Concealed Carry Corner: The Back Up Gun Debate

    I didn’t quite understand how polarizing the BUG gun ( Back Up Gun) debate was until I was out to dinner with six or seven friends a few weeks ago. My friends all had extremely strong feelings and reactions to a very simple question. Regardless of what you think about back up guns, there’s no denying the idea is pretty well known. It’s so well known among the gun community that there are even IDPA shooting stages where you need to transition to your back up gun halfway through the stage. There are both positive and negative aspects to carrying a concealed handgun and a backup gun so let’s dive into it.

    The Advantages of Back Up Guns

    There are often a number of reasons people carry back up guns. The concept of carrying back up guns originally came from various police departments. The higher command started allowing officers to carry a secondary weapon in case their primary handgun failed. Even today it’s fairly standard for departments to allow their officers to carry a secondary gun while on duty. I have seen this be fairly common with older gentlemen who carry revolvers as well. When I’ve asked them to explain why they carry two guns, they always explain a New York style reload is always faster than reloading the cylinder.

    In today’s world, with modern polymer carry guns, it’s fairly easy to throw a second handgun into your pocket or smaller holster. The big appeal of carrying a back up gun is being prepared when things are uncertain. The old saying “2 is 1 and 1 is none” applies to having two guns. Having a back up gun gives the user the ability to have options if they ever have to defend themselves. In certain situations, it could be the difference between life and death if you can get to an ankle gun where your primary handgun is inaccessible. There’s been known to be certain situations where that happened in self-defense shootings in the Grand Rapids area.

    Carrying For Others

    I’ve run into a number of people who carry a gun for their girlfriend or wife. They decide to carry for their spouse either because they don’t have a  carry permit or don’t like carrying the gun themselves. Carrying a back up gun while out with other people does give conceal carriers a force multiplier if something like an active shooter situation arises where you have to defend yourself.

    The Disadvantages of Back Up Guns

    With massive improvements in modern day handguns, It’s extremely rare for something like a Glock 19 to completely malfunction beyond repair. It’s rare and even less likely to happen to the point where you need to switch to a different handgun. With the exception of a squib round or ammo related malfunction, the odds of having a catastrophic failure is extremely low. The biggest issue with carrying two handguns daily is the amount of extra weight you have to carry. Honestly, an event like this has an extremely low probability of occurring and starts to fall into the realm of paranoia.

    If you decide to carry two handguns you will either have a ton of weight riding on your belt or will have some sort of combination that makes you change your daily lifestyle. Pocket carrying, for example, will make one of your pockets inaccessible for everything but your firearm. It isn’t a huge deal once you get used to it, but it’s still a sacrifice to carry two guns.

    Overall Thoughts

    I will be the first to admit, I used to carry two guns on me no matter where I went. If I was going out with friends to see a movie or going to a store, I would typically carry two just in case they decided to not carry their gun. I get why people might fall into carrying a back up gun but for 99.9% of the time having one firearm you’re proficient with will be enough to protect yourself. In my experience, having a single firearm or even a firearm with an extra magazine will be a better use of space than carrying an additional firearm. There will always be people out there who think Arnold’s character in Last Action Hero based on a real character and carry as many firearms as they can.

    My Personal Belief

    If there is a situation where you need both guns, you should probably reevaluate why you’re in that area, to begin with. I completely understand why police officers would carry two handguns back in the day and even today if they get into a struggle and that’s the only gun they can pull to save their life. The vast majority of good guys will probably never be in that position. My personal opinion is to carry one gun and be proficient with the gun you decide to carry.

    The best part of living in America is the ability to choose how to live your life. If you feel more comfortable carrying a back up gun then by all means rock that second gun, but I think one handgun with a spare magazine will take you further and will be much easier to carry daily. Let me know what you think about carrying a back up gun in the comments below. if you have questions feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!

    TFB’s Concealed Carry Corner is brought to you by GLOCK


    I’m an avid shooter and love educating whether it’s at my job or in the shooting community. I’m an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions
    .I’m active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator @just_pistols @thedailyrifle.