Backup Guns & Weak Side Carry
Carrying a backup gun comes with its own challenges. One of the biggest is when carrying on the weak side or more commonly referenced as weak side carry.
Old School Carry
When I first started carrying a backup gun the majority was from a weak side carry. At the time it seemed the best balance and those who were carrying backup guns typically carried them this manner. I liked everyhting about weak side carry, it was fast, allowed me to have weak side access and doubled as a close contact option. I first learned about this method from some true masters, an old school group of cops who routinely dealt with violent felons. What struck me the most about their preferred method was how it wasn’t optional, it was mandatory. Due to the nature of their business there was a real possibility they would go to guns. Because it was mandatory and the risk was high, there was deliberate practice and qualification to maintain this skill.
What Are The Odds
Over the years my viewpoint has changed. Not about the legitimacy of the technique, but the likelihood anyone outside of that job description would actually carry in this method. Truth be told, we haven’t seen a weak side carry method for backup guns in our classes for well over eight years. In our Concealed Carry Instructor course there is a block of instruction speficically on backup guns. Nobody has brought a weak side carry. I use to start the demonstration for this block of instruction with weak side carry. It became more of nod to history than practical application. Those I know who continue to weak side carry do so because that is what they know. That is what they have developed to a high skill level.
It Is Not Always About Speed
As I mentioned, it was fast. When executing a transition, it was by far the fastest. The problem, it wasn’t always the most accurate. Unless you invested time into not just developing, but sustaining your shooting skill from the weak side it was questionable at best to meet common accuracy standards. The flip side, most defensive gun uses occur at close range, range close enough that high level accuracy skills are not always necessary. But, should you have to shoot from behind cover and extend your range you are looking at distances that might be more challening off the weak side. Not only did you have to work weak side shooting techniques, but weak hand only shooting techniques. I still find this to be valuable practice since as an instructor it is important to demonstrate off both sides. I don’t need a high level of skill, but I need to be safe and competent.
The Utility Of A Knife
There could be times when you find yourself in a situation you cannot access your primary carry gun because your strong hand is occupied. Typically in some form of clinch, grip or entanglement. In this case, transitioning to your weak side carry can easily be brought to bear. Again, within these typical engagements you are within close range, most of the time at contact range. If you are at contact range, you can use contact weapons such as knives. I believe this is a strong argument for carrying a fixed blade weak side or midline. Should my strong hand be occuppied for whatever reason, the transition to a fixed blade at contact range is extremely effective. When you consider the difference between carrying a backup gun versus a fixed blade, the weight alone is a strong argument. Not to mention, the utility of a knife in other situations.
Contact Shots With Backup Guns
One good argument for carrying a backup gun on the weak side was should you be in contact range, making contact shots with my backup gun is real possibility. At the very least, near contact and off angle shots. Near contact can be fired from your contact or retention position. Off angles shots come into play when the threat is no longer in front of you or at the same height as you. For contact range work, the best backup gun would be a lightweight snubby revovler. Revolvers have far less potential of stoppages due to being at contact range. Truth be told, the unit I observed was carrying a 5-shot J-frame revovler as their backup.
The Better Options
What you are left with as far as carry locations for backup guns will be pocket carry, ankle carry and deep carry. The commonality about all of these carry locations is how they are strong hand driven. If carrying a backup gun is a requirment for you, but you don’t feel developing the skill on your weak hand is ideal, then staying on your strong side will be best option. You could even go so far as to carry a subcompact version of your primary carry gun to maintain familiarization. The point I’m trying to make is in today’s landscape carrying a backup gun is not frequently practiced. I believe there are a few good reasons why, the biggest being improved reliability and capacity of the primary carry guns.
I’m not overlooking other situations such as your gun being damanged, lost or your strong hand/arm is injured. What I’m saying is the fast majority of folks who are currently carrying a backup gun are carrying for a strong side draw.