How Many Bullets Does a Handgun Hold? | The Ultimate Guide Based on the Type of Weapon

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The number of bullets and rounds your handgun will hold depends on several factors. Such factors may include the handgun's make, caliber, gun model, magazine, and gun size. How many rounds exactly do my handgun hold? Is knowing the number of bullets my handgun holds important?

Read through to learn all you need to know about handguns, their features, and maximum bullet holding capacity.

What Are the Types of Handguns?

There are three major types of handguns. These are:

  • Single-Shot Pistol (Break-Action).

  • Double-Action Revolver.

  • Semi-Automatic Pistols.

The classification of handguns depends on their action type. This feature includes loading, unloading, firing, and ejecting the cartridge. 

A handgun has two actions: a single shot and a repeating short. A single-shot pistol should be loaded after every firing. On the other side, a repeating handgun doesn't require reloading after every fire; their magazines contain extra cartridges. Repeating action handguns include revolvers and semiautomatic pistols.

How Many Bullets Do Single-Shot Pistols Have?

A single-short pistol has only one round. This feature means it will only hold one bullet on it. Due to this feature, you will need to reload the pistol every time you fire a shot. But, can you increase the number of rounds a single-shot pistol can hold? The answer is "No," you can not upgrade your single-shot pistol to hold more bullets.

Single-shot pistols exist, but more modern pistols are revolvers and semi-automatic.

a single-shot pistol

How Many Bullets Do Double-Action Revolvers Have?

Unlike the single-shot pistol, a double-action revolver holds more than one bullet at a time. A double-action revolver means you won't need to load cartridges every time you fire a shot. This type of handgun can hold anywhere between five or six rounds between the gun barrel and the firing mechanism. This feature means that your double-action revolver will either hold five or six bullets.

What brings a difference in the number of bullets a double-action revolver holds is the number of chambers present on the wheel of the revolver.

If you're a double-action revolver fan, I bet you're aware of the term "six-shooter." If you aren't aware of the same, this term describes a double-action revolver with six chambers. On the contrary, the double-action guns with five chambers are not called five-shooters.

a silver gun and the bullets

You may want to upgrade your double-action revolver to hold more bullets. But is this feature supported in this type of handgun? Unfortunately, you can not upgrade your double-action revolver to have a higher magazine capacity. The number of bullets it holds depends on the number of chambers and fixed. Thus, if you have a double-action revolver with five rounds, you can not upgrade it to have six rounds.

How Many Bullets Does a Semi-Automatic Pistol Have?

The semi-automatic pistol is the most flexible of all handguns when it comes to the total number of bullets it can hold. Unlike revolvers, this handgun can hold a different number of bullets depending on the size of the magazine. The magazine's setup will also affect the number of rounds it carries.

Your semi-automatic pistol will have six bullets or more if you have a smaller single-stack magazine. The reason for this feature is that small single-stack magazines hold not less than six rounds. On the other hand, you will have more than nineteen bullets in your semi-automatic pistol if you have a more prominent double-stack magazine. The reason being large double-stack magazines have more carrying capacity than single-stack magazines. They can carry more than 19 bullets. A good thing about automatic handguns is that they allow you to fire multiple bullets at once.

Your semi-automatic pistol will have magazine selections with different round carrying capacities depending on the gun manufacturers.

a handgun

So, can I upgrade my semi-automatic pistol to have more bullets? Yes, you can. This handgun allows you to change its magazine to accommodate more rounds. Fortunately, it is easy to find a detachable magazine for your semi-automatic pistol as they are readily available in local magazines industries.

Upgrading your handgun round holding capacity is not a priority if you have concealed carry. However, gun enthusiasts find this necessary to practice. But, if you opt to buy a new magazine, check your local statutory regulations if they allow such magazines.

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Why Does the Number of Bullets a Handgun Hold Vary From One Handgun to Another?

The number of bullets a handgun can hold varies from one handgun to another, depending on several factors. Some of the most common factors affecting this capacity are listed below.

Type of Pistol

As mentioned earlier, there are three types of handguns; Single-Shot Pistol, Double-Action Revolver, and Semi-Automatic Pistol. These different types of guns have different holding capacities for bullets.

For instance, the single-shot pistol has one chamber. Therefore, it holds one bullet at any time. On the other side, despite having one chamber, the semi-automatic pistol can hold more than one bullet, just like the single-short pistol. The factor determining the number of bullets here is the magazine's capacity. Rounds load automatically from the magazine.

Finally, the double-action revolver can also hold more than one bullet. They have multiple chambers within the gun's wheel, with all chambers carrying one round. The wheel will rotate to position the next round in place when you fire, adjacent to the firing pin.

Size of the Handgun

As expected, larger handguns will hold more bullets than smaller ones. This concept remains valid as long as the caliber of the rounds is the same.

The guns should be from a typical manufacturer, identical magazine configuration, and automatic handgun for this concept to remain valid.


Caliber is the internal diameter of the barrel of your gun. This feature affects the number of bullets a handgun holds similarly to the gun size. A handgun with a smaller caliber is likely to carry more bullets than the one with a larger caliber. This concept will remain valid as long as other factors remain constant.

An explanation for this aspect is that a smaller caliber takes up little space in the gun's chamber than the space a large caliber will take. This feature will allow the handgun to accommodate more bullets due to the expansive space. This factor affects most semi-automatic handguns.

Magazine Setup

Note: This factor affects semiautomatic handguns only. The other two types of handguns are exceptional as they do not use magazines.

A semi-automatic pistol can have a single stack magazine layout or a double stack layout in the pistol grip. The single stack magazine concealed carry slender, making them ideal for concealed carry. Round is in vertical column format. This setup is not flexible in increasing the number of bullets it can hold.

On the other hand, a double-stack magazine has bullets taking two columns arranged vertically. This format allows this setup to accommodate more rounds than a single-stack magazine.

Model and Make

Handguns with different models and make can hold a varied number of bullets. In the same way, various models of handguns come with different magazine specifications, with different round holding capacities.

Can I Increase the Number of Bullets in My Handgun?

Yes, you can increase the number of bullets in your handgun. But, to start, you must have an automatic pistol; the other types of handguns do not allow such upgrades due to their fixed chambers.

You can quickly increase the number of bullets it carries with an automatic pistol by purchasing a more prominent magazine. Fortunately, getting aftermarket magazines is effortless as they are available in local gun shops and online sites.

You'll have little to do with a double-action revolver or a single-action pistol. These two handguns do not support upgrades when you want to increase the number of rounds they can hold.

a handgun and the bullets

Concealed Carry - How Many Rounds Should they Have?

A concealed carry should have from six rounds to fifteen rounds magazines. A lot of compact pistols support such magazines. You can have as many bullets as you want, provided your magazine has the capacity, and you're also able to conceal the gun. 

If you're using a semi-automatic handgun, you can have a spare magazine for more rounds. Having a spare magazine will also come into play if the primary magazine malfunctions.


The number of bullets a handgun can hold varies depending on several factors. If you don't need more bullets or will not need to upgrade the holding capacity of your handgun, you can purchase a single-action pistol or a double-action revolver. However, if you want more bullets and the allowance for an upgrade, the semi-automatic pistol is the ideal choice. Most pistols, especially semiautomatic weapons, allow you to have aftermarket magazines to upgrade the carrying capacity of your handgun. However, you should ensure the aftermarket magazine you purchase is legal in your locality. Glock pistols are the most reliable handguns with high round capacity. It is, therefore, a number one choice for many gun enthusiasts.

No matter the type of handgun you go for, it's best to make sure you can conceal your handgun. An extended magazine can be too big such that concealing the gun becomes challenging.


How Many Bullets Does a 9mm Glock Hold?

A 9mm Glock handgun can hold up to 15 bullets. It is a semiautomatic handgun, meaning you can increase the magazine capacity to 17, 19, or 33 bullets.

What Handgun Can Hold the Most Bullets?

Glock handguns have the most bullets. They can hold up to 100 rounds at a time. Machine guns also top in the number of bullets they hold. For example, the M134 Minigun, used in world war ii, has 3,000 rounds.

How Many Bullets Are in a Pistol Box?

A pistol box (9mm) comes with one hundred bullets. However, you can get these bullets in higher quantities. On the other side, cartridges boxes contain twenty or fifty per box.

Our Recommendation

check out our review about glock 19
  • Modified crown of the barrel for increased precision
  • New frame design without finger grooves
  • Ideal for left and right-handed shooters

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