Do “Civilians” Need Spare Ammo?

Some think spare ammo is paranoid. This writer thinks it’s just good sense.

Reader Mike Wilson writes, “There are undoubtedly extraordinary situations like camping in the wilderness where someone might be attacked by bad guys and need an arsenal and special skills for defensive purposes.

“This letter is about civilians, not military combat or law enforcement personnel, using a handgun for defensive purposes in their home or outside in an urban setting.

“I understand attacks are quick and will be concluded with few, if any, shots fired by either side.

“Accordingly, carrying speed loaders or extra magazines serves no practical purpose. What say you?

“Is it really necessary to know how to reload a handgun quickly?”

Editor Jeff John assigned me to answer. Let me start by saying I know how Mike thinks, ’cause in my younger days, that’s how I thought. If I was on my own time instead of working for the police department, what were the chances I’d need more than the five .38 rounds in my S&W Chief Special, the six in my Colt Detective Special, or the eight—count-them-eight!—big ol’ .45 rounds in my Government Model?

As life went on, and my career found me researching gunfights, I started seeing the need for spare ammo.

During that period soft body armor came on the market, seized upon by the bad guys almost as soon as it was by the cops. Soon more criminals were wearing “bulletproof vests” than in the time of John Dillinger. Armor is popular today among armed robbers, cocaine cowboys, gang-bangers, and committed stalkers. By the time you realize your shots to the chest are having no effect, a goodly amount of your ammo supply may be gone.
By Massad Ayoob

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6 thoughts on “Do “Civilians” Need Spare Ammo?

  1. Mike Partain

    As far as needing spare ammo. Sometimes you have to play the “What if” game. How far from home are you going? How much ammo will it take to get back home? What neighborhoods will you be traveling through? Things can turn to Felicle soup real quick. So be a boy scout “always be prepared”!
    Just my 2 cents worth

  2. Lyle

    Having extra ammo can’t ever be a problem… unless you are swiming. As most problems with semi-auto firearms are fixed by dealing with a feed or magazine problem that extra magazine could be the difference in Life or Death. The reason you carry is to be prepared. How can you be “over prepared”? Gods Blessing. Be prepared and pray that day when you have to use the firearm never comes, but that should it arise you’ll be effective to the level of your training and preparation.

  3. Dave

    I say “Yes, absolutely yes!” you need to carry spare ammo.

    In fact, I carry a Glock 23 (13 + 1 .40 HP’s) and I wrap a S&W 642 around 5 spare .38’s. I back that up w/ 5 more .38’s on a speed strip.

  4. Redleg

    It’s not so much the extra ammo that’s needed, it’s the spare magazine. The most common stoppage on any magazine fed firearm is a faulty magazine, bent feed lips (especially if one is accustomed to slam a magazine home like in the movies), dented body, bad spring, etc. If tap, wrack, shoot doesn’t work, dropping the mag and inserting the spare will almost always get you back in the fight.

  5. bob

    redleg is correct. a spare fully loaded magazine is best. Also practice practice practice is important.


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