BRING­ING BACKUP

THE TOP 10 REA­SONS WHY A SEC­ONDARY WEAPON CAN BE A LIFE­SAVER

Concealed Carry Hand Guns - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - STORY AND PHO­TOS BY LEROY THOMPSON

Here are the top 10 rea­sons why a sec­ondary weapon can be a life­saver.

By Leroy Thompson

I’ve al­ways viewed backup guns as akin to spare tires or in­sur­ance poli­cies: You prob­a­bly won’t need them, but if you do, you’ll re­ally need them. In fact, the first time I saw a backup gun, though I didn’t know that’s what it was called at the time, was as a kid when I used to hang out in a satel­lite rail­road yard/coal yard out­side St. Louis.

A rail­road de­tec­tive was show­ing us a cou­ple of his weapons one day. He had a big re­volver on his belt—I didn’t know enough at the time to rec­og­nize it, but he also had a black­jack tucked into a back pocket and a small re­volver, which was a nick­eled top break, safety ham­mer­less in a vest pocket. I think it was prob­a­bly a 3-inch S&W Lemon Squeezer, but I’m not pos­i­tive. But, he did call it his “in­sur­ance pol­icy.” That de­scrip­tion still works for me.

Backup guns have proven use­ful to law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, sol­diers, pri­vate se­cu­rity and civil­ian con­cealed carry li­censees among oth­ers. There many times when a backup weapon can be in­valu­able. Here are the top 10 rea­sons to carry a sec­ondary weapon:

1. A SEC­OND GUN: THE FASTEST MAL­FUNC­TION DRILL

The most com­mon ra­tionale for car­ry­ing a backup gun is for use should the pri­mary weapon mal­func­tion. In the case of a spe­cial op­er­a­tions soldier, that means that the Glock or SIG on his hip comes into ac­tion af­ter a tran­si­tion drill if his ri­fle or car­bine goes down.

For the po­lice of­fi­cer, should his or her duty weapon mal­func­tion in a way that can­not be im­me­di­ately cleared, it means that the backup auto or re­volver in a pocket or an­kle hol­ster is drawn. NOTE: If an an­kle hol­ster backup gun is car­ried, the tech­nique of go­ing to the knee op­po­site the leg car­ry­ing the hol­ster should be prac­ticed for a faster pre­sen­ta­tion and to per­haps gain an in­stant while the at­tacker at­tempts to tar­get you.

A com­mon backup gun for decades has been a compact re­volver such as the S&W J-frame. If one is cho­sen, it will nor­mally be car­ried on the sup­port side, of­ten in a pocket. Be­cause the backup gun will of­ten need to be drawn quickly, un­der stress­ful con­di­tions, one of the ham­mer­less or shrouded ham­mer re­volvers should be used. The first backup gun I owned was a ham­mer­less Iver John­son .32 S&W 2-inch top-break that had a Glock-type trig­ger safety. If a small auto is cho­sen, a DA or striker-fired one with­out an ex­posed ham­mer is good.

Many se­cu­rity com­pa­nies will limit their per­son­nel to one is­sue hand­gun, but if they don’t, a backup gun can serve the same pur­pose as for the po­lice of­fi­cer. In some cases,

the backup gun may be even more im­por­tant for the pri­vate se­cu­rity of­fi­cer who may be pa­trolling a lonely ware­house or factory at night with no likely help on the way.

Like­wise, the con­cealed carry li­censee will not be on pa­trol or look­ing for law­break­ers, but he or she may en­counter them. The odds are that the con­cealed weapon will suf­fice, but an in­sur­ance gun can’t hurt un­less in a ju­ris­dic­tion that lim­its the li­censee to one gun listed by se­rial num­ber on the li­cense.

2. FOR ADDED FIRE­POWER

A backup gun mis­sion that ap­plied to me when I worked on close pro­tec­tion de­tails was giv­ing me more fire­power. I of­ten car­ried two of the same high ca­pac­ity au­toload­ers based on the as­sump­tion that if we had to go into an evac­u­a­tion un­der fire drill, I might have to empty one gun and go to the sec­ond one to keep giv­ing fire to cover the evac­u­a­tion of the prin­ci­pal.

We prac­ticed reg­u­lat­ing our cover fire to a round per sec­ond to al­low longer sus­tained en­gage­ment, but un­der stress or due to mul­ti­ple at­tack­ers, we also planned for faster, more sus­tained fire. We also prac­ticed fire and move­ment drills to dis­en­gage. We drilled reloads be­hind cover or while on the move, but hav­ing the op­tion of the sec­ond gun was com­fort­ing.

For the typ­i­cal po­lice of­fi­cer or civil­ian CCL, this sce­nario is not likely, but a backup gun of­fers the ca­pa­bil­ity to keep fight­ing if things get re­ally bad and re­ally hec­tic.

3. AS A CON­CEAL­MENT OP­TION

If the civil­ian CCL car­ries a sec­ond gun, it will of­ten be a smaller auto or re­volver that may be car­ried in a pocket, while the pri­mary weapon

“ANY­ONE WHO CAR­RIES A GUN MUST CON­SIDER THE POS­SI­BIL­ITY THAT AN AS­SAILANT MIGHT AT­TEMPT TO DIS­ARM HIM AND TURN HIS WEAPON AGAINST HIM.”

is car­ried on the belt. The sit­u­a­tion may arise in which car­ry­ing the belt gun into some es­tab­lish­ments is not fea­si­ble, ad­vis­able, com­fort­able, et. al. In that case, the larger pri­mary weapon may be locked in a gun safe in the ve­hi­cle and the pocket gun car­ried dis­creetly into the es­tab­lish­ment.

4. IN CASE OF AN IN­JURY

The backup gun may prove in­valu­able if an in­jury is sus­tained to the shoot­ing hand. For ex­am­ple, draw­ing a weapon from a re­ten­tion hol­ster with the sup­port hand might be slow and dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially if in pain. How­ever, a pocket gun or sec­ond hol­ster gun ac­ces­si­ble to the sup­port hand will al­low one to keep fight­ing.

If the pri­mary weapon is car­ried in a pocket, a draw with the sup­port hand is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult so hav­ing a sec­ond pocket gun on the sup­port side is de­sir­able. Sup­port hand reloads are of­ten rel­a­tively slow, too, so the sec­ond gun will speed up re-en­gage­ment.

5. WHEN STRUG­GLING TO RE­TAIN A WEAPON

Any­one who car­ries a gun must con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that an as­sailant might at­tempt to dis­arm him and turn his weapon against him. Law en­force­ment of­fi­cers nor­mally re­ceive at least some weapons re­ten­tion train­ing, as do some mil­i­tary per­son­nel. Most CCLs don’t.

Hav­ing a sec­ond gun avail­able to the sup­port hand al­lows the per­son un­der as­sault to clamp the as­sailant’s hand and/or the gun in the hol­ster or the gun it­self if it has been drawn, and shoot the at­tacker mul­ti­ple times wher­ever pos­si­ble.

Note if strug­gling for a gun that has been drawn, the most im­por­tant thing is to con­trol the muz­zle. Grab­bing the bar­rel nor­mally gives lever­age and by torque­ing the gun, al­lows the as­sailant’s trig­ger fin­ger to be bro­ken if it is in­serted into the trig­ger guard or forces him to re­lease the weapon. Shoot­ing him or her works bet­ter!

A backup knife can work as well or bet­ter for weapon re­ten­tion. A friend of mine who was a St. Louis de­tec­tive nor­mally car­ried a compact dou­ble-edged fixed blade knife in an in­side jacket pocket ac­ces­si­ble to his sup­port hand. He felt that the knife would be quicker in a strug­gle for his Glock 19 than reach­ing for a sec­ond gun.

A quick-open­ing folder de­signed for close com­bat and worn clipped to a sup­port side pocket works well to slash at the hand try­ing to snatch to gun, though that cre­ates the pos­si­bil­ity of slash­ing one’s own hand in a strug­gle. Draw­ing the knife and stab­bing what­ever body part of the as­sailant is close at hand mul­ti­ple times will usu­ally “dis­tract” him!

6. FOR LONGER RANGE

An­other backup op­tion that I used when work­ing on some pro­tec­tive de­tails was a sec­ond gun de­signed for longer-range en­gage­ment. I nor­mally car­ried a SIG P210 with which I could en­gage man-sized tar­gets ef­fec­tively at 100 yards. I had one con­tact who worked on pro­tec­tive de­tails in Africa who car­ried an FN Five-seveN as a sec­ond gun for the same rea­son, though its 20-round mag­a­zine ca­pac­ity also made it suit­able for ex­tended en­gage­ment and with AP am­mu­ni­tion he could use it against an at­tacker wear­ing a

bal­lis­tic vest or an AK chest pouch full of loaded mag­a­zines.

7. TO ADD A LOW LIGHT OP­TION

Al­though not a com­mon rea­son to carry a sec­ond gun, I have car­ried a sec­ond au­to­matic pis­tol with a light mounted to give me bet­ter low light ca­pa­bil­ity. I do not ad­vo­cate car­ry­ing the pri­mary gun with a light mounted for var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing slower pre­sen­ta­tion, us­ing the light in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions can make you a tar­get, and it’s bulkier.

For law en­force­ment per­son­nel, agen­cies that have al­lowed of­fi­cers to carry a weapon with light mounted as their duty weapon have fre­quently found that they have a ten­dency to use the light mounted on their weapon as their flash­light, re­sult­ing in the weapon “sweep­ing” cit­i­zens when check­ing reg­is­tra­tion, etc. I have a dou­ble shoul­der hol­ster rig that al­lows one of two 1911s to be car­ried with a light mounted. I have used it only rarely.

8. WHILE IN A VE­HI­CLE

For the civil­ian CCL, a backup gun car­ried so that it is more quickly avail­able in a ve­hi­cle to deal with a car­jacker makes sense. Some just keep a weapon in a console or a hol­ster un­der the seat for this pur­pose, but a shoul­der hol­ster will also al­low more rapid pre­sen­ta­tion when seated. A cross draw hol­ster for the sec­ond gun works well, too.

When I worked on se­cu­rity teams, I some­times car­ried a gun in a strong side hip hol­ster and a sec­ond gun in a cross draw on my sup­port side. I could ac­cess it in a ve­hi­cle and also could reach it by twist­ing my left hand for in­jured pri­mary arm drills.

9. WHEN DAN­GER­OUS GAME IS A POS­SI­BIL­ITY

Once again this is a spe­cial­ized sit­u­a­tion, but there are cases when the pri­mary weapon is car­ried to deal with two-legged preda­tors, but a sec­ond gun is avail­able to deal with dan­ger­ous four-legged preda­tors. I once es­corted a client to visit a ranch that raised large, con­fronta­tional bulls. In ad­di­tion to my Brown­ing High-Power, I bor­rowed a 4-inch

S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum to take along as well. In places such as Alaska where bears are a dan­ger, lo­cals tend to just carry a bear-stop­ping hand­gun on the as­sump­tion that if they have to stop a man, it will do the job!

10. WHEN THE BACKUP IS BIG­GER THAN THE PRI­MARY

To­day, the avail­abil­ity of ri­fle-cal­iber hand­guns with arm braces has made it pos­si­ble to carry a backup weapon in your ve­hi­cle, back­pack or gym bag, one that fires a more pow­er­ful car­tridge than your carry hand­gun.

Pre­sum­ably, these weapons would only be needed when fac­ing an es­pe­cially well-armed as­sailant, one at­tack­ing from a dis­tance, one in a ve­hi­cle or one be­hind pen­e­tra­ble cover. Hav­ing said that, I have worked on pro­tec­tive de­tails where we had avail­able in ve­hi­cles SMGs, as­sault ri­fles, and light ma­chine guns for sit­u­a­tions where our hand­guns would not suf­fice.

A FIT FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE

For most read­ing this, the backup gun will be, as I said at the begin­ning, an in­sur­ance pol­icy. It will be there if your pri­mary weapon fails or avail­able if you are fight­ing to re­tain your hand­gun against an as­sailant.

As an aid to weapons re­ten­tion, the quickly ac­ces­si­ble backup blade may be as use­ful as a backup hand­gun. As with many as­pects of con­cealed carry, choice will be based on in­di­vid­ual needs. Do a lifestyle as­sess­ment and a threat as­sess­ment and de­cide if you want a backup gun or backup knife or both. It has never taken me much thought to de­cide I want a spare tire—but, I don’t like the tem­po­rary spares. It doesn’t take me much thought to de­cide I want a backup gun ei­ther. CC

“A BACKUP KNIFE CAN WORK AS WELL OR BET­TER FOR WEAPON RE­TEN­TION.”

Right: Two pocket re­volvers used by Thompson for sup­port side pocket carry—top S&W 638 and bot­tom S&W Model 42 Clas­sic. Both shield the ham­mer for a quick pre­sen­ta­tion from the pocket. For mem­bers of close pro­tec­tion teams, a sec­ond gun can al­low sus­tained fire to cover evac­u­a­tions un­der fire.

A backup gun with fight stop­ping ca­pa­bil­ity such as this S&W 360 PD in .357 Magnum of­fers a lot of ap­peal.

Left: Blackie Collins Tot­ers jeans are de­signed to carry mul­ti­ple weapons in pock­ets. In this photo a pis­tol and backup knife are car­ried on the strong side, while an­other pis­tol and ei­ther an­other knife or an ASP ba­ton are car­ried on the sup­port side. Right: CCW Break­aways trousers al­low the quick pre­sen­ta­tion of a hand­gun from the pocket by al­low­ing part of the pocket to “break­away” dur­ing the draw. This method even al­lows a pocket gun to be drawn with the op­po­site side hand.

A quick open­ing knife can be an in­valu­able backup when strug­gling to keep the pri­mary weapon from be­ing snatched. Note that the hand of the as­sailant has been clamped down on the gun while the knife is brought into ac­tion. Care would have to be taken in this sce­nario not to cut the de­fender’s own hand. Punch­ing stabs might be more ef­fec­tive.

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