5 Good Reasons to Have a Backup Rifle

What’s the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun? The answer is simple; a good guy with a gun.

AR-15 rifle
an AR-15 rifle

There’s a great chance that every time you’re in a public area, you pass many people who have concealed weapons.

There’s no way to tell what their intentions are, so you need to make sure you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario. That’s why we call ourselves “preppers”, we prepare for everything.

I’m all for carrying concealed vs. open carry for multiple reasons, but the biggest one is anonymity. You don’t want to paint a target on your back.

If there is somebody with ill-intent wishing to cause harm on a mass scale, you’ll be the first to be targeted (because you’re the biggest threat).

The worst enemy you can face is the one you don’t know, the same goes for your adversary. However, just because you conceal, doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily prepared to defend against every attack.

For this reason, I’ve decided to write this article dedicated to showing you why you should have a backup gun in your vehicle.

Before we dive into the list, know that there are thousands of scenarios that can definitely be stopped by a citizen concealing a small firearm; but there are thousands more that require a little more firepower.

#1. Most Conceal Carry Weapons Have Limited Magazine Capacity

Sometimes, the situation at hand requires more rounds than you have on you. While you could always carry more magazines, I recommend having a solid backup plan in your vehicle.

Statistically, you have a 40% chance of missing your first three rounds if you’re in a shootout at 15 yards or more. That percentage increases to 70% for your first magazine missing if you’re getting shot at, during a shootout at 15 yards or more.

Most AR-15 manufacturers have a base-model that cost less than $600 (depending on the state you live in), which is a fair price for a backup rifle for your vehicle.

You really don’t need super fancy attachments with an AR-15 to be able to engage targets at 150 yards or less, which is the beautiful thing about ARs.

Don’t leave your survival, or innocent bystanders’ survival to chance. It’s your responsibility as a prepper to ensure the safety of people who may not be as prepared as you. A selfish prepper is a useless prepper.

So, if you’re in a situation where you know you’ll need a more powerful gun, use your EDC gun to fight your way back to your vehicle. This way, you can grab your rifle, and get back in the fight to neutralize the threat.

#2. Enemies with Body Armor

Most commercial body armor can stop 9mm, .40 caliber, and sometimes even .45 caliber. For this reason, you’ll want something to combat that if necessary.

AR-10s come in a 7.62mm, which absolutely enough to penetrate most commercial body armor (depending on the ammunition type used).

Before you blow my inbox up saying, “but my body armor is rated up to 7.62!”, there’s only so much 7.62mm punishment that a ceramic plate can take before it’s rendered ineffective.

Most body armor comes with plates that are designed to crack when shot to help absorb the shock of a round hitting it. It’s a blessing and a curse, because while you may not feel the round impact as much, your cracked body armor is rendered vulnerable to follow on shots.

Plus, if you take a 7.62mm round to the plate, you’re going to be much more disorientated than a 9mm round impacting it.

Body armor is useless when the round impacts unprotected areas, but don’t count on making many headshots in a heated firefight. Shooting at a stationary target on paper is much different than shooting at a live person who can move, and shoot back.

Make sure you use the “controlled pair” method of shooting if you’re engaging somebody with body armor on. This way, you’ll have a better chance of destroying their armor with more well-placed shots.

Many terrorists, bank robbers, or deranged citizens who commit mass-shootings wear some type of body armor, because it’s so easy to acquire.

Don’t think that your area is the exception to this type of violence, complacency is the most dangerous word in the self-defense world. The minute you think it won’t happen to you, is generally when it does.

#3. Long-Distance Engagements

Realistically, your handgun is only accurate up to 15 yards in a firefight, due to the round itself, and the adrenaline coursing through your veins (causing your shot placement to decrease immensely). For this reason, you’ll want a reliable way to engage targets at a greater distance.

The worst thing you can do in a firefight is allow the enemy to gain fire-superiority against you while they close width. Your chances of survival greatly decrease if your enemy gains this crucial advantage, so you need to make sure that you do everything you can to prevent this.

The first 15 seconds in a firefight are crucial, so make sure you put more rounds in their direction than they do at you. This way, you can give yourself time to get to a more advantageous position while they’re suppressed.

#4. Great Deterrent for Enemies Who Out-Gun You

Being on the receiving end of a rifle is a lot scarier than being on the receiving end of a handgun. This creates a major psychological advantage for you, should you need to use it.

Most mass-shooters have one thing in common, a superiority complex. They feel like they’re superior to their victims because they have the advantage of firepower over them. If you take this from them, their entire thought process changes from domination, to survival.

Taking the original game plan away from a mass-shooter is crucial to stopping them. While you can absolutely take down a mass-shooter with your EDC handgun, you have a much better chance at survival if you create distance between you and the gunman with a rifle.

Remember, a dead hero is a useless hero. A real firefight is nothing like the movies, and more than likely whatever solution you work out in your head never plays out like you think it will.

Always have a backup plan for your backup plan, this way you’ll greatly increase your chances at survival, as well as saving the lives of others.

#5. Your “Shotgun Rider” Can Help

Have you ever wondered where the term “shotgun” came from when you’re referring to riding in the passenger seat? Well rest assured, I have the answer for you.

This famous term came from the “Old Western” times in America, where stagecoach robberies were very common. For this reason, the stagecoach driver would have a companion riding beside him/her with a shotgun for protection.

Why a shotgun? Well, when you’re riding on a wagon with almost no shock absorption, it’s a little hard to hit an enemy with a precision rifle when you’re going over rough terrain.

For this reason, shotguns with a wider spread were used to increase the chances of stopping a threat without having to aim precisely.

How does this translate to today’s world? Very simply, your passenger is (by a loose definition) your shotgun rider. It’s their job to protect the driver from any threats, should they present themselves, so the driver can focus on the road.

It’s much simpler to shoot from a moving vehicle with a rifle, than it is with a handgun. For this reason, you should absolutely have a backup rifle on standby in your vehicle.

Carrying a Backup Gun

I personally don’t recommend that you carry a backup gun on you for your EDC, for many reasons.

Before we go over those reasons, understand that there are always extenuating circumstances could present themselves where you might need a backup. With that being said, those chances are so slim that it’s not exactly worth the extra gun.

It’s Not Comfortable

I don’t care what excuse you try to come up with, trying to conceal another gun on you isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. While there are many holsters (like ankle holsters) that allow you the option for a backup gun, I don’t trust them.

First off, how does having two handguns with a maximum of 45 (or so) rounds make more sense than fighting your way back to a vehicle with a freaking rifle in it? It makes no sense, so don’t be that guy.

Try running while you have a handgun attached to your ankle, and tell me how it felt. I guarantee you it’s not very comfortable. You’re not “Il Duce” from the movie “The Boondock Saints”, and that’s not how real firefights happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that movie, but the firefights in that movie are completely unrealistic.

At no point will you have enough time to draw a secondary sidearm, while not in cover, while a determined enemy is after you. Stop the nonsense, and carry a couple of extra magazines if you’re that worried.


If for any reason a police officer has to search you, what do you think will be going through their mind if they learn you have a primary, and secondary handgun concealed?

While most police officers encourage citizens to conceal carry, presenting yourself with any type of suspicion will make your encounter with the law much more painful than it has to be. It’s a police officer’s job to be suspicious about everyone, just like it is your job as a prepper.

For this reason, you can respect the fact that you would raise some serious red flags to any right-minded police officer.

Save yourself the trouble, and don’t bother carrying a second firearm. If you can’t sustain yourself long enough in a firefight to get back to your vehicle, you really need to relearn whatever tactics you’ve been practicing.


Most handguns worth even mentioning will only cost about $100-$150 less than a base-model AR, so why wouldn’t you just spend that money on a rifle that could sustain you better than a handgun?

By no means am I saying buy a rifle before a handgun, but if you already have a trustworthy EDC handgun, use your hard-earned money to buy a rifle. If my five points above didn’t convince you why you should have a rifle in your vehicle, then I don’t know what will.


Having a backup rifle in your vehicle is very highly encouraged in today’s violent world. In fact, it could soon be necessity if the SHTF.

Never count on people’s good will for your survival, if people are willing to betray you over simple things, what makes you think they won’t when their lives depend on it as well?

It doesn’t take much time to fight your way back to your vehicle, so you can grab your rifle and finish the fight. However, if you do decide to use this method as your emergency backup plan, make sure you practice it.

Who knows, I may even write another article with detailed instructions on how to use this method. This way, you’re not led astray from cooks who served in the Army, saying they’re experienced veterans (it’s happened). Keep an eye out on Survival Sullivan, stay safe!

6 thoughts on “5 Good Reasons to Have a Backup Rifle”

  1. Good advice for most shooters EXCEPT those of us who live in NY. Gov Cuomo’s SAFE act limits us to 7 rounds/pistol, (later raised to 10 by a judge). Don’t get caught with a loaded 14 or 17 mag—jail time!
    Ar15’s registered and limited to 10 rounds—so much for superior firepower! I don’t know specifics, but feel residents of Cal, NJ, Conn, Mass are all in the same boat——feel 12 ga with 00 buck only best backup.

  2. Ten years ago I bought a Saiga .308. It is rugged because it is a Kalashnikov. It is in .308. It can shoot through a car and ammo is readily available. A Glock 19, a 12 gauge pump, and my Saiga make me ready for any social occasion.

  3. There is another reason to have a backup rifle in your vehicle, assuming it is locked up so the casual thief can’t make off with it. And that is, it is “an egg not in the same basket”. If you have all your guns in one place, then if that place is lost or accessed by someone intent on taking guns, then you don’t have any guns. If you have one here and one there, and another over there, and so on, the odds of having a few are much improved.

  4. You probably will not see this on such an old post, but I just can’t resist. But being a subject/prisoner of Ca. I would say your comments are correct, and in fact even worse. That backup gun in your vehicle has to be locked up unloaded. (a rifle can be stored unlocked but still unloaded and our AR’s must-have fixed mags.
    Ca even recently took away the only CCW choice I had, the single-shot Dennis the Mennis slingshot. (.50 round balls can be damn effective out of one of those)
    We do have some of the best knife law in the nation though, so if you want to bring a knife to a gunfight you have that going for you 🙂
    For all you nay-sayers out there that would say why live in Ca. I will give you two, I don’t run from a fight, and the family business is tied to the State in a manner that greatly removes any chance of moving it.

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