Over Extension

I received an email with a question.

“I’m thinking of increasing the firepower of my carry gun.  What about extended magazines?”

Okay, extended magazines.  What is the question, exactly?

Just so we are all on the same page, autoloading handguns are designed to have magazines of a certain length.  The idea is to have the bottom of the magazine flush with the bottom of the grip.

beretta m9

There are some exceptions to this very broad and general rule.  Smaller guns designed for easy concealed carry often have little pinkie rests on the bottom of the magazine in order to help in controlling the firearm.

What in the world am I talking about?  You can see it in the pics below.  First there is a magazine with a flat floor plate, which is what the bottom part of a magazine is called.  Then there is a magazine with a floor plate that forms a finger rest.  The last picture shows one of my old guns fitted with such a magazine.

taurus pt111 magazine with flat floorplate

taurus pt111 magazine with pinkie rest

taurus pt111 9mm

Okay, so a magazine can be fitted with an enlarged floor plate in order to give the user a better grip.  But this, generally speaking, doesn’t increase the amount of ammo that can be loaded in the gun at any particular time.  For that you need an enlarged magazine, one that is rather longer than a standard magazine.

ruger p89 with extended magazine

What does it look like when an extended magazine is being used?

ruger p89 with two standard magazines and one extended

Yes, yes, I know.  The letters are backwards because I flipped the image so the muzzle of the gun would be pointing to the right.  Just trying to keep the pictures consistent, I suppose.

The advantage to an extended magazine is that it means one can shoot more rounds before reloading, but there are some serious drawbacks.  The main fly in the ointment is that the oversized clip really makes concealing your main defensive arm problematic.  Another factor to consider is that ammunition can be heavy, and attaching a lot of it to your belt can cause your pants to want to plunge towards the floor at the most embarrassing times.

jack black drops his pants at a celebrity roast

I would suggest that my obscure correspondent carry his defensive arm with a standard magazine loaded.  That way it won’t be that hard to conceal in public.  If one or more extended magazines are to be carried, then I think suspenders are in order.

steampunk belt and suspenders

Flying helmet and waistcoat is optional.

6 thoughts on “Over Extension

  1. The other thing that I think might be worth thinking about is what an extended magazine might be used to say about you in the inevitable legal action after using a concealed weapon.

    Compare this to the need for it: what fraction of engagements with a concealed weapon require more than your loaded standard magazine, much less mag changes? If you could reasonably expect to actually require a mag change, which I don’t think is something you could expect, there isn’t going to be an upside to the firepower greater than the possible legal downsides.

    As a personal piece of anecdata, when I carried an M9 as my walk-around sidearm on the FOB in Afghanistan (in a shoulder holster) I didn’t feel the need to fool around with extended magazines–and I didn’t have to deal with concealment.

  2. When I read the letter I wondered what he meant by “increased firepower”. Does he mean “each round fired is more effective”? Because changing the magazine won’t have any effect on that. If he wants more stopping power, he has to go to a bigger caliber or a more powerful propellent round with a higher muzzle velocity.

  3. What an interesting topic.

    It reminds me of the famed Man from UNCLE handgun. It started life as a P-38 and agents could add a shoulder stock, barrel extension, suppressor, flash hider, telescopic scope and of course, an extended magazine. They must have faced many of the same problems CCWers face now; mainly where to hid all that stuff.

    Let me suggest you carry the gun with the normal magazine and then, as soon as possible you do a tactical (I’m obligated to use “Tactical” once in any of this semi-comical stuff.) reload with the over size magazine you carry in a custom arm pit holster which lets you carry, well from armpit to waist long magazine. You could carry one under each arm too.

    I suggest if you follow this advise you load your magazine so the last 5 are 3 armor piercing followed by 2 tracers. The more advanced shooter will move that load up the stack and end with three hollow points because the bad guys know when they see the tracers, you’re out of ammo. What a surprise they will have, expecting you to have an empty gun.

    Me? Heavens no I don’t do any of this… er, stuff. I just carry a larger gun that was made to have a higher round capacity. I want my emergency rescue stuff to work.

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