Are Mag Exchanges Necessary – Recently on a shooting range expedition, I was working on reload drills where I was actively shorting rounds in a random magazine on the table, putting two in my belt in a mag holder like the one we sell here, and putting one in my firearm. I would focus on shooting multiple targets, and when it locked back empty, I would do a rapid magazine change. However, on my third or fourth iteration, I thought, what are actually the odds of shooting out through a magazine change? Is it something that we should spend that time on, or is it better to draw from concealed, shoot better groups at distance, or clear a malfunction? Here are my thoughts.
I have been carrying for 13 years…
and I have had to draw a concealed handgun twice in that timeframe. Both times the presence of the firearm drastically reduced the desire for a future altercation with the assailant, and therefore it de-escalated from there. This de-escalation is not uncommon, but this number is hard to obtain accurately. Still, I would imagine it probably happens in a five or ten to one difference from the actual shooting. If that is the case, I think that the priority should be to rapidly get your firearm into the fight once you realize that lethal force may be necessary, so that to me means drawing should be your priority. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I have made it a priority to draw from my magnetic holster 50 times a day, usually split between morning and evening, to rapidly get my firearm in any clothes I wear. The nice part is that I can do it in gym clothes, shorts, or sweats because of its magnetic retention.
The second thing I looked at is how many rounds are the average concealed carry altercation. From the sources I could find, the average number was around three to four rounds, and the distance was under 7 yards. Even with a revolver, the odds for a reload are small for the concealed carry population. Add that to firearms where the standard capacity magazine is 15-17 rounds of 9mm. You could be in four or five engagements without reloading your magazine once. Something to think about: this could change if you are looking at doing a magazine change in coordination with a malfunction clearance, which I think is more likely. The most common malfunction is TYPICALLY caused by a bad magazine or issues with that magazine, so if you have a failure to feed/failure to eject, a magazine change in conjunction with clearing the malfunction would, in my opinion, be a good thing. I routinely torture test my pistols, firing hundreds of rounds, mixing between hollow-points, FMJ, and whatever I have available to see if there are any malfunctions.
Finally, should we focus more on accuracy versus magazine changes? I think that this almost goes without saying but a resounding yes. Most people carry concealed with one in the chamber, which means they are likely to have at least one shot before the possibility of a malfunction (minus extremely rare breaks in the firing systems/primer issues). That means if you are only getting one potential shot, accuracy counts almost as much as getting your gun into the fight from a holster, in my opinion. It is a lot better to practice a draw, one shot accuracy repeatedly versus doing multiple magazine changes. In my opinion, if I had 2 hours to do the range, I would spend an hour drawing and doing single shots or strings (i.e., two in the chest, one in the head), 30 minutes of slow accuracy shooting, 15 minutes of magazine changes/malfunction drills and another accuracy session at the end for 15 min—just my thoughts.
Author: Ian Bolser