There is a considerable amount of writing within the self-defense world regarding the possible need to move your carry pistol, or other weaponry, to the opposite side of your body to accommodate injury to your dominant arm or hand. For example, if you have shoulder or elbow surgery on your dominant arm, and you have a month of recovery time that dictates the immobilization and limited use of the appendage, then how will you carry and deploy your defensive weapon, if needed? Obviously, maintaining a holster that is set up for your non-dominant side is a sound decision so that you can simply switch your gun to the other side of your body, be it strong-side or appendix carry. (Editor’s Note: Or buy an ambidextrous holster)
However, something that gets less attention is the possible need to change your carry mode, at least temporarily, to accommodate an injury that is not related to your dominant arm or hand. In such a circumstance, you may wish to keep the weapon on the dominant side but need to change the location of the carried gun. This is one of several reasons to consider utilizing a secondary carry mode. Beyond accommodating for injury, a second carry mode is exceedingly useful for other reasons. Perhaps you need to accommodate certain kinds of clothing that do not work with your usual carry mode. Also, a secondary carry mode can be put to use when and if you carry a backup gun on-person. For these reasons, establishing a preferred secondary carry mode warrants consideration.
Accommodating Injury and Disability
Just prior to this writing, I actually had an injury in my abdomen, which led to my typical mode of appendix-inside-the-waistband causing discomfort due to the proximity of the gun’s heal to that area of the body that was hurting. This was a perfect example of why having an established secondary carry mode is important. In my own experience, I did not want to move the gun to the opposite side, as my dominant hand was not effected by the injury. However, my standard mode of carry was compromised. Therefore, I fell back on the secondary carry mode I have used over the years. In fact, I utilized two alternate carry modes, having a good deal of experience with both.
While I healed up, I carried a small revolver either in the pocket or on my ankle. I have used both pocket and ankle carry quite extensively in the past, though I rarely do now. However, having both previous experiences with these carry modes, as well as the holsters necessary, came in very useful for this situation. Both pocket and ankle carry dictate that I utilize my small, deep concealment revolver rather than my standard double-stack auto pistol. Many are perfectly fine with such a compromise. If you would prefer to carry a full-size gun even during a recovery period, consider your options. For example, a shoulder holster might serve a purpose, even though few concealed carriers use such a setup these days.
Other Reasons for the Second Carry Mode
Beyond accommodating injury, there are other compelling reasons to use a secondary carry mode. Perhaps the most common reason for this is to accommodate different kinds of dress. For example, if you carry a gun in the waistband, under an un-tucked t-shirt, you likely can’t carry it that way if you need to dress formally in a tucked-in dress shirt. Such circumstances will dictate a secondary carry mode. A small gun in a pocket or on an ankle is often the go-to solution for such occasions among devoted concealed carriers. Even if you carry a gun in the same body location, the holster and drawstroke will likely need to be different to accommodate the tucked-in garment. Many find simply carrying a smaller gun in a different body location more convenient.
Another very good reason to settle on a secondary carry mode is to accommodate a backup gun, which refers to a second handgun actually carried on the body. Most civilian concealed carriers do not carry a backup gun on a daily basis, but it may be wise to have a backup gun and holster in your possession in case you need to. In uncertain times, adding a second concealed handgun to your person may be a good decision. Pocket carry and ankle carry both serve well for backup guns, even though many armed citizens do not prefer these locations for primary carry. Personally, I am not a fan of ankle carry as a sole method of concealment, but it is the only way I can make carrying a backup gun work on the rare occasion that I carry a second gun. You may also find that you do not prefer your secondary mode, but it may be the only workable solution for backup gun carry.
The secondary carry mode, no matter how infrequently used, demands practice as well, so get comfortable drawing the gun from whichever alternate carry location you choose. There is no compelling reason to prefer the secondary mode, and there is little reason to use it instead of your primary method of carry unless you need to. However, you very well may face circumstances in which you have no choice, so it is better to establish a secondary mode and practice with it before you need it.