I used to carry a full-size Springfield XD(m) 45. It was a fearsome weapon. Then again, so is its replacement: a Glock 30. The XD9(m) was easier to grip out of my holster and carried more bullets than the Glock. The Springfield offered a better sight picture and more recoil control. But the Glock has a better trigger and isn’t nearly so ginormous. And that was the deciding factor. I wanted a gun I could carry in an outside-the-waistband holster that wouldn’t print like Kall Kwik. Only it kinda does. So now . . .
I wear a Ramora inside-the-waistband holster with a lightweight ported Gemini Customs’ Smith & Wesson 642 revolver, mit laser grip— until I can find an inside-the-waistband holster that will comfortably accomodate the Glock 30 or my forthcoming Wilson Combat Bill Wilson Carry 1911. Meanwhile, do I feel “under-gunned”? Yes, I do. But I’m working on it.
The thing is, I’m beginning to develop an appreciation for the limits of armed self-defense. I’ve come to realize that you can carry an entire arsenal—cell phone, tactical flashlight, pepper spray, knife, .45, two spare magazines and a backup gun—and still get your ass killed. You may never need anything more than a couple of rounds of Critical Defense .38. Or just your feet to run away. And maybe not even that.
If you want to be prepared for an attack by the entire Hells Angels Oakland Chapter, go for it. Risk assessment is yours for the making; you can qualify on and carry a Smith & Wesson 500 as a backup gun s’il vous plait. But there’s danger in thinking that mo’ gun or mo’ guns is mo’ better. ‘Cause it is and it isn’t. Sure, if push came to shove, I’d rather have a big-ass gun with 30 .45s at my disposal than a lightweight revolver with five .38s. But the pursuit/attainment/implementation of maximum personal firepower comes at a price.
When I tooled-up with all that full-size self-defense clobber, I felt weighed down. No surprise there; I was. To carry that stuff, I found myself purchasing clothing with less style than a pair of Brooks Brothers boxers with enough pockets to make a kangaroo troop jealous. More than that, the multi-perp-ready ensemble separated me psychologically from the unarmed citizens with whom I share my day-to-day life. It made me feel distanced. Alienated. Different.
I’ve often wondered about the mindset of civilians who are armed to the teeth. Are they looking for a fight? Personally, when I was I wasn’t. And I don’t agree with gun grabbers’ gleeful characterization of most CCW permit holders as “gun loons” itching for action. No matter how many guns or bullets the permit holder holds.
That said, back in the day, I treated thousands of phobics. Some of them lived in so much fear for so long that they wanted their fears to come true. The realization of their worst nightmare would be a relief of endless tension and a justification for their socially unacceptable behavior. I’m convinced that the same dynamic is at play for a small percentage of heavily armed civilians.
I’m not saying that accessible firepower junkies want to create a self-defense situation to show off their fully-prepped prowess—just as New England-dwelling arachnophobes don’t want to go into musty garages to have a close encounter with a black widow spider. Let’s just say neither group would be particularly surprised if something bad happened. Nor, on some level, displeased.
All of which brings us to the back-up gun (BUG). I’m in favor. But not for the reason that most of its proponents suggest. The chances of a well-maintained primary weapon failing at the exact moment when you need it are so small you might as well worry about tripping over your shoelaces. The odds of shooting your gun dry without resolving your problem are greater, but not by much. Three, three, three. Three yards, three shots, three seconds.
I’m pro-BUG because a second gun stretches one of the less obvious limits of self-defense: you. No matter how big your gun, or how many bullets you have, or how good you are at shooting people who need shooting, there’s only so much one person can do in a self-defense situation. If there are multiple perps, you’re better off with multiple defenders than multiple bullets from the same gun.
Friends don’t let friends die in a hail of gunfire. If you have a second gun, you can give it to a friend and turn someone you have to defend into someone who can help you attack, defend or escape. OMG! Handing a gun to an unskilled person? Correct. This is a revolver. Point it at the bad guy. Pull the trigger. Bottom line: if you need to do this, you need to do this. It’s urgent enough where every little bullet helps. [UPDATE: This is a really stupid idea, legally. Click here for the critique.]
Wow! Did I do it again? Did I over-think, over-plan and over-equip? Truth be told, I don’t carry a BUG. But my little Gemini Smith is a perfect example of the breed: light yet controllable. Small yet chic. If I find the perfect summer holster for my Glock or Wilson, I just might throw a BUG in my pocket. Or wait ’til fall when concealment is easy. Then again, I might not. Either way, I won’t sweat it. Life turns out best for people who make the best of how life turns out. With or without a gun. Or guns.
Oh I still Home Carry the Glock .45, regardless of the weather. I may be philosophical about self-defense, but I’m not crazy. At least not yet. As far as I can tell.