Concealed Carry

Choosing the Right Truck Gun

Camouflaged pickup truck with morning sun behind it

As some of you may know, I was an executive chef in NYC for more than a decade. When I lived in NYC, a truck gun was not really on my radar.

For one thing, I didn’t have a truck and I am pretty sure the subway conductor would not have allowed me to store my blaster in his tiny cubical.

When I moved back to free America, I bought a truck and in the process of rediscovering my 2A rights, the concept of a truck gun arose.

Here’s my story of truck guns throughout the years and what led to my preferred choice of truck gun today.

My First Choice

My first truck gun was what I had. I took the folding bayonet off a Carbine Mosin Nagant (M-44) and slid it behind the bench seat. It was a gun, it lived in my truck and I paid $99 for it.

There wasn’t much worry about a little rust or a few scratches from bouncing around.

After some consideration, it occurred to me that something with the flame-producing capacity of an M-44 and the steel-core ammo might not be the best thing if I ever had to use it.

This concern got me to purchase soft-point ammunition. Testing the soft-point ammo indicated it was slightly less over-penetrating.

It also showed me that with “hunting” ammo, the rifle wasn’t that much more accurate than my carry pistol. My groups at 50 yards looked a lot like my pistol groups at 30 yards. I needed a different choice.

This began a long process of figuring out my budget versus my goals and what a truck gun really should be for me. This process is very different for each person.

I will share some of my choices and where I am today.

The fact that I currently use a certain thing, does not mean it should be your choice, and that is part of the reason I will discuss the ‘why’ of each choice I made.

Not all of them were as poor as my M-44 decision.

Truck Gun Storage stuff in trunk
It is important to conceal your truck guns to prevent theft.

Making an Upgrade

My next choice was to replace the Mosin with something a bit more versatile and a bit more DA-friendly. My Remington 870 entered truck duty.

It was something I already owned and was an easy replacement. At the time, I mounted an elastic side saddle so I had projectile options. My load in the gun was five rounds of OO buck.

In the side saddle, I had three 1 oz slugs and two #4 buck shells. This is a very workable option with a fair amount of flexibility, but I was never really happy with it.

It was much better and more useful than the Mosin, but I evolved away quickly.

Back in the day, I carried a GLOCK 22 as my EDC.

I have since reformed from .40 S&W, but at that time, it seemed like a great idea to have a truck gun that shared the same caliber (and magazines), while opening up the accurate range to at least 75 yards.

This thought process led me to the purchase of a Kel-Tec Sub-2000 in .40 S&W.

The gun is a bit crude, but the price is right and once I got used to (and improved) the ergonomics, my practical range jumped from 25 yards to the desired 75 yards.

The rifle also acted as a backpack gun, so life was good. At the time I rode a motorcycle frequently, so the backpack consideration was not without merit.

My ergonomic improvement was to take a strip of hot-water insulation and wrap the metal shaft of the stock.

It took a little fiddling to get the material where it protected my cheek for a better face position without compromising the folding ability, but in less than half an hour of test fitting, I had a solution.

I chose to discontinue the Sub-2000 as my truck gun for two reasons. The first and most important was that my (late) wife could not shoot it accurately no matter what she did.

I was able to coax six-inch groups at 75 yards with relative ease. She was unable to consistently shoot three-foot groups at 75 yards, and she was not a poor shot.

Even with the padding I added, she would not create a cheek weld because the recoil impulse bruised her cheek. I also switched to 9mm Luger for carry duty, so the ammunition and magazine compatibility went away.

Kel-Tec Sub-2000
The Kel-Tec Sub-2000 makes a great truck gun.

Other Truck Gun Selections

She really liked my Marlin 336 lever gun. It was her preferred deep-brush hunting gun, so she was very familiar with it and shot it well.

Five rounds of .30-30 Winchester are pretty effective in saying “leave me the hell alone,” and certainly have enough punch for anything from a coyote to a (Florida) wild hog, or even punching through most parts of a goblin-driven vehicle.

Her off-hand groups at 75 yards were in the four to six-inch range depending on the day. I considered getting her a lever gun in .38/.357 for lower recoil and higher capacity.

At the time, they were in short supply and before I could find what I wanted, she decided on a different route.

After a weekend of shooting AR’s, she’d found what she wanted. That Monday, she took her lunch break and surprised me at the gun store I worked at by bringing me lunch.

She bought herself a Smith and Wesson M&P Sport. That became her truck (trunk actually) gun. She really liked that gun.

With the stock iron sights she was quite proficient, are with the addition of a red dot, she was deadly accurate. Her only real complaint was the lack of a giggle setting.

We rigged a quick-release harness in her trunk and a black curtain to hang between it and curious eyes. For her job, she was in and out of her trunk constantly.

This often happened at job sights and having a client see an AR-15 might not have been the best idea. No one ever noticed. She did have one instance where the client was an Air Force Officer.

They met off-base for lunch but had to go back to the base for a reason I don’t remember. Before they left, she pulled him aside and had a quiet discussion about not being able to drive her car on base.

It turned out he was a serious gun guy. He asked a few questions. She figured it was easier to just show him why.

His face turned pink, then he asked, “Would you please share this with my wife? And why don’t we park your car outside the main gate and take my car. I really don’t want to have to check all that into the armory. But good for you… and yes, thank you for inviting my wife and I to go shooting with you two.”

That rifle now sports a dedicated 5.56 NATO suppressor, so I don’t use it as a truck gun. I don’t want to have to deal with interstate transport issues and I live two miles from a state line.

As you might imagine, I cross the state line frequently.

AR-15 Truck Gun In Trunk
This AR-15 fits nicely in the hidden compartment of this trunk.

Where I Landed

In my other vehicle, I adopted her thought process. As I became much more familiar with the AR platform, it just made more and more sense.

Sure the 5.56 NATO is not exactly the hardest-hitting round, but 30 (I download to 28) rounds is quite a bit handier than the five of the Marlin or the Mosin, and about triple that of a .357 lever gun.

It is also very simple to have several magazines handy. I store a quad mag holster next to the gun. I load half with 77-grain Berger OTM bullets.

Those have performed well in deer hunting and retain some ability to punch through light obstacles. I also have 62-grain green tips should that be a need.

With 28 rounds in the rifle and another 112 within quick reach, I doubt I am under-gunned, despite it only being 5.56 NATO.

My quick-fire, off-hand groups are in the three to four-inch range at 100 yards. My gun has a low-power variable scope set at 1.5 power.

This allows me to run it with both eyes open if needed. I also have an offset back-up set of iron sights for quick close shots.

The rifle is my backup 3-Gun rig, which is why it has the double-sight setup, but they are convenient on a truck (trunk) gun as well.

For my truck, I still work with my magazine/ammo compatibility desire. I bought a 9mm Luger chambered braced AR pistol.

This is probably one of the best 9mm pistols to use as a truck gun because you have the benefits of a rifle in a compact and easy-to-shoot package.

At the time, I was running a GLOCK 17 as my EDC, so having a few 17 and 33-round mags in the truck made sense, and the AR running a shake-activated Holosun red dot made offhand three-inch groups at 75 yards a simple task.

Despite switching to a Faxon-modified Smith and Wesson M&P9, I still run this setup in my truck.

Since my magazines are not interchangeable, I am debating switching to an AR in 5.56 NATO, but inertia has kept me from changing so far.

Do you have a truck gun? What is it and why did you choose it? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author:

John Bibby

John Bibby is an American gun writer who had the misfortune of being born in the occupied territory of New Jersey. His parents moved to the much freer state of Florida when he was 3. This allowed his father start teaching him about shooting prior to age 6. By age 8, he was regularly shooting with his father and parents of his friends. At age 12, despite the strong suggestions that he shouldn’t, he shot a neighbor’s “elephant rifle."

The rifle was a .375 H&H Magnum and, as such, precautions were taken. He had to shoot from prone. The recoil-induced, grass-stained shirt was a badge of honor. Shooting has been a constant in his life, as has cooking.

He is an (early) retired Executive Chef. Food is his other great passion. Currently, he is a semi-frequent 3-Gun competitor, with a solid weak spot on shotgun stages. When his business and travel schedule allow, you will often find him, ringing steel out well past 600 yards. In order to be consistent while going long, reloading is fairly mandatory. The 3-Gun matches work his progressive presses with volume work. Precision loading for long-range shooting and whitetail hunting keeps the single-stage presses from getting dusty.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (23)

  1. I too am a believer in the benefits of pistol and carbine sharing the same cartridge type and magazine. My choice for this combo is a Kel-Tec p-11 for my concealed carry, a S&W 5906 in a lock box, and a Marlin Camp9 with a folding stock in a tennis racket cover behind the seat. All take the same 15 round magazine of 9mm ammo.
    Marlin should come back with their Camp9. Great little carbine.

  2. I’ve carried several different truck guns from a marlin .22 back when things were simpler, to an SKS, then a Sub 2000 in 9mm Beretta so the mags matched our pistols. Currently I have a Mossberg tactical 30-30 lever gun because it has the punch and accuracy I want but isn’t one of those evil AR’s in the event something happens and I have to use it.

  3. I keep a Guardian 32NAA in a center console lock box in my truck which is always there however my truck gun is a Mossberg Shockwave in 12 gauge loaded with 2.25” 00 Buck and a nice supply of 2.75” “Low Recoil” 00 Buck and 1 oz. Slugs for just about any occasion. I just built an AR Pistol in 223 Wylde and I’m considering switching to that.
    My EDC is a Glock 17.

  4. At 66, I’ve had a few truck guns. Venezuelan Mauser carbine, Enfield jungle carbine. M-44 Mosin. Coupla 8mm Mausers. Mini-14. Ar-180. Galil. Sks. Ak. And last but not least, an m-94 Winchester since the local cops have become somewhat funny about ar-type weapons. And frankly, the .30-30 will do the job at 150 yards all day.

  5. I built an 8.5” free float barrel, M-lock railed 300 blackout pistol on an Areo lower. I put in an RA 3.5 lb single stage trigger, added an SBA4 pistol stabilizer brace, H2 buffer and topped it with a Primary Arms one power Cyclops scope. I added a Magpul BAD lever and large opening trigger guard. I can consistently hit one gallon milk jugs at 3 hundred yards with good ammunition.

  6. Since I live in a gun friendly state, an AR would be perfect. I have a nice Ar pistol, stored broken down in a small case with several 30 round mags with it. IF. If I never travel out of state (which I do) to a state where the evil features of a black rifle are illegal. IF. If the Federal government never became gun Un-friendly (and we know what’s in the wind). Currently I have an old Savage take down 12 ga and a Chiappa Little Badger in my truck. Both can travel anywhere without more than a glance, and will suffice if really needed. In the event I really think I need longer range, a Savage 99 in .308 or Marlin in 30-30 go in as desired. By the way, both Savage & Marlin have peep sights, not optics, and both will hold under 3″ at 100 yards.

  7. M590 Mossberg with 10 round clip,(12ga)and side arm a CZ Rami 9mm luger. I back both up with a .357 EAA Windicator. 2A all the way. Texas Baby!!

  8. I also like the braced AR pistol idea, but find 300 Blackout a good caliber out of a 10.5” barrel. A rail-mounted Sig Romeo 5 gets me within minute of bad guy out to 50 yards easily.

  9. A 16” barrel SKS bought for a song in the 1980s, equipped with a folding stock and the original 10 round fixed magazine. Carry spare stripper clips of ammunition with it. However, if you need more than 10 rounds, you probably should have run away.

  10. I feel the same way as the writer. Unfortunately, due to some serious medical issues( 3 strokes& 5 heart attacks in South Florida), I came back to the Occupied State Of Maryland. The First thing I noticed is i truly did not felt free here & could see the difference. The second thing is i no longer felt protected because my Florida Conceal Carry License is not allowed in this horrible high tax State. I have to apply for a new one specific for this state only.i can no longer carry my sidearm or my service weapon Glock legally here(I was a licensed D&G trained firearm Armed security officer.I want to return to my beloved Florida , you can smell the freedom & no state tax there.

  11. My truck guns are a Glock 17 in 9mm. I also carry a AR-15 in 300 Blackout suppressed with a 1.5-8 scope & a
    AR-15 Pistol in 300 Blackout suppressed with a Holosun site. Both are hidden in the truck and are easily accessible. My EDC is A Sig Sauer RCS 1911 in 45ACP with 2 10 rnd mags for spares. I have chosen these particular firearms as I live in a rural area and we have a variety of predators roaming the area.

  12. a truck gun serves a purpose for me and the more it can do the better my current truck gun is a o/u combo 12 guage over 223 very versatile with a red dot on top has like coyotes out to 300 yds it’s not a track driver but with #4 buck for up close and 55 grn ballistic tips no predator escapes it in Wyoming Colorado or Nebraska. it’s not ideal but has put pheasants and grouse in the pot when the opportunity arrises.

  13. I always liked my AK Pistol with 30 or 40 round mags. small and compact, hard hitting and very accurate at 100 yards. An old Romy

  14. Currently I am using a Magpul upgraded Century Arms VSKA/AK-47. Loaded with softpoint ammo in 20 round magazines and topped with a Holosun green dot. I average about 3 inch groups at 100 yards and good out to about 250 if needed… this gun is as tough as an old boot and runs like the Energizer Bunny!

  15. The glock mag 9mm keltec is where i was. I replaced full kit on the weapon from m carbo and it shot very well. I just could never get to i place that i liked it. (For various reasons). Ended up selling to my Dad. So, now, not quite sure. AR types would be an option, but all my ARs are NOT guns I would want to leave in my truck. Finding a cheaper AR to fill that gap isn’t realistic either right now. So, not sure. The search continues.

  16. A lever action has always been my trick gun. Originally was 30-30, my favorite gun as a teenager. I changed calibers to 45-70 in a phase that a purchased big bores in the 80’s and now it’s a .357 which was my son’s rifle when we shot SASS. He’s been gone to become a staff Sargent and I kept the gun for my truck. No plans to change it even though a have a AR pistol in 300BLK ready in my home office. What do y’all think?

  17. Ruger American Compact in 243 w 4x scope. Tiny, came w 16 inch barrel. Cheap enough to beat up. Enough power for a hog or deer.

  18. I own a late model Ford F-150. Behind the back seat back there is a hidden space perfect for whatever guns you want to put there. Builtright industries makes a latch with a strap that you can install in 10 minutes. It doesn’t look like anything but you pull it and there are your weapons tucked away accessible but hidden from thieves. Fits AR’s and pistols quite nicely.

  19. That’s why I love the concept of my AR pistol.
    Portable, compact, reliable, familiar, and lets not forget the legal benefits if your a legal concealed carry holder in that I can leave it right there, fully loaded, ready immediately because it’s a pistol.
    30 rounds of 5.56 even out of a 10.5” barrel ain’t nothing to sneeze at with realistic distance at emergency conditions.
    But the firearm that is ALWAYS in the truck…a nasty looking police trade in S&W model 5906. It looks like it was used in training for disarming techniques but it’s reliable as a hammer!
    Keep your hands off my pistol brace!

  20. I have the Sub 2000 in .40 in my get home bag. After installing an Mcarbo trigger and spring kit I can make effective hits at 100 yards. I have a 9mm as well, but opted for the .40 because it gains more from a carbine length barrel, and because the heavy .40 cal bullets retain more energy at longer ranges.

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