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The Second Gun

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by E.L., Jan 7, 2008.

  1. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member


    "The Second Gun" triggered a lot of interesting discussion. I got an ear-full of responses and suggestions on that one, ranging from, “I feel ridiculous wearing two guns,” to “Why not just carry a Glock with a 147-round magazine?” Valid points, all. Initially this question was directed particularly to those who carry guns which hold only five rounds. Many folks make the decision to carry a revolver despite the availability of higher capacity autos. (For more on this, click here.) How do you deal with the need to reload compact carry revolvers such as the Smith & Wesson Model 642? At the same time, I have never seen an auto that couldn’t break or malfunction, and I believe that the backup gun concept is relevant regardless of what kind of gun one carries.
    Further rationale:
    • All guns can fail. The very best guns, be they 1911’s, Glock’s, SIG’s or whatever, can break parts, jam or in other ways become inoperable. If the primary is down, and you don’t have a “plan B” your goose is cooked. If you have the second gun, you have an option.
    • While none of us likes to talk about it, anyone can be disarmed by a skilled operator. A second, hidden gun can permit you to survive a disarm.
    • In the event of an injury to the strong side hand or arm, the backup may be accessed by the weak side hand.
    • Some may simply like the idea of the second gun and adopt it for that reason, irrespective of any threat assessment.
    • If the ammo of the primary is exhausted, the second gun may provide a life-saving solution.
    Suggestions for the second gun:
    When folks responded, many mentioned the way they carry the second gun. Here are some of the modes of backup carry that were mentioned.
    • A revolver in a belt holster and a mouse gun, such as P32 or an NAA Mini in a pants pocket.
    • A service auto on the belt and a snubnose in the pocket,
    • A revolver on the belt and a second revolver in a jacket pocket. This, of course, works better in cool weather.
    • A revolver or service auto in a shoulder holster and a second on the belt or in a pocket.
    • A service auto on the belt and a second compact auto in a belly band or pocket holster.
    Several correspondents reminded me that in their jurisdictions, civilians were limited to one carry gun, such as the State of New Mexico. And then there are those who are completely denied their civil rights in such places as New Jersey and Maryland. Be sure that you are clear about the laws in the area where you live before adopting the carry of a second gun.
    A recurring theme is that of threat assessment. “I have carried a 5-round revolver for thirty years and five rounds have always been five more than I needed,” or “I don’t live in Baghdad.” That’s one point of view. Threat assessment is a highly subjective thing, and a person may not feel that their situation requires the complexity and discomfort involved with carrying a second gun. I have heard people say that they only carry a gun when they think they might need it. While I can understand this line of reasoning, it has flaws. Few civilians volunteer to go places where we think we will be facing a high likelihood of getting into a gunfight. Exceptions would include people who work in situations where the chances of an armed robbery are high. These folks really should be carrying 24/7 and practicing a lot. And generally, carrying all the time is a better practice than carrying only when we think we might need it. (See “Have Gun. Will Carry.”) Recent events in Colorado and Nebraska have illustrated once again that deadly threats may emerge in places where we do not expect them.
    A corollary to this might be, “I only carry a backup when I think my primary is going to fail or run out of ammo.” No one can really predict when these situations might arise, so really, we are simply rolling these dice when we make these “might need it” judgments. See also here and here.
    Subjective threat assessments are just hunches, feelings and intuition. Unless grounded in some solid information, they have very little predictive capability. Therefore, our carry doctrine needs to be based on something more than the ever-shifting tides of our inner emotions. Yes, we all have to do threat assessments, and we all have to make compromises at times, but the assessments should not be our sole criteria for determining how and what we will carry.
    Another issue mentioned frequently is that of work-place conditions and wardrobe. Many folks find it hard to carry even one gun in their work setting with the wardrobe that is required of them. For these folks, I have one word, Kel-Tec. I have spoken to people who find it hard to carry anything more than an NAA Mini Revolver. All I can really do in this regard is to express my sympathy and hope that the employers in question become more enlightened. However, if you can manage one NAA Mini, you can probably pack two, and ten rounds are better than five, and there’s no “speed reload” with those little guys.
    One combination I have been working with:
    A combination I have been working with is the primary in a shoulder holster, in my case, a Series 1 Kimber Pro Carry Stainless, and the backup, an S&W Model 642, in a belt holster or a jacket pocket. In the bitter cold, when you’re really bundled up, the snubnose in a jacket pocket works particularly well. You can discreetly keep your hand on your gun and look completely unobtrusive. With the backup in a belt holster, you have to position the backup so that it doesn’t conflict with the shoulder holster. The one I use, a Galco Miami Classic, has a double magazine pouch on the right side, and unless the gun is positioned either forward or way back, the butt of the backup hits the pouch. When wearing a baggy hoody, I can carry the revolver forward in appendix position and the shoulder holster without any conflict. (Again, cold weather benefits these modes of carry. In 100 degree summer heat, it might be a 642 in a pocket and an NAA Mini tucked into the top of a tube sock.)
    The shoulder holster has a number of characteristics to commend it. The gun is accessible when seated or driving. For a heavy gun, the shoulder holster is often more comfortable to carry than a belt holster. For those who suffer lower back pain, the shoulder holster is often much more tolerable than weight on the belt. Shoulder holsters generally carry two reloads which could be an advantage in certain circumstances. Finally, it is easy to protect the gun from a disarm attempt. Negatives of the shoulder holster include sweeping your non-shooting arm and people behind you with the muzzle of the gun in an emergency, having to leave your coat on at all times, and those with ample girth or short arms may find the draw difficult.
    Final Reflections
    The second gun requires more of everything: more planning, more holsters, more weight, more concealment. In return, it provides more firepower and more options. The decision to carry the second gun involves a multi-faceted calculus of personal defense theory, threat assessment, employment circumstances, legal environment and physical capabilities. For those who frequently “go in harm’s way,” I highly recommend the second gun.
  2. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    There are some places and situations that I have to go into on occasion where I carry a third handgun. I usually always have a carry piece in addition to my NAA .22 mag that pretty much lives in my front pocket. Once in a while, I will stick a .38 snubby into the other pocket even though I will be wearing my .45 in a holster. I don't even think about the little NAA; it's just there if I need it and I hope I never do. I have always been an automatic kind of guy but the comfort of haveing a wheel gun as a back-up is worth the extra weight.
  3. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Sea, pickup one of those Keltecs .32/.380 and you will find yourself leaving that NAA at home.
  4. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    I'm still drawing the paranoia line at carrying two. Not that I would say anyone is being overcautious to do so, it's just where I draw the line for myself. Probably has a lot to do with the small town I'm in too, though. If I still lived in the city, I might.
  5. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    .....Picture youself being confronted at close range. You start to draw your weapon; and your client executes a manuver that would have made Bruce Lee proud. Maybe he got real lucky; or maybe he's just that good. Anyway, in less than a heartbeat, your client's back spinning heel kick has sent your primary gun clattering to the sidewalk.

    .....You didn't know what you were dealing with. Now you do. Your client still hasn't taken your full measure though. Lots of folks carry Guns. There's a respectable number of licensed Gun Carriers who can hit a man at tobbacco chewing distance- even under the excitement of combat. In general, a man who carries a reasonable sized back-up, in such way that he can speed draw it- and practices speed drawing his back-up regularly- he's a true Pistolero- the modern day equivalent of a Samurai. He's an even bet to win any close range encounter, against any sort of master on Earth.(And he may very well have a medium sized third Gun to fall back on; if necessary- and a few knives...)

    .....Too far fetched? You're drawing your primary weapon at close range; when your walking-stick carrying client smacks you smartly at the precise pressure-point on your wrist, to send your Gun clattering to the pavement. Once again- maybe dumb luck- maybe skill.

    .....Or your client moves much faster that you'd forseen- easy to do, when you're worried how it will sound in court the next morning. He manages to grab your Gun hand BEFORE you can bring it to bear.

    .....I never thought of being armed as a burden. I looked at at as something marvelous. Whatever I did in a day's time; the fact that I did it armed was the most significant feature of the activity. And I had a carry permit for eleven years- it wasn't a phase.

    .....If carrying one Gun adds so much zest to life; why wouldn't carrying a second; third; fourth Gun add even more?

    .....But that's just my opinion. Y'all are entitled to your mistaken opinions.

    ..... RVM45 [yukface]
  6. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    There might be some instances where I could see myself carrying a second handgun but in geeneral I tend to have no real worries about being able to get through hand to hand with anyone I would run into, not that Im a bada$$ or anything but MOST of the ones attacking folks without provokation arent all THAT skilled and me being 6'2" and around 275 with a bckground in various martial arts and as a bouncer and such, I just am not TOO worried about hand to hand with anyone. I carry for when an attacker brings his gun or several of them have contact weapons (have faced knives when unarmed before, they hurt). I figure most likely if they are disarming me (I also try to make sure that isnt an easy task) then they probably are unarmed and if its BOTH of us unarmed thats fine. If they take the gun I probably aint gonna have time to gt a second one out.
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