Back-up Yourself


This morning, a friend of mine was leaving for work and noticed a flat tire. Fortunately, he had a second vehicle to very quickly jump into and get to work on time.

This got me thinking. We don’t all have the opportunity to have a second car, but we do have the opportunity to have a back-up firearm. A back-up carry gun can save your bacon if you ever have a need for it. But there is more to it than just having a back-up – it’s choosing the right one, and TRAINING with it, as if your life depends on it (because it does).


The first question everyone asks is “Why do I need a back up?”  Well, what do you do if you get into a fight and your primary weapon breaks or jams?  Years ago, the idea of a back-up gun was for the elite law enforcement, or dirty cops.  This is just not the case in today’s world. That presumption was based on of the 70’s movies and not so much on reality. Sure it happened, but not as much as you would expect. Today, a back up gun is more relevant than it used to be. People today are concerned with having some way to protect themselves and their families  If your primary weapon fails, you need to have a solution immediately.


We all should be training and learning our primary carry firearm so we know what to do if we have a malfunction, but what happens if it fails completely or someone gets a lucky shot and damages the gun so it won’t work? The possibilities are there and we have to acknowledge them. I know you’ve heard it before but in the industry one is none and two is one.  That means if your primary carry goes down and you don’t have a back-up you have nothing. If you do, you still have a way to stay in the fight.


What should you carry as a back-up gun?  Small and lightweight is the first thing you should consider. With polymer guns and new light alloys on the market, you should be able to find something that meets that requirement pretty quickly.  Remember this is a back-up, not a primary.  Caliber should also be high on that list. I prefer a 38 special or a 380 ACP. Both have plenty of power to get you out of a situation.

My favorite is the Smith & Wesson 642. It’s small, light-weight and fits comfortably in my pocket, with a leather pocket holster. I keep it loaded with 5 rounds and keep an extra 5 round strip with me. Yes, that is my back-up. I carry a full size gun as a primary.  I recently saw a report on the new, up and coming Beretta Pico. This would also make a good pocket back up gun as it is small and is going to be available in 380 ACP or 32 auto.

There are several other guns out there that would make for a good back-up carry gun. Keep in mind if the gun is not comfortable to shoot, you probably won’t practice with it, so make sure you don’t mind shooting it a lot. Select your back-up gun wisely.  It may be all you have to save your life.


How should you carry a back-up gun?  There are a lot of options: ankle, pocket, hip holster. Everyone is different.  Personally, I can’t stand an ankle holster; it’s uncomfortable to me to have extra weight on my leg. I prefer a pocket gun, and since I carry a full size gun in a strong side, inside-the-waistband holster, a pocket gun is not so bad.

We each have to make the choice as to how to carry a back up. There are hundreds of options out there for pocket and ankle holsters.  Consult with your local NRA Certified instructor to help you find the best way for you to carry.

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Then as I have said many times before and will continue to say, TRAIN with your back up. Don’t just stand and shoot it at the range. Practice drawing and firing from your chosen carry position. This is vital, as it teaches you what to do if you have to reach for it, and it teaches you about possible downfalls with your draw or carry position. So find an instructor and Train, Train, Train! The more training you have, the better you are prepared for whatever comes at you.


Practice as often as you can, and do so safely, both with your primary and your back-up.  They have the potential to keep you alive as long as you know how to use them and how to deploy them when needed.





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