U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Just Good Insurance

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 34 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2007 Pages: 36,38,43
John Marrs
Date Published
May 2007
7 pages
This article describes the pros and cons of different types of weapons and carrying techniques for use as patrol officer back-up weapons.
Policies on back-up weapons for patrol officers differ by agency, but it is generally agreed that the main reason for carrying a back-up weapon is to aid in the retention of the officer’s primary weapon. If a patrol officer does decide to carry a back-up weapon, there are many contingencies to consider, beginning with what to carry and how to carry it. The two main requirements for the back-up weapon and carrying system should be: (1) the back-up weapon should be able to be used one-handed with either hand; and (2) the officer must be able to quickly draw the weapon with either hand. The author considers the advantages and disadvantages of carrying a revolver and of carrying an automatic weapon. Revolvers have the advantage of being small and easy to carry, although they are disadvantaged by their limited ammunition capacity of five or six rounds. Revolvers can also be slow to reload and will likely be of a different caliber than the officer’s duty gun. On the other hand, automatic guns typically closely resemble the officer’s duty gun and will be of the same caliber. Unfortunately, automatic weapons are more difficult to fire and are more susceptible to dirt, mud, and other factors that can cause them to malfunction. Next, the author moves along to a discussion of different carrying methods for back-up weapons, including vest-mounted holsters, inside-the-pocket holsters, shoulder holsters, and ankle holsters. Carrying methods should be carefully considered because the type of carrying method employed will impact the maintenance of the back-up weapon and its accessibility to an officer during an encounter with a suspect. Whatever weapon and carrying method are chosen, officers should receive training in the use of the weapon and its carrying method. Exhibits


No download available