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A Case for Backup Guns

I read an article today on Daily Caller about backup guns that I thought was interesting. The article starts off by describing an incident where a police officer was killed after sustaining a gunshot wound in his dominant arm:

A few days ago, Craig and I were discussing a recent incident in which a police officer was killed. The officer was shot in his dominant arm (right handed officer, shot in right arm).

Although conscious and trying to fight back, he was unable to reload his empty handgun with his non- dominant hand only, and was executed by his assailant.

Craig and I both felt that if this officer had been wearing a back-up gun (BUG), he might have been able to access it and continue the fight. Unfortunately, he did not have a second gun.

A few things stood out to me in the article, which is titled Concealed Carry: Are back-up guns for civilians a good idea?, the first being what I feel was the central point: all guns fail. Yes, that means the gun you carry that has never been cleaned and has eleventy billion rounds down the pipe with zero malfunctions.

I like to share the photo below when this topic comes up because I’m a glutton for punishment and because it illustrates the point. I took the photo a couple years ago at a range south of Houston after repeated failures with the gun. The gun belongs to Colion Noir, and is a Gen 3 Glock 19 RTF, and no, it wasn’t staged, and no, it wasn’t due to limp wristing. All guns fail, even Glocks.

Gen3 Glock 19 Malfunction

Gen3 Glock 19 Malfunction

The second thing that stuck with me from the article was the opening story about the cop who was killed after he was shot in his dominant arm and unable to reload. I wasn’t there, don’t know anything about the incident they are referring to and I’m not trying to play Monday Morning Quarterback, but I can’t help but wonder if that officer had been trained to shoot and reload one handed, and to do so with his weak hand. I have no idea, and I don’t know if that would have even made a difference, but it certainly serves as a reminder to those of us who carry guns: get some training, as often as you can.

You can read the article here (it might take a minute to load, I’ve never seen a site with more ads than Daily Caller).

So what about you – do you carry a backup gun? Why or why not?

26 Responses to A Case for Backup Guns

  1. Ross March 13, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    I always liked the saying from my hero Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch “One is none, two is one…” and so forth. Works for lights, knives, and of course guns. As you stated guns do fail and at the most inconvenient moment. But a backup won’t solve the problem if you can’t manipulate the gun with your weak hand. Should practice these drills a lot to make sure that you can reload, clear, etc. with the weak hand.

  2. dgdimick March 13, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    That’s an interesting failure to eject, I’d almost say it’s staged, however, I’ve seen some failure to feed/eject that are bizarre.

    I know NM only allows you to CCW one handgun. I guess they think that if you’re looking for a back-up gun, then you’re leaving the realm of someone that needs a CCW.

    Carry a Black Rifle and a non-glock.

    • Brandon March 13, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

      So you’re almost calling me liar? I guess that’s better than all the way…

    • Tricia March 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      …so you can conceal a rifle? Please tell us what non-Glock magic gun you carry that never malfunctions.

  3. Tricia March 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    If you feel this is staged or out of the ordinary then you’re not running your guns nearly hard enough. It’s not often that I can manage to carry a secondary gun due to the challenges of hiding it. I wish it were a little easier to hide because I’d like to do it on a consistent basis to help myself if my gun stopped working or to simply be able to arm another person.

  4. Daniel March 13, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    That certainly looks like a Gen4 .. Not a Gen3 .. I’m calling shenanigans

  5. Daniel March 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    Just kidding, nice grip stippling though

  6. Jake A March 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    There are a few things you can count on in life: death, taxes, liberals whining like little bitches about nearly everything, and great big piles of herpa derp when you show a photo of a Glock malfunctioning or breaking.

  7. Robbie March 13, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    I believe I’ve seen the dash cam video from the incident mentioned in the article. Officer was sitting at the rear of his car with his slide locked back and the suspect walked around the side of the car and executed him. I even used it in out in-service training last year on officer survival. I too hate to Monday Morning Quarterback someone, especially another cop who died in the line of duty but my take on this incident goes beyond training to reload and shoot with you weak hand or carrying a back-up. To me some of it comes down to mindset and being prepared to do whatever necessary to survive or at least take the SOB with you. We do train with the weak hand and it’s a part of our yearly qualifications here in NC but all that training is worthless if you can’t do what is necessary to try and survive and sitting at the rear of your car waiting on the bad guy to come put a bullet in your head is not a survival mindset. That said the next rung on the ladder past the correct mindset is having back-up options and training for the day it all goes south.

    • Brandon March 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback Robbie.

  8. Asa March 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    I used to carry a backup on duty and now I don’t. Full disclosure of I’m a Glock guy, I carry a 34 on duty and I used to carry a 26 in a BUG pouch on my chest. It boiled down to weight and size. I get in more than my share of foot pursuits and there’s a lot of fences where I work. I’m aware that even my magic Glock can (and does/has) fail. I carry a fair amount of extra ammo and I shoot at the range at least once a week as well as dry fire every day. I incorporate off hand and one hand manipulation into my training. It’s not perfect, but no solution is, I’m aware of the short comings and I do my best to plug those holes with training. It’s a balancing act and for me less weight was worth the trade off.

  9. Perry March 14, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    That looks like a gun shot from the left side of a barricade and the jam occurred when the brass hit the barricade and bounced back… happens all the time

  10. Glock 19 March 14, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    I guess it all comes down to personal preference and the realization that every situation is different. There is always a chance you could get wacked, despite your level of training or backups, by an amateur who took a lucky shot. If that wasn’t the case Tier 1 dudes would never die or get wounded in combat.

    Two is one and one is none argument is a good one but where does it end, or cross over from practical to impractical? I say train hard and go with what you are comfortable with, knowing that when it’s your time it’s your time. You could be the guy with a pocket knife who survives a shootout, or the guy wearing a photog vest, 3 pistols / 4 knives / 2 tactical flashlights on him who gets taken out by a ricochet 5 seconds into the fight.

    I don’t carry a backup gun but that’s my choice. If I do get into a scrap and my main gun fails, well I guess I’m SOL. It is what it is.

  11. Michael p March 14, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    even wearing a suit I have a bug

  12. TK March 14, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Glock 19 primary, Glock 26 BUG. Side note: I agree about the Daily Caller website, full of spam bullshit ads and popups. Looks terrible on my phone, I stopped reading them.

  13. eric March 14, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    I agree in principle with carrying a BUG, and also a knife. I don’t carry a BUG though because I’m just running out of space! When the Glock fails, I guess I have a knife in a gunfight. Fortunately, most assholes who might attempt to rob me with a gun, are more likely to be using a Lorcin or some other piece of crap that has a 50% chance of jamming anyway.

  14. Gene March 14, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    I like Clint Smith’s line on this as was posted above…BUG’s and multiple knives…just because.

  15. Brenda March 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Good article and good comments and replies, TY!

  16. Pitt March 14, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

    I try to carry a full size fighting pistol (meaning Glock 19 size or better) but I’m seriously considering adding a little Ruger LCP or Taurus TCP .380 in the left pocket. I carry a Gerber Icon tanto clipped to my strongside pocket, but I’m wanting to add a Boker Plus/ American Kami Colubris on my offside belt for pistol retention if need be. I may be over thinking my tactical needs, but poop happens to us all, sooner or later and I want to make sure I have the right toilet paper.

    • Mike Menago March 20, 2014 at 8:56 am #

      I carry a G19 Gen4, S&w BG380 and a Boker Plus Ridgeback. Great set up, not too heavy or space consuming and will certainly get you out of a pinch if and when the time comes.

      – Mike

  17. TK March 15, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    The average Patrol officer in the 3 jurisdictions where I have worked are less familiar and have less comfort with their weapons than the majority of shooters that take the sport (and their safety) seriously. They have recently gone from quarterly to semi-annual training and for most that is the ONLY shooting they do! There are no malfunction drills and only one reload required. If the public had any the lack of competence that some of these officers have, gun sales would be even higher. Backup or no backup, it is vitally important to practice malfunctions and reload drills until they are second nature. Then practice some more. I do not have the data to back this up, but I would guess the majority of concealed carry uses by non LE require very few shots. But I wouldn’t bet my life on it!

  18. Snake Plisken March 15, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I always enjoy reading the comments on firearms. So many different ideas and thoughts on the topic.

    I carry two handguns. My Springfield .45 XD I keep in the console of the truck with an extra mag. When I get out of my vehicle I pocket my Kel Tek 9mm and go about my business. Hopefully neither weapon will fail when it’s needed, but I feel more comfortable with either handgun as a back up.

    Snake Pliskin

  19. MarkOwen March 16, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    I carry a Browning Hi-Power. It does not jam, and as far as I can tell will not let me down when I need it most!

  20. James March 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I carry a glock 30S as my primary and carry a s&w extreme Ops pocket knife. I have recently added a Taurus TCP as a BUG. My safety and the safety of my loved ones makes me want to be able to do all I can.

  21. TN_Newfie March 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    I carry a glock 19 as my primary, a glock 26 on my ankle as my back up, with 2 extra 15 round mags, and knife. Maybe it’s overkill, but rather be with than without. The great thing about glocks are the mags are interchangeable for the same caliber. If my glock 19 failed, I can use the 19 mag, and the backups in in my glock 26.