Why Don't You Carry A Backup Gun?
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Millions of Americans conceal carry a gun every day. And that number keeps growing. Even in places you might not expect. Fewer people, though, carry a backup gun. Innovations in smaller, lighter guns firing more potent cartridges, along with training, have sold me on the idea of a backup gun. That should cause you to at least consider one as well.

I remember back in about 1995 when GLOCK came out with the 10-round “baby” GLOCK, the G26 in 9mm. For the time, many people raved about its then-diminutive size. I even knew a few cops who carried one as a backup piece. However, a GLOCK 26 still weighs 26+ ounces loaded. And it has about as much deep concealability as a brick.

By comparison, a Ruger LCP II weighs less than half that with a much smaller profile. Loaded with .380 Precision One XTP rounds, it delivers consistent penetration at the FBI recommended 12″. Ruger also dumped that interminably long trigger pull in the original LCP.  Now, the LCP II comes with a stock trigger that’s as good or better than a factory GLOCK trigger.

RF certainly liked it. He wrote that only the lack of a second magazine and all-black sights kept it from a perfect five-star rating. Mine’s got a spare mag and I used some sight paint to make the front blade neon green. I’d give it the full five stars.

With new designs, backup guns have grown smaller and lighter while delivering a more potent punch. With these improvements, these spare guns, or backup guns, have become serious force multipliers. Yes, we have come a long way since Derringers and .25 Autos.

For me though, the final straw came from training classes. I’ve spent hours and hours learning how to employ both straight edge blades and karambits. Classes from Steve Tarani and Ernie Kirk among others. And for a long time I carried a karambit for weapon retention as much as a self-defense tool.

Why Don't You Carry A Backup Gun?

But at a weapon retention class, I learned that a Ruger LCP II beats a karambit most days of the week and sometimes even twice on Sundays.

At the same time, my primary gun may go down for who knows what reason. Or maybe I lost it in a life-and-death struggle.

Additionally, I know the old adage about bringing a friend to a gunfight. Caught in an armed robbery with a spouse or friend who isn’t carrying? If they can shoot competently, hand them your backup gun while behind cover or concealment.  Instantly you’ve greatly improved both your odds for surviving if the robber wants to make it an attempted murder.

Other times, if I have to leave my wife in the car in a sketchy situation, I’ll slip her my LCP II. She feels better. I feel better. Everyone wins except a bad guy who thinks a pregnant woman alone in the passenger seat makes for an easy mark. Most bad guys will reconsider their ill intent following the insertion of a couple of .380 XTPs in their thoracic cavity.

Frankly, I’d feel better if she carried religiously, but change comes slowly. Before we met she was agnostic on guns. Gently, gradually, I’m converting her to the Church of the Everyday Carry without seeming overly preachy of the gospel.

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  1. My load out already feels like Clint Eastwood’s in “In the Line of Fire”. I don’t need more stuff in my pockets.

    Also, my wife is not a gun person. I don’t usually travel / hang with someone who could use such a small pistol.

    I do carry a spare magazine, though.

      • It’s spelled C-r-e-e-d-m-o-o-r, your using a knock-off if it’s spelled C-r-e-e-d-m-o-r-e. Hopefully you can get the real deal someday.

        • Oooo! Knock off Creedmoors! I think I may have found a way to make my first million!

    • In the words of Colin Chapman – “Simplify and add lightness.”

      Your cell phone can be stored in a case that doubles as a wallet. Your cell phone can act as field notes. It can be a flashlight. So, flashlight gone, wallet gone.

      You don’t need a 4,000 lbs key ring with 40 keys on it. Just bring what you need. Your car and your house. I have multiple key rings depending on which car I’m driving and where I’m going.

      Have a pocket pistol and one on the belt (IWB or OWB). Store the pocket pistol in a jacket pocket or if it’s hot out, in your pocket. Like this article mentions, no need for a hand-to-hand weapon if you’ve got a BUG.

      Now you’re done.

  2. Don’t carry a back up, but I used the idea that I might someday do so as an excuse to buy a neat little mouse gun I wanted. Does that count?

      • I think your reference to NAA is the place to begin the discussion.

        We want to promote carry. Carry concealed or openly; but carry. And do so as often as possible. If you can cross the threshold and begin to carry then you can decide – from time to time – to reconsider what and how much you want to carry.

        If we can’t interest a prospect in the idea of any carry whatsoever, WHY do we imagine we can convince that prospect to carry whatever it is that WE think constitutes an adequate kit? We don’t have anything approaching a consensus among ourselves!

        It seems to be that the entry-level is in the vicinity of an NAA model or a 1-lbs. gun of any of numerous reputable makes+models. Not ideal; not adequate to a majority of contemplated scenarios. Nevertheless, vastly better than nothing at all.

        If you can adapt yourself to carrying a gun that ways <= 1 lbs. then you can – in the fullness of time – consider carrying something that weighs 1 1/2 lbs. Eventually, adding a BUG.

        • Yes- we should all promote everyone who is elligible to carry, all the time, every day, whether they’re in church, the ‘hood, or anywhere in-between. I know too many Gomers who have CCW permits to show to their other Gomer pals but wouldn’t think of carrying, or going through any of the practice or light drilling that could save the lives of themselves, their family members, or others within the zone. WTF is the purpose of having both the means to carry and the right (or privilege, I suppose, with permits) if one will not learn to do so and actively carry? Now that there are 40-some states with “shall-issue” carry, I wonder how many more people actually carry than did before all this? A right not used is soon gone. I encourage everyone who is elligible to carry and spend some time learning to shoot by drawing from concealment.

          BTW- I doubt I’ll carry backup and be damned if I’d slip said backup to somebody who didn’t have the sense to carry in the first place- hard to guarantee the other would have the mindset to actually use it… That seems to be a problem even with less-experienced LE peeps.

    • I used the same excuse to buy an AMT Backup many years ago. But I never found the need to actually carry 2 guns. If I felt the need to have 2 handguns plus reloads, I’d be grabbing a rifle or shotgun.

  3. Mr. Boch, I have seen comments suggesting that carrying two guns might be used against you if you find yourself in court after a DGU, that the prosecutor might try to use that to paint you as someone looking for trouble rather than a responsible adult simply trying to avoid being a victim. What are your thoughts on that?

    • FWIW, one of the things the prosecutor used against Michael Strickland in his trial was that MS was carrying a lot of spare magazines (6 IIRC), which the prosecution claimed meant he was looking for a fight.

    • @ Alan Esworthy says:
      August 17, 2018 at 16:18
      @ Eric in Oregon says:
      August 17, 2018 at 17:09 …

      … are you more concerned about your physical well being and that of others under your charge, or what the prosecution thinks? If you are found in possession of more than one hand-held firearm, post a DGU incident, so what.

      Mechanical devices fail; both firearm and magazines. Unless there is a law that forbids the amount of firearms, firearm cartridges and/or magazines a law abiding citizen can possess in public, –or you are found wildly/recklessly firing your device in a public setting while in possession of (yet to be determined) excess hardware; why would possessing more than one firearm or more than six topped-off magazines be a concern; other than –do ‘you’ want to carry the extra weight?

      I look at these EDC carry postings (TTAG) with all the fluff people include which ‘I’ find unnecessary in the heat of the moment. I have been known to go into retailers and forget the money to pay for the items, but I always, always have my EDC and my car keys to facilitate getting the he77 out of dodge when needed.

      This reply is not a attempt to be right/wrong, it is our opinion.

    • Many law enforcement officers carry more than one backup firearm. I did and so did most of the famous law enforcement trainers and law enforcement types. If your attorney can’t justify you carrying more than one gun, you need a new attorney.

      For the record, while on the job I carried a .45 Combat Commander, a 9mm, two .380s in ankle holsters on each leg, and a North American .22 in a groin holster, as well as one in the toe of my shoe. That is six guns, which I did not alway carry, but never less than two. ( I had some special circumstances in which I was expected to disarm so some guns came off and some did not.

      As for the famous guys I knew personally:
      Jim Cirillo who was NYPD and later one of the best trainers FLETC ever had often carried as many as six guns also and almost never carried less than three.
      Skeeter Skelton normally carried three guns
      Charles Askins sometimes carried four guns
      Bill Jordan usually carried three guns and a couple of times I saw him with more.

      There is plenty of provable history of law enforcement advocating and carrying more than one gun for your attorney to point to.

      • All during the days of revolvers, (difficult to reload under stress) and less than stellar reliability among stock semi autos especially with hollow points. Times have changed dramatically for the better. I don’t know any uniformed l.e.o. today that carry’s more than two pistols, and honestly can only see it being a liability in a foot pursuit, scuffle or extended search, shit happens over a sixteen hour shift when your tired, even diligent officers lose equipment or become compromised by odd occurrences any more than two is more likely to harm your career or health than help it..

      • That sounds super excessive. Did these men have NO testicles at all? I understand being ready and having a back up gun is a good idea, but SIX! Thats just a doushe move.

      • Most carry folks are not famous or have made enemies through law enforcement jobs.
        Most don’t run shooting sports write for gun magazines or make guns the job.

      • Comparing the needs of police officers to the needs of armed citizens is a bit of a stretch.

        What are the possible scenarios in which an armed citizen will need to use his concealed firearm?

        1) A mugging/robbery. This isn’t going to be a gunfight. This will be a close distance “kill or be killed” situation, in which fewer than three shots will be fired. If one has the bad luck to experience a jam during those three rounds, it’s much easier/faster to tap-rack-bang than to ditch the primary and pull the BUG.

        2) An active shooter/terrorist. I don’t know about YOU folks, but even if I am carrying my G26 with a 12 round mag and a G17 backup, I still am not going up against a shooter with a rifle unless I absolutely have to. What constitutes necessity? An inability to escape OR a shooter/terrorist targeting children. I’m no hero but I think if a shooter/terrorist was heading towards a day care, I’d have to take my chances.

        3) An officer of the law struggling with a criminal. We’ve seen a few of these cases. Not going to need the BUG there.

        Sometimes the “carry two guns so you can arm someone else” argument is mentioned. That’s fine—-I guess—but my BUG would either be a Kahr CW380 or a NAA Pug. I don’t think someone with unknown firearm experience is going to do much with either of those.

        If I was a police officer, I’d carry whatever I felt would give me the best chance of going home alive. The duty belt and armor they wear is so heavy, another pound or so of backup gun(s) won’t matter.

        I have carried backup before. At one time, I was carrying a CM9 and a reload plus my CW380 in a front pocket. But then I realized 13 rounds of 9mm was enough for me.

        • I mostly agree with you, except for the idea of more weight, even a little, not making a big difference, it does. Ask any soldier, cop, or back packer. Once an “average”, say 5’10 175 pound male in “good” health starts carrying more than 30 pounds around all day, plus body armor (that increases his core body temperature), his stamina, cognitive abilities and situational awareness, and most importantly patient temperament will suffer. Add in extreme weather and psychological stresses and the human animal is greatly diminished. War stories of yester year never truly capture just how physically and psychologically exhausting performance under mortal danger can be. There are no supermen, not now, not ever. That is why exercise/fitness is so crucial and unfortunately the most ignored aspect of self defense.

    • Over zealous prosecutors are going to come after you just for carrying a gun regardless. They’ll even come after you for carrying with a round in the chamber. They’ll probably also fine after you for kind of vehicle you drive, the clothes you wear, and who you voted for. Don’t worry about some hypothetical prosecutor and worry about surviving.

    • Massad Ayoob has addressed this over the years. He has argued, convincingly, that a backup gun is like having a backup emergency lifesaving device, of any kind. Firefighters, for example, carry backup equipment, in case one goes down, as do EMT’s. Furthermore, local police, county sheriffs, state police, and federal law enforcement carry backup guns, so that sets a good example for civilians who legally CCW.

      • Unless you are a cop you aren’t a cop and won’t have cop like situations Once s bad guy engages a cop he will tend to remain engaged. When a bad guy engages with an armed citizen they tend to disengage mostly without firing a shot.

        Now if you are a drug dealer or are otherwise engaged in criminal activity then you may have need of a BUG.

    • Alan:

      I saw your post on my phone earlier and wanted to come back to address it specifically. In the meantime however, I see several outstanding comments that hit upon many of the point I planned to make. So I’ll just leave folks to read them once again. They are excellent.

      • Thank you, John. I’m am grateful for the simple and specific answers to my simple and specific question, and am not sure why I got dinged by a couple of commenters for things I never brought up. But I am not complaining! That’s what makes Life on the Web so interesting!

  4. Because my typical load consists of my gun, my DeSantis City Slicker, my Cold Steel Irish walking stick, and my Gerber Fairbairn Combat Folder.
    I have, in fact, unintentionally carried a backup pistol when I had strapped on my SP101 and forgot the pipsqueak pocket pistol was still in my pocket when I got back from the store.
    I need to buy some better carry shorts. Something with more pockets and good, strong pocket liners…

  5. My firearm IS my backup. If I can’t out talk, out run or physically dominate a bad actor, I’ll resort to my P224. Sure, I may end up on the short end but I’m comfortable with my chances.

    • Like you, my firearm itself is the last resort. I haven’t really needed a firearm once in 44 years of life, but I still carry one regularly, just in case.

      That is one just in case. I don’t usually do the two – just in case, just in case. Not probable enough

      Besides that, the only guns I regularly carry are “backup guns”, J-frame revolver or LCP/P3AT in the pocket.

      Going on a road trip, I might take two guns, to have one available to hand my wife.

  6. I feel that carrying a spare or backup gun is good in 2 situations. One, where your current gun wasn’t reliable or doesn’t have easy reloads. Two, where you needed to dress in such a way that only the backup could be reasonably hidden. My firearm has never had a failure, holds 15 in the magazine and I’m not a cop in need of deep concealment. I am happy with a spare magazine.

    • @ TIMOTHY, you may want to review your post, or rethink its contents.

      There was a time when our thoughts were similar –one device and a spare reload; until our newly purchased device less than three months young, failed to fire at the range.

      The above was a serious ‘Oh $h*t’ moment for us. Even more-so when we found out what caused the issues. Enter in the back-up-gun (BUG). At this point the device was under warranty. Once this issue took place more than once, and the ammunition was cleared (switched ammo brands), we immediately returned the device to the OEM.

      If not for a BUG, we would be unarmed until it was returned.

      We’re not a big fan of public ranges, but because this devices were ‘new’, we felt the need to put it/them through our normal EDC routine.

      TIMOTHY, at the end of the day, –> you –do you.

      • I don’t think that’s what John meant as a backup gun. He meant a second gun that you carry along with your primary. By your reasoning I have a backup to my backup to my backup to my backup to my backup… .

  7. You should be really asking, “why don’t you carry?”
    Even then it’s no one’s business but their own.

    How about that Hearing Protection Act?

    • Ask Mitch McConnell. It’s on his desk awaiting action.

      But he’s an establishment RINO. He talks a good talk at election time then acts like a stealth Chuckie Schumer when he goes back to Washington.


        • not current news…congress constipates itself due to ludicrous lawyer rules so as to avoid flak, responsibility, and ignore the will of Americans…

  8. I own 2 BUG sized guns. But my main carry with 12 rounds and a 15 round backup mag. Takes up more then enough space and weight for me.
    Plus if being truthful. I never expect to need 1 gun. Let alone be in a situation where Id need to have 2. Yes I know anything can and does happen. Me Im just hoping that happens to some other guy.

    • That’s me, as well. I have just recently begun carrying a spare mag. And my primaries are 6 or 7, not 17. Carrying one seems paranoid most times, two is just unreasonable. And all the war stories will make more sense to me if I *ever* have to draw the one I carry now.

  9. I carry a gun-not a magical talisman. I also ALWAYS carry a knife and a Sabre Red pepper gel thingy(unless I’m in a prohibited place with teeth like court or a po-leece station). You do you…

    • You know, now that you mentioned it, I could use a new magical talisman. My old one has lost most of its magic.

    • Hah! I also always carry a knife. For self defense, I could use it to sharpen a stick to poke people with, otherwise I haven’t a clue.

  10. Backup’s are fine as long as you remember they are there. You might loose your license if you leave your main piece in the car, then walk into the Post Office with your Ruger printing on your back pocket. I usually carry an NAA mini mag in my front pocket.

    • That is a good point about remembering. I once escorted my mother to her plane (pre 9/11) and striped all the guns but one I forgot. Obviously I didn’t realize it was there and the guy with the portable metal detector concluded it was my steel toed boots that was setting off the metal detector and they were not asking people to take shoes off yet.

      Much later (post 9/11) I was in line with the County Sheriff and the metal detector kept going off and they still let him through. It turned out he forgot to take off his Seecamp and pack it with his checked luggage and he didn’t figure it out until we were already on the plane.

      Yet another time I carefully packed and checked all my guns and forgot I had four loaded clips and a automatic knife in my briefcase. The TSA guy blew a gasket and called the St. Louis LEOs over who after talking to me allowed me to retrieve a checked bag to put the ammo in and on my way I went. However the TSA agent wrote me up and for about a year I was subject to more careful treatment.

      We were careless and lucky.

  11. Aside from my above mentioned reason, I figure that along with the two spare mags, plus the one in the gun, that 30+1 rounds is good enough.

  12. If I were legally allowed to carry in a location not attached to my belt (ankle, for instance), I would strongly consider carrying a backup.

    Alas, it’s too hot to wear an overgarment in TX, so shoulder carry is out, and one pistol attached to my waist is enough.

  13. Just what the heck do people think is going to happen, and where do these people live??

    I am just fine carrying a single-stack 9mm with a reload. I carry a simple automatic pocket knife. I have a flashlight on my keychain. That combination will handle most situations.

    Backup gun? Why? If I ever have to go someplace 13 rounds of 9mm aren’t sufficient, I’m going there with a rifle. Or maybe a backpack AR pistol and a Magpul D60 drum.

    Some people watch too much tv. Like their trusty battleworn Cerakote Glock 43s with TiN barrels peeking through Taran Tactical cuts aren’t going to be sufficient to protect them during their weekly journeys to and fro in suburbia.

    • @ Jean-Claude, if you do not feel the need, go for it. There are endless ‘valid reasons’ for an everyday law abiding citizen to carry multiple firearms; on-the-body.

      Here are a few:
      –The working environment, weather, dust, sweat
      –working on the go interstate travel = firearm placement while traveling.
      –mechanical devices malfunction

      The above is from personal experience where we have found one or the other hand unable to easily access the firearm for one reason or another; this usually happens while driving.with seat-belt engaged. Off-ramp from the interstate, caught at a ‘red’ traffic-control-device with a complete handful of citizens offering to clean your windshield.At least that’s how it starts.

      … hope this helps.

      • Just for your consideration, I would drive through the red light before drawing a firearm. If a cop sees me, that would be good. I would also nudge a yoot with my bumper before drawing.

    • You are missing some points. You could be disarmed of your primary piece – it happens even to LEOs. Even revolvers can experience a squib. Semi autos can have equally difficult problems. And, for most of us drawing a fresh gun is faster than reloading.

      I’m not hear to teach tactics, but sometimes there are valid reasons why several guns are needed even in suburban settings. My rule is to listen carefully to those who have actually been in serious social situations and adjust my thinking carefully.

  14. I fully expect to be attacked by a horde of ninjas. That’s why I come prepared with a real assault rifle, shotgun, two XD 45 Tacticals and kevlar so who needs a mouse gun. /sarc.

    You guys kill me with your operator-like load outs. Even if you take the high end estimate for DGUs your chances of actually sending a round down range in anger are miniscule. That’s why single stack pistols like tbe XD/s, G43s and smaller are so popular. Few people expect to be attacked.

    • I actually know a guy who carries 3 .45s everywhere he goes. All the time. Back up mags for each. A full size XDM, an XDM compact, and an XDS. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with XDs. Whenever we go anywhere he gets tired and has to sit down frequently because the amount of hardware he has on him.

      • In no way shape or form does the fact they he carries such hardware mean he needs them. At least you provided nothing to indicate he needs them.
        I’m not going to say he shouldn’t carry them if he feels the need.
        I’m saying the need, for the average person, just isn’t there.
        I know a few LEOs, and a few of them carry a BUG. It makes sense. Others don’t. That makes sense, too.
        Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to decide what’s right for you.

        • Oh I talk to him about it. Everytime we’re out and he has to sit down. I try to tell him that just one of his guns and a spare mag is plenty, but he won’t change his mind. It’s what he likes. I think he’s a little paranoid too. Personally I’ve been over there and done that dance, and I feel fine with just my gun and two spare mags. But he’s the type that’s constantly watching the news and worried about the SHTF any moment.

  15. I carry my PMR 30 concealed everyday and one back-up magazine , and occasionally will open carry a side arm , usually my P95 Ruger , which turns my PMR 30 into my back-up .
    I will sometimes carry my NAA-BWM in a pocket with my PMR 30 along with the extra magazine too .
    I never feel out gunned or less than protected .

    • Your edc is not only a rimfire but also a keltec? Talk about risky. Why not an 5.7 if you want 20 rds and a full sized?

      • The PMR 30 is about 1/4th the price of a 5.7. And with the P95 and the PMR 30 his load out is still a lot cheaper than a 5.7.

  16. We all assess our own risk levels and make our own PD decisions. If you choose to carry a backup gun keep in mind your backup warrants the same level of training as your primary.
    As I see it, I carry two primary guns.

  17. Tried carrying my snub as BUG in an ankle holster but it got some attention whenever I wore shorts. Maybe again this winter….

  18. Risk assessment. Backup guns are almost never used. You are better off carrying something to cut a seat belt, break glass or put out a fire.

  19. When I carry a BUG it is because I liked having a choice of draws. If I start to find that someone is looking more and more like a threat, I like being able to put my hand on a gun in a loose vest/coat pocket more than I like the idea of having to draw my quite full size gun from my shoulder holster. In practice, I have definitely found it faster for me to get my short BUG (in hand, in pocket) into action than that fairly long shoulder holster draw it takes for the bigger gun. At those times I suppose the BUG is my primary and my full size is my BUG. Yeah, I wear a fly fishing/photojournalist vest in the summer and it is uncomfortably hot sometimes. I think of it as semi-open carry.

    • Vic Nighthorse,

      When I carry a BUG it is because I liked having a choice of draws.

      Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!!!

      That is the by far and away the most practical reason to carry a second handgun. Although having a second firearm to hand-off to a trusted cohort is a darned close second.

      • I that that is an over estimation of most criminal’s situational awareness. I have yet to hear of it actually happening. Also very few store robber type criminals start their robberies by killing everyone that may be a threat fist – that is madness even more than criminal.

  20. i know, but it reads like the lack of all black sights.
    seems like my wife’s always pregnant too. but how can they tell that if she’s in the car?
    i only backup carry when the amounts in question are equal or greater than grand theft.

  21. Paladin, on Have Gun -Will Travel carried a derringer as a backup AND occasionally put it to good use. My wife watches the reruns every Saturday morning and tell me this. He is so cool!

  22. I work just outside the rejuvenated downtown Detroit- just where it gets seedy. I cc a hammerless J-frame bcz it’s both 100% reliable and bcz it’s small enough that I’ll actually take it with me. If I’m not in dress slacks I’m also carrying a folding knife but don’t expect to use it for defense. I have no problem with others cc-ing or open carrying multiple arms but my single J-frame (with which I’m more accurate than most at the range with their semi-autos) is plenty sufficient. I’m not police, I’m not military- I avoid confrontations, violent rallies, drug houses and war zones. I also don’t carry handcuffs, wear body armor, and have no arrangements for a personal SWAT team to be available 24/7 as backup while I grocery shop.

  23. Two is one and one is none. Statistically, it will get sketchy at extremely close range, there will be no time to think…if your training system lets you down, you will die. I carry some penalty weight items; tourniquet, quick clot gauze, and a 2 chest seals. Minimum, 1 .45, 1 .38 snubby and 1 extra reload for each. 1 Cell phone, 2 knives, 2 flashlights, a good whistle, keys, wallet, 2 bandanas, a couple of Bic lighters a life straw and a coil of 550 cord. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best and know it’ll fall somewhere in between. Know how to use everything you carry and practice regularly. 30

    • My question too…2 mags of 12(or7) 9mm would cover 99.9% of what I’ll encounter. I went nearly 60 years with NO GUN…

    • @ Manse Jolly, You did not even try to look this up for yourself –Google is your friend.

      The same actors that LE encounters are walking the streets at large, That said, and without searching:

      FBI Miami
      Gramins in Skokie, IL

    • You are so sheltered. Those of us who spend our entire days protecting you weaklings without an entire arsenal and level III body armor with extra trauma plates strapped to your back in case of getting shot by high-powered rifle rounds laugh at your naivety. When I come bursting into the men’s room to protect your virginity from the man trying to lure you in with a shiny new game boy, you’ll thank me. You’ll thank me…until the mayor pays you to forget anything ever happened.

      Look, if people want backup guns for backup guns for backup guns until they clink walking down the street, more power to them. I’d settle for one reliable gun to carry, if my state government wasn’t idiotic and my sheriff weren’t a jerk who thinks only the police and people with enough money for him to care about their protection should be armed. That being said…if you need more firepower in your possession than my Grandad did while fighting the ChiComs at the Chosin Reservoir, go ahead, but I gotta wonder if you’re going a teensy bit overboard. Not that you shouldn’t be allowed…but really?

        • “Hey, the killer used his BUG to off himself, does that count?”

          A successful backup gun use… by the killer on himself?… I’d take that as a win, it saves ammo on my end.

  24. I don’t carry a backupgun because I carry a GP 100 loaded with 158gr Double Taps. I don’t have time to worry about that combo not working because I’m too busy worrying about meteorites hitting me in the head.

    • Governor,

      About 10 years ago my cousin purchased a popular revolver (brand new) from a fairly reputable foreign manufacturer. He keeps that revolver as his primary “bump in the night” home protection firearm. It just sits in his handgun safe next to his bed and he never shoots it, which is fine of course.

      Well, a few weeks ago he decided to run through some dry-fire drills. He has not even handled much less fired that revolver in something like 5 years. Much to his surprise the cylinder would not spin. He took it apart and discovered that an internal spring (which controlled something that ended up freezing the cylinder) had disintegrated from oxidation/corrosion. He has since replaced that spring and made sure that it had plenty of oil to prevent a repeat performance.

      At any rate that was a real-world example of how even the über reliable revolver can fail.

      • Rather than oil, grease may be a better option on something like that. For the stick-to-it-vividness factor.

        Perhaps DG could opine if f I’m smoking opium on that…

      • Damn S&Ws! Anything that’s been left in a drawer for 5 years has about a 50/50 chance of working when it’s taken out. But yes, even a well maintained revolver can fail. In fact my 6″ ‘bump in the night’ GP 100 froze up twice when it was brand new. I think there was a burr on the firing pin or something and it stuck in the primers. A little jiggling freed it up and after 50 or so rou nds it never happened again.

        Thing is, just taking some numbers straight out of my butt, the odds of me ever having to draw my EDC in anger are about 1000 to 1. The odds that I’ll have to fire it about 10,000 to 1. The odds that my well maintained revolver failing in that moment about 1,000,000 to 1. Even then the odds of it costing me my life or serious injury are maybe 50/50, and the odds that I’d be able to draw a BUG in time are also probably about 50/50. So, by my math, there’s about a 4,000,000 to 1 chance that carrying a BUG everywhere I go for the rest of my life will actually pay off. This is well beyond struck by lightning territory and very much into struck by meteorite.

        A do however keep a scoped A R 15 in the truck. Just in case I have to engage an enemy from a distance.

        • Eh… I really don’t consider the odds argument a valid one. If your going to play the odds game then why carry at all? I personally don’t consider odds, because like statistics they are pretty much bullshit. You can call the odds for the average American needing a gun at *insert odds here*, but, like with politics, depending on where you live and your job those odds don’t mean a damn thing. Your odds of needing a gun in saint Louis are going to be far higher then a small town in Iowa. It’s likr with flying. Odds of dying in a plane crash are supposedly 1 in a million. But if you’ve ever been on an airliner that’s suddenly stalled out and drops a couple hundred meters before regaining momentum, you stop putting so much faith in things like odds.

        • ‘If your going to play the odds game then why carry at all?’

          Because it’s my f*#king right. (Even though I have to pay $5 a year to the state for it.)

      • In the ’70s there was a story going around about a cop who retired after decades of service, and a few months later went shooting with his friends and took his duty pistol along. Fired it for the first time ever that day, or would have if it had had a firing pin installed from the factory.

  25. Now here is an interesting question:

    Modern materials and manufacturing processes are really good and today’s handguns are really reliable. If your concern is mechanical failure, is a mechanical failure of today’s handguns so wildly unlikely that a backup handgun is unnecessary? Especially if you have a quality handgun, maintain your handgun properly, and shoot a few rounds through it every quarter to verify that it still works???

    I totally like the idea of a backup gun to facilitate a different draw or to hand to a helper. As for carrying a backup handgun in case of mechanical failure, I don’t think it is a compelling reason. If I am mistaken, I would love to learn differently.

    • @ uncommon_sense says:
      August 17, 2018 at 22:14

      Keep living and keep reading, it will come to you naturally. There was a time when ‘we’ thought just as you and others about –all we would need is one reliable device for each of us; we found out otherwise through experience.

      If you and yours are fortunate enough not to encounter the need to simultaneously possess more than one device readily available (on the body), go with it. However, there are those who live and work –on the go; and I’m not referring to a door-to-door sales person.

      I will not say you or anyone else is mistaken or incorrect, but when the situation takes form, and you and yours are knee-deep –that is when you’ll be enlightened.

      A person only needs one magazine to fail ‘one time’, or a primary revolver not being enough to address multiple actors. This is when that New York reload is gold.

      • Anonnymous,

        Ah, a New York reload is another compelling reason to carry a second handgun. Obviously, drawing and shooting a second handgun is much faster than reloading a single handgun.

        For anyone who may not fully understand the reloading process:
        (1) Reloading a semi-auto pistol —
        Requires ejecting an empty magazine, accessing and inserting another magazine, and pulling the slide back slightly which allows it to go into battery and chamber another round.
        (2) Reloading a revolver —
        Requires opening the cylinder, ejecting the empty casings (which can be sticky), inserting new cartridges, and closing the cylinder. And while “inserting new cartridges” sounds simple, it can be difficult and take several seconds under stress.

        • A combat reload got a semiautomatic pistol can be done very quickly. Here are the steps.

          Drop the empty mag while at the same time you grab your reload. Insert the new mag and then release the slide. You are back in the fight in a couple of secondd, if you practice. I am not saying I am operator good but at least I practice in slow motion on the range every once in a while.

          It’s a myth that revolvers have a simpler manual of arms than a semiautomatic. The manual of arms includes reloads. Reloading a revolver is much more complex than a semiautomatic even if you are using a speed strip or loader.

  26. There’s an upper limit on how much shit I feel like carrying around strapped to my body. A backup gun is unnecessary for non-LEO or otherwise professional civilians.

  27. I can not believe you guys need two guns, extra magazine, knife, flashlight, and brass knuckles so you can drive to work. I’ve never been that scared in my life. A ccw handgun was never meant to be a force multiplier. A ccw makes you no more of a gunfighter than having a fire extinguisher makes a fireman.

    • There are two kinds of people. The first watches Active Self Defense and the second understands their operating environment. The former carries a BUG while the later equips themselves for the real world.

    • Wade,

      I am honestly very happy to hear that you have never been scared driving to work or going about your business.

      The fact of the matter is that wild animals and violent criminals attack on the order of two million people every year in the United States. That means roughly 1 in 165 people are victims of attacks every year. And over a lifetime, something like 1 in 3 people are victims of at least one attack. Another fact: people who actively defend themselves with a handgun during an attack suffer far fewer significant physical injuries than people who do not have a handgun to defend themselves.

      You may be content going about life unarmed and gambling with your and your family’s well being. Many other people are NOT content to gamble with their well being and carry one (or two) handguns for self-defense. The choice is yours. I am not disparaging you for gambling with your well being. Do not disparage others for acting to secure their well being.

      • I don’t think Wade is going around unarmed. I think he is saying arm yourself for the realistic threat and unless you are a cop or spend a lot of time in the vicinity of violent criminals the threat does not require a BUG.

        And violent crime is not uniformly distributed throughout the population. It is concentrated in 100-200 zip codes. Unless you live in or near those high crime areas your chances of being a victim of violent crime is a lower than 1 in 3.

        • Exactly what I am saying!!!

          How many of you can run a mile? When was the last time you threw a punch and hit something? How is your health? You guys who want to be ready to defend yourself? You need to understand that if someone decides mess you up it may be over before it starts. There is a good chance you may have to fight to maintain control of your 2 guns and 4 magazines.

          Being able to defend yourself is more than guns guns guns guns guns. It’s also being able to go hands on or if need be flee the area. I mean let’s face it most physical conflicts do not justify deadly force.

          I carry absolutely, everyday. I also keep one in my vehicle and a vest in the trunk. I am ready to break out the blueprints if need be, but only as a last resort. Being healthy, trained, and ready gives you confidence. People see that and it makes a “YUGE” difference in how you are viewed and treated by others. I’ve had complete strangers tell me they feel safer with me around. Um….they had no clue that I am armed, former pro athlete, veteran, and able to go hands on with most people. Folks know if you are scared.

          I doubt too many of you ride around with fuel cans, and 4 full size spare tires. Funny thing is you are way more likely to run out of gas or have a flat tire than ever even touch the grip of your weapon while out and about.

        • Wade, good for you. Someday you will discover you are old and no longer capable of such storied exploits. My only adjustment was mental, the gun comes out faster and goes off instantly. I will not give up going where I wish when I like, but no, I can’t even walk a mile, and if I tried to throw a punch I’d fall on my ass.

        • There is too much focus on physical defense. Passive defense – threat avoidence — is far and away the most effective defense against criminal violence. If you simply avoid the “three stupids” you significantly reduce the likelihood of being the target of a criminal attack. This even works if you live in the South and West sides of Chicago. If you don’t go to the street fair you won’t be there for the driveby.

    • wade, when the switchgear at the mexican fine arts center was melting from a ground fault cum oil fire, the fire crew handed me the ‘stingisher since i already had 20cal of fr on and they don’t like going anywhere near our gear. so yes, having the means to snuff did, in fact, make me a deputy fireman.

      you can’t be a gunman without one.

      • I carry a gun dummy.

        I also know how to fight and I am in good shape. Most you guys worried about self defense seen to focus on guns. There are plenty of alterations that using a gun would get you prison time.

        • Wade, I doubt people perceive me as the epitome of fitness but I run 11-21 miles a week. Although they may not feel “safe” around me, I have plenty of stamina, strength and confidence.

          You are 100% correct in that a conflict may be over before it starts. We have to be fit first. Somewhere I read where a young man collapsed and died during an altercation. His heart couldn’t take it. I would strongly encourage all of you to invest a tiny portion of your time to improving your overall health.

          Unlike your odds of being involved in a life-threatening attack, I’m 100% certain your quality of life will drastically improve.

        • Altercations resulting in prison time? I’m gonna call bullshit on you’re whole persona right now wade. You come off as one of the many trolls here that are simply anti gun but go about the argument in a different manner then usual commie bullshit. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you really don’t know what you’re talking about, and your target here is guns and gun owners.

  28. Okay, here are the reasons for carrying a second handgun that I personally find compelling:
    (1) You have a second possible method to draw and shoot for self-defense.
    (2) You have a firearm that you can hand to a competent unarmed person.
    (3) You have MUCH faster “reloads”
    And the fact that you have a second handgun in case your first handgun fails due to mechanical failure is frosting on the cake.

    Up to this point, I have always thought of having a second handgun as a backup in case mechanical failure happens with your primary handgun. Now, I think of having a second handgun as a backup for ANYTHING that can go wrong, such as being unable to effectively draw your primary handgun, not being able to stop an attacker as a single defender, not having adequate time to reload your primary handgun, and having your primary handgun be inoperable due to mechanical failure.

  29. Sorry, if 10 rounds of 45ACP isn’t good enough, it’s way past time to be leaving!

    The bottom line is that it is impossible to prepare for everything. Carrying two guns is impractical and too much hassle for the majority of the concealed carry carriers.

  30. I’m old enough to remember being told by people who knew that, “If you can’t handle the situation with six rounds, you’re in way over your head.”

  31. I understand that some states do not allow carry of more than one Carry conceal weapon.
    That being said if one gun cannot do the job I doubt two will work much better.
    The vast majority of people who do carry never use their gun for any encounters.
    Carrying two is just dead weight.
    I carry one, with the basic magazine/cylinder load.
    I cannot see a situation that I will need more, there MIGHT be a situation but reality says no.
    For you that may be different.
    It comes down to freedom of choice, there is no right or wrong here.
    If you want two or even three go for it, if not fine.

  32. I habitually carry 2 pistols. My primary, a G19, goes on my belt OWB in a custom leather holster in hot months and in a Miami classic 1 when a coat is indicated. In either event I carry it with 16 rounds in it, and one 15 round and one 21 round backup mag.

    In addition at at all times I carry a S&W .380 Bodyguard on my left (weak side) ankle. It rides in an inexpensive but functional and attractive leather rig from Tagua. I began carrying it this way quite a few years ago, and within days it became virtually unnoticeable, and remains so to this day.

    I made the decision to carry a BUG after experience with some talented (and athletic and half my age) Jiujitsue practitioners who came to train with an academy I was then associated with.

    What I learned was that it’s possible, within a life and death struggle to either be unable to access my primary pistol, or to have to ditch it to prevent my adversary from gaining control of it.

    From my back, in my guard, with an opponent on top of me, accessing and employing my primary may be very difficult, while my ankle is acessabke and often out of sight of my opponent.

    It gives me option, such as being easily drawn while seated when my primary may be wedged into a seat.

    It also backs up my primary in the event of loss or failure, or inaccessibility. It also allows me to arm a friend…I also still have it on at home when I may have removed my primary for comfort. It gives me option, doesn’t take up useful space, weighs nothing compared to boots…its a low impact easy, comfortable way to always be armed.

  33. How many of you can run a mile? When was the last time you threw a punch and hit something? How is your health? You guys who want to be ready to defend yourself? You need to understand that if someone decides mess you up it may be over before it starts. There is a good chance you may have to fight to maintain control of your 2 guns and 4 magazines.

    Being able to defend yourself is more than guns guns guns guns guns. It’s also being able to go hands on or if need be flee the area. I mean let’s face it most physical conflicts do not justify deadly force.

    I carry absolutely, everyday. I also keep one in my vehicle and a vest in the trunk. I am ready to break out the blueprints if need be, but only as a last resort. Being healthy, trained, and ready gives you confidence. People see that and it makes a “YUGE” difference in how you are viewed and treated by others. I’ve had complete strangers tell me they feel safer with me around. Um….they had no clue that I am armed, former pro athlete, veteran, and able to go hands on with most people. Folks know if you are scared. They also know if you are not.

    I doubt too many of you ride around with fuel cans, and 4 full size spare tires. Funny thing is you are way more likely to run out of gas or have a flat tire than ever even touch the grip of your weapon while out. So why all the focus on just guns?

    • I think you’re getting way to into this man. You’re not wrong. In fact you’re right. But this is a gun website. Not a fitness website. Or a life coaching website. Or a hand to hand combative website. All those things are important, but why badger people here for in depth discussions about guns on a website called The Truth About Guns.

      • Because it’s truly not all about firearms. The single most important component is the person pulling the trigger.

        • True, but I stand by my point. Why is someone on a gun website seemingly upset about the fact people are discussing guns in depth?

    • As New Continental Army pointed out, this is a gun blog. That said though, it must be rare that a mechanical problem with a motor vehicle results in death for the occupants. I cant imagine running my truck empty short of gasoline just being unavailable at stations, multiple flats are rare, and I have a cellphone, On Star and AAA. For that matter, in 4wd I’d bet I can make 20 miles on 4 flats with my Tahoe, enough to flee trouble and get to safety.

      Run a mile? No. Walk several, no problem. As for a physical altercation…someone who is attacking me, empty hands or not is going to face my gun. Any one advancing into a drawn pistol, being told they will be shot if they don’t stop, almost certainly intends to do serious harm or kill. I look at it like this, if im instantly winning the fight, fine, because I didn’t start it, and I’ll stop short of serious harm if possible. If I’m losing a fight some stranger started by attacking me, I have to assume they intend to seriously harm or kill me when I can no longer resist, and that person is getting shot.I’ll take my chances with the legal system before I take chances with some violent, aggressive stranger.

    • I feel I must add for Wade that some of us are older. Some of those of us who are older have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and can no longer mover or train to move like we did in our earlier years because of injuries from close quarters combat and fun activities like skydiving, rodeo, and other activities that often cause injuries.

      At my age, and in my physical condition, I am not going to run, nor am I going to win any hand to hand combat encounters unless the adversary is totally ignorant of how to fight. So, for me, when I think about self defense, the gun is the answer. Helpers like knives, batons, blackjacks, and brass knuckles are often illegal where guns with the proper permit are not.

  34. I can’t speak for Wade. I’m pretty sure he’s not anti gun though.

    I can state that this article has been very successful. We are collectively evaluating (in-depth) whether or not we need a back up gun.

    My particular circumstances indicate that I do not. However, I am STILL looking for my perfect EDC.

    • Have you tried the Sig P365? They had some growing pains but the all the bugs are worked out now. It’s a very small gun that shoots like a big gun. I can’t say enough good stuff about it. I rented one at the gun range and darn near threw my XD-S in the garbage.

  35. I carry a pistol, two extra mags, and a knife. If that isn’t enough to stop some drug dealer or a white trash meth addict, then I probably deserve to die. 🙂

  36. because i do not carry the illusion that i can actually be prepared for ANYTHING. its just not possible. put to be your constant need for control and give your OCD a Thorazine.

  37. A while back when I lived in Miami, there was a shooting between the FBI and 2 Perps. 1 FBI agent was shot in the arm and a piece of his bone got stuck in his firearm rendering it useless. If not for his buddies, he wouldn’t be here today! It’s not for everyone but it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have! Just saying.

  38. Actually, I do carry a backup gun – an AMT Backup, as a matter of fact – not only in the same caliber, but capable of using the same magazines as my primary…


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