When discussing magazine capacity, it seems to be impossible to avoid oft repeated (and rarely thought about) statements like “If I need more than X number of rounds, I haven’t done my job” or “Large capacity magazines make you ‘spray and pray’ instead of making each shot count.” Who hasn’t heard that “The typical gun fight is over in 1 (or 2, or 3, or 4) shot anyway, so I don’t need anything other than this [insert low capacity handgun here].” All three of these statements are probably repeated in guns shops and on internet forums every hour (usually by someone who is justifying their particular choice in handgun). Saying something often doesn’t make it true and it certainly doesn’t make it any less absurd. Logic has no place where ego and machismo reign.
“If I need more than X number of rounds, I haven’t done my job.” I’ll assume that the job that is being referred to is stopping a threat from harming or killing you or a loved one. This statement might be reasonable if there was a set number of rounds that would incapacitate someone intent on doing you harm. The reality is that one shot stops are nearly mythical (especially with handguns) and that determined attackers can and have soaked up 10 or more rounds of just about every caliber before ceasing their attack. A prudent man plans to shoot accurately and often until the threat is stopped whether that take 1 round or 15.
“Large capacity magazines make you ‘spray and pray’ instead of making each shot count.” This is perhaps the most absurd of the above mentioned gun counter philosophies. Magazine capacity is no more responsible for inaccurate, volume fire than large gas tanks are responsible for people accidentally driving past their destinations or than large refrigerators are responsible for people over eating. Those who miss with all 15 rounds in their magazine under stress, would have also missed with all 5 in their revolver’s cylinder. Should we then take this to its logical end and only carry single shot firearms? After all, wouldn’t we then really make our only shot count? That is, of course, absurd. People miss because of a lapse in training, stress, and lots of reasons other than having too many cartridges in their magazine.
“The typical gun fight is over in 1 (or 2, or 3, or 4) shot anyway, so I don’t need anything other than this [insert low capacity handgun here].” All gunfights are typical except for the ones that aren’t. We have seen groups of terrorists, gangs of home invaders, and “flash mobs” become the norm. These things are not rare and they aren’t always confined to any one part of town. Today’s responsible shooter may face any number of situations that can not be solved without plenty of ammunition.
Capacity counts. I become more convinced of this every day. I see evidence of this when I watch the news and when I learn about natural stress responses. Even a cursory study of modern terminal ballistics confronts me with the fact that capacity counts. I can’t tell you how many rounds are enough any more than you can tell me when or where you will need to use a handgun in defense of your life. I can tell you that having a reload (spare magazine, speed loader, etc) for what ever you carry is a good idea. Practicing your reloads until they are second nature is an even better idea. Taking an honest look at the capacity of the firearm that you carry wouldn’t hurt either.
I am not saying that more ammunition can make up for less skill. I am not saying that all problems can or should be solved by the liberal application of ammo. I am saying that the old “wisdom” deserves to be rethought and that you, as a responsible shooter, should take a long and honest look at your gear and training to determine whether it is sufficient for the situations that you are likely to face.
Just think about it.