Released in July 1980, Under the Gun was the followup to Poco's breakout album Legend. Legend had been released in November 1978 on ABC Records just prior to that label's being bought out by MCA: in a June 7 2013 interview with Rockin' Rich Lynch of SoundPress.net Radio Network, veteran Poco member Paul Cotton would state that MCA required that Poco audition prior to being allowed to record for MCA. Cotton - "we had to go over to a rehearsal hall and play in front of all the executives" who after hearing Poco perform "Under the Gun", a Paul Cotton composition referencing the pressure attendant on the audition, approved Poco's recording for MCA.
Released at the same time as the album, the "Under the Gun" single failed to reach the Top 40 stalling at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100: another Paul Cotton composition "Midnight Rain" also failed to chart high in its single release with a #74 peak. Without the impetus of a major hit single the Under the Gun album failed to match the success of Legend, the former's album chart peak being #46.