I recently wrote a piece (as part of the Home Defense Weekly Tip series) about staging firearms. After writing that though, I was working in the yard and had more thoughts on the subject.
I had suggested that people could carry a small handgun while home instead of staging handguns in strategic locations. My suggestion was directed primarily at people who live in high-risk locales. In these areas, the threat level may be high enough that reaching a staged gun in time isn’t an option. And these threats might not always be what or where one expects.
Beware of Dog
I recently read a few articles about dog attacks, one involving an Akita and two involving pit bulls. Two of the three cases were incidents with young children playing in the yard. In the Akita attack, the father, who was outside at the time, grabbed a hoe and was able to drive the dog off before it could kill his child. In one case involving pit bulls, the father fought the dogs bare-handed to save his child, sacrificing his own life. In a third event, a man took a shortcut through the woods and was set upon by a pack of pit bulls that tore him to pieces. These occurrences got me thinking.
I live on three-quarters of an acre in a semi-rural area. My son frequently plays in the front yard and fenced-in backyard, often while I am working outside. After reading these articles, I was concerned about how quickly I might be able to get to him or my wife in case the unthinkable were to occur. I decided to try out what I call a “yard gun.”
Small But Mighty Yard Gun
Opting to carry a yard gun was difficult to swallow at first. I grew up in a suburban Indianapolis neighborhood in the 1960s. On Saturday mornings in the summer, one woke to the sound of “weekend squires” out mowing their lawns. Back then, no one would have thought of packing a pistol to do yard work or needing one close by “just in case.” But today we live in dangerous times.
So a yard gun, I have determined, is a discreet handgun worn while going about either daily chores or enjoying life outdoors. It should be capable of stopping most threats by itself or allowing you or your loved ones to get to a more secure position … or a bigger gun. The firearm should still be small enough to fit in a pants pocket so as not to interfere with chores like cutting grass, digging dirt, chopping wood or raking leaves. If it is too big, it will get left inside with your larger guns.
I started experimenting while cutting the grass, carrying a variety of micro-guns I had in the safe. The first one was my North American Arms Bulldog Pug in .22 Magnum. The .22 Magnum packs more punch at close range than you might think. The NAA revolver almost disappears in my pocket when held in place by a TUFF Products Pocket-Roo holster. Just remember to remove it before laundering (it’s that low-profile). I found it quite comforting to have this as my yard gun while I was working.
Other Yard Gun Options
I also looked at carrying something with a bit more punch that would still not be objectionable during yard work. As much as I love my revolvers, I wouldn’t want to pack one in the yard all afternoon due to the bulkier size. I opted to try out my North American Arms Guardian in .32 NAA caliber.
The .32 NAA is a hot little round, and the Guardian pistol’s all-stainless construction is heavy enough to control it. Yet the Guardian’s small profile conceals very well (again when carried in a pocket holster), and it is about as snag-free as it gets.
If a heavier pistol such as the Guardian works well, polymer-frame micro-pistols such as those from KelTec, Ruger and Smith & Wesson could work even better. Certain micro 9mms might work too. But then again, you are expanding the pistol size to the point of altering the (my) definition of a yard gun.
It is a shame that we need to even think about continually packing a sidearm. But as society continues to degrade, maybe you should consider a concept like the yard gun. Ask yourself: Do you know who will be in the next vehicle that pulls into your driveway?
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.