Soft Sided Mag Carriers vs Kydex Carriers – What’s Best?

    Over the last couple of months, people have asked me what’s the best way to carry rifle magazines at the range. The two main ways typically to carry magazines on a belt is either with a magazine pouch or molded Kydex carrier. Both ways can be extremely useful depending on the application. For this article, I’ll be looking at the High Speed Gear Industries Taco mag carrier system, but other general magazine soft pouches can be included in this.

    Soft Sided Magazine Carriers

    There are countless soft magazine pouches on the market. The HSGI Taco mag carriers have become extremely popular over the last five years. HSGI installs polymer side sections with bungee wraps around the polymer body. It sounds fairly simple but it ultimately lets the user adjust their magazine tension on the spot. FirstSpear has also developed a tension system by turning a knob on the bottom of the magazine. These systems allow the user to adjust the size of their mag carriers to fit different sizes whether its AR-15 magazines or larger 308 style magazines.

    Modular carriers can be really useful when switching between various weapon platforms. I often go out and test a number of products over a few hours at the range so having the ability to change magazine sizes is a huge benefit to me. Some of the older style soft-sided carriers have a strap that will go over the magazines to secure them in the carrier. Velcro strapped magazine carriers may be an older style, but they are one of the best ways to make sure everything stays secure when moving around.

    Kydex Magazine Carriers

    Kydex magazine carriers are incredibly useful as well as versatile when used properly. The biggest benefit to Kydex carriers is being able to secure the magazine without adding a lot of bulk. Since the Kydex is molded around a specific magazine type, it’ll be a snug fit but offers adjustable retention. There are a number of different ways to mount Kydex carriers to a range or everyday belt. If a range belt is overly Tacticool for you, I would recommend Kydex magazine carriers as a great alternative. They are typically very low profile and let you get more accomplished with shorter range times. Now there’s always the type who lives the life of a secret squirrel. Kydex magazine carriers are great at concealing magazines as well making it easy to sneak around like James Bond.

    I won’t sit here and say that Kydex mag carriers are perfect though. The biggest issue I have with Kydex carriers is the fact you’re stuck with one specific magazine type. Having a carrier made for a specific magazine type gives it great retention, but you’ll be stuck with only using that type of magazine. Having one type takes modularity away and doesn’t let you switch up your magazine types. Now a simple fix is to buy several carriers in different sizes to accommodate the magazine types you own.

    My Overall Thoughts

    I won’t lie, I really enjoy both Kydex and soft-sided magazine carriers depending on what I’m doing at the range. When it comes to everyday range work, I tend to go with soft-sided magazine carriers for their modularity. I often will take AR, AK, and 308 magazines to the range for testing rifles. With the soft-sided carriers, I don’t have to switch magazine carriers. Kydex is great if I don’t want to wear a full range belt and want a sturdy carrier system with good retention. Everyone is different and if you haven’t tried both systems, I think you should consider giving both a shot just to see what style works for me.

    I still love using the Kydex carriers but I prefer the HSGI Taco mag carriers for my range trips. The soft carriers let the user come up with whatever set up they need on a moment’s notice, which is a huge plus. Let me know what you guys prefer in the comment section below. If you have a question please feel free to contact me on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!

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    I’m an avid shooter and love educating whether it’s at my job or in the shooting community. I’m an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions.
    I’m active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator.