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Ask Ian: Single Feed vs Double Feed Pistols

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Asked by Tyler on Patreon: “Why are there so few double stack/double feed handguns? I can only think of a couple off the top of my head. It makes the worst part of handgun shooting (loading the magazines) a complete non-issue.”

There are a series of interacting considerations when choosing between single feed and double feed.

Single Feed:
– Magazines are less reliable; constricting from two columns to one adds friction (this is magnified as capacity increases)
– Firearms are easier to design; the cartridge is always presented in the same place
– Pistol slides may be slightly narrower

Double Feed:
– Magazines are more reliable (also less susceptible to a bit of dirt fouling them)
– Guns are harder to design; must accommodate two different feed positions
– Guns must be a bit wider (immaterial in rifles)

These elements taken together lead to predominantly single feed magazines in pistols and double feed magazines in rifles, although exceptions exist to both.

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