The idea of carrying a backup gun is nothing new, but with the popularity of concealed carry the subject comes up in our classes. The real question is do you need to carry a backup and if so, what kind.

Experiential Experience

We are kicking off our Instructor Level Concealed Carry classes next year and I have been fielding questions related to gear lately. One of the student gear requirements is a backup gun. Students will become familiar with this option if they don’t currently employ to have a better understanding of why new shooters might choose the platform and then to speak with some authority on the subject. The most popular backup gun or the one we see the most is a 5-shot revolver. I am a big fan of these little blasters for lots of reasons. Make no mistake they are not without their challenges, but they make for a great option if you decide to carry a backup.

Why the Need

The first question you have to ask yourself is do you need to carry a backup gun. Rather than come up with a list of reasons why you shouldn’t, consider the idea for a moment. What will you carry? Yes, there are a lot of options in the subcompact and micro gun platforms, but there will be a point of diminishing returns when you consider caliber and capacity. The last thing to consider is how you plan to carry. Most backup guns are carried in a pocket rather than on the waist.

Going Easy on Yourself

A major reason why I encourage backup guns is for those instances where you want to downgrade. I’m a big proponent for being armed as often as possible. From everything to making dinner, doing household chores to other leisure activities in your own home. Carrying around you primary blaster all the time gets old when you consider their size and weight. If we are trying to increase the frequencies of being armed then you will have to consider the times when your primary is not the best choice.

Weak-Hand Access

Carrying a 5-shot revolver in a pocket holster opens up many options for you, but a major criterion for your backup gun is can you draw it with your weak hand. One reason we justify carrying a backup is should your strong hand/arm being inoperable or occupied. Drawing your backup with your weak hand and being able to effectively hit the target help narrow down our platform choices. It also limits where we will carry the backup, relegating to mainly the back pockets since front pockets are mostly inaccessible from the opposite side of the body.

Outside the Box Mentality

There are other reasons to carry a revolver as your backup. Since most critical incidents involving the average concealed carrier will occur at close ranges, sometimes extreme close ranges contact shots are on the table. The lack of reciprocating action reduces the possibility of stoppages. Pressing the barrel against the violent actor is no longer a squeamish activity, make positive contact and fire for effect. Another option is if required to do a gun pass a revolver is one of the easiest guns for a non-gun enthusiasts to use. Literally a point and shoot option. While limited in capacity, the user friendliness in this situation is worth the trade off.

Are the small framed revolvers making a come-back. The popularity of mid-sized semi-automatics as the primary carry option will not diminish. As we expand our concealed carry expertise we start to see old favorites rise up to fill fringe roles.

2 thoughts on “5-shot Power Play

  1. pignock says:

    I think I’m misunderstanding what you wrote about weak hand access.

    I carry right handed AIWB. It seems to me that the left front pocket would be the preferred location for a back up revolver. I can’t imagine even sitting on a pillow would be comfortable with a revolver in my back pocket. Also, wouldn’t a back pocket be difficult to access in a grappling encounter?

    I appreciate all the wisdom you share and enjoy your articles immensely.


    • Jeff Gonzales says:

      Hello Keith,

      Thanks for the post and perfect is a very subjective term. The biggest issue with front pocket carry is not all front pockets are equal. Between depth, width and size it makes it challenging. The moment you have to pull anything out of a front pocket from sitting position it makes even more challenging. When we talk about weak hand access we are talking about access from most common positions. A seated position, especially for a concealed carrier is very popular. Everything from meals, to commuting and the sitting at my desk to respond to the post. I hope this helps.

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