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Do you carry a back-up firearm? Most people would answer quite reasonably, “Dude, I’m not Rambo; and I wouldn’t want a jury to think that I thought I was either.” Most gun owners have enough trouble hauling around one gun and its accessories for 10 or 12 or 14+ hours a day—to the point where many give up concealed carry altogether. A second gun would be way too Harrison Bergeron. But plenty of CCW holders at the instructor-level carry two guns. Packing two heaters is a common custom and practice for cops and security professionals alike. Are there some compelling reasons for stuffing a little extra iron in your pants? D’uh . . .

Unexpected Breakages

First off, there is the old adage, “Two is one and one is none”. Even “PERFECTION” can fail. Maybe your gun has always run perfectly, and you, like me, are the weakest link. But chances are you know someone who has a similar gun that randomly took a dump at the range one day. A simple broken ejector or extractor and that gun is done. Even trusty revolvers can bind up for a multitude of reasons. In a life or death emergency, having an extra life-saving tool to draw on when Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head can make the difference between a crisis and a disaster.

Trusted Others

I am often out and about with friends and family members who, though able and responsible with firearms, do not always, if ever, carry. Example: My best friend travels internationally for work. Sometimes I pick him up at the airport. Since we carry similar guns, I provide him with a familiar snubby to tuck for the adventure home. In the event you are stranded with your family on the side of the road, you can leave a gun with your spouse while you, the ‘Alpha Protector’, make the trek for a gallon of gas or a location with phone service. It could even be handy for something as simple as those “Stay here, I’m just gonna run in to the store for a minute” moments. (Note: able and responsible are key. I wouldn’t recommend giving a gun to just anyone.)

Your gun is now His Gun

Ironically, taking a gun away is much easier than holding on to one. If you are involved in a struggle and your gun ceases to be YOUR gun, you are up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Not the creek where you go fly fishing either, I’m talking about the one IMMEDIATLY down stream from the water treatment plant.

A quick search revealed that of the 616 Police officers killed on duty between 1994 and 2003, 52 were killed with their own weapon (FBI). This is with training and triple-retention holsters like the Safariland 070 series. Being able to secrete a pocket gun in such instances has saved many officers lives.

The New York/ Chicago Reload (Why does that sound so funny?)

Do you ever wonder if your five-shot wheel gun or six-plus-one pocket rocket is going to be enough? How fast can you reload your trusty J-frame? Do you keep a spare .380 mag handy? Personally, a good reload for me and my six shot K-frame takes about four seconds. That’s from the belt with a Competition Speed Loader. Topping off my snubby from a speed strip in my pocket is about double that (a.k.a., an eternity). An Airweight .38 in each pocket is a do-able combination, and packin a pair of micro .380s a no-brainer.

If you are presently carrying a duty size, normal-capacity auto, do you carry a spare mag? Could you just as easily carry a sub-compact in the same spot, and have a reload/spare gun at the same time?

Battle Damage

When reading accounts of gunfights, a common theme emerges. Very often, one or more of the participants is shot in the gun, hand, or arm. It’s more than random chance; strategists suspect that tunnel vision forces bad guys to focus on the gun as the threat, and aim their aggression there.

If your dominant hand is busy dominating—blocking a club or serving as a chopping block for an attackers blade—it is going to be up to the weaker appendage (the one you don’t even trust to hold your adult-beverage) to save your life. This is aided by having a gun accessible to that hand.

The last 10 seconds of this cop shot invasion video provides a perfect example. I’ll take a .22 over a wastebasket any day.

Is one gun enough? Statistically, one gun is WAY more than you will ever need in your life. A flashlight, can of pepper spray, and some first aid training will be a heck of a lot more useful. (Put Pressure on it!) No weapon is a substitute for staying aware and avoiding potential trouble before it starts.

That said, carrying a gun is about being prepared for the worst while hoping it never comes. If your worst-case scenario includes any of the above scenarios, consider adding a backup to your repertoire.

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  1. True dat. Just bought a second—OK third—XD-M. So I guess it’s beware of the man with three versions of the same gun. Especially if he carries two.

    Not sure about that, but it’s worth blogging. Oh and I’ve got a new, no-lock, night sight, stainless Smith & Wesson 640 Pro on order. Not in production yet . . .

    • Looks nice, but other than the night sights it’s a lot like a Ruger SP101 (weight & barrel length anyway).

  2. Carrying two guns also allows you to win the concealed versus open carry debate: carry one each way. It gives you the deterrent effect of open carry with the SURPRISE! factor of concealed carry.

  3. I’ll answer that question with a question-should your BUG be identical (ala J-Frame) / share the same mags (ala Glock), or does it not matter?

    • Good question. I high cap auto is great for a full-on gun battle, and a Snubby is optimal for those arms reach, kicking, stabbing, fights. Interchangeable mags though, coupled with identical controls is also a plus. Whatever works for you.

  4. How many guns are you allowed to carry with a CCW permit? I’ve had eight 45’s on at one time. I had two in my special jacket with two inside holster pockets, 3 fobus speed holsters (one on the left hip, one on the right hip and one for the back), 2 shoulder holsters (one each of left and right) and one belly band holster for the front (this one scares me the most cuz I could lose something very dear to me if I screw up).

      • Why? because I wanted to see what it was like. I think I gained about 60 pounds. I even had 8 extra mags. I’m serious and I’ll take a picture. Even if I get shot they would act like bodyarmor.

      • As for the Travis Bickle award, I loved that movie but I’m not lonely like that poor guy and I’m very happy cuz I have so many guns.

    • Reminds me of a book when I was a kid, Elmer Keith on Guns I think it was, one of those little Fawcett paperbacks. One of the stories showed some guy with like 17 guns “concealed.” He looked like a bag of walnuts even in a baggy ’50s suit.

      I look too damn good in a sport jacket for that. I’m still working with my standard number of concealed weapons: zero. Made it out of the house, to Panera for breakfast, and then over to my office ok again today. Guess I’m just reckless that way. Life on the edge.

      • Was that the picture captioned with “He Hides Guns For Cops?”
        I think I’ve come across that very same book in my local library.

      • I drove the twenty-eight miles to work this morning, much of the time at speeds in excess of seventy-five miles an hour, didn’t get into a single head-on collision with anyone and made it to my office OK again today. Guess I’m just reckless that way. Life on the edge.

        But I did still wear my seat belt. Hmmm. There’s an analogy here somewhere.

        • The analogy doesn’t work for me. I always wear a shoulder harness when I drive to work but I never carry a gun, so the two don’t equate for me. To me, carrying is more like wearing a racing helmet and HANS device to drive to work. You think it’s safer and it probably is, technically, but maybe I think you look like a dork sitting there in your minivan.

          That said, there are people who could stand to carry a gun. Say, if you are a diamond merchant, or if you buy your weed on the wrong side of town.

          • To me, carrying is more like wearing a racing helmet and HANS device to drive to work.

            When I can afford it I am planning on doing exactly that. If I become a nanny stater in my old age I’ll start a group to demand everyone else do the same.

      • My father told me a story about back when he was with the Sheriff’s Department. One of the deputies (who went on to become Sheriff last year) came in carrying as many weapons as he could possibly conceal, and as a training exercise, the other deputies would search him and try to find them all. When the guy came in, he clanked when he walked. He had a calvary saber stuck down one leg of his trousers. They pulled twenty-eight weapons off of him, and missed two.

    • The only state I know that has a limit on the number of concealed guns for the concealed carry permit is New Mexico. One person, one permit, one concealed weapon.

  5. I guess I’m one of those who will take my chances with only one gun… I have recently started packing a full extra mag though. As weird as it may sound, it helps “balance” my pants. Even with a CB Supertuck Deluxe, there is always a little bit of “weight” on my strong side. With a magazine in my left pocket, it tends to tug the pants down evenly to my hip, where my belt keeps it securely in place. I must admit though, I always considered getting an ankle holster for my J-frame, but only as a BUG.

    • I noticed that too about the extra mag(s) to balance weight. Much more comfortable and stable.

  6. I carry three pistols, each with one backup magazine, daily. All three are 9x19mm.

    from time to time, depending on location, weather, etc, I am reduced to only one, but I try to avoid that as much as possible 🙂

  7. I’m good with carrying one gun, except to the range where I always keep one tucked away. Double- and triple-carrying can get a little out of hand. No disrespect intended to those who do, but it’s not for me.

  8. As pro-gun as New Mexico is, it’s my understanding that you can only CCW one pistol at a time.

  9. Our CCW instructor said the Ohio License said Concealed Handgun, not Concealed HandgunS… he said they probably implied only one. If you got arrested for having two you could get to fight it in court at your own expense.

    • Our CCW instructor said the Ohio License said Concealed Handgun, not Concealed HandgunS

      Looking at the NH license it says “a pistol or revolver”…so I guess derringers don’t count?

  10. In South Carolina it is Called a CWP. Which stands for Concealed Weapons Permit. So I subscribe to the 2 is one plan. I usually try to have at least two small 9mm handguns with the best SD ammo possible. One has to be a double-stack and a extra mag for each. Additionally possibly a TCP .380 in a wallet holster that I made and has a pouch for an extra magazine for it. And sometimes a NAA .22mag mini. One or more knives as well. Depending on the time of year and clothing. If the worst happens, I want to have a fighting chance vs multiple threats.
    I also made my own holsters and mag pouches integrated into some compression under shirts and it works great.

  11. I started training with 2 handgun in all day defensive carry classes I take locally outdoors with an instructor…iwb tuckable sticky holster at 1 o’clock and 1 iwb non tuck leather holster at 4 o’clock….I work in an office so i can always keep the tuckable concealed with a tucked in shirt. I carried pocket for a while but drawing is faster for me non-pocket. If I go for a walk or hike or drive, I use a blakhawk serpa owb with single retention. In car I often keep a handgun tucked / pinched in between my seat and center console that would be holstered in my blackhawk when exiting the vehicle. I use a reinforced remora for that condition. Allows me to stow it in a locked glove box while protecting the trigger and gun. Great topic…all my carry’s do not share mags. I carry an extra mag for an sds in my rear left back pocket in a pocket holder. Train train train with your set up to know what works best…i always carry a gun with a safety on off to match the state of guns without safeties (finger off the trigger…cover the trigger in hoslster). However….I am now thinking I should carry my front iwb at 11 o’clock and train with my non dominant (left) hand. I Need to check with the state law regarding quantity…or I guess any state I travel to…

  12. I sometimes carry two firearms for all the good reasons stated. A 1911 in a shoulder rig & a J frame iwb. Or the J frame in shoulder rig & a .380 iwb. Or the .380 iwb & 22 mag in a pocket. Point is, one on both sides for each hand & balance of carry. Depends on weather conditions & attire. Also practice regularly, as four different handguns are in use. I can see problems with different manual of arms. Anyway, it works for me. Peace, Bagpipe

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