The Backup Plan

The Backup Plan

It may not be convenient, but a second gun is good insurance.

Some good backup guns include (clockwise from top left) SIG Sauer P238, S&W Model 642 (this one has custom grips and sights), a custom-shop NAA Guardian and Ruger LCP.

Should you carry a backup handgun?

If you are a lawman, the answer is almost universally yes and is either formally taught or has been informally strongly suggested to new officers for decades.


A positive response to this question is not so clear for the legally armed, non-sworn citizen, though. Setting aside the inconvenience of having more "iron" on your person, I've observed a strong undercurrent of the perception that if a non-sworn civilian does this and it becomes known among his contemporaries, he's viewed as, at the least, being a bit over the top with his practice of self-defense.


Also, I believe that if he is discovered to be carrying two guns when he has occasion to interact with a police officer, such as being stopped for speeding, he will definitely be dealt with in other than the usual manner.

I have heard others comment--correctly or not--that carrying two guns could be used against someone in court during a self-defense case, believing it would cause that person to be labeled a Rambo, someone who was just looking for an excuse to shoot someone.


Defending carrying two guns with logical and reasonable arguments fails, I think, regardless of the merits, although there are many. Pointing out that lawmen routinely do so and this practice is regularly taught to non-sworn civilians in well-respected self-defense classes gets countered with, "Well, the police face criminals." But I would ask, "Who do we face? Angels?"


Then there's the tactical argument that a second gun is a quicker reload, particularly if your primary gun is a revolver. Now, I agree, odds are you will not need more rounds than what you have in your gun, but do you want to stand around after the fight with an empty or partially empty gun?

Then this: Any gun, being a mechanical device, can fail regardless of how much attention is paid to its maintenance. And it can catastrophically fail at the most inconvenient times. You also might drop or lose control of your primary gun. "Fumble fingers" is not an uncommon occurrence when in a potentially deadly encounter.

You may also have to arm someone else to help control a threat or threats, perhaps while your attention is distracted by calling and speaking to the 911 operator.

I've had need to arm someone with my backup gun on a few occasions. One such was when a fellow agent was in such a hurry to get to a particular assignment he left with an empty holster. On another occasion, an investigator with me found his holstered gun was empty.

A third time was when I stepped into something bigger than I'd anticipated. A fellow off-duty officer who was with me but was unarmed wanted to help and said if I had a spare gun I could give it to him. (Luckily, I did.)

Despite these reasonable arguments for carrying a second gun, I see advocating doing so to a non-believer as a losing battle, for no one can overcome the reality that a good percentage of society looks on gun ownership, carry and use--particularly for self-defense--as acts more offensive than crime itself.

If you do choose to carry a second gun, I recommend picking one that you or anyone else can fire without any more instruction past "Point and pull the trigger. Repeat until empty." The gun should also be carried so you can use it with either hand. If this is not practical, carry it to favor off-hand use.

I also have to admit that as I've become semi-retired, my world is mostly home office, range, FFL dealer for gun transfers and gossip, as well as quick trips to the store and back. More often than not, these days I'm carrying only an S&W Model 42 five-shot two-inch revolver for the same reasons others do--it's just so convenient.

But I'm getting over it. After all, who would want "It was just so convenient" as his or her epitaph?

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load

Speer's Jared Hinton shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun load.

Going To The Range

Going To The Range

Jim and Scott show you how to make each trip to the shooting range a quality experience.

All About Handgun Ammo

All About Handgun Ammo

Rich and Jim get into the nitty gritty of the FBI ammo protocol, firing into various barriers to illustrate what can happen to a bullet.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a two-tone aluminum-framed model in 9mm (model # 6758). This review by James Tarr will focus on the 9mm. 1911

Ruger SR1911 Officer-Style 9mm Review

James Tarr - May 01, 2019

The Ruger SR1911 is offered in two versions, an all-stainless in .45 ACP (model # 6762) and a...

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged. Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability. 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase. Accessories

SIG P320 Accessories and Upgrades

James Tarr - December 14, 2017

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase.

See More Trending Articles

More Training

The Hard Swing Drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with reloading skills and sight picture and trigger control. Training

Hard Swing Drill

Josh Froelich - September 12, 2019

The Hard Swing Drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with...

Vicker's Leatham Drill is great for good shooters to do after some time away from the range or from a particular gun to reacquaint themselves with the trigger. Training

Handgun Skill Drill: Vicker's Leatham Drill

Eve Flanigan - July 19, 2018

Vicker's Leatham Drill is great for good shooters to do after some time away from the range or...

An ordinary smartphone with slow-motion capability will reveal flaws in your draw stroke you didn't even know you had. Training

Improve Your Draw Stroke Through Slow-Motion Video

Richard Nance - September 17, 2018

An ordinary smartphone with slow-motion capability will reveal flaws in your draw stroke you...

Defensive pistol experts constantly preach “getting off the X,” and what they mean is you don't want to just stand in one spot when engaging a threat. This simple drill teaches you to get off that X, and the more you do it, the more instinctive and easy the actions become. Training

Shooting Drills – Getting off the X

J. Scott Rupp - April 01, 2020

Defensive pistol experts constantly preach “getting off the X,” and what they mean is you...

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now