FAST TRANSIENTSTHE TACTICAL TANGENTS BULLETIN
BACKUP GUNS: YAY OR NAY?
Back in the day, I carried a secondary gun at work because, well, I guess I hadn’t really thought about why—I just did. Maybe I’d get separated from my primary, or at least be in a fight over it, and having another one would be helpful. Or something. Two is better than one, right? Well, in true TacTangents style, I finally started to look at the People-Ideas-Hardware angle (in that order!). This was one of my first lessons in Philosophy of Use as a police officer.
The old-school way, which I can honestly say I never bothered with, was ankle carry. The thing about ankle carry is that it’s so dang hard to get to in a hurry. Every time I’ve talked to someone who’s big on ankle carry, they tell me something like, “Well I’d rather have a gun on my ankle than not at all.” Well, I’m not so sure that’s any better. Frankly, running with an ankle gun is probably a little cumbersome and that is exactly what you should be doing if you can’t get to your gun faster in most cases. I mean, sure, if you insist on ankle carry—go for it. But in my mind, carrying a smaller gun somewhere more accessible would be ideal. I imagine my need for a second weapon to be in the midst of a knock-down, dragged-out fight—and if I’m tangled up with someone, I want to be able to access that thing easily. Reaching down to touch my toes probably isn’t going to be the best way. In a CCW situation, where surreptitious draws might be appropriate, I’ll buy it in a pinch, but it limits me. I don’t recommend it for law enforcement.
So then I looked at some holsters that basically velcroed to my vest, under my uniform shirt. That worked okay, but it was still a couple steps to get my gun out—I’d have to pop a couple buttons to get in there and frankly, it looked a little funny. I finally landed at taking a nice small .380 and putting in a pocket holster, support side cargo pocket. I figured if I was defending my primary pistol with the closest hand, this gave me another option that I could get to from mount, or in someone’s mount, and while .380 isn’t an ideal caliber—this was going to be an in-your-face (literally) sort of thing.
But then I got to thinking. Maybe if I was worried about the hands-on/tangled up part of this gun battle, I should work on that first. I’m not saying a secondary firearm is a bad idea—I’m suggesting that if you are relying on that to fix a lack of proficiency in hand-to-hand skills, you might have it backwards. Carry a secondary gun—or a fixed-blade knife (accessible with your support hand!)—if you want to, but then go step up your hands-free fighting skills. No single tool or skill is an end-all, but every tool should be driven by an idea (technique, tactic) first—if your skill is lacking in a major area of proficiency, start there. People, Ideas, Hardware—In that order!
Mike is a full-time police officer and tactical medic. He has experience as a K9 handler, SWAT team member, and Law Enforcement Instructor. Mike started Tactical Tangents as part of his fundamental purpose to save lives. His goal is to enhance the survival of police officers and concerned citizens by helping them become better, smarter, faster, and more efficient. His opinions are for informational purposes only and do not reflect those of his employer or any other government agency.
John Correia runs a huge YouTube channel called Active Self Protection, where he analyzes self-defense encounters caught on camera. He joined us to share 5-6 observations he’s learned from watching over 17,000 fights.
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