Plate carrier vests are some of the most popular and versatile pieces of protective equipment available today. But that's just one part of a full loadout. You have to consider what accessories and attachments to use to make sure you're ready for your mission.
A typical plate carrier has tons of options for accessories and add-ons. There are a variety of different pouches and accessories that serve specific functions but one of the most popular (and useful) are magazine pouches (mag pouches).
If you have a weapon, it'll need ammo. Mag pouches are specialized pockets designed to hold your firearm magazines.
We'll tell you about some of our favorite mag pouches and give you some advice on using them!
What are the Best Mag Pouches for a Plate Carrier?
There is no "best mag pouch" on the market. Everyone will have different preferences and requirements, so it's important to understand what traits to look for in a mag pouch.
Here are some of the important considerations to think about when purchasing a mag pouch.
- The retention: How well the mag remains situated in the mag pouch.
- The material: Will the material endure the conditions you are putting your gear through?
- The draw speed: How fast can you retrieve your ammo?
- Reload Time: How fast can you reinsert ammo into the pouch?
- Motility: Can the mag pouch be used for different ammo or purposes?
Let's get some of the other basics out of the way as well.
Plate carriers usually have designated mag pouches that can be adjusted with Velcro or a hook and loop system. Many plate carriers and magazine pouches also have MOLLE, which allows the wearer to customize and add their own accessories.
If you are looking to buy a plate carrier and want to add mags and accessories, make sure your prospective plate carrier has either pouches or MOLLE.
You can also consider buying a cummerbund or adding pouches to your belt if your plate carrier doesn't offer enough modularity. A cummerbund (which is a waist sash) adds additional magazine pouches and accessories.
Now let's check out some of our favorite mag pouches!
Bulletproof Zone's Favorite Mag Pouches for Plate Carriers
The name of the game with this mag pouch is diversity. The AR500 mag pouch (for pistols and rifles) is made with the idea of allowing you to carry different kinds of ammo in one pouch.
It is a durable mag pouch, made of genuine 1,000D Cordura. There are also removable and adjustable mag closures.
Retention is a nice feature of this mag pouch. You can use the attachable retention strap to tighten or loosen the pouches so your ammo stays snug.
Ar500's Mag Pouch comes with two malice clips, and it's compatible with any plate carrier. It weighs 5.6 ounces, making it relatively lightweight.
A single pouch retails for just $15-$20, so it is one of the cheapest options on this list, you can also buy doubles. This is an all-around great option if swapping out your ammo is a priority.
The 5.11 Tactical Flex Mag Pouches offer a pistol pouch and an AR mag pouch. The fabric is made from 500D nylon and the back of the mag pouch has a Flex-HT TPU coated webbing system.
This makes it compatible with MOLLE. All you need to do is unbutton the straps and loop it onto the plate carrier or belt.
Where the 5.11 Tactical Flex Mag Pouch really shines is with retention. The mag pouch itself is just a little bigger than the magazines it is made for.
The tongue inside the mag pouch forces the pouch open, making it very easy to slip your mag inside. However, the elastic strapping keeps the mags secure while in use. You can go for a jog with this mag pouch on and be sure your magazines will be safe and secure inside.
The only real downsides are that the pouch isn't big enough to make it as dynamic as other options on this list when changing your types of ammo. It's also on the pricier side. A single mag pouch will run $20-$30.
The Blackhawk Mag pouches are a case where versatility is the selling point. These pouches are made of an ejection molded plastic, and they come with a 500D nylon casing, making them very sturdy.
These pouches have an open design in order to accommodate many different-sized mags. If you change your magazine, you will need to tighten or loosen the screws on the pouch. This isn't a huge issue, but if you are using these pouches every day, those screws may loosen over time, so that is something to watch out for.
Blackhawk made a great little clip that can fit on a belt or MOLLE. It's easier to attach than your typical mag pouch (it literally just clips right on). It is curved on the bottom of the clip to ensure it doesn't fly right off you belt of plate carrier.
These pouches are also affordable, you can get them for about $15.
For those who want the most bang you can possible get for your buck, the Condor Triple Mag Pouch is a decent option.
The material is Nylon, and it comes with an open-top design, using bungee cables for retention. The cables generally work well, and the pouches have good overall retention. It's also easy to get your weapon from the mag pouch.
It is worth noting that some of Condor's pouches are made in the US, but some are made in China (and designed in California). The stitchwork on the Chinese mag pouch doesn't line up, and to be honest, it looks a little unkempt. The American-made pouches look quite a bit better, and often are in terms of quality.
The Condor Triple Mag Pouches have MOLLE straps on the back so they can be attached to any plate carrier. The straps are a little thick, making it a bit of a hassle to get through the loops on the plate carrier.
Some people absolutely love the Condor Mag Pouch while others do not. You can get a triple mag pouch for just $20, making it one of the cheapest options on the market.
We were really impressed with the High-Speed Gear Tacos. You can buy pistol or rifle tacos, and they come in many different colors and variations. You can buy a single, double, or triple taco, and you can also buy tacos for other gear like flashlights, water bottles, and so on.
The HGSI Tacos are wrapped in a durable Cordura fabric. Shock cords wrap around the body of the tacos, and the sides are made of polymer. HSGI has done an amazing job with the retention here. By tightening the shock cords, you can tighten the polymer sides, securing the magazine.
The HSGI Tacos can be attached to a plate carrier or a belt via malice clips. They can also be attached to a belt if you buy a small attachment with Velcro on the back.
A single HSGI Taco retails for about $35.
Esstac KYWI Triple Pouch
The Esstac KYWI Mag Pouch is one of the most popular mag pouches on the market. The design is simple, featuring kydex wrapped in 1,000D Cordura. Esstac sells singles, doubles, and triples (as well as a 1+1 pistol mag on top of a 556. mag), and they come in multiple colors.
The KYWI gives you the best of both worlds and has great retention.
Mags are easy to grab and reinsert, while the nylon allows this pouch to take up just two rows of MOLLE on your plate carrier (which is attached via two malice clips on the back).
The Esstac is a great all-around mag pouch but it is more expensive than other mag pouches on this list.
The triple magazine pouch will run you about $65 dollars, but with its quality and features, we feel it's worth the price.
Spiritus Systems LV Placard 556
Spiritus Systems makes one of the best mag pouches we've ever used.
The LV Placard 556 is simple in design, it can be attached to plate carriers either via Velcro on the back or using male SwifClips above the placard. The placard itself comes with four female SwiftClips.
Spiritus addressed common problems with their old placards and made the 556 more elastic. This allows larger ammo and oddly shaped items to fit inside the pouch.
The LV Placard 556 has improved retention by detaching the base of the pouch from the body. This allows magazines to be taken out and reinserted more quickly. This new design really impressed us.
It fits nicely on a plate carrier, and getting mags in and out is simple.
This mag pouch is made of water-repellent Cordura nylon.
It does retail for a higher price than many of the mag pouches on this list (around $60). That said, it's made in the US and the craftsmanship is excellent.
G-Code Soft Shell Scorpion Rifle Mag Carrier
If retention is your priority, G-Code has you covered.
This mag carrier is bound with bungee cables. Instead of a thicker Kydex material, this mag carrier uses Santoprene.
The Santoprene compliments the bungee system, offering a nice grip on the mags without them being too tight or too loose. The elasticity also helps when you're using different kinds of ammo.
There is a barrel lock on the side to control the pressure on the mags. Additionally, there are holes on the bottom for drainage as well as openings on the sides.
The G-Code can be attached to a plate carrier by using a MOLLE system (as well as other options) on the back of the pouch. There are two carrier sizes, one for pistol ammo and one for rifles.
The G-Code soft shells are are made of Nylon and are one of the lightest options on the market. The material will absorb and repel water, meaning that they can handle the elements quite well.
They retail for about $20, so they are affordable without giving up quality. Oh, and they look really cool too.
Blue Force Gear Ten-Speed Mag Pouch
If a minimalist design is your thing, Blue Force Gear has what you're looking for.
Their Ten-Speed mag pouches are as simple as mag pouches get. They are made out of TEX 70 bonded nylon thread, which is supposedly just as strong as 1,000D Cordura. These pouches also utilize military-grade elastic and have excellent retention. You can literally flip these upside-down with the mags inserted, and they will stay in place.
They are thin, bendable, and extremely lightweight, conforming to your body.
There are a lot of options available with the Blue Force Ten-Speed Mag Pouches. They come in multiple colors, singles or doubles, and they offer pistol and rifle pouches.
Many law enforcement officers use the Blue Force Ten-Speed mag pouches and they tend to last many years, even with everyday usage.
The back of the pouch has MOLLE webbing and is compatible with 2x2 MOLLE. It also comes with a Velcro loop system so you can attach it to your vest or belt.
The Blue Force Ten-Speed Mag Pouches retail for about $40.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mag Pouches
How many mag pouches are on a plate carrier?
This really depends on the plate carrier and mission. Most plate carriers can be adjusted with the needed amount of magazines, so military personal might be required to add a bunch of accessories and pouches to their plate carriers.
Consider your needs for the task ahead. A lot of mag pouches and accessories will obviously be less comfortable and adds a lot of weight.
But you also don't want to run out of ammunition when you might need it. Just remember, there is such a thing is being too prepared.
Are Kydex mag pouches good?
Yes, Kydex is a very durable material known for offering high retention.
Kydex is made for specific types of ammo. It's made to keep your magazines secure while offering just a little bit of extra room. They are also very easy to attach to belts and plate carriers and do a good job of concealing your magazines.
The downside to Kydex is that it doesn't really allow for a ton of motility. Switching your types of ammo won't be as easy with a Kydex mag pouch since they are really made with retention in mind.
How do I shorten mag pouches?
Many companies will offer different-sized mag pouches.
You might see options like short (shorty), mid-cut, and tall.
If you do not see options like this, the mag pouch might be made for a specific kind of ammo. Be sure to contact the manufacturer or seller about the size if you're not sure if it's a good fit for your magazines.
What size shock cord should I use with mag pouches?
This will depend on what mag pouch you're using, but a lot of mag pouches use shock cord that is about 1/8 inch. You want to make sure to use a shock cord with good retention and that fits.
You can either contact the specific manufacturer or bring your mag pouch to a local Army/Navy store to find out what size cord your need.
Tips for Law and Security Professionals
Consider Using a Mag Carrier With an Open Top
A lot of old law enforcement officers use magazine pouches that have leather clasps to keep the magazine secure inside.
In a gunfight, opening these claps adds an extra motion when reaching for your ammo.
Going with an open-top design can eliminate this extra step.
A material like Kydex that offers good retention might be a good option. This will ensure the magazine remains secure whilst also being easy to grab.
Flip The Magazine Pouch Right-side Up
Some law enforcement officers will keep their magazine pouches sideways on their belts.
This saves space and makes certain movements, like bending over, easier.
However, it also means that when you pull out a magazine, it will be facing the wrong direction, adding an extra movement to getting that magazine inside your weapon.
The solution is to keep that magazine facing right-side up. Play with where the magazine is sitting on your belt or plate carrier, or try to get a smaller magazine pouch that still keeps your ammo secure.
Cordura is one of the most common fabrics used in making mag pouches.
It is actually a collection of fabric technologies, and it was trademarked by Dupont in 1929. It was used for tires by the military in WWII. This material is used in multiple industries including outdoor gear, travel, and of course, by the armed forces.
1,000D is thicker than 500D, but both are strong, and 1,000D is not necessarily always the better choice when buying a mag pouch. 1,000D is a lot less pliable so it may cause mobility issues and you'll have to be sure it's made for your magazine.
Which Mag Pouch is Right For Me?
By now, you should know that there is no best mag pouch for all plate carriers. You will have to ask yourself a few questions and see which magazine fits your specific need. Here are a few questions that might be worth asking.
- How often will I need to be using this mag pouch?
- Will it need to endure everyday use?
- Do I need this mag pouch for my job?
- Is retention a priority? Will I be moving around a lot with the magazine attached to my plate carrier?
- Do speed and mag accessibility outweigh retention?
- Do I want one mag pouch that can accommodate multiple kinds of ammo or do I need a mag pouch for one specific kind of ammo?
- Does the size of the mag matter? Would something smaller like a taco work for me?
These are just a few of the questions you should ask.
Once you go through your checklist and are sure of your needs it will be a lot easier to narrow down the best mag pouches for your plate carrier.
Every mag pouch comes with pros and cons, so it is worth taking some time to purchase the right magazine pouch. You can check out our selection of mag pouches and other items here to see what might work for you. And if you have any questions, just let us know and we'll be happy to help you out!
If you are looking for other ways to make the most of your plate carrier, there are tons of other ways to upgrade your carrier loadout.
Got a favorite mag pouch for your tactical loadout? Share it with us in the comments below!