Plate carriers are starting point of our tactical gear set up. Once we have our carrier, we purchase plates and accessories to mount to our carriers. At the top of almost every accessory wish list is plate carrier magazine pouches.

plate carrier mag pouches
Magazine pouch configurations

Plate carrier mag pouches are designed to securely hold your magazines and provide easy access for the user when they need to reload. There are different styles, materials, and attachment methods, which can make finding the right magazine pouches difficult. We will explore some of the differences in this article.

Types of Plate Carrier Mag Pouches

Open top pouches

Open top mag pouches offer quick access to your magazines, making them ideal for competitive shooters and those who need fast reloads without taking cover. These pouches typically use an elastic bungee retention system to keep the magazine securely in place while still allowing for easy removal.

rifle mag pouch
Rifle magazine pouch

This method of retention is one of the most secure options. Often open top pouches use pressure as part of their retention system, where side pressure acting on the magazine holds it in place, so long as the pouch remains upright. Many people choose not to use the retention strap because magazines are generally reasonably secure with tension alone, however the retention strap gives added security for dynamic movement.

Flap covered pouches

Flap covered mag pouches protect magazines from dirt and debris. This is ideal for those in adverse environments i.e. the desert of jungle.

The flap is usually secured with Velcro or a buckle to keep the magazine in place during rigorous movement. We saw this method used a lot in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. While this method is secure and provides protection, the added protection of the flap means the user is slower to retrieve magazines and reload.

This might not sound like a big deal but imagine a time you tried to get the buckle off in a tense situation.

Keep in mind ‘flap covered pouches’ is a general term to describe this style of pouch. Even though they provide more environmental protection, a bungie security system is able to retain the magazines just as well with less material.

Thermoplastic magazine pouches

Thermoplastic magazine pouches, often referred to as Kydex pouches provide a form fitted holder for magazines. They provide a relatively high level of retention for magazines utilizing the inherent friction and pressure between materials. Thermoplastic pouches are generally open top allowing for quick access.

These pouches are generally seen attached to belts rather than plate carriers, but there is no rule that says they have to be.

Mag Pouches for Plate Carriers

There are different styles of magazine pouches specifically for plate carriers. This is a matter of individual preference based on the firearm the user plans to carry ammo for.

Single style pouches

Single style pouches refer to a pouch panel attached to a plate carrier that is meant for either only rifle or only pistol magazines. Typically these are offered in 1-3 magazine pouches such as out P3 featured below.

pistol magazine pouch
Pistol (flap covered) magazine pouch

Certain plate carriers have rifle magazine pouches built in, as is the case of our Battle Vest V2, and our Battle Vest Lite, in which case the user may elect to only use pistol magazine pouches. Conversely, the wearer may not carry a pistol and only needs rifle pouches.

Kangaroo Pouches

Kangaroo pouches are designed to hold both a rifle magazine and a pistol magazine either in the same pouch, or with divider. This design maximizes space on your plate carrier and allows for a more streamlined loadout.

Some users have reported greater difficulty retrieving their pistol magazines, similar to the stacker pouch set up. However, this is a great way to carry ammo for a pistol and rifle while still keeping a low profile and without covering your entire plate carry with just magazines.

Magazine pouch
Classic kangaroo pouch

Stacker pouches

Stacker pouches, similar to kangaroo pouches, allows the user to stack typically rifle magazines on top each other, with or without a divider.

These provide the same benefits and drawbacks of the kangaroo pouches but can make it more difficult to get into the prone position. These are typically seen manufactured to hold six total magazines, and that’s a lot of ammo.

Choosing Plate Carrier Mag Pouches


The material of your mag pouch will have an impact its durability and performance.

Cordura Nylon is the most common material used in the construction of magazine pouches for plate carriers. They are fairly durable, generally water resistant, and fairly lightweight.

Thermoplastic, or Kydex offers good retention and protection, but like all plastic can be broken from abuse. The design of thermoplastic means easy access during reloads but may not be the most secure overall option. Often times these magazine holders are used on belts, which is where they really excel.

Important features of plate carrier mag pouches

First of all, magazine pouches must provide retention. Without retention the magazines will be lost rather quickly as soon as you begin moving.

Secondly, they must allow for easy access to the magazine during dynamic reloads.

Third, they must assist the user in organization. If they add more clutter on the plate carrier than they reduce, there is a problem. Similarly, if they are getting in the way of movement there is another problem.

Fourth, they should provide some level of protection, keeping the magazines safe from dirt and debris.

Attachment system

Different attachment systems are available for securing your mag pouches to your plate carrier.

MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load carrying Equipment) is a universal and robust system that allows for easy customization of your gear. MOLLE retains accessories by weaving straps from the accessory through the loops on the plate carrier. I have seen these retain gear even when multiple straps have broken.

Hook and Loop (Velcro) offers quick, easy attachment and removal, however there are two drawbacks. First, hook and loop is not as secure of an attachment method, especially under weight. Second, dirt and debris can get into the hook and gum up the work preventing a secure attachment.

Final Thoughts

Plate carrier mag pouches are essential for tactical efficiency and combat readiness, offering quick access to ammunition while protecting and organizing gear. It doesn’t matter what magazine pouch you have on your plate carrier if you don’t practice and train with them. Thankfully, magazine pouches are relatively affordable, so there is no reason not to pick some of these up and give them a try.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Tacticon Armament.