Carrying Two Guns?

Sheriff Jim Wilson's Take from the NRA's Shooting Illustrated

If one is to believe some of the internet experts, their daily load-out comprises at least two guns, three knives, brass knuckles, a blackjack and a field first aid kit. While over here, most of us are just trying to get our students to regularly carry a defensive gun and one reload. My attempt at poking fun aside, there actually are times when packing more than one defensive handgun makes sense.

Carrying two guns has been a longtime tradition for lawmen. FBI gunfighter Walter Walsh often supplemented his Smith & Wesson .357 Mag. with a .45 Colt semi-automatic. Texas Ranger legend Frank Hamer was known to put on a Colt .38 Super or a Smith & Wesson .44 Spl. as a backup to his .45 Colt single action. In my case, I had a pair of .45 ACP Colt Commanders and would put on the second semi-auto whenever it looked like things might get western. Most of the time, we did this when working manhunts, narcotic raids, or felony apprehensions.

The armed citizen doesn’t have to run to the gunfire the way peace officers do, but there may still be times when two guns make sense. It might be a good idea whenever a person has to go into the worst parts of town for whatever reason. And the same can be said if the community is experiencing civil unrest. A late-night trip to the grocery or convenience store might also be a time to consider two guns.

Getting a second gun into action can be faster than reloading an empty gun and certainly faster than clearing one that has malfunctioned. And the reload is especially true if one is using revolvers. Also, it is not unheard of for a defensive handgun to become inoperable due to incoming fire.

Carrying two guns, however, will rarely make up for a lack of training and practice. Without training and practice, it is just possible that the crook will end up with two new guns instead of one.

Practicing helps us develop a smooth transition from one gun to the other. It also gives us an opportunity to evaluate just what kind of guns and holsters we are using and maybe determine if there is a better way. One might even consider carrying so that the second gun is accessible to the support hand.

So, no, I don’t always carry two guns. But sometimes the situation justifies it and other times when I get that old gut feeling. And, through training and practice, I’ve worked out what works for me. You might give it some thought, too.

A version of this article appeared in Shooting Illustrated.

Posted in Ammunition, Classic Cartridges, Concealed Carry, Men At Arms, Peace Officers, Personal Defense, Revolvers, Semi-Auto | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Changing Your Everyday Carry Gun: Proper Training

The Smith & Wesson Model 19 is the Cadillac of Snub-Nosed revolvers.

For the past two months, I’ve been carrying one of my favorite defensive handguns, the Smith & Wesson 2 1/2-inch Model 19 revolver. Now, I’m not writing to discuss the pros & cons of packing a defensive revolver. I have always gotten along with them just fine and my defensive experience has been something more than just theoretical.

However, any time that I change guns, I make an effort to put in time with the gun to re-familiarize myself with it. That involves several trips to the shooting range and a good deal of dry practice, including presentations, before I feel confident in using it to protect my hide. After all, the operation of the defensive handgun has to be almost second nature, with our focus mainly on dealing with the threat.

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Understanding the Defensive Double

Sheriff Jim Wilson's Take from the NRA's Shooting Illustrated

Contrary to what one sees in the movies and television, defensive handgun cartridges rarely cause a dynamic physical reaction by those hit. I have seen men hit at fairly close range with the .45 ACP and with the .357 Mag. and in either case, there was no immediate, noticeable physical reaction. The handgun is a good defensive tool simply because it is more portable than a rifle or shotgun. As a fight stopper, it leaves something to be desired.

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Verbal Deescalation: The Best Defensive Tool Isn’t Always in Your Holster

If you think about it, we spend our entire lives using our voices to get what we want and to avoid what we don’t. It is interesting how some folks develop this into quite an art, while others don’t have a clue. That is also true when we consider self-defense, although we rarely discuss using voice as a tool.

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