Why You Should Keep a Third Carry Gun

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posted on October 25, 2020
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In England, where they have quaint things like hereditary nobility, it’s said that it’s important for an aristocratic couple to have at least two children: “An heir and a spare.” A friend of mine has paraphrased that into a maxim for his concealed-carry pistols, in that he keeps “a pair and a spare.”

I’d long been familiar with the principle of having a more or less identical copy of your main CCW handgun, one that uses the same holsters, magazines and ammunition. The theory being that should your pistol be rendered unusable for any reason, from mechanical breakage to (God forbid) languishing in an evidence locker after a righteous self-defense incident, you’d have a pistol to fill your holster until your regular carry piece was back in action.

It was his reasoning for that extra “spare” that was novel to me. Living in a state with laws that were among the least onerous in the land, it was more or less a designated loaner, set aside in advance against any number of possible unfortunate eventualities.

A friend of his, who was legally allowed to carry in his state, was flying in from out of town for a short visit and didn’t want to check a bag. He could pick them up at the airport with the holstered spare pistol for them to use for the duration of the visit, without having to use his own designated emergency spare for that purpose.

An unexpected longer visit? Well, he wound up with a pal quarantining in his guest bedroom for a couple weeks in the early days of “The ’Rona,” and the extra blaster turned out to come in handy for an extended loan there, too.

Other uses for the supernumerary pistol abound once you start thinking about the possibilities. Want to invite a non-shooting friend to try some of the various action-pistol games? The logistics become a lot easier if you don’t have to share a pistol, and this way you’re not putting miles on your own emergency backup gun.

Myself, I remember the first time I pondered the idea of the emergency handgun. I mean, like a lot of shooters, I have pistols I could have pressed into the job if necessary, but I’d never thought of having a gun in the official pinch-hitter role. 

Then, a few years back, you’d occasionally encounter wholesalers blowing out stocks of Smith & Wesson SD9VE’s for less than $300—sometimes significantly less than $300. “Self,” I thought, “that is not a lot of money for a new-in-the-box pistol from a name-brand manufacturer.” 

The idea occurred to me a pistol like that would be ideal for the metaphorical “in case of emergency, break glass” job.

There’s always the chance (and it’s happened to me more than once) of a friend having an event occur in their life that caused them to suddenly get religion about the Second Amendment. Whether a stalkerriffic ex-significant-other or an outbreak of civil unrest uncomfortably close to home, I’ve had friends suddenly realize that a gun would be a very good thing to have, but be in a place in their lives where they didn’t have the funds to acquire one on their own.

Having a decent pistol sitting in a box in the back of the safe with which you could give them a quick range orientation, cleaning and maintenance tips and then say “Here, just use this one until you can afford one of your own” can be a lifesaver—literally—for a friend in need. This, by the way, is why laws like Washington state’s infamous I-594 that ban even temporary transfers between two law-abiding citizens are anathema to the right to keep and bear arms.

Needless to say, my friend’s practice of “a pair and a spare” is one that I’ve enthusiastically adopted myself. You never know when you may find it necessary to help a friend help themselves.

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