Let’s look at the best mag pouches (magazine pouches).
We’ll look at some popular tactical gear options that work great with your plate carrier, chest rig, or battle belt.
We’re going to compare Blue Force Gear’s Ten-Speed line of mag pouches to High Speed Gear’s (HSGI) Taco mag pouches against Esstac’s Kywi line.
Let’s get started.
Here’s some of the gear we’re going to review.
What To Look For in The Best Mag Pouch
First of all – what’s the criteria against which a mag pouch should be judged?
You need fast and easy access – when you need to reload.
Therefore speed and ease of access (ease of draw) is high priority.
At the same time, we can’t have magazines getting lost in the underbrush or otherwise falling out at inopportune times.
Therefore mag retention is also important.
And, to some degree those things are opposing goals – we want the mag held safely and securely in place – until we need it – at which time we want to be able to get to it as quickly and easily as possible.
As we’ll see, the manufacturers have some ingenious solutions for these goals.
Accessibility is also important – how easy is it to get to your magazine?
We’ll be looking at some open top designs that make it easy to remove (and replace) the magazine.
Open top mag pouches use a variety of friction, clips, bungees, or elastic to keep the mags in place.
What we won’t be reviewing are mag pouches with flaps on top – all of these will be open-top designs. Flaps are not the “in” thing for mag pouches in 2019.
Finally, we need to consider how easy reindexing (replacing a half-spent magazine back into the pouch) is.
This also includes rotating your mag around so the full mags are in easiest reach.
This is another area where the open top mag pouches excel – and especially those that retain their shape – so your not fumbling around with a collapsed pouch.
Beyond that – the mag pouch has to fit the magazines we use.
Pistol mags (double stack or single stack), M4 mags (5.56), and 308/7.62 mags are all popular choices – and each requires a different size.
What about AK mags? If you need to carry those don’t assume they will fit in an m4 mag pouch or 7.62 mag pouch – there’s a very high chance they won’t.
Blue Force Gear Ten-Speed Mag Pouches
First up, let’s look at the mag pouch offerings from Blue Force Gear.
Their Ten-Speed line of products are meant to be streamlined, light-weight, and versatile.
Their mag pouches lay flat when not in use (and weigh almost nothing) – as opposed to other mag pouches that use a kydex insert.
Here’s the side profile – compare the width when a mag is loaded vs with nothing in it.
OK, so their is not much to these…
What’s their secret for retention?
They use military grade elastic combined with ULTRAcomp laminate.
ULTRAcomp laminate is a combat tested, high performance laminate that reduces weight up to 60% while equaling or exceeding the durability of 1000D CORDURA.
How do you mount these?
These are fully compatible with MOLLE – thanks to their “Helium Whisper” attachment system.
There are also belt mount options.
Here’s a belt mounted single M4 mag pouch.
And, Blue Force Gear offers pistol mag pouches also.
These are good for more than just pistol mags.
First, they will fit single stack or double stack mags.
But also will fit lights, multitools, knives, OC spray, and more.
BFG’s Ten Speed mag pouches are made in the USA and have a limited lifetime warranty.
So, in summary the Ten-Speed line is probably your best bet for medium retention with easy access, but the collapsing design is not going to be optimal for reindexing.
You need to know where your priorities are.
By the way, like how all this sounds?
BFG makes a minimalist chest rig too.
You can get the Ten Speed M4 Chest Rig (Buy on Amazon).
It combines a light-weight but robust “X” harness chest rig with 4 integral ten-speed m4 mag pouches.
Within those mag pouches you can fit smoke grenades, flash bangs, GPS units, dressings, tourniquets, small radios, cans of dip, and similar sized rifle or SMG mags.
It also has a map/document pocket and an emergency drag handle on the back.
There is MOLLE on sides for mounting an IFAK or other light-weight item.
- 4 Ten-Speed mag pouches can fit smoke grenades, flash bangs, GPS units, dressings, tourniquets, small radios, cans of dip or similar sized items
- Fully adjustable – can be worn over clothes or under a concealment garment
- Connecting strap in the rear acts as an emergency drag handle and has loop field for ID / IFF patches
- Inside hook and loop fastened map/document pocket measures approx. 18”x6”
- Magazines and accessories not included
That chest rig is probably your best bet for a low-profile chest rig.
It’s also pretty cheap.
Let’s switch gears and see how HSGI solves the conundrum of speed vs retention in their mag pouches.
HSGI Taco Mag Pouches
High Speed Gear Inc. (HSGI) has the “Taco” line of mag pouches.
Why is it called Taco?
The Taco system uses injection-molded polymer brackets and shock cord (bungee cord.)
Combined with the heavy duty nylon (Cordura) pouch this setup is how HSGI solves speed vs retention.
You can see all those elements in the photo above.
They also make pistol mag sized Taco pouches – and they fit double stack, single stack mags or other items like tools, flashlights, etc.
Like the BFG Ten-Speed this is an open top design.
The bungee cord is laced around the pouch and is adjustable to ensure retention of just about any type of magazine that will fit.
How do these mount? Via MOLLE.
They also offer a “double-decker” option – this lets you have a pistol mag pouch and rifle/m4 mag pouch in one consolidated unit.
Here’s one more way to “double up”.
They also have a double magazine option.
You can see there is one bungee/shock cord, but two polymer clips.
Last, but not least – they have Polymer pouches too – if you don’t want Cordura.
What’s the benefit of polymer? It’s light-weight, tough, and doesn’t absorb water.
HSGI’s Taco pouches are made in the USA and have a lifetime warranty.
One of the best things about HSGI’s Taco line – if it works for you they have a million options – and not just for mag pouches.
They also have a taser/stun gun pouch for LEO.
All the great features of the Taco line – but for tasers.
Esstac KYWI Mag Pouches
Ok, what’a KYWI?
That is an acronym for KYdex Wedge Insert (KYWI).
Kydex is a light-weight but tough and flexible polymer material.
And those KYWI inserts are the secret to secure retention in the Esstac line of KYWI mag pouches.
This insert provides active retention by applying pressure to the left and right sides of the magazine. It’s very much like how modern Kydex holsters retain a handgun.
Esstac created the KYWI line of mag pouches – and generally speaking it is considered to provide better grip on the magazines as compared to the TACO design.
The Esstac line also comes in low, mid, and high lengths that vary the amount of grip provided.
Having said that, the TACO mag pouches are generally considered more versatile due to their adjustability and can accommodate other items such as a multitools, flashlights, shotgun cards, and more.
Here’s a picture showing Esstac KYWI mag pouches as part of a front panel or pc placard.
Best Mag Pouches – In Summary
There are several choices for mag pouches.
It’s important to balance speed of access with secure retention.
The mag pouches have to be compatible with your load bearing equipment or plate carrier.
Several manufacturers have come up with innovative solutions to these problems.
Two popular types are the HSGI TACO line and the Esstac KYWI line.
But, Blue Force Gear offers a light-weight solution with their Ten-Speed brand of mag pouches.
Being armed with the facts you can now make the right decision for your loadout.
Last update on 2021-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API