How to Determine if You Have a Single or Double Stack Pistol

What’s your favorite kind of magazine? No, we’re not talking about Guns and Ammo or American Rifleman. Instead, we’re talking about those little spring-loaded boxes that keep your firearm fed. When it comes to pistols these days, magazines tend to come in one of two types. Either they’re a single stack or a double stack magazine. In this post, we’re going to look at some of the pros and cons of single stack vs double stack magazines. We’re also going to check out how to determine if your favorite pistol uses single or double stack magazines.

What is a Single Stack Magazine?

A single-stack magazine is exactly what it sounds like. It’s one single row of bullets held in a metal box with a spring that pushes them upwards and into the firearm. Single stack magazines were among the first types of detachable firearm magazines ever developed. While there were several firearms that used box magazines before them, the German Luger and American M1911 pistols were some of the first guns to popularize the single-stack system.

Single stack magazines were instantly popular upon their introduction. They allowed a single operator to greatly increase their firepower and drastically reduce their reload times. Whereas someone armed with a revolver could only fire six shots before they had to arduously reload each cylinder, the same person with a magazine-fed weapon could sling lead downrange at a much faster rate.

Single Stack 1911

What is a Double Stack Magazine?

The double stack magazine was the natural evolution of its single-stack cousin. Instead of just putting one row of bullets into a magazine a double stack mag crams two rows in there. Double stack magazines are generally offset and tapered. This only allows a single bullet to feed into the firearm at a time.

While double stack magazines made their debut in the late 1800s, they rose to prominence in pistols thanks to one of the most ubiquitous names in firearms: Glock. When the Glock 17 made its debut in the 1980s, it changed pistol magazines forever. Now, countless different pistol platforms make use of the double stack design.

Glock Double Round Magazine

Single Stack vs Double Stack: What’s the Difference?

The most obvious difference between single vs double stack magazines is capacity. With a double stack magazine, you can fit more bullets into your gun. That, in turn, leads to more firepower.

There is a trade-off, though. Double stack magazines, by nature of their design, must be thicker than their single-stack counterparts. That, in turn, leads to a thicker, chunkier grip on a pistol to accommodate them. As a result, some weapons featuring double stack magazines are harder to conceal.

Single Stack vs Double Stack Magazine

How to Tell if You Have a Single or Double Stack Magazine

Usually, learning how to tell if you have a single or double stack magazine isn’t that difficult. It’s often something that you can look up in your gun’s instruction booklet (if it came with one). The internet is also your friend when it comes to divining this information. However, if you’re in a pinch, just take one of the rounds that your gun fires and begin loading a magazine. Watch as the bullets stack up. If they stay in one straight line, you have a single-stack mag. If they load in staggered, your pistol uses a double stack magazine.

One big difference between single and double stack guns is the holster the gun requires. Regardless of which kind you need, we can help build you a custom holster to fit either single or double stack pistols. Learn more here.

Black leather holster

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