There seems to be confusion over what the definition of a “high capacity” magazine is. I’m hoping to straighten that out some and educate those who are still confused. Unlike the previous post, this post will deal with pistols as well as rifles. In every case I will only use items that are legal for civilian ownership as of the time this was posted. The examples of weapons I will use are Glock pistols and the AR-15 semi automatic rifle. These are two of the most popular weapons currently.
There are many different models of semi automatic pistol available, from a myriad of manufacturers. Some of the most popular are the Smith & Wesson M&P line, Glock, and the Springfield XD. Most of these pistols come in a variety of calibers, as well as multiple different sizes. Some are smaller to make them easier to carry concealed by someone who has a permit to carry concealed. Some have interchangeable features for increased comfort and accuracy, such as different sizes of interchangeable pistol grip back straps. They were also initially designed to function best with a specific capacity of magazine.
- Standard Capacity, High Capacity, and Absurd Capacity Magazines.
Below is a picture of a compact pistol typically used for concealed carry and self defense with a standard magazine.
This pistol has a standard capacity magazine which holds twelve rounds. They do make a high capacity magazine for this pistol.
Pictured below is a similar compact pistol with a high capacity magazine.
This pistol magazine holds seventeen rounds. In order to work with this pistol, although it is not necessary, it is recommended to use an adapter. The high capacity magazine for the compact pistol is the exact same as the standard magazine for a full size pistol.
Below is a picture of a full size pistol typically used for concealed carry, self defense and law enforcement with a standard magazine.
The standard magazine for the full size pistol actually is the high capacity magazine for the compact pistol. Not only are they functionally the same, they are physically identical. They do make a high capacity magazine for this pistol.
Pictured below is a similar full size pistol with a high capacity magazine.
The magazine is a thirty three round magazine. It is not practical for concealed carry, and even if not concealed it is awkward and/or uncomfortable in most holsters. It is useful for situations such as home defense.
In much the same way as pistols are designed to work with specific magazines, semi automatic rifles are typically designed to work with specific magazines.
Pictured below is a semi automatic rifle with a standard capacity magazine.
This standard capacity magazine holds 30 rounds. It is what the rifle was designed to work with.
They also make “high capacity” magazines for this style of rifle. An example of this is pictured below.
This high capacity magazine holds one hundred rounds, is awkward, heavy, cumbersome and prone to jamming. The rifle was not designed to operate with this type of magazine, and it causes excessive stress and wear on certain components of the rifle such as the magazine catch. Any usefulness that may be achieved by having a magazine that has this capacity are far outweighed by the problems it creates. A pistol variant of this type of magazine is also manufactured.
As you can see from the picture, this type of magazine is useless and absurd. It is also prone to jamming and causes excessive wear on crucial components.
- Limited Capacity Magazines
In order to comply with the laws in certain states, some pistol and rifle manufacturers make limited capacity magazines. These magazines are usually limited to only 10 rounds. Other than this they are identical to their standard capacity counterparts. The pistols and rifles that these magazines are used in are identical to ones that use standard capacity magazines. Typically, converting a limited capacity magazine to a standard capacity magazine involves replacing only a few parts such as the follower and the spring.
- “Why would anyone need more than x number of rounds?”
This argument is usually made by uninformed individuals who are usually in favor of banning what they consider are high capacity magazines. There are many reasons why an individual would want more than a certain number of rounds in their firearm. It usually takes several rounds to thwart most attackers, not the one shot that sends the recipient flying backwards 15 feet as depicted in movies and on television. If you need proof of this fact, watch a deer hunting show. When a deer is shot, they do not go flying back. And of course it usually only takes one shot to harvest a deer, but a hunter has a long time to aim the shot. In a self defense situation there is no time to take that kind of care, not that you shouldn’t aim and practice target discrimination though. The best way to practice this is scenario based training. You will also notice on the hunting show that the deer do not always immediately drop dead, but powered by adrenaline and fear they can run from several feet to several hundred yards. An assailant can do the same thing. It could take as many as four or five, and even in some cases in excess of ten rounds to stop an assailant from attacking. If there is more than one assailant, you will definitely want to have enough ammunition in your magazine to deal with each one until you are no longer in danger. Thirty rounds may not be enough. Some people would argue that changing a magazine would provide a window of opportunity to disarm an assailant. Changing a magazine, with practice, can take less than a second. Some people also argue that because it is so easy to exchange a magazine, a limitation on capacity should not hinder someone in a self defense situation. To me it doesn’t matter how long it takes to change a magazine. I’m more concerned with total capacity. If asked how many rounds I really need to carry, my answer is always and invariably; “More than the bad guys.” How many rounds does an assailant have if they are armed? I don’t know. I don’t know if they thought to bring extra magazines. I do know that I want to have enough ammunition to reliably deal with each threat if at all possible. Limiting magazine capacity limits my ability, not the criminal’s.
Limiting magazine capacity does not really do anything to prevent an individual with criminal intent from committing an act of violence. Limiting magazine capacity does not really do anything to limit the amount of damage that can be caused by an individual with criminal intent. Limiting magazine capacity does make it more difficult for a law abiding citizen, acting in self defense, to properly and successfully utilize the resources that should be available to them. Limiting “high capacity” magazines is a pointless gesture that is meant to appear that the politicians are doing “something,” as the definition of a “high capacity” magazine varies depending on the firearm. Setting an arbitrary limit on what defines “high capacity” for the volume of a magazine will not prevent an individual with criminal intent from having access to what would then be considered a “high capacity” magazine.