Ankle holsters are long-time traditional favorites for backup. They are out of the way of the often already crowded gun belt. While slow to reach from a standing position, the ankle rig is ideal for a person seated behind a counter or seated behind the wheel of a car. When you are down on your back, your legs are no longer supporting your body weight and you can quickly flex your knee and snap your ankle up toward your reaching hand. The ankle holster is also fairly accessible to either hand, an important consideration in backup gun placement because there is always a likelihood of your gun hand or arm being injured and disabled in the course of a fight.
Bear in mind that ankle rigs take some time to get used to. They also require full-cut pants cuffs. Police uniform pants work well with ankle holsters, as do straight-cut suit pants and cargo pants. Sports slacks and jeans will require “boot cut cuffs” if they’re going to give you access to an ankle holster. This type of rig works best with smaller handguns; a compact Glock or equivalent is about the largest that most people can effectively carry in an ankle holster.
Pocket carry is extremely popular for backup guns. Tactically, it allows you to put your hand in your pocket in a “hinky” situation and already have the gun discreetly in hand if lethal danger suddenly threatens. Many backup gun users place the pocket gun on their weak side, leaving the strong hand free to carry out its trained reflex to the primary handgun. Whenever carrying in a pocket, be sure to use a pocket holster! This will: always hold the gun in the same position for faster access; break up the gun’s outline and prevent you from being “made” as someone who is armed; speed the draw under any conditions; and prevent sharp edges on the gun (such as the front sight on a J-frame snub-nose revolver) from wearing holes in your clothing.
Off-body placement is an often ignored but sometimes practical location for backup guns. This was how the lady in the mom-and-pop store mentioned earlier accessed both the revolvers she used to gun down the armed robbers who opened fire on her and her husband. Lance Thomas, the famous Los Angeles Rolex repairman who survived multiple gunfights with armed robbers and killed several opponents, kept a loaded handgun discreetly concealed about every three feet along his side of the counter and workbench in his small shop. He was always able to grab a gun – or another gun, when he shot the first one empty – in time to win every single one of his gunfights.
A spare handgun secreted in the map pocket of the driver’s door of your car may be easier and more discreet to reach to than the primary gun in your hip scabbard or shoulder holster, when you have to draw on a carjacker or a kidnapper who is already in the car with you. While not always recommended by experts, discreet off-body placement of concealed handguns has doubtless saved the lives of multiple good people in certain situations.
The Bottom Line
Now you know why street-wise gun expert Phil Engeldrum once wrote, “If you need to carry a gun, you probably need to carry two of them.”
The choices are yours. What to carry, where to carry, and whether to carry it at all.
If you do choose to go the backup gun route, remember the following.
The backup gun should be simple to operate under extreme stress. That’s the only time you’ll be reaching for it. That simplicity will also serve well if you must hand your backup to another person, with no time to explain how to use it.
The backup gun is literally a last resort, and therefore should be powerful enough to stop a fight. This is why most experts shy away from small-caliber handguns as backup weapons.
Because the backup gun is likely to be a last resort in a life-or-death situation, it must be absolutely reliable.
If you carry backup, you need to train with it. Practice getting it out and into action. Practice shooting it, particularly with the “weak” hand if you carry it on the non-dominant side. If you don’t groove in the movements and techniques now, they won’t be there when everything goes auto-pilot in a life-threatening crisis.
Backup handguns have saved the lives of a great many cops, and would have saved more had they been present. They can do the same for law-abiding citizens who legally carry concealed handguns to protect themselves and those within the mantle of their protection.
This article is an excerpt from Massad Ayoob’s Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry. Click here to get your copy.
Recommended gun books for those who carry concealed handguns:
The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry
The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery
Effective Handgun Defense, A Comprehensive Guide to Concealed Carry
Find more resources at gundigeststore.com/tactical