Should You Carry a Spare Piece?

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I’m a big believer in firepower. When I go out the door, I not only want to have a pistol that has a large enough caliber to do the job, I want to have enough rounds to ensure that I can finish the job. That usually means carrying two spare magazines, which still doesn’t seem like enough, considering that they only carry seven rounds each.

I’m constantly reminded of the police officer who faced off against a drug addict in a shootout. By the time it was over, the officer only had three rounds left, having fired 48, 9mm rounds though his Glock. Seventeen of those rounds hit their mark and it wasn’t until the 17th that the blood loss caused the addict to fall. With that in mind, the 21 rounds that I carry in my three magazines never seems like enough. But then there’s the problem of space to carry more magazines concealed, while still carrying my wallet and keys.

One of the solutions that people propose for this is to carry a backup gun. That provides another magazine worth of rounds, without having to reload. But is it worth the extra space and weight to carry that backup piece everywhere you go?

The idea of a backup gun isn’t actually supposed to be to give more rounds, but in case something happens to your primary gun. With the possibility of a gun breaking or even being lost in the heat of battle, a backup gun keeps you from being totally disarmed. We’ve all seen the gunslinger in the western movie who has two strapped-down guns, making him badder than anyone else around… or at least it was supposed to look that way.

Since the idea of the Old West shootout is an invention of Hollywood, there probably weren’t too many people wandering around the West with two pistols and crossed pistol belts. Pistols were expensive and while they might be a useful tool, unless you were going to get into a gun battle, that extra gun wasn’t going to do much for you. On the other hand, being able to grab another gun, rather than reloading, would be a real advantage in a shooting war.

But while there is some similarity between those Hollywood shootouts and a modern active shooter situation, they aren’t the same. For one thing, most of us carry semi-automatic pistols today, which can be reloaded with a fresh magazine in one to two seconds. That not only makes it easier to reload, than trying to reload a revolver, but also easier to carry more rounds. So why bother with the spare gun?

The other big problem with a spare gun is the types of guns that might be carried as a spare. We’re not talking about carrying another Glock or 1911, we’re talking about carrying a small gun, usually one that will fit in the pocket. Most of those are low caliber; what I would call a sub-prime caliber for self-defense. The backup guns I’ve seen are more like novelties, than real guns, although there are a number of fairly decent pocket guns on the market.

I have such a gun, a Ruger LCP, which is chambered in .380ACP. I actually carry it sometimes, when the clothes I am wearing don’t allow me to carry my normal carry gun. I really don’t feel that it is an adequate self-defense gun, both because of the smaller caliber and the shorter barrel. But I’d rather carry it, than carry nothing.

So, when would I carry that as a backup gun? Basically never. If I’m carrying a backup gun, it’s my normal carry pistol and I’m carrying a rifle as my primary firearm. So far, that only happens when I go hunting. I hope I neve have to carry it that way for anything else, but none of us know what tomorrow can bring. I can’t actually see a likely scenario where my pistol would break in a shootout and I’d need to depend on a second gun to keep myself alive. Not only that, but if I were in such a shootout, I can’t see that the bad guy or guys would actually get close enough to me, so that I could use that pocket gun effectively, knowing I’d hit my target.

Sometimes, the ideas that people give us don’t pan out to be all that great. This is one of those cases, when the inconvenience of carrying that second gun doesn’t provide much benefit. That doesn’t mean that I’ll throw it away; but don’t expect to see me carrying it for a backup. I’d rather count on keeping my powder dry and my survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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