Do Flaps on Rifle Magazine Pouches Really Get in the Way During a Reload? - ITS Tactical

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Do Flaps on Rifle Magazine Pouches Really Get in the Way During a Reload?

By Bryan Black

Mag PouchesThere are many different flavors of rifle mag pouches out there, flapped, non-flapped, polymer, kydex and even reverse flapped. Before we answer the question of whether the lids from mag pouches get in the way on a reload, let’s talk a bit about retention. It’s impossible to talk about the reason for magazine flaps without mentioning retention.

Retention on mag pouches is either managed by elastic webbing or shock cord in traditional nylon mag pouches that either have no lid, like a shingle, or in pouches with a removable lid taken off. This can be sufficient for most activities that the average shooter finds themselves in while at the range, but when you throw running, climbing or other athletic activities into the mix, magazines can work themselves free and no one wants to loose valuable ammo. Valuable both in terms of cost and especially its value in a real world scenario where each round counts.

The possibility of having mags fall out can be increased when a single mag is absent from a double rifle mag pouch too. In this case, unless you’re running a flapped pouch or doubled up polymer/kydex pouch specifically designed to still retain that other mag, there’s almost no retention still on that mag left in the pouch. A flap on a pouch like this can be re-secured over that single mag to retain it. This may all seem like common sense, but I wanted to go over it for those that may not be familiar with all the options out there for mag pouches and retention.

Magazine Flaps

That being said, lets get back to the initial question of magazine flaps getting in the way. One thing’s for sure, it takes time to open any kind of flap, adding more time to already valuable seconds during a reload. Not only does it take more time, but as you’ll see in the video below, they can actually get in the way during a reload. If you haven’t experienced this issue, then good on you, but I’m writing this article because it happens to me as the video further down will show.

Medical Training

I’ve also had the retention issues mentioned above after a single mag was removed from a mag pouch that I wasn’t running a lid on and watched it fall to the ground during certain drills and activities. My predicament has always been that I don’t like flapped lids, but understand they’re necessary in certain situations. I’ve always looked for options on the market that would not only allow me to run a mag pouch open without a lid, but still provide a lid at the ready to re-secure a loose magazine if needed.

There are some great options out there in terms of kydex and especially the ITW FastMag Pouch, which can even be double stacked. I’ve found the FastMag pouches to be more bulky than traditional nylon mag pouches, but I can’t deny that they hold a mag in very securely, despite having an open top design. If you don’t mind the polymer option for mag pouches, definitely check out the FastMag pouches.

Zulu Nylon Gear M4 Double

In nylon, I’ve found a product that not only provides the security of a flapped pouch, but also the quick access without worrying about a flap falling back in the way on a reload. What’s great about the Zulu Nylon Gear M4 Double I’m referring to, is that its design lends itself better to the natural fluid motion that your hand makes when pulling down the reverse flap design and coming back up to draw a mag. Rather than continue to describe my issue which was solved by the M4 Double, here’s a video I put together illustrating the comparison of the draw from a standard flapped nylon double rifle mag pouch and the Zulu M4 Double.

I didn’t create this video and write this article to simply tout the M4 Double, but to illustrate the common problem that I’ve had with flapped mag pouches and what the Zulu M4 Double has solved for me. Your mileage may certainly vary and perhaps you haven’t had any issues at all with traditional flapped mag pouches. I feel that the design of the Zulu M4 Double and its reverse flap is a big leap forward in the innovation that continues to drive this industry. If you’re interested in learning more about the M4 Double, we put out a detailed review a few weeks back that you might want to reference, as well as Zulu’s Website where you can order these.

Zulu Nylon Gear M4 Double Mag Pouch

I’m curious to hear your thoughts and what you’ve experienced with mag pouches; let me know in the comments. If anything, I hope this article has at the least helped you see the different options out there for mag pouches.

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  • Justin

    Nice upgrade but I still can see a delay with either as opposed to the ‘naked’ unflapped method. My main criticism is that you have to take that extra step you draw which feels like forever when under time constraints. Maybe I’m just a whiner.

    I noticed you swiveled your head around your rifle. I was trained to scan your sectors using the “eyes-muzzle-target” method (obviously not more than 45 degrees) though I can definitely see a need to check your back-sides. Were you taught that in the Navy?

    You also use your thumb to release your bolt versus slapping it with an open hand (fine motor vs. coarse motor controls) which can be harder to do when pumped full of adrenaline.

    Well done review keep em comin.

    • Joe

      As far as the thumb vs palm I’ve heard some very good reasons for Black’s method. 1) You’re expected to work a trigger, a selecter switch, and a magazine release but you can’t use your thumb to hit a paddle? 2) when reloading your thumb almost naturally falls onto it, its a far quicker method.

      I definitely see the advantage of the Zulu, its probably the best of both worlds.

      HOWEVER, I do have a soft spot for single mag shingles with a bungee retaining strap on top.

  • Silent_762

    Thanks for posting this article. I saw the initial one and had been trying to remember who made these. I am going to give this new style a try.

  • I prefer flapped double mag pouches when they have elastic retention as well. They allow the shooter to have decent retention with the flaps open and keep a single mag secure and quiet. I use DBT Battlelab doubles, but have been wanting to replace them with Zulu pouches. Great idea, Zulu. Great video, Bryan.

  • tiger27

    Me likes High Speed Gear Taco’s & Double Decker Taco’s…. if you need additional retention you can add an addition o’er the top bungee for additional hold & its much less cumbersome and bulky than a flap or lid. Those guys got it right!

  • Ian Delmar

    Personally I like having some sort of securing for my mags. I am definitely concerned about losing ammo if I am scrambling around over obstacles and such. Usually its flaps since that’s how a lot of pouches are made, but I really want those with shock cord, though I can’t say if you are crawling through the ground they won’t slide off.

    Zulu certain has a good design – it secures the mag and keeps the flap out of the way! Nice!

  • Casey

    Thanks for doing this video, Bryan.

    I hate mag pouches with flaps, but I am forced to use them at work. The Zulu version might be what I need.

  • Jacob Walters

    Great article. Personally I understand your problem as I have used the traditional flapped magazine pouches. Eventually I got to the point where I would place the flap between the two mags in the pouch and that would allow me quick access to my first three (as I had three double stacked pouches) and if I needed more ammo I could get to it with just a little more effort. I didn’t really think that I would ever have to go through more than 120 rounds in one engagement. I must say now I use bungee on a Mayflower R &C chest rig and these have been working fabulously. The former worked great, and I still use it on occasion but I really like my current setup much better. Just my two cents. Thank you.

  • Hey Bryan, Im John and I have also ran into the same problems that you have. I also run a custom kydex company and I have came up with a kydex mag pouch that is just a little bigger than the mag itself. It attaches to molle gear or a belt. Its a prototype that I have been testing in the field and it has not failed(yet). You can check it out at If you would like I can send you one to test it you would like.

    • Hey John, I took a look at the FB page and it looks like you’ve found a way to integrate MALICE clips into a Kydex PMAG holder. Shoot me an email and let’s talk.

  • Steve

    I like my own made Open Tops.

    No Flaps, no worries.

  • JAE

    For me no but while on deployments iv seen allot of jerry riggin’.
    From complete cut offs to knockoff kydex ot of milk jugs stuck into the pouch.

  • Curtis

    I have not found a mag pouch I really like, yet. I prefer to carry single stack as I don’t like the bulk of two mags in one pouch. I can get away with that state side as we only carry four mags and one of those is in the rifle. Overseas it’s a bit harder as it’s six on the gear and one in the rifle. I do like the Fast mags and I usual have one or two on my gear with one always empty. The empty one is for when I’m in areas that require the mag to be removed from the rifle, like the chow hall. It makes it quick and easy to go in and out of those areas and I really want it to be fast to get to when I have an empty rifle. Running seven or eight of these is cost prohibitive for me, that’s $210-$240. Not worth it IMHO and they are fairly heavy if you are looking at weight, 3.7oz each. That can easily add up to over a pound of gear. I’m currently setting up a light weight chest rig, It will have one fast mag and a blue force ten speed 3 mag pouch. Should be super light but not sure about the ten speed stuff yet as I have not had a chance to really try it out. I’ve read good stuff about them and I have p-mags in it now and they are very tight. Better have a dump pouch as you’re not getting mags back in these without some work. I have also ran a chest rig with the mag pouches integrated in the rig. Mine had bungee retention and they sat very deep in the pouch. The first thing I did was remove the bungee’s, I’m sure they would fall out with lots of movement, but they sat so deep you could on get a few finger grip on them as it was I didn’t want to fight the bungee too. They sat too deep. Just my too cents, hope it add to the conversation!

  • Aaron Reiter

    Off topic: I notice your hand position in your shooting vids on the handguard is way forward and your elbow is almost locked with your thumb riding high on the side. What is that stance called and what is the advantage over UFP or traditional/modified offhand?

    • Christopher Doucette

      It’s similar to the ‘thumb-over-bore’ technique that Chris Costa made ‘famous’. Basically, by gripping the rifle as far out as possible, you retain very good control of the muzzle while quickly transitioning. In the ‘t-o-b’ method, you actually wrap your thumb over the top to control muzzle rise. I use a similar grip, though (although I use a vertical foregrip with it).

  • Calvin

    I’ve used ALICE pouches, shingles, TACOs, and Fastmags, and the Fastmags are a clear winner for me. ALICE pouches sometimes require two hands to keep the flap out of the way and draw the mag, especially if you’re prone. TACOs and shingles are pretty darn fast to draw from, but the fabric can make it hard to insert a mag during a tac reload. I’ve found Fastmags to be the best in terms of both drawing and inserting mags under stress.

    You do notice them if you have them if you go prone for extended periods, but its not bad enough to make me uncomfortable.

  • doc

    I have found the helium whisper / ten speed stuff to be ideal. the elasticity of the pouch grips the mags tight enough that they don’t fall out, but there is no flap to get in the way. they are also quite slim. The downsides are that they are not easy to insert mags into, especially one-handed, and that they are not available as double mag pouches, yet.

  • Kyle

    You should take a look at the maxpedition mag pouches. They are only single mag pouches but they have pals on the front so all you would have to do is add another pouch in the front. They have shock cord on the side instead of over the top so you can adjust how much retention you want and there is nothing over the top of the pouch restricting access to your mag.

  • Christopher Doucette

    I use Condor (not the best, but I haven’t had any quality issues yet) triple-mag kangaroo pouches, with the pistol mag pouches on the front (I run two pistol mags and a spare light). The mags are held in by shock-cord over the top of the magazine, with a webbed tab to pull them. I’ve used these during several high-speed training scenarios, including simunition training, and have never had a problem with them. The way the shock cord is rigged (two cords, with the tab attached to both at the bottom), I keep them straddling the corner of the mags, so it’s easier to clear the mag for the draw, but still offers plenty of retention.

  • Gaz

    I like what Zulu has done, I never liked the standard flap system at all, never fun needing to reload because you in a storm and having that damn flap hinder you.
    I used to cut the flap off and tie in a bungee cord on the front and back so it was tight around the girth of each mag so all I had to do was reach down and grab a mag, never had a problem with snags or mags getting free but did have to deal with debris, dirt and crap in the pouch.
    I saw TAG’s Double Stacked Shingle which I figured was a similar design to what I had made for myself and while its not a bad product it has one bungee for 2 mags, so once you pull your first mag your second is now loose.
    I think I will be giving Zulu a look next.

  • Just my comments on flaps/bungees to secure mags ….
    1. Flaps keep’em clean, and reduce inadvertent contact noise- field mods can deal with the “loose mag issue or access issues”-mo’ ‘cro(velcro!)
    2. I haven’t used bungees-seems an unnecessary snag hazard, and mags are exposed, and won’t keep em clean. Having said that-where these issues aren’t a concern…I’d give em a shot.But I haven’t used bungees , so no shit to sling. Great for 3 -gun stuff probably.

  • Ben

    Funny that you mentioned the Zulu pouches in detail because that’s exactly what I bought before my current deployment. I love these pouches! I’ve had problems in the past using the Army’s RFI gear( Flaps on the pouch that would get caught on random things and such), so I sought for something better and more versatile. And the Zulu pouches still work well with Ranger plates, although I don’t recommend using anything that adds more length then that (Magpul Mag grips). Only thing I have a problem with is the retention cords – unless you have a dump pouch, it’s kind of a pain to put the expended mags back into the pouch unless you stack it behind another mag already in the pouch. But that can be easily solved by bypassing the top PALS webbing and pushing “down and out”. Nonetheless, it’s still the best thing I like to use! By the way, love this site man!

  • Ian

    I’m tracking on the lowest bidder bit, for sure. We’re issued doubles with giant, loud flaps and most guys just cut them off. I got used to, and now prefer, a dropleg system and single pouches. I usually carry 6 or 8 mags and put the pouches single stacked across the front and wrapping around my non-shooting side with the leftovers on the dropleg. I use the FastMags on the dropleg and the Taco pouches on my plate carrier. I like the Tacos because, if you loosen the tension, they can hold other things like smoke grenades. I previously used a system that relied on shockcord to retain mags but as the deployment went on the cord wore out and then it was just useless. If you have open-top pouches with no retention device (flap or cord), or if your cord wears out, try some strategically place pieces of skateboard deck tape (that adhessive sandpaper stuff) to increase the friction and aid retention as a field expedient resort.

  • fastreload

    the best solution are esstac kywi pouches- they provide more than enough retention, you can do cartwheels with fully loaded pouches, and don’t require any flaps or bungee cord yet aren’t stiff and bulky like custom kydex mag pouches or fastmags
    you can also easily double stack em

  • Beckerhead

    Flaps get in the way of everything and can cause death. Almost got killed because of a mag flap.

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