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Back in the days when the re­volver was king, some po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved with high-risk du­ties would carry two, or even three, re­volvers on their per­son. This was so they did not have to spend time dur­ing a gun­fight go­ing through the pain­stak­ing process of reload­ing one re­volver. In­stead, they could sim­ply draw an­other re­volver much more quickly and get back into the fray.

Coined the “New York reload,” this con­cept is gen­er­ally cred­ited to Jim Cir­illo of the NYPD Stake­out Unit for bring­ing this mode of carry and its rea­son­ing to light. He was in­volved in the neigh­bor­hood of 20 gun­fights dur­ing his ca­reer, so I think it’s safe to say he had the ex­pe­ri­ence to back up his method­ol­ogy.

BACKUP FOR CIVIL­IANS?

I’ve heard too many times that civil­ians don’t re­ally need a backup weapon, be­cause they aren’t in­volved in as many po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous en­coun­ters as law en­force­ment. That’s a spe­cious ar­gu­ment; the same rea­son­ing could also be ap­plied to civil­ians not need­ing a con­cealed-carry weapon at all. All it takes is one en­counter, and from there, the civil­ian could face all the same pos­si­ble con­tin­gen­cies as some­one on the job—thus mak­ing the backup just as valu­able for “John Q. Pub­lic” as it is for LEOs.

In some cases, there could be a stronger ar­gu­ment made for the need of a backup hand­gun for civil­ians. Typ­i­cally, civil­ians don’t wear spe­cial­ized ap­parel, such as jack­ets or coats with side vents to al­low ac­cess to the pri­mary weapon that’s car­ried in­side or on their belt. Car­ry­ing con­cealed is just that: keep­ing the weapon hid­den from the view of oth­ers.

In do­ing so, that some­times lim­its ac­cess to the pri­mary weapon. Ex­am­ples would be while wear­ing a zipped coat or jacket when trou­ble pops off or while sit­ting in a ve­hi­cle, where it’s hard to draw from the strong-side po­si­tion. In these cases, the backup weapon, car­ried in a pant or jacket pocket or in an an­kle hol­ster, ac­tu­ally be­comes the pri­mary weapon of en­gage­ment. Now, some would say it’s still the backup, be­cause the pri­mary weapon can’t be ac­cessed. But you get the point.

EF­FEC­TIVE CARRY MODES

With the ad­vent of mod­ern and re­li­able semi-au­to­mat­ics on the mar­ket to­day, there are more choices for backup weapons than ever—although re­volvers still shine in some re­gards. I fa­vor pocket carry for my backup weapon—whether it’s a pant pocket or a jacket pocket. These are typ­i­cally lo­ca­tions from which the weapon can be drawn quickly. Also, be­cause folks often walk with their hands in their pock­ets, it’s an un­ob­tru­sive way to have your hand on the weapon when things look sketchy but don’t yet war­rant draw­ing the firearm.

Re­volvers are es­pe­cially suited for carry in a jacket pocket—pro­vided you carry one with an in­ter­nal ham­mer rather than an ex­ter­nal one. Ex­am­ples in­clude Smith & Wes­son’s model 642 or 640 and Ruger’s LCR re­volvers. These types of back­ups can be fired re­li­ably from within the con­fines of a purse or coat pocket. A semi-au­to­matic weapon can­not do this re­li­ably be­cause of the slide’s move­ment and in­abil­ity to re­li­ably cy­cle in such cir­cum­stances.

The ad­van­tage of smaller semi-au­to­matic pis­tols is that they are typ­i­cally thin and easy to carry in the waist­band or a pant pocket. How­ever, dust and lint from a pocket can ac­cu­mu­late on and in the pis­tol over time, mak­ing rou­tine clean­ing nec­es­sary to en­sure proper func­tion. Also, some pocket pis­tols do come with slightly higher ca­pac­ity than most small-framed re­volvers, mak­ing them as ap­peal­ing a choice in some cir­cum­stances.

FI­NAL THOUGHTS

Just as re­dun­dancy is im­por­tant in any other as­pect of our per­sonal sur­vival plan, hav­ing a backup weapon as part of our nor­mal carry rou­tine pro­vides us with op­tions. The ben­e­fits can in­clude easy ac­ces­si­bil­ity, ad­di­tional am­mu­ni­tion or the abil­ity to pass one weapon off to an­other de­fender in or­der to in­crease one’s odds.

There are far too many up sides to hav­ing a backup weapon to sim­ply slough off the thought as be­ing too para­noid or “gung ho.” There’s a rea­son law en­force­ment per­son­nel en­gage in this prac­tice, and it’s paid off many times by ac­tu­ally sav­ing lives. Is your life or the life of a fam­ily mem­ber any less valu­able?

Think about it. One day, it might pay off for you, as well. GW

WITH THE AD­VENT OF MOD­ERN AND RE­LI­ABLE SEMI-AU­TO­MAT­ICS ON THE MAR­KET TO­DAY, THERE ARE MORE CHOICES FOR BACKUP WEAPONS THAN EVER …

JUST AS RE­DUN­DANCY IS IM­POR­TANT IN ANY OTHER AS­PECT

OF OUR PER­SONAL SUR­VIVAL PLAN, HAV­ING A BACKUP WEAPON AS PART OF OUR NOR­MAL CARRY ROU­TINE PRO­VIDES US WITH

OP­TIONS.

An­other pop­u­lar hide­out place is an an­kle hol­ster, such as this Apache model from DeSan­tis Gunhide.

While au­tos can be car­ried in this fash­ion,

be mind­ful of the dust and grit that can ac­cu­mu­late. Re­volvers tend to be more re­li­able where con­di­tions are

not op­ti­mum.

Car­ry­ing a pocket pis­tol in a jacket or pock­eted over­layer keeps the backup firearm eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble when the pri­mary weapon can’t be drawn eas­ily from its po­si­tion. Keep­ing one weapon eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble while driv­ing is para­mount, and car­ry­ing a backup in a shoul­der hol­ster meets that need quite nicely.

Long be­fore it was adopted by the NYPD Stake­out Unit, the “New York reload” con­cept was al­ready in use— although its util­ity and tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage weren’t dis­cussed un­til much later on. Even small-cal­iber hand­guns that can eas­ily be hid­den away can be de­ci­sive fight-stop­pers if the pri­mary weapon isn’t avail­able.

Even a small, two-shot der­ringer can give the user an edge when

it comes to a life­and-death de­fen­sive

sce­nario.

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