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how many mags on plate carrier

How Many Mags Should You Have on Your Plate Carrier?

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The mission should dictate how many mags you have on your plate carrier and what type of pouches are used. 

If you’re walking down the street in downtown Houston with a sidearm and you want to be prepared defensively for whatever might go down, your needs are much different from SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams with AR (assault rifles). 

The number of mags you carry in your plate carrier loadout will be decided during your mission planning to account for the different scenarios you may encounter.

What Are Plate Carriers and What Are They Used For?

Plate carriers are tactical vests that carry bulletproof plates and additionally provide more functionality with attachment points for rifle and sidearm mags and other essential pouches.

Minimalist plate carriers are used as an inexpensive way to get armor protection set up quickly and provide a secure place to carry more ammunition and other gear.

The Soldier Plate Carrier System (SPCS) used by the U.S. Army is a heavy-duty bulletproof chest protection vest that goes on top of all underlying gear. The SPCS provides many convenient attachment points for using MOLLE pouches on PALS straps.

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how many mags on plate carrier

How Many Mags Should You Carry on Your Plate Carrier Setup?

Start with two single mag pouches on the front of your plate carrier. Add a medical kit. Put the vest on.

How does it feel? Proper fit is essential and not only for comfort. You need to remain agile and able to complete the mission, whatever that entails. Loading up with eight mags on the front of your plate is probably not the right way to go about it unless you’re expecting really heavy action.

Your body type can also dictate what you carry and where you put it on the plate carrier. If you have a large stomach, you’re not going to put double or triple mag pouches on the front center of your plate. When you hit the dirt in the prone position you won’t be able to lie flat. When you’re climbing in and out of a vehicle, you’re going to get hung up.

For most non-military or law enforcement scenarios, a couple of sidearm mags will be sufficient. Sidearm magazines can go on the left or right side of the plate and take up less space. Again, depending on your needs you may choose to have two or more pistol mags attached.

Fully loaded soldiers in the field are usually going to have 8 AR mags and one on their rifle and as many pistol mags as they can carry and still move around easily.


Why Is It Important to Have the Right Amount of Magazines on a Plate Carrier?

The adage ‘more is better’ seems to apply when considering how many magazines go on your plate carrier, but there is a balance you’ll need to find between preserving mobility and the number of mags on a plate carrier.

You cannot fill your vest with magazines covering every bit of PALS webbing. Nobody can tell you the exact number of mags you need to carry, ultimately it’s your decision and based on the mission.

What Does the Magazine Count Depend On?

The actual magazine count you decide on will depend on the mission scenarios you can envision and plan for. There are more than a few factors to consider when making the decision about magazine count.

What is the mission? Is it purely defensive? Will you likely be outmanned? How soon could you obtain more ammunition? How long will engagement likely last? Will you have both an AR and sidearm? Will you also wear a battle belt? Will you need food and water? Lights? Knife? Grenades?

All of these questions are relevant in deciding magazine count and placement. Besides shooting accuracy your planning and prepping for the scenarios you may encounter is of crucial importance and could very likely be the reason for the success or failure of the mission.

how many mags on plate carrier
Rifle magazines on a plate carrier

Where to Position Magazines on Your Plate Carrier?

The number of mags and their position and placement on your plate carrier depends on comfort and accessibility. Would you attach magazines to the back of your plate carrier? You might if you need to carry more and that’s the only place to put them.

Most of us don’t need to cover ourselves in ammunition so comfort and ease of mobility can factor prominently in our decision about where exactly to place ammo pouches on the plate carrier.

Right-handed shooters will want mag pouches within easy reach of the left hand. Front heavy soldiers should probably keep the front middle position on their belts and plates empty.

AR mag pouches can go across the front in a row if you have an average build. Some can use double-pouches, others single. It will depend on just how many you need.

Sidearm mag pouches can go under the left arm or up high on the chest.

how many mags on plate carrier

How to Attach Magazine Pouches on Your Plate Carrier?

You can attach magazine pouches to your plate carrier using MOLLE and PALS webbing.

Loosen the straps on your mag pouch. There will be two straps for rifle mags and probably one for sidearm mag pouches. Take that strap and feed it through the topmost slot in the PALS webbing on your plate carrier.

Do not weave the strap through the webbing on the plate. This is a common mistake that leaves your pouches flopping loosely.

You must weave the strap through one space on the plate carrier, then one space in your mag pouch webbing, then again through the webbing on the plate.

When you have run out of the length of the strap you can fasten the bottom using the snap, button, or Velcro to secure it.


Key Takeaways

  • Mission dictates the type of carrier plate you use, the number and type of magazine pouches, and the type of other gear you must carry.
  • A proper fit and not overloading your carrier plate are essential to maximizing mobility.
  • The more magazines and gear you add, the less mobile you are after a certain point.
  • Add mags smartly and with considerable thought.
  • Your medical kit is an essential item on your carrier plate – carry one!

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