The truck gun has garnered attention in recent years, yet there seems to be little consensus as to just what it is or the role it plays. Let’s clear all that up today.
What is a Truck Gun?
Let’s take a look at the various definitions of a truck gun from around the internet. You’ll notice that the only criteria that seems to be agreed upon is that a truck gun belongs in a vehicle. A firearm carried in a vehicle…
- … is effective at ranges beyond those of a handgun.
- … should be cased and unloaded in the trunk to satisfy firearms laws while traversing jurisdictions.
- … should be less expensive and suited to the rigors of knocking around in a vehicle.
- … should be less expensive and would therefore not create hardship if stolen.
- … in case of emergency.
- … or tractor for use around the ranch or homestead.
- … that is lightweight, portable, and multi-use.
No single definition stands out to me so I’m going to come up with my own. I tend to see survival gear from the viewpoint of a Modular Survival Kit. I’ve advocated for the Modular Survival Kit for decades and really believe it’s essential for survivalists for many reasons. But that’s a different article.
Truck Guns in the Context of the Modular Survival Kit
My concealed carry firearm is carried in what I refer to as my Core Layer of survival/self-recover gear. This core layer is with me everywhere I go. Although it does vary slightly depending on the situation. I carry somewhat less at the beach, I carry somewhat more on the trail. But the core components are as close by as is practical.
In the context of the Modular Survival Kit, a truck gun is an additional layer added to a concealed carry sidearm. It doesn’t take its place. I am a decided fan of carrying the primary sidearm secured to your body. This way, I am still armed when leaving my vehicle. The strong point of the sidearm is that it’s always with you and quickly employed. If I’m unable to break contact with my sidearm, there’s the option of fighting my way to a more effective weapon in the vehicle.
On top of my Core Layer, I add layers or modules as needed. My Home Defense Pouch would be an example. My Ready for the Fight Bag would be another. My Survival Firearm Bag would be another, with one living in each vehicle. Depending on where I plan to travel, it can be swapped for another bag if I’m short on space. I can add another bag that gives me the capability that best matches the task and circumstances at hand.
Unfortunately, I have been forced to defend myself in the past. I know from experience that more than just a firearm is needed to get the job done. Whether in my vehicles, home, or elsewhere, self-defense bags should contain a firearm plus everything needed to accomplish the task at hand.
If you prevail defending yourself without this precaution, are you going to ask a home invader to stay put while you run to grab your cell phone? Regardless of who prevails, you’d better have a trauma kit handy because gunfights are dynamic, mobile and notoriously unpredictable. You may not be able to get to a trauma kit under your own power afterward. Same goes for spare magazines, knife, flashlight, less-lethal option, ID, and so on.
Should you survive the first battle for your life, count on a second battle for your freedom. Keep that in mind as you select training, prepare your self-defense bags, and train. Ideally, any self-defense bag should contain everything you need but nothing you don’t. You can check out recommended contents in my article, “Ready for the Fight Bag.”
Survival Firearm Bag
The role of the Survival Firearm Bag is to provide me with a compact survival weapon to fill my stewpot. To meet my needs in the Rockies and desert Southwest, I most often carry the Springfield Armory M-6 Scout in .22 LR over .410. With Aguila Super Colibri ammunition, it’s quieter than most air rifles but powerful enough to bag small game in an E&E scenario. It doesn’t have the expense, hassle, paper trail, or possibility of visits from the BATFE that can accompany a legal suppressor. The more potent .22 LR is fine for small or medium game. The .410 ammunition now comes in a variety of loads suitable for small through large game, self-defense, or emergency signaling.
I like to have a small selection of ammunition, a micro cleaning kit, necessary load bearing equipment, tools to deal with game, and so on. I also include a lock to temporarily secure my firearm should the need arise. The bag protects the firearm and other contents while keeping them organized. The bag can be further secured by storing it in a hidden and/or locked compartment. The firearm can even be mounted in a ready position outside the storage bag as needed.
Potential Problems with Truck Guns
While the truck or trunk gun certainly has a niche, there are potential issues that I feel compelled to mention. Keep in mind though, that individual circumstances vary, so I am merely pointing out where the quicksand and wild animals are for some, not laying down hard and fast rules for all.
Potential Issues with Truck Guns
- In Addition to Concealed Carry, Not Instead of Concealed Carry – According to the Urban Firearms Institute, some 80% of gunfights in the USA are over in 2.5 seconds or less from the first shot to the last. In some cases, retrieving a firearm from a vehicle may cause a delay that a shooter can ill afford.
- Theft – Not wanting to invest a lot of money in something that may be stolen tempts some to forego what they see as costly maintenance or upgrades. This may also lead to relying on firearms that aren’t up to the task. High wear parts should be replaced on schedule in all firearms with moving parts, so that includes Glocks and AKs.
- Placement – Factors to consider:
Draw Index: Your firearm must be in the same position every time you reach for it.
Safety: Placement should allow for safe muzzle handling. Your firearm shouldn’t go flying to the floorboard in an accident or a violent defensive driving maneuver. Tucking a firearm under your leg, behind your back, in the space between the seat cushions are all no-go’s. Also, don’t put it on the bench or in the passenger seat. There are great products to secure firearms on the market. Use them or a holster.
Security: I remember the days of gun racks but back then people were more honest and less litigious. Firearms are better stored out of sight and locked up these days. This reduces liability and slows criminals down. Also, have a lock box for your concealed carry sidearm for trips inside businesses posted no carry if you really must, but it’s better to boycott them. Use the lockbox for government buildings that don’t permit carry, establishments that serve alcohol or less-permissive jurisdictions. If you’re in a friend’s vehicle that doesn’t have a lockbox, handcuff your sidearm to the seat frame in a pinch.
Accessibility: If carrying in part for self-defense, your firearm must also be easily and quickly pressed into service with as little fine motor coordination as possible.
Choosing a Truck Gun
Keep in mind that a great solution for one individual might be a terrible fit for someone else. Don’t just use what I do. When I consider gear for a layer of the Modular Survival Kit, I run it through batteries of criteria. I look at demographic information, materials, manufacturing process, potential to save lives, needs, cost, budget, pattern of life, environment, mission, threats, multi-use, size and weight constraints, carry ability, niche, field repair-ability, useful life, and a host of other data points. Based on that, there is a list of factors to consider when choosing a truck gun.
Factors to Consider
- Budget & Priority –A truck gun can arguably range from $200 to $1200. This isn’t surprising since budgets and priorities vary. Often as not, the guy spending $1,200 is putting the firearm on a credit card. Formulate a reasonable budget for you and prioritize the purchase of truck guns in the context of your overall survival plan.
- Mission or Primary Use – Will the weapon be used primarily for varmint control, self-defense, small game, big game, or for survival/self-recovery?
- Pattern of Life – Married? Kids? Profession? Commute distance? Pattern of life has an impact on survival planning.
- Risk of Theft – Risk of theft will impact how you store your weapon. It also impacts your risk and exposure to storing a firearm in a vehicle. If you live and work in a small town where no one locks their doors at night, chances are higher that the truck gun will still be there when you walk out to your vehicle tomorrow morning.
- Conditions of Employment – Some employers have strict conditions of employment including prohibition of firearms on property. This often includes parking structures or lots and the right to search your vehicle without probable cause. Consider them when choosing an employer.
- Local Laws – If local laws prohibit loaded rifles in cars, an AR or AK classified as a pistol may make sense. Be sure to consult with an attorney who specializes in firearms law about these types of decisions. Don’t use Uncle Irvin who makes most of his money in personal injury but whom is willing to field your firearms related questions.
- Threat – Do you live in bear country, have predators raiding your chicken coop, or is human predation the greater threat? The range of that threat plays a part in dictating choice of weapon.
- Caliber – You may want to stick with a common round or magazine type to keep costs down and simplify logistics.
- Standardization – Can others use the weapon besides you? Depending on their level of training, you may want to stick to a platform they’re familiar with. You may also benefit from some level of ammunition and magazine interoperability. Then again, selecting different weapons can give greater versatility and adaptability to unforeseen circumstances.
- Ballistics – Given a choice, I would choose a firearm chambered in a rifle or shotgun caliber over a pistol caliber to defend my life. Most of you should already be carrying a sidearm concealed, so arguably the truck gun should be a rifle or shotgun.
- Environment – Some firearms are designed to function reliably in extreme cold weather and some aren’t. In wet weather and high humidity, some finishes hold up better than others.
- Transportation – No matter what your transport mode is, storage space must also be taken into account.
You need more than just a truck gun. Think along the lines of a bag containing everything you need, rather than just a naked firearm. Diagnose before you prescribe. Don’t just accept the common convention. What do you need? How you carry a firearm is every bit as important as what you carry. Invest in a safe, secure, accessible truck gun and have a consistent draw index.