In dynamic tactical situations having immediate and reliable access to all necessary gear is a priority, I mean if you can’t get to your gear quickly leave it at home and save yourself some weight.

Tactical vests and plate carriers are indispensable piece of kit for any operator and thought should go into how it is configured.

Identifying the most practical and swift means to access critical items like magazines and medical supplies should always be the priority. This article explores magazine pouches, a requisite accessory to increase accessibility and preparedness in any situation.

What are Mag Pouches?

Magazine pouches are tactical storage methods designed to securely house magazines, and occasionally other utilities, to keep them readily accessible during active combat or operations. These pouches attach to tactical vests and body armor carriers directly.

Mag pouches are central to ensuring smooth and efficient weapon handling and play a critical role in organizing and deploying other necessities during operations. The majority are attached to vests and carriers using MOLLE or PALS webbing, which is a universal attachment method.

Illustration of how to weave MOLLE on a tactical vest Tacticon Armament
How To Weave MOLLE On a Tactical Vest

What is MOLLE?

MOLLE is the acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, paired with PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System). This creates a standardized attachment system used extensively within the tactical and outdoor communities.

MOLLE pouches allow for the secure and customizable attachment of various pouches and modules to tactical gear, including vests, backpacks, rucksacks, plate carriers, and belts. The MOLLE system utilizes durable straps and specialized webbing to ensure sturdy attachment, providing operators with the versatility to customize their gear layout in a manner that maximizes efficiency and ease of access.

What Are IFAK Pouches?

IFAK is short for Individual First Aid Kits. IFAK pouches are specialized storage pouches designed to contain essential medical supplies required to address critical emergencies.

An IFAK pouch will house items such as tourniquets, pressure dressings, hemostatic agents, chest seals, and other life-saving essentials. These pouches ensure that operators have immediate access to vital medical items to administer immediate self-aid or aid to a team member in the field.

Person holding open IFAK pouch attached to tactical vest - Tacticon Armament
IFAK Pouch Attached to Tactical Vest

What is the Purpose of Magazine Pouches?

Magazine pouches are all about keeping ammunition secure while remaining ergonomic, and allowing the operator to access magazines quickly and efficiently. It is always important to have more magazines than you think you may need, at the end of the day there is no way of knowing what may happen. Many tactical reports from law enforcement and the military show individuals actually fired more rounds than they thought they had when recounting the event.

Magazine pouches can also serve as multi-functional storage for things like flashlights, multi-tools, or communication devices.

Mag Pouch Designs and Functionality

There are many different types of magazine pouches that vary by design, functionality, material, and quality.

As with any tactical gear understanding the differences will help you make the best choices for your individual set up, rather than someone else who may have different needs. Let’s be real, very few readers are jumping out of planes or diving in the ocean in full kit.

Don’t mistake this as a bad thing however, it means you have a lot more options to choose from if your gear doesn’t have to be jumpable.

Mag Pouch Sizes

Single Mag Pouches

Single mag pouches hold just one magazine. There are many reasons why someone uses these, they may be adding an additional magazine to some free real estate on a crowded kit, or it may be going onto a Battle Belt.

Universal Closed-top Pistol Magazine Pouch - Tacticon Armament
Universal Closed-top Pistol Magazine Pouch

Additionally, these may be part of an EDC set up for a CCW gun, or they are running a slickster set up. These are of course available for both rifle and pistol.

Double Mag Pouches

Double mag pouches store two magazines, offering a balance between additional ammunition and maintaining a relatively low-profile setup. Law enforcement officers generally wear a double pistol mag pouch on their duty belt. Further, someone may choose this over other options based on the amount of space they have on their plate carrier or their role.

Double rifle mag pouch with elastic bungee retention - Tacticon Armament
Double Rifle Mag Pouch with Elastic Bungee Retention

Tripple Mag Pouches

Continuing with this theme, triple mag pouches hold three magazines. This is the most popular set up worn across the front of the plate carrier matching the width perfectly. It seems to be an informal requirement to have a triple mag pouch if you’re wearing a plate carrier with magazine pouches.

Multi Mag Pouches, Kangaroo, and Stacker Pouches

6 magazine stacker pouch with magazines - Tacticon Armament
6 Magazine Stacker Pouch

Multi-mag pouches can mean a couple of things. These would be your stacker magazine pouches that come in multiples of 2, meaning you have 2, 4, or 6 mags in a stacker set.

Kangaroo magazine pouches are a variant of stacker pouches where they hold a pistol magazine for each rifle magazine. Rifle and pistol magazine pouch is a very efficient use of space on a plate carrier.

Man wearing kangaroo style rifle and pistol mag pouch tactical vest - Tacticon Armament
Kangaroo Style Rifle and Pistol Mag Pouch

Types of “Carry”

The method of “carry” – concealed or open – is a tactical choice that may be influenced by legal frameworks within specific states or municipalities. For instance there are now many states now declaring themselves “Constitutional Carry States” and allow open carry, but still restricting concealed carry to those with a permit (like Washington state).

Concealed Carry Mag Pouches

Concealed carry mag pouches are designed to be concealed inside clothing, under clothing, etc. This usually applies to CCW holders and undercover law enforcement. The Tacticon IWB Holster comes with a single magazine pouch designed to be carrier along with the holster.

Open Carry Mag Pouches

Open carry mag pouches is a catch all term for anything not concealed. This could apply to the magazines on your plate carrier, on a tactical belt, etc. Generally in this context they are referring to belt magazines for a pistol. Overall they will be faster to access than concealed, but with training and practice the difference in speed will be minimal. Pretty much all rifle mag pouches will be of this variety. 

Open Top vs. Closed Top Mag Pouches

Choosing between open-top and closed-top mag pouches revolves around a balance of immediate access versus protection for your magazines.

Open Top Mag Pouches

Open-top mag pouches are designed without a flap or cover. This provides single-step access to magazines (Just rip that thing out). It also allows you to reindex a magazine more easily (place it back into the pouch) and with one hand.

These are great for the average everyday user, but not ideal for patrol officers. Patrol officers may end up wrestling on the ground with a suspect and are at risk of having a magazine fall out.

Closed Top Mag Pouches

Closed-top mag pouch carriers feature a flap or other closure method. This keeps the magazines save from external elements like dirt, debris, and weather. These might be particularly advantageous in environments where such contaminants could compromise the functionality of the magazines or ammunition.

These are seen a lot in the military to prevent rain, snow, sand, and anything else from getting in. Similarly, they provide greater retention for those who jump out of planes and into the ocean. The down side is reloads are slower with this type of magazine pouch, and even with training and practice they will still be slower and with more opportunity for error.

Mag Pouch Retention

The amount of retention a magazine pouch provides is a combination of friction and physical barriers. Friction is based on how tightly the pouch holds the magazine. This alone is considered “Level 1 retention” and it will generally be enough for average and many dynamic users.

Physical barriers can be a closed top, Velcro, elastic material, bungee type cord, etc. that provides a barrier where the magazine cannot move while the barrier is present. This is “Level 2 retention.” Notably, level 2 is more secure, but generally slower to access. A bungee-style retention like on the Battle Vest V2 or Tacticon Mag pouches is quicker than a closed magazine pouch and easier to use.

What Are Magazine Pouches Made Of?

Various materials are available, each bringing a unique set of advantages and disadvantages to the table.

Leather

Leather is the classic ammo pouch material. Think of all the old Western movies and TV shows. Many law enforcement agencies issued leather magazine holders for use with Sam Brown belts, and you can still find them for concealed carry.

Leather is a vibe, and it works great for these situations, but it is more expensive, and outside of these situations is not practical. Leather will absorb moisture, which means you have to maintain it to preserve its condition.

Kydex

Ah Kydex, after talking about leather we return to the basic, boring, everybody has one variety.

Kydex is a thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride material which known for its rigidity and resistance to weather, providing a durable and low-maintenance option for mag pouches. Despite its resilience, Kydex does not offer the same level of flexibility as other materials. Even though it is vary resilient, being a plastic, it can break with abuse.

Nylon

Nylon mag pouches bring forth a lightweight and versatile option, capable of withstanding various environmental factors without demanding intricate maintenance. However, its reduced rigidity compared to other materials like Kydex impact retention unless they use a flap or bungee for additional retention. 

Polymer

Polymer mag pouches blend lightness and durability, presenting a resistance to various environmental factors. They may not exude the same classic appeal as leather or offer the rigidity of Kydex, but they provide a balanced, durable option at a lower cost. 

In selecting a mag pouch, the material, design, and retention mechanisms should be tailored to your environment, retention needs, and personal preferences.

Selecting the Right Magazine Pouches

Choosing the right magazine pouches is an integral decision in crafting an effective tactical gear setup, each factor playing a role in dictating operational efficacy and comfort during use.

Draw Speed

Quick reloads are essential, and the pouch design directly influences speed. The pouch design, which encompasses aspects like open or closed tops, retention mechanisms, and the overall ergonomics, will directly influence the user’s ability to efficiently draw and reload, optimizing performance during critical moments. But this also comes with having to balance retention and keeping clear of debris.

Type of Fit

Specific fit refers to mounting options. Its important to use magazine pouches as designed to retain the entire pouch properly. If the magazine pouch attaches via MOLLE, then make sure to weave it properly. If the magazine was designed for a plate carrier it should be used with a carrier rather than a belt. 

Specific Fit

An important first step in the process is making sure your magazine pouch is actually correct for the magazine. While you may be able to use AR15 magazines with an M14 magazine pouch as was commonly done during the Vietnam war, it isn’t ideal.

A closed top magazine holder will probably still provide adequate retention but the magazines will most likely be sloppy, move, bounce, etc. This will make noise, can cause bullets to rattle out, not to mention it won’t look good. 

Universal Fit

Universal fit pouches offer versatility for those who employ various weapon systems, enabling the carry of different magazine types without necessitating a change of pouches or vests. This flexibility can be advantageous for those who need to switch between weapon systems and loadouts. However these will not hold any particular type of magazine as securely in place as magazines designed for a specific option. 

Noise Level

Moving relatively stealthy is kind of important, and improperly stored magazines can give you away easily. 

Employing mag pouches that mitigate noise through secure retention and material choice – for example, utilizing non-rigid, noise-dampening materials – can be really effective where stealth and silence are important. Two simple keys to reducing noise are how snug the magazine is held to prevent movement, and preventing hard materials from bumping together. 

Adjustability

Opting for mag pouches that allow for adjustments in terms of angle, position, and retention helps the user to tailor their setup according to specific operational needs and personal preferences, fostering a personalized, intuitive gear setup. This is a great part about the single and double mag pouch design. 

Durability

Material choice, construction quality, and design intricacies dictate the durability of a mag pouch, influencing its ability to withstand the rigors of various operational environments while maintaining functionality and structural integrity. This is a great reason to buy from a company like Tacticon, who offers a life time warranty on these products. 

Water Reaction

This isn’t just for those who are jumping into the ocean, many people fail to consider the effects of rain, humidity, and dew. 

Mag pouches that can efficiently wick and drain water ensures that magazines remain functional and accessible. The material, design, and drainage capabilities of the pouch will directly influence its performance and the condition of the magazines in watery environments.

Selecting a magazine pouch is a multifaceted decision that intertwines with the specific demands of the operational environment and the user’s preferences and needs. 

Mag Pouches FAQs

What mag pouches do the military use? 

Military personnel typically use mag pouches that align with their specific operational needs and the stipulations of their unit. MOLLE-compatible pouches, made from durable materials like nylon, are common due to their versatility and compatibility with standard military tactical vests and carriers.

What is a MOLLE taco?

 A “MOLLE Taco” refers to a specific style of magazine pouch. The “TACO” pouches are known for their versatility and are designed to securely hold various magazines in place by using materials such as Cordura, an injection-molded polymer, and shock-cord. These pouches are MOLLE-compatible, making them adaptable to various tactical gear setups.

Are mag pouches universal? 

Yes, while some mag pouches are designed for specific magazine types and sizes, there are also universal mag pouches available that are designed to accommodate a variety of magazine types. These can be adjusted to fit different sizes, offering versatility to those who utilize various firearm models.

What is a double stack magazine pouch? 

A double-stack magazine pouch is designed to hold two magazines side-by-side, or “stacked” together. This design utilizes less MOLLE to attach, giving the user more magazines while using up less space on their plate carrier.

What is a tactical dump pouch? 

A tactical dump pouch provides a quick and accessible storage solution for used or spent magazines during reloads, and extra storage for other items. These pouches can be rolled up when not in use and expanded when needed, and out of the way.

Roll-up dump pouch on battle belt - Tacticon Armament
Roll-Up Dump Pouch on Battle Belt

Final Thoughts

Navigating through magazine pouches brings to light the intersection of operational demands, personal preferences, and the ever-evolving innovations in tactical gear design. From understanding the structural and material differences in mag pouches, such as the distinctions between open and closed tops or the variance between nylon and Kydex, to discerning the intricate balances between speed, noise level, and adjustability, selecting the right mag pouch is a task embedded in specificity and informed decision-making.

No matter the type or style of magazine pouch one leans toward, recognizing the facets that dictate its functionality, durability, and overall performance in varied environments remains important. It’s more than a choice; it’s a strategic decision wherein knowledge, precision, and preparedness converge.

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

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