Over at americanrifleman.org, B. Gil Horman provides readers with 3 Arguments In Favor of Back-up Guns. BGH reckons you need a backup gun in case “the first gun goes click instead of bang” or “a primary defensive gun is not accessible.” What’s more, “additional guns can be used to arm other responsible adults.” I can’t argue with his logic – except to say that you can also make a good case for carrying around a back-up pair of underwear. And a spare pair of glasses. And an umbrella. It’s a question of comfort, risk analysis and priorities. Here’s why I don’t carry a back-up gun . . .
1. It’s impractical
I carry a gun (Commander-sized 1911 or GLOCK 19), wallet, iPhone 6+, Emerson Wave knife, a set of keys, cased sunglasses and a spare ammunition magazine. On occasion, I’ll also carry a tactical flashlight. To support my load-out I cinch my belt tighter than a hungry boa constrictor (not that boas wear belts). I don’t have a spare pocket, I’m not willing to off-body carry, I won’t wear two holsters and ankle carry is about as comfortable as strapping a squirrel to your leg.
I occasionally carry a Kahr PM9 semi-automatic pistol or a Smith & Wesson 642 revolver – just to cut down on the weight trying to put my pants on the ground, pants on the ground, feeling like a fool with my pants on the ground. While I could schlep one (or both) of these pistols in addition to my everyday carry piece, it’s a lot to carry without rattling, printing and/or chafing. No thanks.
2. It’s unnecessary
One of my favorite gun guru expressions: “If you knew you were going to have a gun fight you’d bring a rifle.” When it comes to defensive gun use (DGU), everything shy of a long gun is a compromise. You can drive yourself nuts trying to find the “perfect” carry kit to minimize that compromise. Which gun, holster and ammunition combo is best for “most” defensive gun uses – given your clothing, size, shape, age, skill level and budget? Good luck with that. Seriously. But keep in mind that . . .
Most defensive gun uses end without a shot fired. The DGUs that include an active ballistic element tend to follow the 3-3-3 rule: three shots, three yards, three seconds. If your DGU conforms to the norm, and chances are it will, any gun will do. If it doesn’t, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll run your gun dry or fail to fire before the incident ends.
If things do go pear-shaped gun-wise in the middle of a DGU, taking the time to switch to a smaller, less accurate and less powerful gun ‘as your situation deteriorates strikes me as a questionable proposition. Why not just slap in another ammunition magazine in your “proper handgun” and have at it? Again. Still.
The most likely reason that a self-defense gun will fail to fire? Magazine failure. Cured by a fresh mag! Most likely reason a self-defense gun will run out of bullets? An empty mag. Cured by a fresh mag! Sure, changing mags under stress is not as easy as drawing another gun but – hang on. Ever tried to pull a gun out of an ankle holster in a hurry? Drawing a second gun from concealment ain’t no walk in the park, either.
Don’t get me wrong: derringers are cute as a button. And it’s better to have a backup gun and not need it than to need a backup gun and not have it. But the odds are lower than a snake’s belly that you’ll ever need a backup gun, so why have it? Especially when you can fix your gun or reload with a fresh magazine with a lot less long-term discomfort. You can also stab your attacker. Or run away. Or hit ’em with a chair. Or something.
3. It’s dangerous
Guns aren’t dangerous. People are dangerous. But people carrying two guns handle their guns twice as much as people with one gun, doubling their chances of doing something stupid with one of them (e.g., forgetting a gun somewhere, having a firearm fall out of a holster).
Beware of the man with two guns? Not quite. But I’d rather face an attacker with a friendly who was really, really good with one gun than quick to get to a second, smaller gun. Sure, it’d be best to have someone by my side who was really, really good with BOTH guns, but I don’t hang with Massad Ayoob and Jerry Miculek as much as I should. Nor am I them.
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that carrying two guns can create a false sense of security. Just as one gun is not a magic talisman to ward off violent attack (although it sometimes so is) two guns doesn’t guarantee squat, defensively speaking. If you’re thinking “I can go ahead and shoot my primary weapon dry because I have a secondary firearms that’s good to go,” you’re making a mistake.
In short, a backup gun may be better than no gun, but it might not. In the heat of battle, maybe it’s better to keep your primary gun running or think of something else to do. And lighten up. Your thoughts?