I'm reading an English story written by an Italian student, and there's a line which says

  1. Mark carried a gun in his briefcase for safety reasons

Now, when talking to him earlier I understood what he meant. The hero of his story placed the gun in his briefcase, in case he needed to use it. The gun was for his own personal safety.

I suppose self defence could have been used, but it suggests that the hero knew what was lying in store for him.

I suggested,

  1. Mark carried a gun on the off chance that he needed to use it.

But Cambridge Dictionary says

off chance noun
hoping that something may be possible, although it is not likely:

Which changes the story somewhat, and besides which, the phrase becomes too clumsy sounding.

Does ‘precaution measures’ sound better?

  1. Mark carried a gun for precaution measures

CD defines it as

precaution noun
an action that is done to prevent something unpleasant or dangerous happening

Is there a pithier, an easier expression or phrase that people use when they fear they might face danger?

Context: Mark placed the gun with the $100,000 cash that was in his briefcase. In the end, the "hero" never needed to use the gun.

  • 2
    Precautionary measures is idiomatic, as opposed to precaution measures. I'm addressing this issue only, not answering your question. Nov 5, 2016 at 21:16
  • "On the chance" may be better than "on the off chance" here; "off chance" suggests something less than mortal danger. To be pithier, you could suggest "Mark carried a gun in his briefcase against the mortal threat" or similar. Nov 5, 2016 at 23:25
  • 2
    I would write "Mark carried a gun in his briefcase for *protection". As written, "for safety reasons" could also mean to keep the gun from getting into the wrong hands (supposing the briefcase is locked, anyway).
    – user3169
    Nov 6, 2016 at 0:15
  • @user3169 "for protection" is a very good suggestion.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 6, 2016 at 1:47
  • @Mari-LouA "Protection" is fine", so is "on the chance", but "to be on the safe side" might be more idiomatic: "Mark carried a gun in his briefcase to be on the safe side." But we are doing writing advice here, and I can feel the gods' displeasure gathering,,, Nov 6, 2016 at 1:52

2 Answers 2


There are many, many ways to express the idea that the gun is brought along in case he faced some danger. The simplest of these is

Mark carried a gun as a precaution.

You'll still have to explain what the danger was, but you'd have to do that anyway with your other constructions.

  • +1 Although, depending on how the context is written into the story, the simplest way might be Mark carried a gun (in his briefcase). Saying even as a precaution could be unnecessary. Nov 7, 2016 at 5:20

I would just use just in case which means

in the event that (something happens).

especially when the "hero" never needed to use the gun.

[McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002]

  • "for safety reasons" is perfectly acceptable (US) English. your question is really about style, not language. He could have written more colorfully "Mark carried a prophylactic Luger in his briefcase", or "Mark packed a lead ventilator in his briefcase", etc.
    – mobileink
    Nov 9, 2016 at 2:29
  • sorry that was supposed to be an answer not a comment!
    – mobileink
    Nov 9, 2016 at 2:30

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