Carrying a gun with you is cool and all, but you know what else is cool? Carrying two of them. And I do not mean shooting both at once. You are lucky if you can hit anything shooting from the hip. The point of a secondary gun, or a backup gun, is that you have something to fall back on should you be unable to use the primary one for any reason.

It could be a malfunction, or maybe it was snatched from your hands. Regardless, in such a situation, you might want to whip out a second one. It is like the ending of Django Unchained. While Stephen counted six shots that Django fired before showing himself, he did not account for the fact that Django brought two guns to the fight. While you might not have the chance to reenact that moment, having a second gun just gives you an extra layer of security.

Your backup gun does not need to be that fancy. After all, it is just your emergency gun. That means, you carry it as a second option. It can be in your pocket, purse, ankle, etc. The point is that the gun needs to be light and small, but is still versatile enough to be used effectively in an emergency. For this, we have to limit our options to guns in the compact or even sub-compact categories. With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to seven backup guns here that I think fit the bill.

1. Glock 26/27/43

You might see this coming from a mile away, but I have to mention the Glock. When people think of a backup gun, they tend to think of things such as a snub nose revolver or a mouse gun. While they are small enough to fit our description of a backup gun, they are just painful to shoot. So, I will not go over those here.

Glock pistols are amazing options as a backup gun. Two in particular are the 26 and 27, chambered in 9 mm and .40 Smith & Wesson respectively. Both feature a double-stack magazine. They shoot well and will not disappoint you in the moments when you need them most.

What about the Glock 43? You get 9 mm rounds in a compact package as well but in a single-stack magazine. On one hand, you get less capacity, but it helps to keep the size down. So, it is not a good option as a main carry gun, but it works well enough to be a backup gun.


What about the Glock 29? I think its form factor makes it more like a main carry gun instead of a backup one.

2. Ruger LCP II

The Ruger LCP II is an improved version of the LCP. The original LCP has its fair share of problems but it sells well enough that Ruger decided to make a new and improved LCP, and here we are. With 6 rounds in the single-stack mag coming out from its 2.75-inch barrel, the gun is roughly a quarter of an inch thick. It does not come with an external thumb safety, but Ruger baked in other safety features. For instance, its sear requires a lot of engagement and spring tension and there is a hammer catch to stop the firing pin from going off.

Let’s talk about the trigger on the LCP II. It is light and crisp, allowing you to put down accurate shots quickly. However, there is a drawback to this trigger design. Yes, squeezing the trigger would be a pleasurable experience, but there is also a chance you might accidentally set it off. So, the trigger guard must be protected, meaning that you cannot store it in your ankle holster. If you tend to carry your firearms loose in your pocket, I do not recommend getting this at all.


Other than that, it is a great little gun, especially for those who enjoy shooting the .380 ACP and are into deep concealment.

3. Remington RM380 Executive

Chambered in .380 ACP, the RM380’s size alone already makes it clear that you should not be carrying it as your main self-defense gun. However, it works as a backup. The barrel sits at 2.75 inches long and the gun is less than an inch thick. It is a small gun but that makes it an excellent choice as a backup since you can hardly feel that it is there in your pocket. There are actually pocket holsters for it.

One thing that I must point out is the trigger. The RM380 does not have an external thumb safety but the DAO trigger is something else, and not in a good way. The pull is around ten pounds and it is unbearably long. But its weakness also plays to its strengths. You see, when you have a trigger as long as Rapunzel’s hair, coupled with the fact that there is no safety, it is nigh impossible to accidentally set this thing off when you whip it out.


With a bit of practice, you can make the trigger run more smoothly, but it will not be easy. Although I do not recommend being sloppy with carrying your gun like having it rolling around loose in your pocket, the trigger of the RM380 makes it safer to carry it in your pocket without accidentally shooting yourself in the foot. Although the trigger is less than ideal, the RM380 is a very reliable piece. Its effective range is roughly the length of your arm, maybe double that, but that is okay in this case.

4. Walther PP M22 SC LE

The PPQ LE is chambered in 9mm and you get to pick between a 10- or 15-round mag. I recommend going for the 10-round mag for concealed carry but if you need to reload, make sure to have a 15-round mag on standby. The gun delivers a feel and performance similar to a full-size main carry pistol in a smaller package. You get three-dot phosphoric night sights as well as three magazines: 10-round flush-fit, 10-round with pinky extension, and 15-round. It is a reliable and versatile little handgun.

Walther PP M22 SC LE

5. Sig Sauer P365

With 10 rounds in the mag, the P365 offers a bit more capacity in the magazine without bulking up too much. The gun is still about an inch wide. It is a striker-fired gun with a 3.1-inch barrel, making the overall length about 5.8 inches. Certain generations of the P365 have some issues, but it appears that newer models no longer have them. A lot of people love the P365 for very good reasons.

The extra 9 mm rounds in the magazine can come in the clutch in case you need more than 6 shots to get yourself out of a bind. I should also point out that there is also the P365 SAS, which is a super-streamlined version that is worth a look. If you are looking to draw from the pocket, then the SAS might be a better option.


6. Mossberg MC1SC

Mossberg does not manufacture a lot of pistols, so this one caught me by surprise. It is the first one to come out in a long time, so it got my interest. You get 6 9 mm rounds in the magazine, a 3.4-inch barrel, and the whole build is about 6.25 inches long. You can get it with either TRUGLO Tritium PRO sights or standard white three-dot sights. While it is an accurate and reliable little gun, how comfortable it is depends on the size of your palms and preferences. You can at least choose between a cross-bolt safety or opt not to have one at all.

One notable feature of the MC1SC is the Safe Takedown System from Mossberg. This allows you to disassemble the gun without pulling the trigger. After removing the slide plate, you should see the bright orange housing for the entire system. The assembly can slide right out of the gun so you can perform any necessary maintenance. Some might assume that this might introduce some flaws in the gun’s design, but I have not heard many complaints so far, so I assume they got it right.


7. HK P305K

Chambered in 9 mm, the P305K allows you to roll with 10, 13, or 15 rounds in the magazine. It is also available in multiple firing modes such as HK’s enhanced double-action-only LEM or Law Enforcement Modification, with a light strike V1 setup. This requires the trigger to be engaged with about 5.4 pounds of force to pull. There are also ambidextrous controls such as dual slide and mag release levels so both right- and left-handed shooters can use it with ease. 

HK P305K

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