considering a back up handgun

Why You Shouldn't Dismiss The New York Reload

Carrying a backup gun - also known as the New York reload - is an idea that many concealed carriers struggle with. Some assert that there's no point in carrying at all if you're only carrying one gun. Some assert that the need for a backup gun is anachronistic at best; it's no longer relevant.

It may seem like a burden to add more than one gun and holster or pocket carry along with a holster on or about the belt. However, it may be worth considering a back-up gun.

Why It's Called The New York Reload

the new york reload

In fairness, the practice of carrying multiple pistols hardly originated in New York City, so calling it a "New York reload" is wildly inaccurate. Incidentally, the Israelis didn't invent carrying an automatic pistol with a loaded magazine but without a round in the chamber, but it hardly stops anyone from calling it Israeli carry.

Anyway, a New York reload is carrying two or more pistols on one's person. Should one gun fail or run out of ammunition, it can be discarded or reholstered and a fresh pistol drawn for immediate use. Instead of reloading a pistol, you get out a new one.

Why the practice is called a "New York" reload is that New York City police officers, especially plainclothes officers, used to carry several pistols on them. If they entered a prolonged gunfight, they would drop an empty gun rather than try to reload with a speedloader or speedclip and take out the next gun.

In reality, this was a practice among many police departments across the country (in fact worldwide) and to further the point, a lot of people used to carry multiple pistols in the pre-revolver era for exactly the same reason. However, for whatever reason the association was made stronger in the case of officers in New York City and people started calling it that.

Why Some Don't Carry A Back-Up Gun

practicing the new york reload

This practice of carrying a back-up gun - or several - was largely a product of the era. It wasn't until the past couple decades that police departments started - with any frequency - started to issue or allow officers to carry semi-auto pistols. Pretty much everyone carried revolvers, necessitating a backup pistol.

Today, this isn't so much the case. Imagine a person carrying one six-shot revolver on their hip with a gun holster, belt and so on and two five-shot snubbies in their pockets, on the ankle - wherever. That's sixteen rounds.

Consider this: a Glock 19 (basically the Honda Civic of pistols) carries 16 rounds if one manually inserts a round in the chamber and then loads the standard capacity (or 15-round) magazine. If one carries a spare magazine, that's 31 total rounds.

In the modern era, there's an abundance of EDC pistols that hold more than double the capacity of a revolver. The advent of the "wonder nines" and their compact derivatives saw to that. As a result, why bother with a back-up? There's no need.

Why You Should Consider A Backup Gun

back up handguns

However, there are several reasons why you should carry a backup gun. (Buying one also gives one something to buy with a tax refund.) It is true that the capacity of modern semi-auto pistols renders the New York reload obsolete...but only up to a point.

Consider, though, that a semi-auto pistol is a more complicated machine than a revolver. Mechanical complexity increases the probable rate of failure. If you carry only one gun and it stops working before you've downed an attacker...what good is the gun anymore? Especially if your opponent has one.

Furthermore, most people think that an instance of defensive gun use that involves firing will be over in a few shots. There's a good chance it will, but a nearly equal chance it won't. There are studies that show most gunfights are over quickly, with only a few shots fired, but others that show the opposite. What is definitely known is that a person has no idea how many shots a defensive encounter will take to resolve until the matter is settled after the fact. One magazine may not be enough. Two may not be enough.

Another factor to consider is what happens AFTER shots have been fired. A lot of people have a fantasy that if they virtuously shoot an intruder or attacker, they will be feted by the government and community, receiving everything up to and including a Roman triumph.

The reality is otherwise. After a shooting, even if it completely conforms to the letter and spirit of the self-defense laws of one's city and state, there's a decent chance a person will be investigated. They may be vilified by the press, local or national. Local prosecution may seek to make an example of them. The gun that said crook was shot with will probably be confiscated - and it may not be returned in working condition, if at all. Therefore, a backup gun can be deployed as a primary carry weapon in the meantime in this scenario...presuming a person hasn't been taken into custody.

Those are all good and valid reasons to consider a backup gun, no matter how many rounds one's primary gun carries.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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