How to Conceal Carry Extra Mags: Methods and Gear

spare magazines

Carrying additional magazines is an important consideration when choosing to conceal carry a firearm.

And, like most things in the FA community, it can be a contentious topic.

Civilians using spare/extra magazines in a defensive application is extremely rare.

However, for some, extra ammunition provides a safety net in self-defense situations and ensures preparedness in the event of a mechanical failure of the firearm.

If that’s you, then this article may provide some benefit

Let’s explore some practical and efficient methods that can help you to effectively conceal carry your additional magazines.

There are various options available for carrying a backup magazine, including holsters with built-in mag holders (sidecar style), concealed carry clothing with extra pockets (not my favorite), and dedicated mag pouches to name a few.

These methods offer different levels of comfort, accessibility, and concealment.

It’s essential to understand the pros and cons of each option to make an informed decision on the best method that suits your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Additionally, factors like the size and design of your magazines, the type of clothing you wear, and your daily activities should be taken into account when choosing a concealment method.

In the following sections, we will discuss various techniques and products available to effectively carry extra mags while maintaining a discreet and concealed carry setup.

Why Carry an Extra Magazine?

According to a lot folks I talk to, one of the primary reasons they carry an extra magazine is to be prepared for potential gun stoppages related to magazine malfunctions.

That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

No matter the firearm, pistol magazines are mechanical and can wear out over time.

Feed lips, followers, and springs ‘can’ become worn, while the magazine itself can get dented or damaged.

Carrying a spare magazine helps ensure that you have a reliable backup in case of any issues with your primary magazine.

Another reason for carrying an extra magazine is to increase your ammunition capacity.

In the event of a self-defense situation, having more rounds available can be crucial, even though rare.

Carrying a spare magazine provides an added layer of security and preparedness, allowing you to stay in the fight longer if necessary.

Again, carrying a spare magazine is not solely about anticipating high-round gunfights.

Being prepared for unforeseen circumstances and ensuring the most effective use of your concealed carry weapon can be further improved by having a spare magazine on hand.

For some, this approach to concealed carry shows that you are ready to defend yourself in any situation.

Choosing the Right Magazine Carrier

Material and Construction

leather spare magazine pouch

When looking for a magazine carrier, it’s essential to consider the material and construction.

There are various materials, ranging from leather, Kydex, and nylon.

Each of these materials has its pros and cons in terms of comfort, durability, and weight.

Leather carriers are often comfortable and mold to your body over time.

However, they may not provide the same level of retention as Kydex or nylon.

Kydex and nylon carriers offer rigidity, especially Kydex, and solid retention but can be less comfortable for some users.

The choice between materials comes down to personal preference and what attributes you value most in a magazine carrier.

Retention Mechanisms

Retention mechanisms are another critical aspect when choosing a suitable magazine carrier.

The retention system is what keeps the magazine in place and prevents it from falling out during daily movements.

Various mechanisms exist, such as friction-based retention, adjustable retention screws, and even magnetic retention systems.

Test different retention styles and choose one that securely holds the magazine without making it difficult to draw when you need it.

Access and Comfort

Access and comfort are crucial factors to consider when deciding on the right carrier.

The way you position your spare magazine will impact your ability to access it quickly and seamlessly in a high-pressure situation.

Some popular options include inside-the-waistband (IWB) carriers, outside-the-waistband (OWB) carriers, and pocket or ankle carriers.

Balance your desired level of concealment with your access needs.

For example, IWB carriers often provide better concealment but might be harder to access.

OWB carriers, on the other hand, can provide easier access but may be more noticeable.

Ultimately, the best option will depend on your unique situation and preferences.

Additionally, always practice drawing your spare magazine to ensure you can perform the action quickly and efficiently when needed.

Popular Methods of Concealment

Concealment options will differ depending on individual preferences and the chosen method.

Listed below are some popular methods of concealment:

Inside the Waistband (IWB)

kydex, inside the waistband mag pouch

IWB carry is a highly concealable method that positions the magazine between your body and pants.

It typically offers a better level of concealment, comfort, and security.

You need a proper magazine pouch or holster designed for IWB use, which is often clipped or fastened to the belt.

Magazines carried inside the waistband stay close to the body, reducing their print on clothing.

Outside the Waistband (OWB)

OWB carry can be equally concealable and accessible if you wear a longer shirt or jacket that fully covers the magazine pouch.

Vertical carry can improve the speed of draw and accessibility compared to a horizontal carry in some instances.

Most experts recommend carrying the magazine with the bullets’ nose forward for easy indexing and efficient reloading during a high-pressure situation.

Pocket Carry

NEOMag magnetic pocket carry mag pouch

An alternative method is pocket carry, which allows you to carry the spare magazine in your pocket without attracting attention.

A pocket holster or pouch can help to keep the magazine oriented correctly and prevent lint or debris from entering if that’s something you are worried about.

This method is relatively discreet as the magazine remains out of sight in your pocket for the most part.

Ankle Carry

Ankle carry works well for those who prefer a more discrete location for their backup magazine.

You’ll need to use an ankle holster or pouch designed to carry spare magazines.

It is not as convenient and quickly accessible as other methods, but it offers extra concealment when needed.

Off-Body Carry

Maxpedition handgun holster and magazine pouch combo inside a VERTX sling bag

Lastly, off-body carry involves using specialized concealed carry bags, purses, or backpacks that have dedicated pockets for spare magazines.

This method provides extra concealment, but it may not be ideal for quick access in emergencies.

It is essential to practice drawing the spare magazine from your off-body carry method to ensure a smooth and fast reload if needed.

Practice and Training

Just like with any aspect of concealed carry, practice and training are essential when it comes to carrying extra magazines.

It’s important to develop the ability to be proficient and comfortable with your chosen method of carrying spare ammunition.

When practicing, be sure to incorporate drawing your spare magazine into your training routine.

This will help you become more familiar with the process and increase your efficiency in accessing your spare mag.

Here are some tips for practicing with spare magazines:

  • Train in the same clothes you intend to wear while carrying
  • Practice drawing and reloading under stress
  • Experiment with different carry methods to find what works best for you
  • Include both static and dynamic (while moving) drills
  • Incorporate malfunctions and other unexpected scenarios into your training
  • Work into your dryfire routine

Remember, consistency is key when training.

The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be with carrying and accessing your spare magazine under various circumstances.


spare magazines inside a Unity Tactical Clutch belly band holster.

Here we discuss some frequently asked questions regarding the concealed carry of extra magazines:

What are some ways to carry a spare magazine?

There are several options available for carrying a backup magazine. You can use a magazine carrier or magazine holster made from materials such as leather, Kydex, nylon, or injection-molded plastic. Another option is to utilize concealed carry clothing with extra pockets or mag pouches designed to fit on your belt.

Where should I place the spare magazine on my body for easy access?

Personally, I like to carry my spare magazine appendix style. Whether incorporated into a holster or in a standalone pouch. Position the magazine with the bullet noses facing forward for improved reloading.

What are some challenges when carrying an extended spare magazine?

Carrying an extended magazine on your belt can result in added bulk and length, which might be more noticeable and harder to conceal, especially during warmer months. Choosing a compact or standard-sized magazine could alleviate this issue.

Why is it important to carry a spare magazine?

Carrying a spare magazine can be essential in case of mechanical failures or malfunctions with your handgun. In these situations, having an extra magazine can make the difference between having a functional firearm and a worthless one in a self-defense scenario.


holster with sidecar magazine holder

Carrying an extra magazine may be a beneficial practice that can provide a higher level of readiness for concealed carriers in the event of a mechanical failure or the need for additional ammunition.

There are various options available for carrying a backup magazine discreetly, such as holsters with built-in mag holders, concealed carry clothing with extra pockets, and mag pouches.

When deciding on a carry method, factors like comfort, accessibility, and concealment should be taken into consideration.

For instance, pocket carry is a cost-free option, though it has its drawbacks and concealment depends on the fit of your pants.

Carrying an extended spare magazine adds bulk and length that may be more noticeable when carried on a belt, especially during warmer months.

Alternatively, spare magazines can be carried in a variety of other ways, such as using separate holsters in or on the waistband, on the ankle, or using a belly band with spare magazine pockets.

Ultimately, choosing the right method for carrying an extra magazine depends on the individual’s preferences, clothing choices, and the specific concealed carry weapon being used.

Continual practice and adjustment are key to finding the most suitable carry method for long-term comfort and effectiveness.

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.

Recent Posts