I am wondering how many of you carry Back Up Guns on a regular basis. I read an article over at Active Response Training the other day and it got me thinking.

I do not know Greg, but I have great respect for his expert opinions. I do not follow every thing he advises, however, I generally give his opinion more than a few seconds of consideration.

Here is my problem. I am 5′ 8.5″ and 119 lbs. I am tall and thin, although I am hippy. I carry a full size M&P, so with that, an extra mag, a flashlight, and a knife or two, I kind of run out of real estate. I like the full size gun due to its magazine capacity. Lots of bullets is a good thing.

I have thought about the gun jamming and considered a BUG, but never spent a great deal of serious time on it(I did try the Flashbang for a while, but I just didn’t like it) Now, I wondering if I should either gain 50 pounds to try to hide yet another tool or maybe carry a smaller primary gun to make room for a second gun. I don’t like the idea of carrying on my ankle because I wear mostly boots.


58 thoughts on “BUG

  1. I tend to carry small (today, a KelTec P32), include a second mag, and surround myself whenever possible with other people who carry. I know — on all counts, there are people who will point out that I am not tactically ‘as able’ as I should/could be; but I feel like I’m doing pretty well for being new to this (a couple years now). The biggest difference I find between my friends and I is that I am more comfortable with going ‘small’ for the opportunity to carry more often (and throwback to when I was a photographer), vs. them carrying ‘big’ or ‘multiple’ and not being able to have it with them at all times and in all manner of dress. Everyone’s situation and abilities are different… it’s going to be YOUR call for YOUR lifestyle, as well. Regardless, better a little prepared in equipment, and fully prepared in mental state — than not ready at all.

  2. I don’t think you’re a hippy. Wait a sec…what’s that Lu? That’s not what she said? I should just shut my mouth and not touch that with a ten foot pole? No dear, that dress does not make you look fat. I swear.

    Moving along.

    I’ve never carried a back up, not even on duty. I do think that puts me in the minority though. My usual carry gun is a S&W Featherweight with 2 speed-loaders. My alternate is either a G35 or a Sig P226. I keep a rifle in each of our trucks. I have no issues with carrying a back up, I’ve just never thought the hassle was worth it. I take good care of my guns and if I need more than I’m carrying it’s time to run.

  3. I’ve carried a number of different BUG’s over my career so my opinions are subjective:
    • A BUG should be small enough for concealment but powerful enough to get someone off of you.
    • If a BUG isn’t placed where you can immediately access it without contorting your body it is useless.
    • A BUG does not have to be comfortable to shoot but must be consistently reliable.
    • With distance egress at contact point engage i.e. fight to live or to save, everyone else will second guess later.
    • Looser fitting clothing is more desirable than fashions.
    • Contact wounds are devastating far in excess of actual caliber.

    Where I carry a BUG depends on my outer clothing, strong side jacket/coat pocket, weak side pants pocket, IWB etc. Thigh holsters are rare but available and very useful for those days you wear a dress or really baggy, longer legged shorts. Ankle holsters hinder more than facilitate weapon access. Overall I’ve found a small five shot 38 Special lightweight revolver or pistol the size of a Kel-Tec P3AT or Ruger LCP works best for me and actually carry the LCP. Other options are equally good but I fixate on this, a non-expanding .355 diameter penetrative object expected to help save my life sound’s small in comparison to an enraged goblin trying to disassemble me.

    Regardless of your selection I’ll gladly make a pocket or IWB kydex or hybrid holster for you free of charge.

    • Oh my, excellent help. Thank you.

      I do have a Ruger LCP, but haven’t known where to carry it. As I said I tried the Flashbang and I am sure it is a great choice for many, but t didn’t work for me.

      • Give me about a week and I’ll contact you for a mailing address, I’ll set you up with two options for the LCP. You can let me know afterwards if I need to rethink or tweak thing’s.

  4. Wow! You carry a FS M&P? Please share with me the specifics.
    I am 5’6″, 155 lbs, male so no hips (just a growing belly) and carry a sig P239. I would love to carry my new FS M&P but it has not worked out for me with the different holsters I have tried. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    PS Thanks for your blog, it has inspired many ladies to rely on themselves for their protection.

    • I do. I carry in a either a Crossbreed combat cut IWB or more often in my The Holster Site OWB leather holster. Both I carry on my lift side at about 8 o’clock or maybe closer to 8:30. I generally wear some kind of tighter fitting shirt with a light weight cover garment like an open button down shirt or sweater. Baggy shirts or larger sweaters just do. To work for me. I need an actual “cover”

      Thank you for your kind words about the blog. Very nice to hear.

  5. I sometimes carry a BUG but it’s FAR more important to have a spare mag for your carry gun and to practice malf-drills than to go with the “New York reload”.
    Practice, then practice some more. Murph should be able to teach you well…

    • Oh, I have practiced reloads and malfunction drills more than any other drill. Murph used to take me to the range simply to work on those and I have 100’s of hours in dry fire practice.

      So important. Thank you for reminding me of that important skill!

  6. I agree with the old saying that “if your job requires you to have a gun, you should have another one as well.” As a non-military, non-law-enforcement individual, I consider that my gun is my emergency back-up (the back-up to avoidance and prevention). If you want to carry a back-up gun, fine; but I wouldn’t let someone tell me I was being foolish or irresponsible not to do it. I carry a spare tire and a jack in my vehicle, but only one of each.

    • Agreed. No one else should tell you or me what to do. When I hear or read about something that intrigues me, sounds reasonable or is from someone I respect, I investigate. You are correct…what one decides about their carry choices is a personal one.

      Thanks for the comment,

  7. Hippy???

    I feel a “Most Interesting Man”-type moment coming on. “I don’t always carry a BUG but when I do . . . .” When I did, pocket, SOB, or inner thigh .380 worked for me (I’m not a fan of .380 but it carries its water), occasionally .38 (see .380) or .22, sometimes taped instead of holstered. That assumes I did not carry the primary SOB. Hmm – would velcro strapping to a boot shaft work for you?

    There are other back-up weapon options.

  8. My BUG is a Ruger LCR in .357 Magnum. Pocket carried it gives me fast access to 5 rounds of one of the more powerful handgun cartridges in a package that has almost no possibility of jamming or misfiring. A dud round requires another trigger press to clear.

    It weighs 14.9 oz empty. My wife carries one as her primary gun with an XS tritium front sight. If the .357 Magnum is too much you can carry .38 +Ps instead.

    A semi-auto gives you options, like capacity, fast reloads and swapping different kinds of ammo quickly. A revolver gives you security.

    • I have never been a revolver gal, but your your points are well taken. I have shot and can handle the .357 fine.


  9. Standard daily configuration is a .45 USP in a right hand Galco SSII shoulder rig, and a S&W 649 in a left hand OWB holster at 8 o’clock. The SSII has 2 mags on the right side, and there are two Bianchi speed strips in the right hip pocket for the 649. I’m 6′ 1″ and 210 lbs so I’ve got the space, and the daily outfit always includes either a sport coat or a shoot-me-first vest.

    I consider the 649 more than just a backup gun reachable by my support hand – should I find myself in a situation where it would be advantageous for my Partner in Crime to also be armed, and she didn’t include a gun in her ensemble, the 649 is available. She doesn’t care for it much because it’s loaded with 125 grain Cor-Bon +P, but she’s trained with it and hits what she aims at.

  10. There is some merit to the saying “Two is one and one is none.”

    I used to carry a BUG, but when I started studying how to defend against and use knives, I switched to carrying knive(s), for the most part.

    That said, a KelTec P3AT is hard to beat for concealability and ease of carry. In the past I have carried snubby .38s, and they are pretty good pocket guns (especially in the outside pocket of a jacket), but the KelTec and the Ruger clone of it are really much easier to stash some place because they are so darn flat.

    Part of deciding where to carry it is to figure out your real concept of operations for it. If you want it to be instantly available in any circumstance, then ankle carry is out. If you simply want to have another gun available, then ankle carry is an option, and I think if you could make it work with boots if you were willing to mod the boots abit.

    One of the nice advantages of a snubby BUG, particularly the shielded-hammer variety, is the ability to carry it and fire it repeatedly in a pocket, particularly an jacket pocket. Of course this means you have to be in weather and situations where you a jacket makes sense. but in Virginia fall/winter/early spring you might find it handy and comforting to be able to walk through a parking lot with your hand in your pocket around your gun that you could use even without “drawing”, and not have anyone else be the wiser.

    This particular scenario is less about having a BUG and more about a purpose-specific gun, but when you get into BUGs, you get usually get into smaller guns (altho I know a guy who carries two Glock 19s). And smaller guns come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

    Good luck figuring it out.

    • Eric, thanks!!!

      I think once I started training with knives I had a similar thought. I have trained either to have a bit of distance(if I am fortunate) or use my knife to get me some time to get to my gun. I have worked reloads and malfunctions such as jams, but not so much if the gun itself just quits.

      I run my gun often, but not has hard as a professional ie cop, trainer…

      Lots to think about. Appreciate the comment!

  11. I have enough trouble concealing one. BUGs are a nice concept, but I think they’re too much trouble for the likelihood that I’ll ever use one.

    • I haven’t thought to much about it, but I can see your point. It’s a bad, bad day for the armed citizen if we get to the back up, but then again…:)

  12. I have opted not to carry a BUG because (in no certain order):
    1. The presence of a primary gun has a significant chance of diffusing the situation (from many things I have read)
    2. Problems with concealment
    3. The likelihood of requiring a BUG are very small (my opinion, I do not have numbers to back his up for armed citizens)
    4. A spare magazine is more important than a BUG

    I hope this helps.

    I am also proud to report that my lovely wife of 43 years has applied for her NC concealed carry permit. Due in part to me asking her to read your blog and others and realizing that it is not more honorable to be a victim. Many thanks for your help and wishing you the very best,


    • It does help. All the info I can get is very help. Thank you.

      What a very kind thing to say. I am touched if anything I have said has somehow bee a positive motivator to your wife. No matter how small my part, I am thrilled that she is taking steps forward to be more prepared to defend her life.

      Being a victim is indeed not more honorable.

  13. In the city, or somewhere while I’m quite isolated, (no one armed and on my side within shouting distance) I often have a little BUG in the pocket. Small, not pleasant to shoot but effective. But I agree, if space is limited an extra magazine is equally, perhaps, more important.

  14. If I was worried about a gun fight, I’d want my “backup” to be a long-gun. 🙂

    But since my main concern is a criminal assault, the likelihood of it being hands on is pretty high. Being that close, means there could be a struggle over a weapon they could have, your weapon(s), or both. I’ve seen through training that it can be extremely difficult to retain one weapon, let alone two or more. For that reason alone, I would recommend -against- a BUG. Food for thought.

      • Due to my location and job, a majority of the time I don’t have anything. The rest of the time, circumstances dictate, but generally flashlight, knife, med-gear, pistol.

  15. I have tried carrying a S&W 442 in my RH front pocket, but it’s amazing how heavy even that little chunk of aluminum becomes after a short time. I feel unbalanced when I walk with the 442 in the front pocket. I don’t mind the weight as the fact that I feel awkward and off-balance. It feels like I have $25 worth of quarters tugging away in my pocket. (In a jacket pocket, it’s great. However, jackets in Nebraska summers looks somewhat out of place.)

    BUT front pocket carry IS an EXTREMELY handy location as it offers me relatively easy access to a gun on either side of my body should i find myself engaged in some kind of wrestling match. (I understand having spare mags, but a spare gun carried on the support hand side offers some advantages.)

    The only advantage I can see for ankle carry is when one is driving a vehicle.

    So as usual, I am of no help. I’m still trying to work out my own BUG issues.

    However, I’ll offer this for you anyway:



    • Lol, you know me so well. That is the exact solution I was looking for…THANK YOU! Where would I be without you;)

    • Front pocket carry is very useful for a BUG, especially one as small as an LCP. I tend to use the off-side front pocket for two reasons:

      1. I never carry anything in my left front pocket, while I always carry stuff in my right front pocket. Having NOTHING in the pocket but the gun is non-negotiable with pocket carry — along with a proper pocket holster that covers the trigger. Some of the really nice pocket holsters also carry a spare mag in a way that it both anchors the holster better and breaks up the “gun” shape.

      2. One of the more prominent reasons for needing a BUG is loss of the primary gun — say, through injury to the strong hand.

      I do practice both weak hand draw and fire as well as weak hand pulling gun, transferring to strong hand.

      • Front pocket carry works for a lot of people. I would wager that even a 5-shot .38 would stand out and salute were it in A Girl’s front pocket. It’s a simple game of proportions that can’t be denied. She’s 5′,8.5″ and 119-lbs. When working with extremes like this, there’s only so much we can do.

        A Girl, if you have a friend who has a snubby, throw it in your pocket just to see if that might work. I’m betting it won’t, but it’s probably still worth the try. I can pull off a snub in the front pocket, but I’ve got thirty pounds on you, compressed into 2.5-inches less height.

  16. I carry a freedom arms 22 mag revolver in my pocket as well as my regular carry piece. It is a five shot and very small.

  17. Have you thought about a shoulder holster? Or maybe one of those new shirt holsters. The holster is located in the upper arm. I like the small sub compact beretta 9mm PX4 storm. Just a thought.

    • I have not. One company sent me a shoulder holster to review, but it was a nightmare. The holster itself was the problem though.

      Good thought…thanks

    • I don’t know that it would go unnoticed on me. I have tried a few of those type of holsters, more off the side though and it didn’t work. Thanks for the idea though.

  18. I am 5 foot tall and 135 lbs. Concealing my Shield is difficult with my short stature and curves. I can’t imagine trying to conceal a BUG too. The flashbang was a failure for me. It moved around too much for me to feel comfortable wearing it out of the house. However, it gave the hubby great pleasure helping me attach it to the bra so it was worth the money. LOL.

  19. I have no problem concealing a 9mm on my strong hip, IWB, and my Sig P238 in an IWB cross draw holster on my weak side. The Well-Armed Woman website has a wonderful magnetic holster that I love for my BUG gun. I also use a sticky holster too with great success. That thing stays put anywhere in my waistband, or front jeans pocket. I’m female, short and curvy. You’d be amazed at how easily you can fit a pocket holster with something small in your jeans pocket.

      • The magnetic holster is sold for OWB carry, but if you get the straight cant for the opposite hand (right for you) it makes a very nice IWB holster.

  20. Pingback: Backup Guns and Carry Gun Sizing | Evyl Robot Soapbox

  21. As to the original question on whether or not a BUG…

    When I carry my S&W 586L-Comps, I carry both of them. One sits on my right as my primary and the other is mirrored on my left, in a matched holster, as a Detroit reload (handsomely stowed in horse, ostrich, and stingray). I’m largely ambidextrous, and have found that one eye is as good as the other. When I’m shooting left handed, I default to my left eye, right handed, right eye. I know this doesn’t work for the vast majority of people, so I don’t necessarily offer it as a solution for you so much as a glimpse into the window of my life. Today I’ve got both guns loaded with Hornady .357 Mag, and I’ve got three extra moon clips, one in each of my front two pockets and another in a vest pocket. Heaven forbid I should have a gun fight today, but that gives me 35-rounds of .357 Magnum to fight my way back to my 12-gauge and carbine.

    I actually wrote a whole lot more, but decided that it was neither germane to your original question, nor was it polite for me to ramble so in your comment section. 😛 If you care to read more, I continued my ramblings on my own blog here: http://evylrobot.com/?p=2242

  22. Glock 17 right side OWB 3 or 4 o’clock depending on placement of belt loops and (more germane to your question) Ruger LCP .380 in left front pocket in a pocket holster (of course!). I am too darned fat, so the lump in my pocket makes its presence known to me if I bend over; I’m sure you won’t have that issue. I honestly don’t know if this is a good setup as I am new to carrying, but it seems sensible. I’m toying with the idea of carrying the BUG “cavalry style”, i.e. left side OWB butt-forward to facilitate drawing with either hand. Feedback is welcome.

    Side note to Mrs. Groundhog @ 11/2 0935: Lucky, lucky, man- married to a gunnie and he’s an armorer/clothing assistant. 🙂

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