Throwback Thursday: Why You Need a Packable AR-15 Pistol for Your Vehicle

7.5-inch barreled AR-15 pistol in an open backpack

Just a few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea of having a packable AR-15 pistol tucked into my vehicle — though I have kept a cased AR-15 or Tavor in the truck for years. More times than I can remember, that rifle came in handy during impromptu range trips — plus the assurance that 30 rounds of M855 5.56 can provide when you are stranded at night alongside the road. It also delivered personal assurance that I would have more than just a handgun in an extended survival or personal defense situation with the ability to deliver precision shots under 100 yards and connect assuredly out to 400+ yards if needed.

Dolos and Law Tactical equipped AR-15 pistol
A Dolos and Law Tactical equipped AR-15 is a tiny package.

More recently, I have worked through a set of theories based on some discussions with some deeply experienced friends, which I would like to share. One high-ranking Army friend — formerly a Night Stalker — said, “There is no one perfect small arm for any situation. The dynamics of the environment you expect to be engaged in dictate the armament.” For several reasons, it is my theory that an AR-15 pistol is the better personal defense and road travel firearm to have stowed in your vehicle.

Potential Need

Discussing my ideas with a few folks who have “been there and done that,” I began gaming out a few potential theories. Beyond the zombie apocalypse-type events, there are only a couple of logically probable scenarios that could occur:

  • Personal defense and security during an active shooter situation
  • General support of survival and security needs (such as being stranded or coming home to forced entry situation)
  • Support of movement to a safe location during a hostile/riot situation
  • An extremely unlikely situation where everything goes to hell and you need a weapon (EMPs, Solar Flares, invasion, zombies, etc.)
7.5-inch barreled AR-15 pistol in an open backpack
A 7.5-inch barreled AR-15 pistol slips into even small ultralight day packs.

In any other immediate threat situation, the speed and reaction time would require your smaller concealed pistol to come into play first. The logical needs were for a Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) that could deliver 90% of the capabilities of a full-length rifle with an acceptable tradeoff of shooter comfort. In all those situations, accuracy, legal transportation, accessibility, maneuverability, and concealment would all be factors for a firearm stowed within a vehicle.

Accuracy and Shooting

Over the last couple of years, I have changed my perspective of AR-15 pistols from just range toys to seriously viable PDWs. The accuracy of these little AR-15 pistols has shocked me. One particular AR-15 pistol I own can deliver sub-MOA groups from its 7.5-inch match barrel — yes, it will outshoot most rack-grade rifles.

Most of my other AR-15 pistols with premium match barrels can stay well under the 1.5-inch 100-yard group mark and will keep my 6-inch steel target clanging away all the way out to 400 yards with ease. After all, AR-15 pistols are in essence just short-barreled rifles without the stock or rifle classification. The pace at which these little pistols can lay down precision hits is pretty amazing to the degree that I have questioned whether a full-sized rifle would really give me that much more of an advantage over a PDW for use in around and out of a vehicle.

If we look at the reality of most urban combat shooting engagements, they occur statistically well under 100 yards which is a sweet spot for a short accurate PDW. Statistically, it is also unlikely that any more than 10–20 rounds would ever be needed to address a situation, but the PDW can still deliver plenty of firepower with a 30- or 40-round magazine attached. Four or five extra mags thrown into the carry bag delivers a substantial firepower capability.

Dolos Quick Disconnect barrel adapter kit
Dolos Quick Disconnect barrel adapter kit

From very light 40-grain high-shock hollow points to M855 steel-core rounds, the 5.56/.223 offers a lot of options for defense, survival, and threat engagement. It is also statistically unlikely to have a need for supporting a long term armed engagement, but again, the PDW can still handle that requirement as well.

Though I was a little sore afterward, I did spend an afternoon hammering 500 rounds through my truck AR-15 pistol. That problem-free beatdown from the AR-15 pistol changed my perception of what AR-15 pistols could deliver, in just one afternoon. The PDW format can bring the firepower. I would gladly suffer a little discomfort for a one-foot shorter gun that is 2–3 pounds lighter for this particular use.

Legal Transportation

One of the most important points as a civilian is the assuring you are arming yourself in a legal manner. If you have a rifle stowed in your car, it can be problematic as you drive from one city to another or across state lines. Many cities and states have goofy rifle laws that can include requirements for rifles to be partially disassembled, cased, and almost always unloaded. This can be troublesome.

Conversely, if you have a concealed carry permit, carrying an AR-15 pistol is covered under your permit because after all, an AR-15 pistol is not a rifle… it’s a pistol. I would suggest referring to it as a “legal AR-format pistol” rather than just an AR-15 if questioned. The point here is that in many cases having an AR-15 pistol can avoid unintentionally breaking the law should your rifle not fit the widely varying locals regarding stowage for rifles.

Sneak Bags 31-inch SPYDER backpack
Sneak Bags 31-inch SPYDER accommodates everything from PDWs, Tavors, and disassembled AR-15s.


Having a legally stowed, cased, and unloaded full-sized AR-15 rifle in the back of the vehicle is a viable concept. However, having accessibility to that gun and putting it into action fast is another matter altogether. It hardly seems a sound idea to have an accessible, loaded AR-15 rifle on the front seat of your vehicle with a blanket over it for concealment — you’ll likely get arrested.

On the other hand, a concealed carry license allows loaded pistols to be concealed, on the person, or within a vehicle, or in personal belongings. It would seem that if the need arose, putting a legally stowed, loaded, and accessible AR-15 pistol in a backpack in the front seat would be far faster than walking around to the trunk, opening it, unzipping the rifle case, and loading the rifle.


Maneuvering a rifle inside a vehicle is a tough situation and most would agree that a short AR-15 pistol is more appropriate. Thinking through a multitude of situations that could occur on the road, my theory is that it would be preferable to have a short, maneuverable AR-15 pistol if facing a survival situation or stranded roadside camping inside a vehicle. If clearing between or around vehicles, or through an urban environment to make haste back home, a shorter AR-15 pistol would also seem to be the better tool than a rifle.

Stowing, Concealment, and Movement

Though legality is a big issue, discretely being able to move with an AR-15 pistol is probably the biggest advantage of all. There is no way even a disassembled rifle is going to slip into a standard-sized backpack. If you need to move discretely with your rifle from your vehicle, it is going to be really quite obvious you are carrying a rifle around.

A 10.5-inch barreled AR-15 pistol equipped with a Law Tactical folding buffer tube adapter or stowed with the upper and lower receivers unpinned, slips nicely into any standard backpack or messenger bag and no one will know. A 7.5-inch barreled AR-15 pistol with Law Tactical Folding stock can fit into pretty much any smaller pack.

It is my belief that any firearm permanently stored in a vehicle should be easily concealed, and clandestinely moved in a public setting without undue attention. There was one situation where my truck needed to be unexpectedly kept overnight for service (due to an accident) and another where the hotel only offered valet parking. In both situations, I had to de-weaponize my truck and walk through some rather public areas with what was clearly a gun case. Those incidents taught me a lesson that discrete cases should always be used to house firearms in vehicles — even if it is just one of those non-tactical square soft cases.

A similar situation occurred more recently when I forgot to remove my firearms from my truck before a routine oil change. However, I was able to grab my Eddie Bauer backpack containing my AR-15 pistol and backup Glock 17. With these tucked away, I walked to the coffee shop to wait. no one even took a second look. A standard AR-15 rifle is just not going to give you that option, unless it is disassembled and in a more discrete case.

A simple two-point sling or a convertible ALG Defense Quad Dual QD sling delivers a carry option, which enhances both concealment and handling. If “it” did happen during a hostile situation where LEO and government officials were on high alert, and you did have to trek on foot back home, it would be much better to have a little PDW AR-15 pistol concealed and slung under a long rain jacket than walking home with a rifle slung over your shoulder.

Discreet Vehicle Carry Options

The discreet carry Sneaky Bags are a wonderful option with plenty of internal tactical storage capabilities. The medium 31-inch SPYDER sling bag which looks like a modified tennis racket bag can conceal several firearms at once, but the weight starts to add up.

The standard Sneaky 31-inch SPYDER bag can accommodate a variety of firearms — for example, a Tavor bullpup rifle, PWS MOD2 pistol PDW, nearly any assembled 12-inch barreled SBR or AR-15 pistol and disassembled (upper/lower) rifles. It is a handy, and extremely well-made, case.

SIG MPX pistol folded into a backpack
The SIG MPX pistol tucks into almost any small pack.

AR-15 pistols, of course, easily drop into almost any backpack and no one pays any attention to your standard Swiss Army or Eddie Bauer backpack. 5.11’s Select Carry sling pack is designed specifically for PDW use. It has an innocuous shape/style and rapid draw feature that makes it one of my favorites for my SIG MPX 9mm and other AR-15 pistols.

Accessories to Make Compact Even Smaller

If you own an AR-15 pistol, you are missing half of the functionality of the firearm if you have not installed a folding buffer tube adapter. This accessory negates the need of disassembling an AR-15 pistol to stow it in most backpacks. Deployment is fast — pull from the pack, slam the buffer tube over, charge the AR-15 pistol, and shoot. This is a setup that can deploy instantly from any discrete bag when “it” hits the fan. If you are considering an AR-15 pistol for your vehicle, then this would be a must-have accessory from my perspective.

The DOLOS V2 also chops an AR-15 pistol down even smaller. The DOLOS delivers a ratcheting quick takedown option to remove the barrel with assembly and disassembly occurring in under 5 seconds. The DOLOS V2 is compatible with any Midwest Industries thread pattern barrel nut handguard, which it turns out is pretty common including the very tricky Brigand Arms Carbon Fiber handguards.

AR-15 pistol with Faxon barrel and Nikon 1-4 optic
This Faxon barrel and Nikon 1-4 optic equipped ultralight AR-15 pistol is very capable at intermediate ranges.

Combined with a folding Buffer tube adapter, the DOLOS can deliver a 10”x8” AR-15 pistol (7.5-inch barrel) package that will fit in most iPad sling packs such as the Drago Sentry and most small sling packs.

The shown build features a 7.5-inch pencil profile Black Hole Weaponry match barrel, Aero Precision receivers, Phase 5 Tactical Hex2 buffer tube, SIG Brace, Nikon 3X BDC optic, and DOLOS adapter with Brigand Arms carbon fiber handguard. This is a 400-yard headshot capable rig that breaks down to only 10”x8” with a 20-round magazine in place ready to party.

Don’t Push The Law

Any firearm within a vehicle has a very high potential to be viewed, handled, and checked during any routine traffic stop. It is my belief that most law enforcement folks are tragically uninformed about what is legal when it comes to anything other than a classically-sized rifle or pistol. I have had more than a few LEO folks ask me if my Tavor or an AR-15 pistol was an SBR. Though we all know AR-15 pistols are legally just pistols.

However, if you are pulled over and you are justifiably searched, I would bet that less than 50% of police would have the knowledge to clearly identify your loaded, ready to rock, legal AR-15 pistol as a pistol — hassle initiated.

Black Eddie Bauer backpack
An unassuming $40 Eddie Bauer pack has a suprise in it.

Additionally, if your AR-15 also looks like an SBR with something that a non-firearms-educated officer presumes as a stock, you can double the hassle. Sure, SIG Braces are/were legal when the proper steps were followed. However, this is where I suggest a standard buffer tube might be the better, “less grey” option to avoid extra hassle. Notably, with the buffer tube extension that the Law Tactical Folding Adapter provides, I would submit that such a shooting configuration to be so comfortable that a SIG Brace is not required.

Rifles in Vehicles Are Out – PDWs Are In

During a series of discussions with some military, LEO, and security folks, I am thoroughly convinced that PDWs are the more correct choice for a vehicle-based firearm. Sorting through those discussions, the main, re-emphasized points were compact size, firepower, 0 to 100-yard accuracy/lethality, maneuverability, stowed concealment, and the ability to move with the weapon discretely when not in play. From my perspective, the AR-15 pistol meets those needs perfectly.

One of my friends said it well, “If you are going to war, a rifle is preferred, but for shots that might be fired in, around and from a vehicle or just for personal defense, a faster-handling compact SBR, PDW, or AR-15 pistol is a tough solution to beat.”

Diamondback DB15 Pistol Bronze
Diamondback offers an excellent budget-minded AR-15 pistol that provides solid performance.

Our Rigs

After a whole lot of shooting, I like the compromise of a 10.5-inch barreled AR-15 pistol. It has an exponentially quieter bark and fireball, delivers a bit more velocity than a 7.5-inch barrel, and provides a shooting platform that gives the shooter more room to stretch out. My new favorite factory AR-15 pistol is the PWS MOD2 MK107 AR-15 Pistol with Maxim Defense Adjustable Cheek Rest — truly an amazing firearm, which packs beautifully in the Sneaky Bags SPYDER.

Since I do not want a $2,500 item (including the Vortex optic) potentially stolen from my truck, I opted for parting together a couple of AR-15 pistols. My his and hers Pandemic Truck guns are both based on Faxon ultralight 10.5-inch barrels and Faxon matched headspaced BCGs.

My wife’s pistol features an Aero Precision upper, YHM Quick Pull Take-Down Pins, ALG handguard, Rogers Rail light, Burris 3X 332 prismatic sight, Black Rain lower receiver, Mega Arms trigger, and Paracord wrapped extended KAK pistol buffer tube, which extends the “cheek weld” for my wife. We call this the Trump Trunk Gun since Trump likes everything gold plated… maybe minus the tiger stripe.

My truck pistol uses a Clark Carbon Fiber handguard, Rogers Rail light, Nikon 1–4 scope, Aero Precision optic mount, YHM Quick Pull Takedown Pins, Aero Precision upper, billet lower, CMC Match trigger, Law Tactical Folding Buffer Tube Adapter, and buffer tube.

What do you think about the advantages of a packable AR-15 pistol? Have you ever carried one on your person or in a vehicle? Share your answers in the comment section.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April of 2017. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

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 (76)

  1. I thought I was a good shot.

    But here we have Major Rubbish firing an AR pistol at 400 yards.

    Hmm My red dot equipped AR rifles have dots that obscure the target at 200 yards.
    Past two hundred yards I use a standard optic

    So Major Incoherent is firing a red dot type sight– and connecting == at 400 yards.

    If I want gun fantasy I will watch a TV show.

  2. For 2023 this article needs lots of revamping. BATF’s iron fist dropped last December. That “Nikon 1-4 optic equipped ultralight AR-15 pistol” is now officially an NFA SBR according to their 84K-word “final rule” on stabilizing braces. Any buffer tube longer than about 6 inches will also earn their unrelenting scrutiny. And do not EVER say that your AR pistol is “really” a disguised SBR. There’s enough rope in that final rule to hang anyone who is not paying attention.

  3. I say, you do you and let me do me. If I want a truck gun that’s my prerogative, if you don’t, that’s yours. You can come up with all kinds of clever ways to disagree with one another but that won’t change anyone’s opinion. I keep a fire extinguisher in my house in multiple rooms. No one ever said it looked like I was hoping for a fire. That would be insane. Throw a weapon in there in place of the fire extinguisher and everyone blows a gasket. If there were to be a fire in my house I’d be happy I was prepared to attempt to stop it or keep it at bay long enough to get everyone out. If there were to be a home invasion in the middle of the night I would use a weapon to do the exact same thing. To be honest, I don’t care if people agree with me or not. This is me doing me. If you’d rather be unprepared, that’s you doin you and I don’t interfe. Don’t come to me if/when you need a weapon cause SHTF. just like I see a lot of people doing right now since April 2020. They weren’t prepared and are now beyond themselves that they can’t walk out if a gun store with a weapon right away. Too bad, so sad. You should have thought about all this before you voted for these senseless laws. Now that they apply to you, you have a problem with them. Again, too bad, so sad.

  4. Sounds like a fun little rig.

    I like the 300 BLK in the 210gr loading – it’s the perfect round for what its purpose.

    I also like the side charger configuration, which I plan on moving to before too long. I think I might make mine ambi, being left-handed.

  5. I love AR Style Pistols. I have a few including the Sig Sauer MPX that i’ve highly modified with: Tactical Dynamics LLC Aluminum Skeletonized Aluminum Forward Grip, SB Tactical Collapsable Pistol 4-Position Stabilizing Brace™, Fully Custom Graphite Black Muzzle Brake, Tritium Iron Sight Inserts, Next Level Armament Black Ambidextrous Charging Handle With Block, Magpul Enhanced Bolt Catch Extension Ambidextrous Mount-On Side Plate, Modded Trigger, & Tons more.

    its perfect as a Car Gun But after finishing the Sig MPX build i decided to do a higher Caliber AR Style Pistol with a 8″ Barrel, Side Charging Lower, An Aero Precision Upper, A Meprolight H3 M21 Reflex Sight, A Phase 5 Tactical Little Boy Parkerized Muzzle Brake, A Viridian X5L Green Laser & LED Light In One Unit, and a few more mods that made it not only a better fit but also easier to get out and to a ready position. I did it in 300blk because it’s a heavier hitting round…

    1. Making a plan to keep a high capacity and high power gun in your vehicle at all times just in case. This concerns me that someone has information or believes that those events suggested here are likely. Having a concealed handgun is one thing, but something like that is another. Perhaps you have a bug out pack too in the vehicle including enough dehydrated food for two weeks. While this might be fine at home, driving around with that mentality concerns me. Almost like you are hoping and expect it and then you will release your well made plan to annihilate anyone that gets in your way to your destination with a smile of satisfaction from your well made preparations. Do not believe in Zombies, except there are some on drugs. If EMP or nuclear radiation comes to pass, hopefully you are so overtaken by your fellow mans suffering that you entirely forget about seeing additional people suffer. When you look at all of Europe during WW2, no nation or people came out of it unscathed. Your mentality will lead you into depression and likely death if your dreams become reality.

    2. @Silvio,
      What are you talking about???

      Do you keep jumper cables in your car?
      How about road flares?
      A spare tire?
      Well then, why not a firearm with which you’re proficient and comfortable?

      Do you hope for a dead battery, to see a wreck, or to get a flat tire?
      No? Well, neither does a prepared gun owner hope for a Doomsday scenario just because he/she has prepared him/herself as much as possible, and continues to improve as necessary.

      Have you not seen news videos of that road rage incident when a motorcycle gang chased that family to a stop and then darn near bashed the family’s brains in with their helmets? And a cop was right there with the gang and did nothing to help the family! A “car gun” may well have prevented that family from getting hurt.

      Ultimately, we are responsible for our own safety and the safety of our families. People who are not prepared have a tendency to ridicule those who are, and then go to them begging for help when disaster strikes.

    3. How about a natural disaster?
      In 1859 the sun sent out a coronal mass ejection that played havoc with electrical systems all over the world.
      luckily there were only a very few telegraph systems here and there, some operators were shocked, some were electrocuted and for some the insulation even caught fire burning any attached building down.
      It also happened again in 1984, but that one missed the earth by a scant 12 days. If it were to happen today nothing electrical would survive and the possibility of huge firestorms from all the burning homes and businesses would devastate the world.
      The US governments best case scenario estimate is 10 years before a few systems start to come back on line.

      How about a political disaster?
      The US makes shady deal all the time for political and corporate gains, we all know it, and the Iraq war was the latest shady deal.
      They made a shady deal with OPEC in 1971 when they went on the oil standard while coming off the gold standard, so if any country wanted to buy crude oil anywhere on earth, they had to use American dollars.
      There are trillions of American dollars in circulation all over the world so if any country, like Iraq, were to try and successfully sell oil in another currency, or trade it for gold, it would destroy the American dollar and our economy.
      The United Nations REALLY wants the US to agree to the small arms treaty in effect disarming the US population. Why would they care if we are armed or not?
      Isoroku Yamamoto is often misquoted as saying “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass” but the sentiment rings true to this day.
      If the world were to choose to stop using the American dollar, the world would want to recoup it’s lost value, and the only way to do that is taking things of value, like our property and land.
      Good luck with that invasion, unless the small arms treaty were put into place!

    4. ” … almost like you are hoping and expect it and then you will release your well made plan to annihilate anyone that gets in your way to your destination …”

      Very well said.

      I have cc’d since the early 60’s. I have been physically attacked by drunks more than once and have had experiences with rage. Life can sometimes be mean, but I have even considered drawing my handgun, because I never really considered any of these instances life-threatening.

      Trouble is one thing; life-threatening trouble is very, very rare.

      [ what is it with this “Captcha feature? How many times must answer 9+1 =? ]

    5. @Waldo,
      You contradict yourself, my friend.

      The insinuation Silvio has made is that Boredgimp is hoping for something bad to happen just because he told us how he has been preparing himself. You agree with Silvio, and then go on to tell us that you have been carrying concealed since the early 60’s.

      Boredgimp is prepared, and you’re prepared; how is it that he’s “hoping for something bad to happen” and you’re not?

    6. John, I tried to post these corrections::

      … have had experiences with ROAD rage

      … I have NEVER even considered

      Does this change your interpretation of what I was trying to say?

    7. Hey Waldo,

      No, not really. Before I saw your corrections I could tell you made some typos in your post. They were funny: “I have…had experience with rage…” Have you, now?

      Silvio wrote “…almost like you are hoping and expect it and then you will release your well made plan to annihilate anyone that gets in your way to your destination…”

      and you wrote “Very well said” which means you agree with what Silvio implied.

      You have been carrying concealed since the ’60s – which means you have been prepared for trouble – does that mean you hope for trouble so you can use your pistol? No? Then why do you agree with Silvio when he says that Boredgimp is hoping for trouble just because he’s been preparing for it?

      That’s all I was asking.

    8. John, there were lines with electricity in 1859. They were telegraph lines, and they carried electricity generated by magnetos. There were also weird little people in and around 1859 who wanted to be hero’s, as there are today. An organized militia is one thing, an armed, responsible individual is another. What I fear are heavily-over-armed individuals aching to be hero’s.

    9. If you want to be afraid, that’s up to you. But it doesn’t take a “heavily-over-armed individual aching to be a hero” to do you harm – he’s likely going to be the one who helps you out of trouble.

      Anybody who is willing to break the law and the laws of humanity can harm you any time he thinks that taking what you have is worth the risk, and with any implement that’s available.

    10. Oh my. An AR15 as a concealed carry vehicle weapon. what is going to happen when you finally find the bad ass you dream of? You pull the AR15 with the 30 rd magazine (unfortunately not full auto) spray and pray while some women with her kids from Walmart behind the car get killed from over penetration. I’m sure you would like a quad 50 cal sticking out the top of you F150 cab’s roof for added reinforcement. Keep it simple and safe. You don’t need a rifle with a range out to 600 yards in your vehicle. Only people with SMALL TOOLS do.

    11. Silvio, you should go troll on an other forum. You’re obviously trying to incite people to anger by hiding behind your keyboard and typing all sorts of stupid, hateful nonsense.

      Good bye.

  6. Hardened Arms this, and the HD-SMC that, PSA rsuch and such Dead Foot Arms MCS thingi that keeps it short enough for packing in my bagg and Holosun 503c red dot ………
    Surprisingly he did not mention how bad he got raped on the overpriced fancy named bits and pieces.
    Mine is an AR-15 platform rifle in 5.56, has a collapsible stock, iron sights, a 16″ barrel and mid length gas system and was built by me!
    It puts bullets where it’s aimed with no names in front of any part of it!

    1. As far as being raped, the Hardened Arms upper is 1/3 the price of most quality uppers made all in house at their Washington Location, the Holosun red dot is 1/2 the price of an EOTech with the same quality, 50000 hour battery life and shake to wake(always on). It is pretty much bullet proof. The PSA lower is one of the least expensive lowers that is non poly. The most expensive part of the gun is the Dead Foot folder. This is a very good quality folder and with it’s Modified Cycling System (MCS) it can be shot while folded. You can’t do that with the Law Tactical. “maybe one shot”. I assumed most readers have some gun knowledge so to restate what the original post stated would be redundant. I would state that if you had to fire from the vehicle the pack-able AR15 Pistol that is maneuverable within the vehicle is a plus. I did put this gun together and under 1000.I have a reliable pistol that gives me the best advantage I can get. One other thing, anyone who carry’s for self defense should get insurance(I have the USCCA’s. I keep the letter from the ATF for the pistol brace. This pistol allows you to cross state lines without sending a form 20 to the states you are crossing for an NFA short barrel rifle and gives me the same advantage as one.

    1. My truck gun is a Hardened Arms upper, Has the HD-SMC comp. in 300 blk out.PSA Lower I have the Dead Foot Arms MCS folder that keeps it short enough for packing in my bag and ready to use. Holosun 503c red dot that is ready when you are in auto mode.

  7. Hmm, I see I missed the part about the underfolding stock in your first post. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Yours is a good choice.

    I just think it’s kind of strange to use an AR or an AK configured as a “pistol” as a go-to “oh crap” gun or as a primary room-clearing gun. Years ago we were issued MP5-K sub-guns, but they were only for special occasions, and they required a hell of a lot of training to use effectively.

    I have a Mossberg M590 12 ga and a 16″ heavy barrel 300 BLK in my truck.

    1. How do you conceal a loaded, 27″ underfolding AK on your body without going around dressed like Wyatt Earp?

    2. Who said anything about concealing it on your body?
      A pistol is for unexpected, immediate threats and used primarily to get you back to your vehicle where the rifle is kept.
      It’s kept in the vehicle I drive and if any version of EOTWAWKI happens while I am away from home, I do not have to rely only on my pistol to get me home.

      The AK63-D is only 27″ long folded and I can legally shoulder it at the range.

  8. Interesting article. I am a instructor in a major municipality within a firearm friendly state. All of my students are taught the practicalities of Urban firearms defenses. Often these strategies and tactics are taught using the offensive approach to A- saving your life and those of your love ones and B- ending the attack in a positive manner. We have seen a large amount of AR and AK pistols. If a student presents these they must use them has pistols. No pistols are shouldered. The reason I mention this is because the article and comments make it seem the pistols are highly accurate @ 100 yd and even be effective to 400yds. This is a fallacy. Perhaps a SBR but not a pistol. Even our best operators and former operators are challenged to fire a AR/AK pistol with any accuracy @ 100yds when treating said pistol as a pistol and not a SBR. Please understand I am not dismissing any of the respondents abilities but rather speaking to the everyday novice that we train. We and all LEOs will tell you the Urban fire fight requires accuracy skills rather than producing a wall of lead. The next point is extremely important: Not all LEOs know or care to know the difference between a AR/AK pistol and a SBR. This is particularly a contentious issue in ‘iffy’ states. IMHO carry a pistol you know how to use well with plenty of magazines. Still have your ‘Trunk Gun’; back seat, zippered bag and unloaded is G2G 90% of the time(there is always a LEO that thinks he/she only enjoys the 2nd). The piece of mind resides within you via your training and the blessing our 2nd Amendment.

    1. You make some good points, but if you have a gun of any type already in your hands it would be silly not to use it to its full potential; that is, if one has an AR “pistol” how dumb would it be not to use the buffer tube to rest one’s cheek? And requiring students to use their chosen piece of gear in a way they would NOT use it does not make sense: “you have a buffer tube, but you’re not allowed to use it to mount your cheek” proves what? That it’s not as accurate as a true, purpose-built shoulder-mounted rifle/carbine? Heck, everybody knows that.

      The greater question should be how to put the thing into service in the first place. AK and AR “pistols” are so-called in order to fit within a legal definition. When we normally think of a defensive handgun for use when we are out and about, what normally comes to mind is something that is concealable on our person. Is an AK or an AR “pistol” normally concealable on our person, ready for immediate defensive use? I think not.

      Keep a good no b.s. traditional handgun on you, along with an extra mag or two, and know how to use it. Keep a carbine or a good shotgun zipped up in your vehicle in case things get REALLY weird.

      As I wrote at the beginning of this thread, the AK/AR “pistol” is a novelty toy in search of a mission to justify its existence. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Buy whatever floats your boat and enjoy the heck out of it. That’s the beauty of America.

  9. AR-15 and AK-47 pistols are too heavy & cumbersome. If the Yellowstone super volcano has blown and everyone is frantic to find food; then, I could understand people wanting to carry heavier handguns with high capacity magazines. Otherwise, all that is needed is heavy hitting calibers such as pistols in .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 10 MM & revolvers in .357 magnum, .45 Colt, .44 magnum, and .454 Casull. Bigger caliber handguns like the .460 S&W and .500 S&W are only needed where really big bears roam. Unless you are defending yourself against street-zombies (starving people) or blood-thirsty alien invaders, high capacity carbines and pistols are too much over the top. I would advise a 454 Ruger Super Red Hawk revolver combined with a 12 gauge shotgun (double, pump, or semi-auto) and a super accurate .22 handgun or rifle – with plenty of ammo. I would use my AK and AR only as back-ups.

    1. Have you ever tried to fire one of the .460 S&W and .500 S&W magnums?

      If you don’t hit the bear square with the first shot, I doubt any of the rest will connect!
      I have an AR-10 in 45 Raptor and is just a rimless .460 S&W.
      I have yet to shoot it, but bet it would be better than in a revolver.
      And there is no reason to get an AR or an AK in pistol form, because if SHTF were to really happen, you will want a stock to shoulder, and more barrel for the 5.56 to get up to speed.
      Has anyone read any of the military reports on the short barreled AR’s in 5.56.
      Not impressive if you want or need to put someone down right there, right now, and not have them drop from slow blood loss a few minutes later.

  10. With the improvements in accuracy by both barrels and ammo, I think a SBR would be my “go to” weapon of choice. However I don’t want to pay the tax for it and am slowly buying the parts I need for a pistol ( in the correct order). That is another hassle when you already own some ARs.
    Mine will be a 8-9″ 300Blk. I will build a 5.56 upper for it as $$ become available. I have thought long and hard on what I want and now I am looking at the travel bag which is also very important for discretion and speed accessing your weapon. Do you know of a source for decoy patches, stickers etc for your cases and bags?

  11. I object to your use of the term “steel-core” when referring to M855 ammunition. It has a minimal steel “penetrator” tip but the core is predominantly lead.
    Honestly after the 2015 ATF M855 fiasco I thought everyone would know better.

    1. The term “steel core” is a term used to describe that particular projectile without getting into the weeds of all the technicalities, nothing more. “Steel penetrator” is a good term to differentiate that projectile from normal lead-core projectiles.

      That “minimal steel ‘penetrator,'” by the way, is made out of tungsten carbide, and is designed to be armor-piercing. Those projectiles will ruin indoor bullet traps in no time.

  12. Yea, probably not much better than a .22 magnum, but a HELL of a lot louder. A waste of weight and volume carrying the ammo around. Well ,wrong. 10″ barrel .223 ~ 2700 f/sec 800 foot pounds muzzle energy vs .22 mag @~ 1800 ft/sec and average 250 ft/lb
    .40 S&W better choice for about the same performance and carry more ammo per pocket, but probably not lighter, but the difference goes out the barrel, not the ejection port.

  13. I’m surprised with this topic that no one has mentioned the AK pistol. Maybe I missed it. It solves the .223 terminal velocity issue hat some don’t like with the shorter AR barrels. I.O. Inc makes a very decent version in 7.62×39 called the AK nano, and there is a 9mm version out there also (not certain who makes it). I own a full sized I.O. Inc AK and have nothing bad to say about it at all.

  14. Josh,
    No disrespect intended, but please re-read my post a little more carefully. I did not make a blanket statement condemning all ARs.

    We don’t use AR pistols. Our inventory includes 10″-upper carbines which are used with a proper buttstock.

    Look. A collapsible buttstock collapses down to the length of the buffer tube anyway, so there is no practical reason to NOT have one installed. All this “pistol” business does is allow the owner to use a short barrel without having to go through the butt-pain of getting a SBR stamp, or to circumvent local/state laws that prevent SBR ownership.

    If I were to come home to find my house being robbed and I had to unzip something it would be my phone – to call the police; entering a building alone (no longer defensive, but offensive) that you know already has an unknown quantity of bad guys in it, even with the proper training, you are asking to get yourself killed. But if time were of the essence and I absolutely could not wait for the cops and I REALLY had the need, AND I HAD THE TIME TO UNZIP some serious hardware, then I would NOT come out with an AR pistol but with either my M590 Mossberg or my SBR 300 BLK that I carry in my own car. Otherwise, I would go to work with the Para Ordnance P13 on my belt.

    Do you think NASCAR pit crews only have a crescent wrench and a screwdriver with replaceable tips? Would you use your wife’s favorite paring knife to strip insulation off a wire? Heck no. So why would we try to do the same thing with our selection of defensive (offensive) firearms?

    If you would rather use an AR “pistol” for all the reasons stated in the article, that is great, that’s awesome, more power to you, just make sure you practice A LOT. That’s what makes America the most beautiful place on earth. Do what you want, live how you want to live.

    1. AR pistols also circumvent laws that restrict the transport of loaded rifles. That’s a HUGE advantage. Most SBRs would fall under those rifle laws, assuming it’s legal to possess a SBR at all in this hypothetical jurisdiction.

      There’s no doubt that a real SBR is physically superior to an AR pistol, but a pistol is generally legally superior to a SBR.

    2. Maybe not enough coffee – what you wrote was a little too philosophical-sounding so early in the morning – but I think I got your meaning.

      I guess it depends on where you live. For now, where I live in Virginia Class III stamps are as easy to get as a birthday cake, but you just have to wait a while for the feds. If Gov Terry McAuliffe keeps restoring felons’ right to vote like he did for 200,000 in the last election, the Virginia legislature will flip to Democrat – Repubs lost over 20 seats, and right now hold a 1-seat majority.

      I would still rather use a REAL pistol to do a pistol’s job, and leave the AR “pistol” for fun at the range.

  15. Nice article. I purchased my first AR pistol just before the election. I called it my second vote. It’s a sweet gun and I purchased it for the same reasons the author mentioned. I live in south Florida and because of work have to many times go into sketchy neighborhoods. While the 45 on my belt is my first go to weapon, knowing I’ve got the firepower to protect me and get me to safer areas is a real comfort. Also in the truck the short barrel is easy to maneuver without bumping into things.

  16. Great article. I would offer that .300blk would be a better caliber choice than 5.56mm in such a short format.

    The only down side is if you find yourself needing to scavenge ammo.

  17. Before following the author’s advice, check your local laws. he says that transporting a pistol is no problem but a rifle is, when in fact some jurisdictions have more rules on transporting a pistol than a rifle.
    For example, in Ohio and some other states a loaded pistol must be on your person in a vehicle – having a loaded weapon in a backpack or vehicle holster in a no-no.
    ALWAYS check your local laws and don’t assume any gun related laws are uniform nationally!

  18. 5.56 is not a good choice for a 7.5″ barrel as it has been proven to be a poor performer out of short barrels.
    Better make it 300 BLK if you want to be seriously effective.

  19. I have always liked the concept of a short-barreled AR-15, ever since I had a chance to fire a brief-cased sized 9mm, developed by Colt Firearms, at their former facilities in Hartford, CT. While stationed in Hartford, I got to interact with many of the Colt hierarchy, including a former Marine who ran the test range. Not only was I privileged to fire M-16A2s from the first batch off the assembly line, but I had the fun of firing this neat, manageable 9mm variant that fit snugly in a military issue briefcase. At, 100 yards, with the somewhat longer barrel, the 9mm snubby, was shooting groups any special ops folks could be proud of. Obviously, the 9mm doesn’t have the muzzle velocity of a 5.55/223, but then again, it didn’t have a wrist-wrenching recoil. But, I certainly agree that a packable, AR-15, pistol is a helluva potent self defense firearm for any situation. Whether in 9mm or 5.56/223,a packable AR pistol can carry a considerable load of ammo in a bug out bag.

  20. If you like this kind of thing, more power to ya; far be it from me to judge the a gun fetish (I have my own). Simply judging the product, however, it seems like a novelty item designed to fill niche markets since the gun industry is no longer riding high on Democrat driven fear buying. They need to fill the losses due to El Chumpo’s victory easing people’s fears of second amendment attacks with doodads like suppressors and goofy guns like this. My 2 cents.

  21. Maj. Pandemic is right: “Trunk guns” must be removable from the vehicle in the event of an accident, breakdown, etc. A full-size rifle or shotgun tends to be obvious, even in a case, although a guitar case is probably the best “low-profile” case I’ve seen.

    I’ve been stranded in the middle of nowhere more than once — the second time happening near the Mexican border — though cars are more reliable now than in the past. An AR-15 pistol is MUCH more capable than many of its detractors realize. Cheeking a padded buffer tube is not the same as a stock, but it works better than I thought it would, and I’m much faster with the AR pistols that I used think were primarily range toys.

    If you don’t believe me, find a friend with an AR pistol and try it! I became a believer and came to many of the same conclusions as Maj. Pandemic: so much so that my first build was an AR pistol with a 10.5 inch barrel. For me, this is one of the most practical ARs available.


    1. With so short a barrel the 5.56 looses too much velocity to be truly effective.
      Then you add in a few hundred feet for the projectile to slow down even further?
      No matter what you say the fact (aka math) and real life experience (from the military) disproves your theory.

  22. Being a older guy that carried a M2 Carbine in Korea and Vietnam, I picked up one of Inland’s M1 Carbine Pistols, and put it in a cut down stock. Love it for my PDW. I have a light/laser combination on it also. I do carry a copy of my purchase receipt saying it is a Pistol, and my Tennessee Carry Permit at all times.

    1. I have carried a handgun legally for decades..and my “truck gun” for years has been a Ruger Ranch Rifle in 5.56 w side folding stock. It carries well in my tennis racket case w several loaded magazines, [not in the gun]. I keep a tube of bright yellow tennis balls with the bright case, for looks. Never had a problem.

    I put my ar pistol on my ccw,just so Johnny law will understand it is a legal pistol,5 years and counting on ccw……….

  24. Nope, I will keep my sig p226 and my trash at-15 that’s made with parts I’ve stripped off guns through the years with an anderson lower or my youth models marlin 30/30 with some no name hollo in it.
    I’ve got an ar pistol but have never dound it useful and would rather a rifle that has a pinned brake to bring it to 16″,

  25. “Major Pandemic”‘s idea is great if you wsh to wake your hard earned money on something that is not needed. It is true that I carry a pistol because of its capacity of rounds. That said I used to carry a S & W model 19 in .357 mag with a 6 inch barrel and fluorescent front sight because it was deadly accurate out to 150 yards. In its Strong Second Chance shoulder holster it was completely concealable under a light jacket. I now carry a RIA hi-cap .45 in a Strong Second Chance holster with the same rig as it is accurate out to around 200 yards. Now what the knockdown power is at that range, I have no idea as I have only punched paper at that range. Of course, in my experience, all of the military officers that I came into contact with couldn’t even get a decent score at 25 yards with a .45 so maybe the Major SHOULD carry his broken down AR-15 pistol as it has a lot less recoil then the .45!

    1. Right-on, jim. You’re talking some sense. You didn’t say what bullet weight you were firing out of your RIA, but if you were to score a hit at 200, I am confident that it would take the fight right out of ’em.

      Once we figured out how to do it, we were scoring hits on military resettable knock-down targets at 300 yards with 4″ barrel M686 with military .38 SPL. We didn’t score hits every single time, but as the day went on the hits came often enough to make a bad guy think twice.

  26. Looking at this, my thought process is I already have a mounted stow holster which is hidden in my car for my pistol. I have a cross over SUV which is mostly the rage right now and I have hidden under the floor storage that I could mount with bolts into the frame a larger locking case. That way my carry .45 would still be the initial defense gun inside the car and yes I would then have to get to the AR if I needed it.

    I think that may be a solution for people like me who don’t want to also buy a AR 15 Pistol but have already have a short rifle in an AR or AK or other configuration. Also sounds like I just came up with another possible accessory for us supporters of the 2nd amendment.

  27. I agree with just about everything in the article, but I do have a problem with the premise that drives the entire thesis…

    “If we look at the reality of most urban combat shooting engagements, they occur statistically” — actually, statistically they don’t occur at all — at least not for civilians. Talking about the scenarios presented by that author as “likely” is a stretch of astronomical proportions. The Zombie Apocalypse that he dismisses as not worthy of consideration is well within the same likelihood as any other situation where a “PDW” is statistically more desirable than a pistol — the only scenarios he offers that are at all reasonable are the possibility of your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere (we all know how likely that really is) and the possibility of coming home to a break-in already in progress.

    1. Agreed on all points.

      If one wishes to use an AR “pistol” for things that are better left to a real pistol, then one had better have a ton of on-going practice. There is no way in hell I would choose an AR “pistol” over a real pistol to clear a house.

    2. John,
      I would have to disagree with your point. What do all tactical units use to clear buildings? An ar15 or some version of it. An ar pistol can be manuvered just like an ar 15 and in the event of a home invasion I would assume that most people would go ahead and shoulder their ar pistol.

    3. Josh,
      Every tool has its use. For home defense I have a M590 12 gauge loaded with 4 Buck, a Springfield Armory 1911 .45 ACP, and Ruger 10/22 loaded with Stingers.

      You guys can go ahead and sneer at my 10/22, I know it is just so passe, but it’s deadly accurate out to 150 yards, and with hardly any noticeable recoil it is a great tool for the job. No thanks to the incredible, deafening muzzle blast of a short-barrel AR in the close confines of a house.

      I will always think of the AR “pistol” as a toy in search of a legitimate mission that another firearm could do better.

  28. I bought a Kel-Tec PLR pistol years ago just for this reason. It is about the same power as a 44 mag with the 10″ barrel. But it will penetrate body armor that any criminal might be wearing. It is also a much better long range weapon that the revolver. It conceals under a light jacket if necessary and only weighs 3 #. It also has no buffer tube to get in the way or make the weapon longer. It is very accurate and I am very pleased with it.
    BTW, it is difficult to take any author serious that mentions zombies as a threat to contend with.

    1. His point regarding that scenario was valid, that is as he stated, an “extremely unlikely” event, such as EMP, or invasion, and I’m sure he just threw the zombies in there tongue in cheek. He’s not an idiot, and wouldn’t expect people to think he was serious, and I think relies on people to figure that out, right? Besides, there are some scenarios on the road with some sub-human people that could be worse than any fictional zombie apocalypse.

      It was a great article with some good info, especially regarding the legal issues involved in transporting a firearm.

      My sole complaint being that I’d have to save for a couple of years to get close to owning the last three weapons with custom features he describes, and I doubt I could even get them in California. $5 or $6k in disposable gun income is not really a viable option for everyone, and it would have been good to offer more realistic models as choices.

      For me, I have to settle for a Kel-Tec as well, an older Sub-9 with a half dozen mags, along with a companion Glock 19. I carry the folding sub-9 in the small padded factory case that looks nothing like a rifle case, and the G19 in a Wilderness Products Safepacker bag, which just slings over your shoulder, with a pouch for an extra mag.

      I’m not going to be hitting much of anything past 50 yards with that carbine, and that will have to do I’m afraid. Anyway, good write up, thanks.

    2. Ever wonder why the anti gun nuts go ballistic? Take a good look at what these death ray guns look like. Before any kooks in here go off half cocked, I own 4 hand guns and an 84 year old Winchester Model 12 12 ga. The wife and and I are both CCW permitted. The looks of the weapons shown here tell the story for the anti nuts better than anything else. If it looks like a military weapon it gets labeled assault and you can talk til you are blue in the face and you ain’t going to change their mind.

    3. No offense sarge but that is the attitude that divides gun owners. The evil black gun is only one of many excuses the anti constitutionals use. Even if AR derived guns were not popular the antis would find something else to label. I remember when they said all they wanted to do was eliminate “saturday nite specials” which your handguns would qualify and said that they did not want to effect “militia appropriate” rifles. They want half your guns, now, the other half later. ARs in any configuration are appropriate and are protected by the constitution and should be by all of us.

    4. Lou, check out the CDC website. There is a plan for zombie epidemic. Mainly caused by drugs (bath-salts, pcp, meth, etc…). I mean most anti-gunners are already mental zombies.

    5. Rather than zombies maybe mention meth heads , bath salts or pcp users. Many similarities.

    6. Where. Never seen a methhead coming down off his high. The eyes are vacant there’s nothing there and all he wants is to suck the spirit out of you to drain your life to get his fix. In real life a zombie will be your neighbor when things get south Safeway has already been looted and there’s no food or water. Guess what’s food then. You are. Simple minds can’t see the future but don’t worry lil zombie I got u covered

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading