When would you transition from primary to back-up?

When would you transition from primary to back-up?

This is a discussion on When would you transition from primary to back-up? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have been thinking about carrying a back-up gun (BUG). In the process I have come up with a few questions. The big question on ...

View Poll Results: If you pulled out your BUG would it be in your strong or weak hand?

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  • You draw your Backup Gun (BUG) with your dominate hand

    40 54.05%
  • You draw your Backup Gun (BUG) with your non-dominate hand

    28 37.84%
  • I’m an ambidextrous point shooter, both guns blazing at the same time

    9 12.16%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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Thread: When would you transition from primary to back-up?

  1. #1
    Member Array glembe's Avatar
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    When would you transition from primary to back-up?

    I have been thinking about carrying a back-up gun (BUG). In the process I have come up with a few questions.

    The big question on my mind-

    When should I transition to the BUG?

    • * As soon as I realize there is a problem with my primary (jam, failure, etc)
    • * Only after I have attempted to clear the malfunction of my primary
    • * After I have used up the ammo in the primary (New York reload)
    • * After I have used up all the speed strips, speed loaders, or magazines for my primary
    • * Transition?! My BUG is already out, in my weak (non-dominate) hand, I just have to line up the sights

    Since I do not carry two guns at this time its difficult to say what I would do or how I would train myself to make the transition. For now I think the best for me would be to hang onto my primary, clearing and reloading if required. I practice clearing, failure drills and magazine changes. I know what I can do in a short amount of time. The time it takes to draw out another gun compared to the time it takes to fix or reload it fairly close. My guess would be most people would go for a BUG as the very last option. Has anyone gone over this?

  2. #2
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    Array rocky's Avatar
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    I think getting to a BUG would be slower than clearing a malfunction for me. I am ambidextrous, and practice drawing all guns with my weak hand. My idea of a BUG is a last resort gun. when all else fails.
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array MNBurl's Avatar
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    I 95% of the time carry two. One available for each hand.

    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking" - George S. Patton.

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  5. #4
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    Array Bark'n's Avatar
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    Interesting questions and responses.

    There are many, many factors to consider remembering that Shootouts are very dynamic and fluid situations.

    One thing I try to do is not allow certain "absolutes" in my training ie, "Only draw my BUG after trying to clear a jam or malfunction, Only draw my BUG after primary is empty, etc, etc".

    Also you should have at least one of your guns available to both hands.

    I prefer having my BUG available to my off hand for several reasons, and one important reason is this:

    Studying many actual shooting scenarios has shown that often times when in a gun fight, in a large percentage of instances, people have been shown to subconsciously focus, not on the person they are fighting but they often focus on the weapon the opponent is holding.

    This accounts for a surprisingly large number of the people who are wounded are shot in their gun hand or gun arm and often times, the primary weapon is shot and damaged.

    The biggest thing you can do is to Train, Train, Train... Not just live fire, but just creating mental scenarios and identifying actions to take is a form of training. You can train in the house with unloaded weapons at anytime the mood strikes you or you think of something new to try. (I want to point out that before you do any in-home training with an unloaded weapon is that you first develop and safety ritual of unloading weapons, keep all ammunition totally out of the training area or even better locked up out of the room or rooms entirely. When you are done training, you are DONE. No "let me try it one last time". And anytime you are distracted from the training or interrupted, you are done. Stop and formally end the session!

    One thing you should bear in mind however, is that you should be able to adapt to changing situations. It's funny though, that what allows us to be able to adapt to changing situations in a highly stressful situation is to train rigidly to the basics. Training with specific tasks in specific situations until it becomes part of your muscle memory is what allows you to be able to adapt with greater success when under the stress of a gunfight.
    Last edited by Bark'n; May 3rd, 2007 at 12:37 AM.
    Semper Fi

    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

  6. #5
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    I carry the BUG accessable to my weak hand and often have my hand on it as I'm walking around.

    I may or may not have a third gun on me, but I always have my "Primary". When I make the transition to my BUG it's done by dropping the Primary to the ground. If I need to reload the "Primary" later I will have to pick it up first.

    I will use an "El Cheapo" handgun out of the safe to practice dropping the "Primary" and going to the BUG.


  7. #6
    Distinguished Member Array Dakotaranger's Avatar
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    North Dakota
    I carry my BUG on the weakside. The transition would depend on several things. It may depend on the situation, such as I'm stiff arming the BG with my strong hand, my BUG becomes my primary in a hurry. Have two BGS that I have to cover then both would come out. If I have mag failure or a gun problem I probably would go to the BUG. If I've run out of ammo and I can't beat the BG with my 1911 (forgive the lame joke.) If I totally run out of ammo including my BUG I'll draw my derringer. After that hopefully the PD would have shown up by then.

    At least this is kinda my thinking as far as a BUG
    "[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons.
    They are left in full possession of them."

    Zacharia Johnson (speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention,25 June 1778)"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." ~Alexander Hamilton

  8. #7
    Member Array kd5nrh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glembe View Post
    • * As soon as I realize there is a problem with my primary (jam, failure, etc)
    • * Only after I have attempted to clear the malfunction of my primary
    • * After I have used up the ammo in the primary (New York reload)
    • * After I have used up all the speed strips, speed loaders, or magazines for my primary
    • * Transition?! My BUG is already out, in my weak (non-dominate) hand, I just have to line up the sights
    Any time you feel like it for any reason. The middle of a gunfight is not the time to analyze anything other than the threat and any no-shoot stuff around the threat. If you have a hunch that you ought to be grabbing your BUG soon, go with it.

    Of course, now that I traded in my .380 for a .357Mag, (Taurus 605) all my carry guns are in serious calibers, (9mm, .357Mag, and .45ACP) so I guess when I carry two, it's more of a co-primary situation than primary/backup. When I do carry two, my backup is generally quicker to get at than my primary, (Coronado vest or SmartCarry for the BUG, vs tuckable IWB for the larger frame primary) so it's more of a question of which is easier to get to right now than anything else - if that's not enough, then the other may come out.

    More likely, I'll start just leaving the larger autos in the car, and carry only the .357 and a couple of speed strips when I'm not in the mood to dress around multiple guns.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Array kylebce's Avatar
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    I answered ambidextrious or amphibius as one of my employees jokes because I am one of those freaks that do most things with either hand. I dont practice "both guns blazing."

    I would stick with primary as long as that makes sense. The time I see a need for "another" gun is when there's something wrong with #1 -or- your dominant hand. If you are shot, sliced, or bashed in your right arm. Then you may enter the conflict with your back up (in your weak hand.) Therefore- IMHO it should be positioned for left or non-dominant hand to draw.
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  10. #9
    Senior Member Array Devone6's Avatar
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    I haven't carried a BUG often since I left LE, but when I did/do, I carried it to be drawn (hopefully) with my dominant hand. I agree that with training it is probally faster for most to clear a jam than draw a BUG, but when I carried a BUG I did so because I felt clearing a jam might not be the reason I would need a BUG. Everyone can poke at me for this one if they want, and I'm not recommending it for anyone else or condeming any one who packs a BUG, do as YOU like, but since I left LE and don't go out expecting I might use a gun as part of my normal work routine anymore, I see no need to carry a BUG. I still carry a primary for the unexpected though.

    For what it's worth, I say if you are going to carry:
    -Carry it for dominant hand draw, but also practice non dominant hand drawfrom same location
    -Don't normally use a lot of different carry methods for a BUG-use same spot, holster, gun
    -If you carry a auto, good idea to pick a BUG that can use your primary's magazines
    -If you wouldn't carry it for your primary, don't carry it for your backup (eg. I woundn't carry a .32acp for my primary, so I'm not going to depend on one for my backup)

  11. #10
    kpw is offline
    VIP Member Array kpw's Avatar
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    After a couple injuries in the last 10 years left me one handed while healing up, I started carrying the BUG left hand draw. Most of my shooting with it is done left handed and one handed. I also practice drawing my main pistol with my left hand. I like being able to draw a gun with either hand. The gun that is the handiest to get to comes out first. Often in cooler weather, that's a BUG in a jacket pocket.

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    IMHO the poll is too simplistic to answer ( not the OP's fault , its just a more complex issue than a poll can handle ) .

    My thoughts are that " Ideally " a bug should be carried so as to be accessible with either hand when standing , setting , or kneeling . This is not allways possible but is something to think about when selecting carry location .

    As far as when to transition from primary to bug well that is highly situational dependent. If your away from cover and have a stoppage then go for the bug , dont diagnose . I train to stick the first gun into my waistband in the front and transition to maintain fire while moving to cover . Normally my weak hand takes the primary and stuffs it at or near centerline in front while the strong hand draws the bug . Never stop moving to cover no matter what you choose tho . Once behind cover i can figure out why my primary went toes out on me and attempt to fix same . If its empty i reload it and go on , if its mechanically non functional well then i have time to diagnose it and possibly get it back in the fight . If its down for the count , then i have time to reload the bug . If all works properly i go to the bug when i have depleted the primary, and the reload that i carry . If for any reason i cannot quickly and conveniently use my strong hand to shoot ( be it a wound , or herding another party , carrying a child , ect.. ) then i go to the bug and use it if i can reach it .
    In summation :

    Carrying a BUG is a lot like carrying a leatherman type multi tool . It will likely never be the ideal answer to any situation but with a little thought and care it will work for a hell of a lot of jobs , and certainly beats calling " time out " while you go get the proper tool for the job at hand .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
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  13. #12
    VIP Member Array raevan's Avatar
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    My primary is right hand draw and my BUG is left hand. I would draw it when needed. If I happen to have somthing in my right hand and I need to draw the BUG would be drawn first. I would go for the bug whenever I demmed it necessary depending on the situation.

    There are never any absoluts in a fight, one has to go with what is presented and respond as needed.

  14. #13
    Member Array plblark's Avatar
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    if YOU draw MY BUG with either hand, we'd better be REALLY well acquainted or there's going to be trouble :-)

    I know what you meant though and answered appropriately.
    For MN specific carry information and a great shooting community, check out forum.twincitiescarry.com

  15. #14
    VIP Member Array Tom G's Avatar
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    I think that carrying 2 guns will be a pain. If you keep yous gun in good repair and clean you should have few problems if any.

  16. #15
    New Member Array glock+ipod's Avatar
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    I pocket-carry my BUG accessible to my non-dominant hand and carry my primary on my dominant-side hip. This allows me to have a firing grip on my BUG while opening doors, shaking hands, getting out my keys, etc. One might say that the BUG is my primary gun in many such situations.
    "BBC bias hurts on a personal level, doesn't it? It's like having a favorite childhood relative who turns out to be a criminal." -- My brother.

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