Today we are going to talk about magpouches and most of their variations youll find on the market. So this can be considered as an attempt on creating a basic primer on rifle magazine pouches.
Now, essentially mag pouches are just a way to safely store your ammo on your second line, while keeping your ammo quickly accessible. This is basically a simple affair but some people try to make a science out of it.
Basically we have two major form factors regarding magpouches.
We have open top magpouches which retain the magazine only by friction and we have magpouches which add a mechanical safety in form of a bungee cord or a flap which is secured either by a tuck tab, velcro, a snap, a fastex buckle or a combination of those mechanical systems.
Now those approaches can be achieved by using either rigid materials like kydex, soft fabrics like cordura or by creating a hybrid construction.
1- FLAPPED MAGAZINE POUCHES
Now lets start with the basic, soft-flapped magpouch. What we have as an example is a Velocity Systems triple M4 jungle magpouch. It stores three Ar15 mags. Now this pouch is fully enclosed and shows many of the pros and cons of a flapped magazine pouch in one example. It is secured by Fastex and Velcro.
One pro is that no matter what you do, your mags will stay put in the magpouch if you dont want to remove them. Also the mags are protected from mud, sand and debris. The pouch is lightweight and yet very, very versatile. You can store various different mags inside, or even store a smoke grenade, small IFAK, small waterbottle, basically whatever you like. A pro, often forgotten is the fact that it has the SAME footprint as a single AR15 magazine pouch, of course it is more bulky when filled completely. Last advantage is that their shelf life is almost indefinite, even when completely filled with magazines.
Now there is one big con. Those magpouches arent as fast as other magzine pouches. Or better said, you need to do two, to three different movements. Open the buckle, open the flap and then extract the mag. Also reindexing may require you to use two hands.
So those magpouches arent fast, but will reliably sustain you with clean and physically intact magazines. This is why they are the most common type of issued magpouch to regular troops and even to many SOF units today. Remember that a situation where you surprisingly have to reload your gun isnt as common as a weapon malfunction caused by a damaged or polluted magazine since the invention of the assault rifle.
2- OPEN TOP CORDURA SHINGLE, BUNGEE SECURED.
What we have up next is an open top, bungee secured magazine pouch. It still will hold your magazine in place reliably when the bungee is used, while it only takes one to two motions for you to extract the magazine. If you go with a shingle like this one you could for example remove one bungee for quick access.
Reindexing can be a bit challenging, but works fine with a bit of training. I consider bungee secured open top, soft magazine pouches as the current gold standard, but be advised that they dont offer as much protection from the elements as a flapped magpouch. If protection of your magazines is important for you, consider to use an open top pouch, that covers at least two thirds of your magazine. You can also use those pouches for small radios, as a makeshift holster or for other stuff that may fit.
3- KYDEX MAG HOLDERS
Up next is a rigid Kydex magpouch. They offer fast extraction, best in class reindexing and a seemingly good retention. But will fail many shake or thow tests. Shaking the magpouch forcefully will make the mag drop out. Also the bottom of most Kydex rifle pouches is open and will therefore expose the follower of the mag and the loaded cardtridges. Both being the number one source of magazine related malfunctions.
Also a kydex magpouch will only fit one thing, the magazine it was made for and nothing else. So are Kydex magazine pouches bad? No. They are made to do just two things. Fast indexing and fast reindexing. They are a great fastmag pouch for your belt and on the range, nothing more and nothing less. Also consider that they are prone to being noisy during movement. Keep in mind that this is technically more of a holster than being a pouch.
4- HYBRID SOLUTION, KYDEX/BUNGEE
Now we also have some hybrid solutions going on.
One hybrid solution that has become very popular is what I call a shock cord compression based hybrid pouch. It basically works with a u shaped kydex clamp that locks to the sides of a magazine. Therefore it is more adaptable than a kydex magpouch, much more silent but also a bit harder to reindex and it doesnt really change anything in terms of retention. Its retention is actually based on the shockcords tension and not on the integral tension of the kydex
This is a big advantage as it ensures that you will be able to use this pouch with almost every magazine, even more exotic ones like the g36 mag. But it also causes the pouch to wear out over time and pouches made like this also collect dirt like a shovel when crawling. I would use this kind of pouch as a happy mag on my belt and perhaps on a sweetspot on my platecarrier but not as my primary source of mags.
5- HYBRID SOLUTION, KYDEX TENSION/ FABRIC
Now another approach to the hybrid construction is the ESSTAC Kywi. The Kywi is the best hybrid solution in my eyes as it is silent, protects the mag and offers a retention that survives any shake or throw test we did so far while lacking shock cord or other elastics
Drawbacks include that it is in fact even more heavy than a kydex magpouch. But the biggest drawback is still that it will only serve as a magazine pouch and has no dual purpose use at all. It is most viable as a happymag but at the moment Iam also testing it for use as the mainstay of a new placard I have assembled.
6- ELASTIC RETENTION, OPEN TOP
Last but not least there is a certain trends towards magpouches that are completely made out of elastic or use elastic as their mainstay regarding retention. As we said before, elastic will wear out over time and will lose its grip. So those pouches dont offer enought retention, they arent rugged and they wear out.
Of course you get a fast draw but reindexing sucks. So do those pouches suck? As their only obvious advantage is their extremely low weight. The answer is yes and no. I think there is a common misconception about those pouches as no one who built them has ever envisioned them as your primary source of mags. They are also not inteded to be „low vis“ magpouches, as the shape of a magazine doesnt get changed by any pouch, it will stay a rectangle.
What they are intended for is their use as semi disposable backup magazine pouches. For example I have mounted two of those to the inside of my platecarriers cummerbund in case a situation changes and I need more ammo at the ready. What they are also great for is storing small, changing and unusual shaped items whithout constantly mounting dedicated pouches or just being placed as a magpouch for your mag that is usually in your rifle. As there may be some areas where your rifle has to be completely unloaded.
So which approach is „the best“ you may ask. And the answer is as always, it depends on your job. I think that flapped magazine pouches make a great GP and shelf solutions and work great if they are combined with a least one happy mag. Especially guys that start to go into magpouches and loadouts should start with a flapped or bungee secured soft solution.
fighting loadout consists of three to four mags in deep and soft bungee secured Cordura shingles. This will keep my mags clean and undamaged in most situations and Iam more than willed to sacrifice some speed. According to history most reloads arent John Wick style life or death races but will be performed in the relative safety of cover. Loosing my mags or having them rendered unusable by dirt, mud and debris is a much more realistic worst case scenario to me
I usually mount a double or tripple flapped magpouch to the left side of my cummerbund. Those two to three mags are my sustainment even if I manage to fall into a swamp. If my environment is less rural in nature I can keep this pouch for other stuff like a smoke grenade and use my cummerbund mounted elastic pouches for backup mags.
Generally there are two things you shouldnt do on a GP second line assault kit. One being getting out of the wire with just three mags on your chest. And the other being to head out the wire with 16 mags on your chest.
Three mags might ne just enough on the range, but wont do anything for you in a prolonged firefight. I think that a good GP loadout should consist of at least 6 rifle mags on your kit. Remember that not all of those must be in lightning fast reach for you but should be acessible without help. Also always have the option to carry more. Be it using elastic pouches, or a dual purpose flapped pouch.
Many people that are in the market for a new magpouch are asking „how fast is this pouch“ well in this case I have news for you! Your magazine pouch is reloading shit, as you are the only one who is performing the reload. Start viewing magpouches as part of your load carrying kit and apply the common rules of load bearing. Ask „How light, how rugged, how secure“ first. Speed is a bonus, not a foundation.