The Great Capacity Debate–Conceal Carry

General Background Info

There are a few challenges when it comes to carrying a conceal handgun that everyone doesn’t think about for their first purchase and may never consider even though they have been carrying for years.

  • Concealability – The whole point of carrying a concealed handgun is that it is concealed and people don’t notice it.
  • Dependability – Yes, it needs to go bang when you pull the trigger, otherwise it is just a piece of metal. Hopefully, just seeing the gun will scare off an attacker, but we can’t depend on that, especially if the attacker hears that awful “click” sound.
  • Affordability – Not everyone can afford the $1,000 gun that is beautiful as well as functional. The gun is a tool, and many of them will do the job, but we can’t skip paying rent or the mortgage just to buy a gun.
  • Shootability – OK, this is not a real word, but it seems to be pretty self-defining. You need to be able to shoot it and get good hits with it, under tremendous pressure.

Impact of Capacity

This should be obvious to everyone. Running out of bullets at the wrong time can be a life altering (or ending) experience. Really, that is all there is to it.


I read lots of great stuff on the Internet when it comes to defensive gun use. I also have the joy of reading lots of crap written by ignorant people that put themselves out there as some kind of expert. One of my favorite topics is the choice of the appropriate handgun for conceal carry. The two biggest groups are the single stack vs the double stack crowds. For some reason, usually because of weather (hot weather), many of us will choose a single stack gun because it is easier to conceal and is much more comfortable.

For example, I will carry one of the following:

  • Glock 17 or Steyr M9 – I carry these full-sized guns when I am out on my ranch, but I will usually open carry them in that case. Sometimes, I will carry one of them in an outside waistband (owb) holster under my coat, in cold weather.
  • Glock 19 – I will carry this gun most of the time, especially as the weather starts to warm up and I am not wearing a coat. It works well in an inside waistband (iwb) holster and can be easily concealed with an untucked shirt.
  • M&P Shield 9 – This is a small single stack gun that holds 7 or 8 rounds, and I can easily conceal this even while wearing a pair of shorts and a light t-shirt. It is a perfect gun for really hot days around town.

Today, I read a couple of 1911 guys make some of the most ignorant statements that are generally made by the single stack crowd. In this case, they were also .45 guys. So here is what came out:

  • Only one .45 round is needed to end a threat. This is true, to a point. A well placed shot, no matter what caliber is used, can stop an assailant and end the threat. Counting on a single shot is just plain crazy.
  • The .45 has the best stopping power. In the industry, we measure kinetic energy for each round, and it does vary based on the type of bullet used (meaning not all hollow point bullets are equal). However, it is vital that we understand that handgun rounds are considered to be very ballistically inefficient. There are all sorts of numbers on the Internet about how many people survive gunshot wounds, and how many assailants continue their attacks despite being shot, no matter what caliber is used.
  • Average number of rounds in a gun fight is 2.7, so carrying 7 to 8 is more than enough. First off, this number just doesn’t exist, and using an average as a way to choose your gun is not a good idea. Averages are just that, they are averages, and many of those cases out there involve much larger number of rounds. If we were to base it on averages, we would not be carrying concealed weapons, at all.
  • If you can’t end the threat in 7 to 8 rounds of .45, then you have no business carrying a gun. What? Basically, what many people say is that if you can’t be accurate enough to stop a threat with 7 to 8 rounds, you are not worthy of defending yourself. This one kind of makes me laugh as there are so many cases where people are hopped up on adrenaline, the lighting conditions are bad, the weather is bad, the bad guys are moving, or there are multiple bad guys. What I found interesting in my research is that our Police, supposedly trained to very high standards, miss way more than they hit their targets in the field. Way more. According to one study (and there are others that have similar results), the NYPD has a hit rate of about 18% when they are returning fire and about 30% when the suspect is not shooting back at them. That is horrible, and that is from the professionals.
  • You need to stay away from areas where you might be attacked. Nobody can predict when and where evil doers will be and when they will attack. It does not depend on neighborhoods, either, as they know how to drive or use public transit to go to neighborhoods that are ripe targets.
  • Extra ammo is heavy. Yes, it is. Oh, it is so heavy to have a magazine of extra rounds or extra rounds in a gun. Yep, probably about the same a cell phone. Be serious. While ammo does weigh something and does take up some space, we have already decided to carry a gun, so why not go the extra little bit?
  • Paranoid people are obsessed with capacity. Be prepared for multiple possible situations. We already have made many decisions based on very low odds, but we obviously value our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

While I admit that most single stack guns are easier to conceal because they are thinner, there are good reasons to have a gun that has greater capacity than the typical single stack. We just discussed a couple of them up above.

  • Multiple assailants – It is pretty obvious that evil doer douchebags travel in groups and need their buddies to pump up their courage. As a defensive gun user, we need to be aware that it is likely that we will be facing multiple adversaries if we ever need to protect ourselves from evil doers. 
  • Adrenaline impacts – That rush of adrenaline will change everything when it compares to your training.
  • Hit percentage – As discussed above, the professionals (the Police) miss way more than they hit their targets. Do you really think you are better than they are with less training?
  • Nobody ever says that they wish they didn’t have that extra ammo – As is commonly said by defensive gun users that have had to use their guns, they have never thought that they had too much ammo. They are glad that they had extra, in most cases.
  • Type 3 malfunctions – If you have been through any gun training, you will find that guns are not perfect and will experience malfunctions every now and then. A perfect example of why you would want an extra magazine full of ammo is a type 3 malfunction. To fix this malfunction, you will usually lose a magazine, either on purpose, or because it was dropped while trying to fix it.


We have made the conscious choice, in many cases, to carry a concealed handgun to defend ourselves and our loved ones. Why not make a choice to either carry a gun that has a little more capacity AND carry an extra magazine?

Many of the people that I know will carry an extra magazine or two on their belt, and will also have a couple of magazines in their car, on their desk, and by their bed.

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