Carrying Two Guns While Travelling

Travelling outside of Ohio? Consider bringing a backup gun along for the ride.

Posted by on

For the last 35 years of sworn law enforcement service I have carried an off-duty gun on a daily basis. For most of that time, I have also carried a backup gun when working in uniform. I have also carried an off-duty gun in and out of state while on vacation. But I almost never have carried a backup or hideout gun to supplement my off-duty gun, whether in or out of Ohio. This got me to thinking a bit further about vacation travel by car again.

Well known firearms expert Clint Smith is famous for saying, among other things, "one is none and two is one". What would happen were my one handgun stolen, or, which would be worse, if I had gotten into a situation that required me to fire my off-duty in a self-defense situation? In both cases, I would be without the means to defend my family against a deadly force threat, because in both cases, my handgun would be gone. In the defensive shooting situation, it could be tied up as evidence for a long time with the local prosecutor's office until the situation was settled entirely. If either of these circumstances to take place in Ohio, it wouldn't be as big a deal. But in Michigan, or any other state for that matter, it would have been unlawful for me to go to the nearest Michigan gun store and purchase an emergency replacement handgun. As is typical of federal gun law stupidity, I could buy a rifle or shotgun out of state, but not a handgun. I always travel with two or more flashlights and cutting tools because "one is none and two is one"-why hadn't I applied this philosophy to my handgun when traveling out of state?

In mid-August, my family and I took our annual vacation trip to "that state up north"-yeah I know, but it's beautiful up there. On the last couple of out of state trips, I had packed along a very nice KAHR .30 caliber folding stock M1 "Paratrooper" carbine as a harder hitting emergency firearm. This year we were additionally cramped for space on the seven hour drive in our compact SUV. What to do now?

Earlier, I mentioned carrying a backup gun as a law enforcement officer. The LE backup gun is a smaller handgun, often a smaller version of the officer's primary duty weapon. It is always carried on the officer's person in a concealed location. That is not what I am talking about here. My backup "out of state" or "vacation" handgun would be one that would be kept ready to go in a sling backpack that I use on a daily basis for carrying support gear-already justifying its place in the car. The backup handgun would likely not end up on my person except in an emergency.

Drago Gear (Drago Gear) makes an excellent and extensive line of packs, rifle cases, and other carry and support gear. I had been using one of their Altus Sling backpacks for some time. Hidden in the low profile center pocket is a concealed handgun space that is set up with Velcro to allow the positioning of an appropriate handgun holster.

I gave up traveling with expensive handguns for the reasons I outlined at the start of this piece. My primary handgun was going to be my SCCY CPX-2 in 9mm and two 10 round magazines. If I needed to assist another cop along the freeways, the CPX-2 would be better than my normally carried five shot .38. But what to take along as the backup?

I have an excellent 9mm Walther P1-the upgraded West German police successor to the original Walther P-38 that had been imported by Century Arms last year. Although no longer available from Century, there are other P1's available from other importers.

Reliable, rugged, police tested and inexpensive, and using the same caliber ammo as my primary handgun, the P1 utilizes single stack 8 round magazines and is accurate out to 100 yards. I packed it, all three magazines, a box of spare 9's, and a belt slide holster into the Drago Atlus Slingpack. There it stayed for the entire week, because fortunately none of the bad possibilities it was there for occurred.

Carrying an out of state backup gun like this may not be for everyone, and I wouldn't do it while flying on commercial airlines. It is enough trouble just checking one handgun in at the airline desk. But for out of state driving trips, I'm planning on bringing along a second handgun-just in case.