Almost a month ago now I wrote a blog entry about this poll regarding Back Up Guns or BUGs. At that time the poll results, with exactly 100 votes, showed a prohibition rate of 18% with 2% of the votes saying, “No; but what they don’t know doesn’t hurt them.”
When I looked again as I was putting up a new poll question, the BUG poll hadn’t changed much. The number of votes had almost quadrupled, but the vote percentages hadn’t changed in any significant way. I thought about the “final” results (since I was taking the poll down to replace it) and I’m still irked by the 20% of officers who are prohibited from carrying a BUG. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why an agency would prohibit them. I mean… the agency will trust you with your duty sidearm but not a BUG? Why would that be? Is the BUG more powerful? Have a higher capacity? A greater effective range?
Typically, a BUG is a smaller gun that the duty sidearm. Once referred to as a “hide out” gun, the BUG is meant to be carried as a second, unseen firearm to be used in the emergency event of primary weapon failure, loss or ammo depletion.
Typically, a BUG is of equal or SMALLER caliber than the primary sidearm and carries fewer rounds. Such would alleviate the possibility of the common BUG being MORE powerful than the primary sidearm. Since the BUG barrel is almost always shorter than that of the primary sidearm, even if they both fire the same round, the shorter barreled BUG will produce lower muzzle velocities resulting in reduced effective ranges.
The ONLY argument I’ve ever heard against BUGs that almost be understandable is that it gives you one more gun that you have to maintain awareness and control of in any conflict situation. To me, however, that is not a question to be answered administratively or by policy; instead, it’s a challenge to be addressed by training and equipment selection.
To me, the best primary sidearm / BUG team ups are those where the BUG is the same functionality and caliber as the primary sidearm to the point of accepting the primary sidearm magazines. A good example would be those agencies who issue Glock Model 17 9mms as the primary sidearm having Glock Model 26 9mms as the BUGs. They’re both 9mm and both CAN use the Glock 17 magazines. The reduced barrel length on the Model 26 would result in reduced range for the round leaving the barrel. Why would any administrator not like that idea?
How about a Government Model 1911 .45ACP as a primary with a Colt Officer’s Model as the BUG?
Where it might not work as smoothly is if you’re a revolve guy. The difference in concealing a 2” 6-shot revolver versus the normal carry of a 4” 6-shot “duty” revolver isn’t all that great. Still, if my choice was NO BUG at all or carrying a Chief’s Special 5-shot as a BUG to my regular duty revolver, I’d take it!
For those of you whose agencies DO authorize (or even issue?) BUGs, I’d appreciate it if you’d post what your primary / back-up firearms are and how you went about getting your agency to approve such (if it was ever a challenge at your agency).