View Full Version : Practicing with your back-up gun

March 15, 2009, 10:16 AM
I know that several of you carry backup guns and I am curious about how you practice with them, if at all. I would be willing to bet that many of you practice with them very little. How many of you practice with them the way they would be employed in real life? What I mean is that a back-up gun is just that, it is a gun that you go to only when your primary gun fails or you are unable to get to your primary weapon. In the same way that you practice clearing and reloading drills you should practice employing your backup gun.

My main gun is a Glock 23 carried behind my right hip with two spare mags carried behind my left hip. My backup gun is a Ruger LCP carried in my left front pants pocket "ALWAYS". A spare mag for the LCP is in a right hand pants pocket. Even if the Glock isn't there the LCP is in the same place. Despite being right handed I have trained myself to be proficient with my left hand, thanks mostly to Cowboy Action Shooting.:) The LCP is my left hand gun for all practical purposes. I have recently gotten into the habbit of incorporating my backup into my practice sessions the same way that it would be employed in real life. I have more than 15 mags for my Glocks so what I will do is I will load some dummy rounds in with the live ammunition in a couple of mags at the start of the session, some with two dummies back to back. I will also load some mags with just a few rounds of live ammo. If, during practice, my gun goes dry I grab a spare off my left side , reload, and get back up and running. If, during shooting, I get one failure to fire I simply rack the slide and pull the trigger again and, if the gun goes bang, I continue to practice. If, however, I get two failures to fire in a row I will reholster the pistol with my right hand and draw my backup with my left hand. By mixing up the mags before hand I never know what is coming so I learn to expect the unexpected.

As I said earlier, the other reason for a backup gun is that you can't get to your primary. That is the main reason that I choose to carry the LCP on the left side. For whatever reason, there may be times you find it neccesary to draw your backup first. When this happens you will want to be familiar with reloading your backup and transitioning from your backup to your primary. Since my backup is a 380 I generally fire at least 3 rounds. With 7 rounds in the gun this means that the gun will run dry quickly so I usually practice transitioning to the Glock though I also do practice reloads. When transitioning to the Glock I don't usually waste time reholstering until after the Glock is drawn. I use this opportunity to practice firing one handed with my right hand. When practicing reloading the LCP I drop the mag using my left index finger and reloading with my right hand, ALWAYS. That is the way it is carried and fired and that is the way I practice reloading.

So what do you do?

March 15, 2009, 03:11 PM
I don't know why it's never occurred to me to practice deploying my BUG. I do shoot it though because I love to shoot and it's important to be proficient with your carry guns.

March 15, 2009, 11:18 PM
I've practiced switching to my BUG and back to primary. I haven't gone as far as to throw in dud rounds. But I do not reload yet so maybe when I get into that I'll be able to train that way. I consider it necessary to be as good with BUG as with primary.

March 16, 2009, 06:30 AM
My main gun is a Glock 23 carried behind my right hip with two spare mags carried behind my left hip. My backup gun is a Ruger LCP carried in my left front pants pocket "ALWAYS". A spare mag for the LCP is in a right hand pants pocket.

If I had to carry all that junk on me to feel safe, I'D MOVE!

March 16, 2009, 07:06 AM
I practice drawing and firing my BUG regularly, mostly close range point shooting. Also, when I qualify with it I always go through the course of fire with all of my duty gear and draw/shoot my BUG from the same place as I carry it. If I'm not comfortable and familiar with deploying it on the range, how can I expect to be able to do it in a high stress situation?

The Great Mahoo
March 16, 2009, 07:10 AM
I don't carry a BUG, but I certainly agree its important to train with any carry gun.

Superhouse 15
March 16, 2009, 08:14 AM
I carry my BUG in my weak-side back pocket so I normally practice shooting it weak hand only, just like I would most likely use it.

Lots of people practice transitioning from primary to BUG but I can see a situation where I might go to the BUG first and then the primary. I can draw my BUG like a wallet easier than I can lift my shirt, grip, and draw my primary if I was being held up for my wallet. I have a safe place to drop the gun, so I practice drawing, firing, then dropping the BUG to go to my primary. Don't want to worry about holding on to an empty BUG in a fight.

Double Naught Spy
March 16, 2009, 08:27 AM
I would hazard a guess that most folks practice with their bugs very little, sort of like they often practice with their mouse guns (that are sometimes carried as primary guns or "always" guns). The funny thing is that if your situation is dire enough that you have to go to your backup gun or use a mouse gun for self defense, then your shots are that much more critical. You are making your last ditch effort, so to speak. So I am always amazed to learn that folks don't practice with them more. Even more surprising is that many folks don't know their proficiency with their BUGS and/or Mice and they just assume they will be needed at contact distances.

The primary excuse I hear about not shooting smaller guns is "It is meant to be carried a lot and shot a little." So how do you become proficient with a gun you don't shoot much?

March 16, 2009, 09:02 AM
Since I recently sold my Glock 27, I've gone with my S&W 638 as an always gun, which becomes a BUG when carrying something bigger.

Anyways, one solution I've come up with practice is an airsoft double:


With it, I can practice deploying the gun and engaging targets in variety of scenarios, and from positions that wouldn't normally be safe to practice with live ammunition.

March 16, 2009, 11:38 AM
At work I can absoultly NOT show that I am carring, sometimes for that reason instead of carring my .40 s&w I carry my little p380 which is more or less the same deal as your ruger LCP. I have not put a lot of rounds through the pistol and don't enjoy firing it. Its small and does not fit my hand well. have you found a large improvment with the practice on your LCP? your post reminds me how much i need to practice.

March 16, 2009, 11:43 AM
If I had to carry all that junk on me to feel safe, I'D MOVE!

Sometimes that is just not practical...or possible.

March 16, 2009, 06:54 PM
If I had to carry all that junk on me to feel safe, I'D MOVE!

it has nothing to do with where I live. I fell like that is just being prepared. guns can fail and I think carrying reloads and a BUG is just prudent.

March 18, 2009, 06:20 PM
"So what do you do?"

I practie with the guns I rely on, to include my secondary pistol; dry fire, live fire, drawing, retention, etc. To not do so and expect success would be fooling myself.

March 19, 2009, 09:37 AM
If I had to carry all that junk on me to feel safe, I'D MOVE!

To where?

March 19, 2009, 10:14 PM
it will be because of the weather, not the neighborhood in which I live. Maine might have some of the highest taxes in the country but we have one of the lowest crime rates. :) I hope to never need any of it. I choose to be prepared for the worst. By the way, none of it is junk.:p

HouseZealot, the LCP is a great little gun. It is so light and compact that I forget that it is in my pocket. I carry it in a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster and, with jeans, no one knows it is a gun. Shooting quickly with it at 7-10 yards with my left hand I can keep all shots in a group that can be covered with my hand. It really is a whole lot more accurate than a gun this size has a right to be.

March 20, 2009, 11:38 AM
I carry a J frame in a pocket holster daily. I also open carry a SW99 on occasion. So, I guess that the J is my BUG? I try to practice as much as possible with them both. I do a lot of dry fire/empty practice.

Brian Pfleuger
March 20, 2009, 05:40 PM
If I had to carry all that junk on me to feel safe, I'D MOVE!


I believe you and I (and some others) tried to win that argument before. I think there's no convincing.:):(

T. O'Heir
March 21, 2009, 01:00 AM
If you need a back up firearm, you've done something wrong. Mind you, if you don't practice with any firearm, you might as well carry a stick.

March 21, 2009, 06:13 AM
obviously don't believe that you need a backup gun, that is fine. If I leave the house without two guns I do not panic. In fact, if I leave the house without any I don't panic. I carry a gun because you NEVER KNOW what you might walk into. I carry a second gun most of the time because it is convenient to do so and, stuff breaks. I like to be prepared for just about any situation. When I go to a job site, I am a cabinet maker, I take enough tools to outfit 4 or 5 guys, I generally work alone. When I go camping with my CAS friends I bring enough food for a small army. If someone needs something or other that they forgot or don't have I usually have it. As I said earlier, I hope never to need any of it. If the need ever does arise I want to be prepared. If you don't want to carry a second gun that is your choice but don't come asking to borrow mine in a gunfight.:p

March 21, 2009, 05:18 PM
I practice with my backup gun always .Every gun i own is a backup for something else.I own.You must shoot everything you have to be good enough for that ONE SHOT KILL.:rolleyes: Your life might depend on it.

March 21, 2009, 05:55 PM
I practice with my backup more than my primary as with the short barrel and small grip it's more of a challenge to hit as good as my primary which is a full sized pistol a Sig 226. When I can hit as good and as fast as my primary with my BUG I will change the training to a more challenging course.