Single Stack vs Double Stack: Which One Is Right for You?

In the world of firearms, size does matter. Whether it’s the size of the gun, the size of the magazine, or the size of the caliber, having the most optimal setup for your individual needs is often based heavily on the dimensions of your tools.

Single stack vs double stack means the difference in how the bullets are oriented, or “stacked,” inside a firearm magazine. Depending on your situation, one may work better for you than the other and should be taken into consideration when shopping for your next handgun.

Let’s talk about these stacks and break down what the differences are and why it matters to you.

What Is a Single Stack Gun?

When someone uses the term “single stack,” they are referring to how the bullets are oriented inside the firearm’s magazine. While a gun itself isn’t single stack per se, the magazine it’s designed around is, so the term is often used interchangeably.

Single stack magazines/guns are designed with their respective bullets stacked one on top of another in a single file vertical line. This allows the firearm to be slimmer, lighter, and, in some cases, more compact.

Some examples of popular single stack pistols are the Glock 48, Smith and Wesson M&P Shield, and the classic 1911.

What is Single Stack? - Magazine and Handgun

What Is a Double Stack Pistol?

Just like with single stack, double stack is a term used to describe how ammunition is oriented inside a magazine. A double stack magazine has its ammunition stacked in a staggered layout, forming two vertical lines inside the mag.

Firearms with double stack magazines tend to be thicker than their single stack counterparts, and are often times heavier. Not only are they heavier due to their larger frame size, but they have a higher capacity and therefore hold more ammo.

The most common double stack pistols on the market today are the Glock 19, Walther PDP, and the Sig Sauer P320.

What Are the Benefits of Single Stack?

As mentioned above, the main benefits of a single stack handgun are its slimmer profile, lighter weight, and more concealable footprint. With a slimmer profile, those with smaller hands or less dexterity can comfortably handle and manipulate the firearm. It also allows for a higher degree of control, depending on the size of your hands.

Since the ammunition is only stacked in a single vertical line, you often have a lower capacity, which means less weight. There is also less material on the firearm, which, albeit only slightly, does also increase the weight reduction from its double stack counterpart.

Due to the slimmer profile and lighter weight, concealing a single stack vs double stack is often much easier to do. If you are someone who wears tighter-fitting clothing, has a smaller physical build, or is just looking for the smallest footprint possible, it would be a good decision to purchase a single stack handgun.

Benefits of Single Stack - Pistol and Magazine

What Are the Benefits of Double Stack?

Now that you know what the pros of single stack are, you may be asking – what are the pros of double stack? The most notable benefits of double stack handguns are a higher capacity, wider grip, and in some cases, a more comfortable shooting experience.

Having a staggered double stack design means more room for ammunition, and oftentimes this is most people's main consideration when shopping for a new gun. Having a higher capacity, especially in a firearm you are choosing for concealed carry, can be extremely important in a high-stress environment where every single shot counts.

For people that have larger hands, having a wide grip is essential to their overall effectiveness with the given firearm. With a wider footprint, it allows your hands to securely and properly grip the firearm during drawing and shooting. While some single stack guns have grips just as wide as a double stack, that is the exception and not the rule.

Playing off of the wider grip, for some shooters this will massively increase their comfort level both mentally and physically. When you are comfortable knowing you will get a good grip, or purchase, on your handgun with every draw, you can focus much more on the task at hand instead of how to get there.

Is Single Stack Better Than Double Stack?

Now that you know the benefits of both, you are likely trying to decide which one is right for you. Since everyone is different, this will be influenced heavily by your individual needs and situation.

For someone who wears tight-fitting clothes, leads an active lifestyle, sits for long periods, or just wants to ensure they have the most concealment, a single stack firearm may be what works for you the best. Of course, all of these things can be done with a double stack firearm, but traditionally a single stack gun will be more desirable.

If you have larger hands, want more capacity, or just prefer a larger frame, a double stack pistol would fit the bill for you. While not as slim and concealable, traditional double stack handguns can still be comfortably and reliably carried with a quality carry system.

Is Single Stack Better Than Double Stack? - P365 handgun

Can I Have Both the Benefits of Single Stack and Double Stack?

Thanks to recent firearm development improvements, you can! Not too long ago, Sig Sauer broke the mold by introducing their Sig Sauer P365 9mm handgun, which combined the capacity of a double stack firearm with the slim profile and concealability of a single stack.

Since then, other companies have released their iterations of this new footprint, like the Springfield Armory Hellcat and the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield Plus. All of these guns have the capacity and magazine design of a traditional double stack gun, but they offer the footprint and benefits of a single stack handgun. This is the perfect solution for those who want the ammo count of a larger gun, but the ease of concealment of the smaller frame.

While traditional, large double stack guns still have their uses among different tastes, you no longer have to worry about the trade-offs of one or the other.


Big or small, there is a gun out there for everyone. When you break down what your individual needs and desires are, deciding between double stack vs single stack becomes a much easier task, especially when you can have the best of both worlds.

No matter which design you choose, having a comfortable, durable, and quality holster and gun belt are imperative to being a responsible, reliable, and safe gun owner.

If you’re looking for a new IWB, OWB, or pocket carry holster, visit our Holsters by Gun Model page for Kydex holsters that are custom-made for your weapon of choice.

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