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How Many Magazines Should You Have On Your Battle Belt

How Many Magazines Should You Have On Your Battle Belt?

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There is no universal answer to this question as the exact amount of mags you should have on your battle belt depends on the specific needs of the individual and the unit. 

Generally speaking, a military tactical belt should carry enough ammunition for both rifle and pistol magazines. 

Some units may also require additional rounds for specialized weapons or equipment. At a bare minimum, I recommend having at least one magazine for every weapon an individual is carrying on their battle belt. 

That being said, let’s dig deeper into how many magazines you should have on your battle belt. 

What Does The Number of Mags Depend On?

The military battle belt is a key piece of equipment for anyone who guards or defends a territory. It is essential not just for gunfights but also for tasks such as patrolling. A tactical belt should carry the equipment and ammunition that a militant needs while on duty.

The equipment that a militant needs depends specifically on their individual mission or job within a unit. This directly reflects on how many magazines an individual will carry. 

Some militants will not have a sidearm, so they will not need to carry pistol mags. This applies in the other direction for an individual that is only carrying a pistol. These individuals may include security, MP, and Warrant Officers. 

When deciding which magazines and how many, take into account your unit’s SOPs. If you’re operating in a new area, talk to individuals that have been there for a minute. What kind of situations have they been getting into? This may determine how many magazines you’ll want to carry.   

If you have the time, be sure to experiment with different configurations during training. This will ensure adequate time to establish muscle memory. 

magazines on a battle belt

How Many Mags Should You Keep On Your Battle Belt?

Individual preference and different mission scenarios all come into play when addressing loadout. 

For a standard patrol, I use my plate carriers as my main platform as I prefer minimal weight on my hips. I weigh a solid 210 and can carry weight on my shoulders very well. With this in mind, I only carry 2 (5.56) magazines on my battle belt and 10 on my plate carrier while running a M27. I will not use the two magazines on my war belt unless I absolutely have to. This is in case of an EE situation. 

Some individuals prefer to have a slick front on their plate carrier. In this situation, these individuals may have 6 or more magazines located on their battle belt. This is perfectly fine as long as it works for that specific person. 

The standard issued loadout for pistol magazines is three. This allows for one in the weapon and two on the belt itself. Some instances may require more pistol mags.

Rifle mags

Take into consideration your overall standard loadout. The Marine Corps had a loadout of 7, 30 round 5.56 magazines for the Marines carrying an M16 or M4. 

As I mentioned I prefer to carry 2, 30 round (5.56) rifle magazines on my belt. This allows me to keep the weight on my hips at a minimum. It also allows more room for my IFAK, knife, survival pouch, pistol mags, tourniquet, and another pouch I use for land nav or indirect fire. 

I have known people to carry a total of 8 rifle magazines on their belt. It worked for them as they wanted a slick plate carrier and they didn’t mind the weight on their hips.   


Sidearm/pistol mags

It’s customary to have at least 2 pistol mags on your battle belt. Again, it is dependent on the individual or the task at hand. If your primary weapon is your pistol, extra mags would definitely come in handy. 

Another consideration is your actual pistol mag pouch. There are different variations and some allow you to carry 3 or 4 in the same space others only allow 2. 

Numerous people prefer an even count of 4 magazines and they straddle 2 to each side. This allows them to be accessed by either hand.

Oftentimes, the pistol holster will have spots for magazines on itself.    


Where To Position Magazines On Your Battle Belt?

Most right-handed shooters will carry their rifle mags on their left hip. This allows for the smoothest transition during reloading. I preferred to have my rifle mags position more towards my back. 

The pro to this is that I could bend, squat, and kneel without them obstructing my movement. The con would be that speed reloads are slower. However, my primary speed reload magazines were located on my plate carrier.

Pistol magazine locations are a little more debatable. If you feel there’s a likely chance you’ll need quick access to the magazines, the left hip is as good a spot as any. A lot of people carry magazines directly next to the pistol on the right hand side.

I preferred to carry them on my back. In the very center of my back I carried my IFAK. Located on each side was a pistol mag. My thought process was that if I ever needed to use extra mags for my secondary weapon, something has gone extremely wrong and I need to be able to reach them with either hand. This positioning also kept them out of the way. 

Two tactical shooters wearing a battle belt

How To Attach Magazines To Your Battle Belt?

When attaching magazines to a tactical belt, it is important to keep in mind the overall layout of the belt. Magazines can be attached to a military tactical belt in a variety of ways, depending on the individual’s needs. 

It is important to choose a method that is comfortable and effective so that the magazines will not interfere with the operation of the belt or cause fatigue or discomfort.

Almost all rifle magazine pouches are just that, soft pouches. They are typically attached using the MOLLE system.

Pistol magazine pouches are either solid or fabric pouches. This is typically individual preference. They can be attached using the MOLLE system.

There are multiple style pouches that have different attaching techniques. Be sure to match your pouches with the style belt you are wearing.


Making holes and patching holes are what battle belts are for. Your overall battle belt setup should be focused on your magazines and first aid equipment. The number of magazines and their location will be up to you. Practice different setups and stay open-minded to change.

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