo, you need to put it somewhere. One option is to carry a holster with a “sidecar” style magazine carrier built into the holster itself. This is primarily seen with Appendix (Inside the Waistband) holsters.

Make sure you invest on design that works for your body type and and maintains an acceptable level on concealment and comfort.

Carry a Gun That Holds More Rounds

Consider carrying a weapon with a high capacity magazine. Keep in mind there is no point in taking a bigger gun if a smaller, more concealable firearm contains just as many rounds.

The size of a weapon someone can carry is subjective to the individual. Look for the right balance of comfort and capacity when choosing a firearm.

Additionally, carrying a higher capacity magazine usually translates to printing issues. There’s always a compromise.

Carry an Extra Gun

Carrying a backup gun is usually reserved for those working in a law enforcement capacity. However, it is an option if you have a concern. If you are considering it, remember that another gun to your daily carry is a significant investment and should be addressed accordingly.

Pointers for Self-Defense

When it comes down to it, there are a few mental and technical considerations that can increase your odds of survival:

Practice Magazine Changes

The odds of a rolling gun battle through American suburbia are slim. However, there’s always the chance you may need a reload because you have run dry or have run into some sort of malfunction. Therefore, it is crucial to practice reloads regularly.

Additionally, have a plan for what you will do when you reload. The environment is likely to be very dynamic, so practice different scenarios. Consider places to take cover, spatial surroundings, and the presence of innocent bystanders.

Anticipate Criminal Behavior

Be aware of your surrounds and practice solid situational awareness. Paying attention to pre-assault indicators and have a plan in mind regarding how to respond is paramount.

Nothing is 100%, but paying attention, having plans, and engaging in training related to those plans can greatly increase your odds of coming out on top.

Final Thoughts

In short, ten rounds of ammo may not enough to defend yourself. A case can be made for saying your best best chance for survival is by carrying more rounds.

It can take multiple hits to incapacitate an enemy, and there are a lot of things working against your accuracy. Incorporate more rounds into your carrying lifestyle by adding another magazine or higher capacity magazines.

No matter what, make sure you know how to properly conduct magazine changes in all scenarios and be ready for anything.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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