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Selecting the best magazine pouches for your plate carrier can be like finding a needle in a stack of needles. In 2007, I bought my first MOLLE-capable mag pouches to upgrade my standard-issue kit without knowing what I was doing. I quickly learned to tailor my gear to the mission. After all, MOLLE allows for complete adaptability, so you just have to use a little foresight.
A breacher will need gear to accommodate shotshells, but the guy with a pistol needs secondary mag pouches. The recon team operating in the jungle will need camouflage gear, but the assault team working in the desert might want coyote brown. What you’re doing and where you’ll be doing it determine what you’ll need, and it’s vital to have the right setup and gear on your kit before stepping past the line of departure.
If you’ve read our review of the best magazine pouches overall, then you’re probably wondering why this article exists. Well, many feature MOLLE attachments that are great for plate carriers, but some are intended specifically for or have a general design that wouldn’t be ideal for use with armor. Let’s take a look at the best mag pouches for your plate carrier and how they’ll maximize your combat effectiveness.
Whenever I think of tacos, it normally involves Tuesdays and cervezas, but High Speed Gear has changed that with the company’s industry-changing single rifle mag pouch. The name “Taco” comes from the injection-molded polymer retention system that is wrapped in nylon with bungee cords. This is what offers excellent retention that you can adjust to your liking, not to mention adapt for different magazine sizes and shapes.
From STANAG mags to smoke grenades, the Taco easily accommodates the mission at hand. What’s more is that the polymer insert enables quick insertion and indexing of magazines for more low drag operating. The Taco LT is a lightweight version of the original and weighs 25 percent less. The only gripe I have is that the Taco LT is not available as a double stack, staggered, or triple mag option.
- Brand: High Speed Gear
- Material: Nylon, Polymer
- Capacity: One rifle mag
- Patterns: Black, Coyote Brown, Multicam, OD Green, Black Multicam, Woodland
Fits most magazines
Many available patterns
Only fits one mag
Security relies solely on tension
Condor has built a name for itself by manufacturing decent tactical gear at a reasonable price. The triple mag pouch is a great example of a budget-friendly pouch for your plate carrier. It’s a simply designed nylon pouch that holds three rifle magazines.
The front features MOLLE webbing that allows you to add more pouches if needed. You secure rifle mags using bungee straps, but the tall pouches offer enough security for basic operations. Since there is no rigid structure to the pouches, it could be challenging for quick reindexing. On the bottom of the pouches are drainage holes in the form of metal eye rivets. The pouch attaches to MOLLE-compatible gear via nylon straps and metal snap buttons.
- Brand: Condor
- Material: Nylon
- Capacity: Three rifle mags
- Patterns: Black, Coyote Brown, OD Green, Multicam, Tan
Durable nylon construction
Multiple patterns available
Button snaps are prone to corrosion
Difficult to reinsert magazines quickly
The tactical gear industry has blown up over the past couple of decades, in part because of shitty standard-issued gear that inspired veterans to create better stuff. Haley Strategic is a premium brand that does this well. Creatively referred to as the “SRMP,” this is a squadron laminate over a woven elastic mag pouch. It features a bungee retention strap and can fit many different styles of magazines. This flexibility also means it can accommodate other gear like small radios or smoke grenades. What sets Haley Strategic gear apart is how all components are designed to work together, but the SRMP works as a stand-alone addition to your plate carrier just as well.
- Brand: Haley Strategic
- Material: Squadron Laminate, woven elastic
- Capacity: One rifle mag
- Patterns: Black, Coyote Brown, Disruptive Gray, Multicam, Ranger Green, Multicam Black
Fits multiple styles of magazines
Many patterns available
MOLLE and belt mount capable
Bungee cord for retention
Only single mag capable
High price point
During trench warfare of WWI, shotguns played a big role in the close quarters battle that ensued. Shotguns have continued to serve in the U.S. armed forces, but their usage is more for breaching doorways and other CQB applications. Since shotguns aren’t a primary weapon, it doesn’t make sense to modify your kit to carry a boatload of shotshells. So, Chase Tactical offers a solution.
With the Shotgun Strip Mag Pouch, the main pouch is made of nylon fabric and holds one M4-style magazine. Prominently displayed on the front is an elastic strap that holds up to five shotgun shells. Because it is a single mag pouch, you can easily place one or more of these on your kit to distinguish between different types of shot.
- Brand: Chase Tactical
- Material: Nylon, elastic
- Capacity: One rifle mag, five shotshells
- Patterns: Black, Coyote Brown, OD Green
Holds five shotshells
Bungee retention cord
Only holds one rifle mag
Limited patterns available
One of the neat developments in tactical gear is the kangaroo style mag pouches. These are rifle mag pouches that have a pistol mag pouch built into the front. This is much more convenient and affordable than having to purchase separate rifle and pistol mag pouches to attach to one another. The Tacticon K series mag pouches are a great option for any operator carrying a pistol.
Because of the front placement of the pistol mag pouches, reloading with a pistol is mechanically similar to reloading with a rifle. On the K series, rifle mags are secured by a bungee strap and pistol mags are secured by a Velcro strap. This Velcro strap can be tucked away when not needed thanks to the elastic retention under the Velcro. On the bottom of each mag pouch is a metal drainage rivet. K series pouches are offered in single, double, and triple options that attach to plate carriers via MOLLE-compatible nylon straps and metal snap buttons.
- Brand: Tacticon
- Material: Nylon
- Capacity: One rifle mag, one pistol mag
- Patterns: Black, Coyote Brown, OD Green
Holds rifle and pistol mags
1, 2, and 3 mag variations
Limited patterns available
No bungee retention for pistol mags
In 2009, I attended the Infantry Squad Leader Course at the Marine Corps School of Infantry West. During this course, I learned that it was not only ok, but also important, for a leader’s kit to be different from their Marines’. As the leader of a team, squad, platoon, or any unit, your job is to lead more than fight. It is still important to fight, but a leader needs to keep away from the tunnel vision of firefights. One small way the instructors at ISLC taught us to do this was to set our kit up differently, with an emphasis on what we would need to lead Marines.
High Speed Gear has created a great option with this Mini MAP V2 pouch. At the core, it is a double rifle mag pouch, but the front sports an eight- by five-inch admin pouch. The rifle mags are secured using bungee cords and zippers to secure the admin pouch. On the bottom is a three-inch elastic loop designed to secure a tourniquet. Inside the admin pouch are two two-inch-wide elastic loops, six one-inch elastic loops, and an interior pocket. To top it off, HSG added a MOLLE-style Velcro loop on the face of the admin pouch to add a unit or morale patches.
- Brand: High Speed Gear
- Material: 1000D Cordura laminate
- Capacity: Two rifle mags, one tourniquet, six pencils, two notepads
- Patterns: Coyote Brown, OD Green, Multicam Black
Holds two rifle mags
Bottom elastic tourniquet strap
Velcro loop paneling on front
Some missions require more ammunition than others, which means you need to carry more mags. Shellback Tactical offers a great option with this triple stacker mag pouch. This is a two-by-three mag pouch that holds six rifle magazines.
What makes it an effective option is the front row of pouches has low walls, allowing you to grab more of the magazine when reloading. The back row is taller, but when pulled, the second comes out easy enough. Both rows sport bungee straps for extra retention on those more aggressive missions.
This is very similar to the mag pouch I wore during my time in the infantry and I found this style effective. Since the pouch is two mags thick, I wore mine on the left side so I could easily lay prone and reload.
- Brand: Shellback Tactical
- Material: 500D Nylon
- Capacity: Six rifle magazines
- Patterns: Black, Navy Blue, Wolf Grey, Coyote Brown, Multicam, Ranger Green
Holds six mags
Anyone who has ever had to do reconnaissance understands how gear can aid or interfere with performance. Whether you’re doing recon or just having to prone out frequently, having bulky gear on the front of your plate carrier is painful. The Blue Force Ten Speed triple mag pouch is a great option to keep your drag low and speed high.
Unlike traditional mag pouches, the Ten Speed pouch is almost entirely elastic on the front. Because of this elastic pouch, there are no retention straps and the mags can be multipurpose. The backing is made from Ultracomp laminate that keeps the pouch lightweight. The backing takes advantage of the BFG Helium Whisper Technology, which uses Velcro to secure instead of button snaps.
- Brand: Blue Force Gear
- Material: Laminate and elastic
- Capacity: Three rifle mags
- Patterns: Coyote Brown
Lies flat when not in use
No MOLLE on front
Why you should trust us
While serving in the Marine Corps from 2006 to 2011, I personally bought thousands of dollars worth of gear in search of the right kit. Many of my fellow Marines were doing the same and we shared knowledge and experience. Since leaving the Marines in 2011, I haven’t had as great of a need for tactical gear, but I still make purchases to keep bug-out gear actionable. In preparation for this article, I spoke with industry experts and conducted in-depth research into materials and designs.
Types of mag pouches for plate carriers
When we’re looking at mag pouches specifically for attaching to a plate carrier, there isn’t a lot of variety.
Basic mag pouches are one, two, or three magazines in a single row that rides close to the plate carrier. These are the basic design of mag pouches and prevent unwanted bulk. Many of these feature MOLLE webbing on the front for you to customize the kit with. Where basic mag pouches excel is that they keep mags close to your body and help spread out the load.
These are bulkier than basic mag pouches because they feature a second row of mag pouches in the front. Two-by-one, two-by-two, or two-by-three, these increase the number of magazines you can carry in a consolidated form. The mags can be staggered at different heights, or ride at the same height with different levels of fabric on the pouches. These are ideal for anyone needing to carry a large number of magazines.
Named after the marsupial that carries its young in a stomach pouch, kangaroo mag pouches have additional pouches integral to the front. These are commonly pistol mag pouches so that warfighters with secondaries don’t have to find more accessories. However, the kangaroo feature could also be an admin, radio, or grenade pouch. These are versatile-styled pouches for anyone with wide mission scopes.
Key features of mag pouches for plate carriers
Probably the most important feature of any pouch attaching to a plate carrier is the method of attachment. Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) webbing is the industry standard for tactical gear. This means any mag pouch you buy for your kit needs to be MOLLE-capable. Many manufacturers use simple nylon straps and metal snap buttons to achieve this. Other styles include strips of plastic with locking edges or the Helium Whisper design used by Blue Force Gear.
A strong contender for the most important feature, how the mag pouch retains your mags is very important. This is probably not as important if your mission doesn’t involve aircraft, watercraft, or climbing in and out of vehicles. That being said, losing ammo is bad juju. Older mag pouch designs used a large flap that went over the mags and secured to the front via hook-and-loop Velcro. Many mag pouches now use bungee straps with nylon tabs over the top or elastic straps around the front of the mags. Pouches like the Taco use more than one method of retention.
Since this is what baby kangaroos are called, we’re gonna run with it. For a kangaroo mag pouch, the joey is what it’s designed to hold. These could be pistol mags, multitools, flashlights, radios, smoke grenades, stun grenades, death grenades, and so on. The joeys are what you need to get the mission done right.
Benefits of mag pouches for plate carriers
Mags at the ready
First and foremost, you put mag pouches on your plate carrier so you have ammunition with you at all times. Ideally, these pouches are placed so that you can access them quickly and easily, no matter the situation. This is the foundation of your kit and vital to get right.
Not every mission is the same and it can be crucial to adapt to each one. Having modular mag pouches for your plate carrier gives you options. A no-knock raid might require more ammo than recon missions or pulling security.
Mag pouches for plate carriers pricing
Generally, anything under $20 is budget pricing. Doubles, triples, stackers, and kangaroos are harder to find in this price range. The budget pricing for non-single mag pouches is under $30. Mag pouches in this category tend to be simplistic in design. The materials used are not always the best, but there are some durable options out there. MOLLE attachments in this category are typically nylon straps and snap buttons.
A step up from budget pricing often gets you a better product. Moderately priced mag pouches can be found between $30 and $50. Single-mag pouches in this price range tend to be of premium quality. Doubles, triples, stackers, and kangaroos in this range will be of expected quality. This category is where you’ll find plastic MOLLE attachments or other designs.
Single mag pouches above $40 are of premium quality, whereas doubles, triples, stackers, and kangaroos will begin premium quality around $50. What makes these pouches so expensive is generally the material or a proprietary design. Laminates and laser-cut MOLLE are an example of premium materials. Helium Whisper is an example of a proprietary design. You shouldn’t be spending more than $60 to $70 for mag pouches.
How we chose our top picks
Since we were looking at mag pouches for plate carriers, each product had to be MOLLE-compatible. All mag pouches had to be easily affordable, and outrageous prices were not considered. The mag pouches were assessed on availability, capability, and functional criteria based on different categories of usage. While there are mag pouches for a submachine gun (SMG) and AK-style magazines, we did not include them since we focused on standard-issued weapons.
FAQs on mag pouches for plate carriers
You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.
Q: What is a mag pouch?
A: “Mag” is short for magazine and is the nomenclature for the ammunition storage and feeding device for a firearm. A “mag pouch” is a piece of gear designed to hold a magazine.
Q: What should you have on your plate carrier?
A: At the bare minimum, I recommend mag pouches and an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). Anything in addition to that will depend on your job and the mission.
Q: How many mags do you carry on your plate carrier?
A: The typical loadout for infantry is around six rifle magazines. Again, this depends on your job and mission. SWAT or Special Forces may carry more ammo while Motor T carries less.
Q: What mag pouches do the military use?
A: The standard-issue mag pouches depend on the branch. Each branch has its preference depending on its mission, but typically the pouches are made by companies like Eagle Industries and are approved by the Berry Amendment.
Q: Are mag pouches universal?
A: No. Some are capable of carrying many different types of rifle or pistol magazines. Most are specifically designed for certain styles of magazines, though.
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Scott Whisler is a Marine Corps veteran and family man. He’s an avid student of philosophy who strives for self-growth and challenge, both found in his outdoor adventures. As a new Okie, his focus is on exploring the South Central region. His lifetime goal is to have excursions in all of the National Parks.