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Cover Story

Our Guide to Backup Guns

A second gun is the best insurance policy a cop can carry.

June 01, 2003  |  by Gary Paul Johnston


Before Beretta became the vendor of choice for U.S. military and before the model 92 was adopted by numerous American law enforcement agencies, the company was renowned for its small semi-automatic pistols. The company’s reputation for compact, high-quality pistols and personal experience with the Model 92, make Beretta a likely choice for many an officer’s second gun.

Beretta’s 9000S is the largest of its pocket pistols. Available in 9mm and .40 S&W, this pistol has a 3.5-inch barrel and is offered in double-action only. Using a technopolymer frame, the 9000S weighs in at about 27 ounces. If you’re looking for a truly tiny second gun, you may want to try Beretta’s “cat” family: the Tomcat, Bobcat, and Alley Cat. Offered in .22 Long Rifle, .25 ACP, and .32 ACP, these double-action guns all have a 2.4-inch barrel and weigh from 12 ounces to 16 ounces. For a single action second gun, there is the .25 ACP Beretta Jetfire.

Bond Arms

Probably the strongest over/under Derringer in the world, Bond Arms’ Texas Defender has features Remington never dreamed of for its Model 32 .41 caliber Derringer when it was created a century ago. Available in most popular handgun calibers, the Texas Defender has 3-inch barrels, weighs 21 ounces, and is lockable.


Glock’s duty sidearms such as the Glock 17 and Glock 34 need little introduction, but less famous is its line of compact pistols. The Glock 26, 27, 29, 30, 33, and 36 are all small versions of the company’s
full-size models and are available in a variety of calibers: 9mm, .40 S&W, 10mm, .357 SiG, and .45 ACP. They not only operate exactly the same as their duty grade counterparts, but in some cases will accept the longer hi-cap magazines as well. This is one reason why some departments have started issuing a Glock sidearm and a smaller Glock as a second gun. New this year is the .45 Glock cartridge. The .45 Glock is about 2 millimeters shorter than the .45 ACP, and fits into pistols using a 9mm magazine-size envelope such as Glock’s  new model 37 (pictured). The same size as the .40 caliber Glock 22, the Glock 37 is a single-column magazine pistol in the new .45 Glock caliber.

Kahr Arms

Offering two “full-size” pistols in stainless steel, Kahr Arms also now makes variations of these guns with polymer frames in both 9mm and .40 S&W. The result is a weight of only 18 ounces compared to an already light 26 ounces. Smaller yet but a little heavier than the polymer models is Kahr’s all stainless steel Micro pistol, configured either as the MK9 (9mm) or MK40 (.40 S&W) pistol. With its 3-inch barrel, the Micro weighs just 23 ounces. Like all Kahrs, it is double-action only. Kahr’s newest addition is the PM9, essentially the MK9 with a lightweight polymer frame (For more information, see Arsenal, April 2003).


Probably the lightest semi-automatic pistol going is the Kel-Tec P32 (pictured). A double-action-only pistol with a polymer frame and a 2.68-inch barrel, the .32 ACP caliber P32 holds seven shots and weighs a mere 6.6 ounces. Just released is Kel-Tec’s P380, a pocket pistol about the same size as the P32. The P380 is one of the world’s smallest pistols in this caliber. Although larger, Kel-Tec’s P11 and P40 pistols are still quite compact and make excellent second guns. Offered in 9mm (10 shots) and .40 S&W (9-shot magazine), these guns each weigh under a pound.

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

AnalogDog @ 2/25/2016 1:32 PM

It was called the Semmerling manually cycled the slide, like a pump shotgun. Wish I'd never sold mine, because the originals go for about 3-5K now! Superb, superb backup...easy to hit with.
Real world, still ain't nothing wrong with a Charter Arms bulldog in 44 special, or the new Pitbull in 40S&W.

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