Recently, I saw a comment on social media from a holster maker who said that people who ordered a new holster rarely ordered a pouch to carry an extra magazine or revolver ammunition. This caused me to wonder just how many armed citizens actually carry extra ammunition. In an informal survey that I've been conducting among my gun friends, I find that only about half of them carry even one extra reload for their concealed-carry gun. Actually, there are a number of reasons that the armed citizen should carry extra ammunition. Here are four big ones:
1. Your Gun Runs Dry
The most obvious reason for carrying extra ammo is if you shoot your gun dry during a criminal attack. Now, a study of citizen-involved shootings shows that this rarely happens. Most attacks on citizens are resolved with just a few shots. The problem occurs, quite obviously, when you happen to be the exception to the rule. We can think of a number of scenarios where the defensive shooter is pinned down, can't retreat and has to fight until help arrives, however long that might be. Obviously, another example might be when the citizen has to deal with multiple attackers.
2. Double-Feed Malfunction
A malfunction common to many semi-auto pistols is the double feed. The quickest way to clear this malfunction is to drop the magazine that is in the pistol. The slide is racked several times to clear the jam, and a new magazine is loaded. What do you do if you don't have a fresh magazine and you can't seem to find the one that you just dropped?
3. Bad Magazine/Bad Ammo
Some folks who carry modern double-stack, semi-auto handguns say that they carry a pistol that holds enough ammunition to get them through a fight. What happens when their only magazine goes bad? Or their ammo goes bad?
It is not just a problem for those who carry semi-auto pistols. It is rare, but you may find that you have dud ammo in your revolver. Back in the 1970s, a particular brand of penetrating oil became popular with gun users. Several policemen that I worked with would spray their duty revolver with this oil and then wipe their gun down with a rag. They did this until they found out that the penetrating oil was killing the primers in their ammunition. Fortunately, my co-workers discovered this at the range and not in the middle of a gunfight.
As rare as it is to find bad ammo today, it does happen. Revolver shooters (or semi-auto shooters, for that matter) need to be able to quickly recharge their pistol and get back in the fight. Most defensive-shooting instructors recommend that the shooter carry at least one reload at all times. That's the minimum.
4. Multi-Purpose Ammo Access
In warm weather, I almost always carry a revolver. Where I live, warm weather also means rattlesnakes. For that reason, I carry two reloads in the form of handy speed strips. One speed strip is loaded with defensive ammunition and the other one holds snake-shot cartridges.
Once you've decided that carrying at least one extra reload is a good idea, you have to decide where to carry it. One might use one of the various kind of belt-mounted carriers, or a convenient pants pocket. If you use the pants pocket, you should be sure that nothing else is in that pocket. You don't want to be digging around through your pocket treasures, trying to find your ammo, when you really ought to be shooting. For off-body carry, the same concerns exist with regard to dumping your reload into your pack along with all the other stuff that you carry.
Regardless of what type of defensive handgun that you carry, having at least one extra reload is really a good idea. Remember, that is just the suggested minimum. If you can find ways to carry more, that might be a good idea, too. Extra ammunition just makes sense for the defensive shooter.