Firearms

It Ain’t a Party ‘Till the Trunk Guns Come Out: Top 10 Choices

AK-47 pistol

If your local laws allow it, having a dedicated weapon stashed in your trunk or behind the back seat of your vehicle can grant peace of mind if you have to bug-out or simply give you an added level of firepower if you’re on the road during an unexpected deadly situation.

The ideal truck gun is a relatively compact long gun or rifle caliber pistol. Why? Because daily life dictates there still needs to be room in your vehicle’s cargo space for things such as groceries and the kid’s sports gear. It also needs to be inexpensive, as it doesn’t make much sense to sink thousands of dollars into a gun that’s likely going to sit idle for most of its life. That being said, poor reliability isn’t an option: Your truck gun simply has to work when it counts.

We didn’t include any pistol caliber handguns on our list, as you should be carrying one concealed on a daily basis anyway (state and local laws permitting, of course). As a general rule of thumb, if your pants are on, your gun needs to be on. Your truck gun is simply a firearm with additional capabilities over your carry gun, and since you don’t have to worry about concealing it on your person, compact long guns simply make sense from a practical standpoint.

Here are our top 10 choices for “at-the-ready” vehicle weapons, in no particular order.

AK-47 pistol
The PAP M92 just might be the quintessential modern truck gun.

 1. PAP M92

The PAP M92 just might be the quintessential modern truck gun. Its 10-inch barrel and familiar set of controls (think AK-47) give users a fully featured, compact blaster chambered in the ever-popular 7.62×39 cartridge. Leave it like it comes, or send off $200 and a stack of paperwork to the federal government to convert it to a legal short-barreled rifle. Either way, the fact that it readily accepts standard AK magazines will make it a favorite choice for many daily drivers.

Price: $505.99

 2. Mossberg Maverick 88 Security

Maverick 88 pump-action shotgun with black finish
Dual extractors and action bars to match also mean that reliability is built in from the ground up

There are few problems that a solid 12-gauge shotgun can’t immediately rectify, and the Maverick 88 definitely matches that description. It’s a little longer than most of the guns on our list, but the slim overall profile makes up for it. Dual extractors and action bars to match also mean that reliability is built in from the ground up. If you’re the kind of gun owner that can get more done with less, the Maverick 88 needs to be behind your truck’s back seat. Click here to read more about the Maverick 88.

Price: $238.45

 3. Kel-Tec SU-16

Picture shows a Kel-Tec SU-16C rifle, with the buttstock partially folded.
The Kel-Tec SU-16C has a unique folding stock.

No list of truck guns is complete without at least mentioning the Kel-Tec SU-16. This little guy actually folds completely in half, and fits in the smallest of spaces. Even though you could (almost) put it in your back pocket, the SU-16 features a very clever integral bipod—perfect for picking off varmints on the ranch from the hood of your truck. The best parts? It accepts any AR-15 magazine, and features a hardy chrome-lined bore and chamber. Click here or here to read more about the Kel-Tec SU-16 rifle.

Price: $470.58

 4. Hi-Point 995TS Carbine

Hi Point Carbine chambered in .380 with tan digital camouflage
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more rugged little carbine to keep behind the spare tire.

Scoff if you will at the homely appearance and unpolished features of the Hi-Point 995TS, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more rugged little carbine to keep behind the spare tire. With the ability to accept all types of 9mm Luger ammo, up to +P pressures, the 995TS has the versatility needed to get you home when the chips are down. Plus, it’s made right here in the US of A. Click here to read more about the Hi-Point Carbine.

Price: $247.28

 5. Century Arms International M70

Century International Arms M70AB Underfolder Rifle
Century International Arms M70AB Underfolder Rifle

Slap open the under-folding stock on the Century Arms M70, and you’ll be wielding a full-sized carbine that brings everything positive about the AK-47 to your local gunfight. The M70 can go from a svelte car companion to a ready-for-business long gun in about the same amount of time it takes to say it. Stock up on a handful of 30-round magazines, and say hello to peace of mind. Click here to read about the AK-47.

Price: $496.81

 6. Standard Manufacturing DP-12

Double-barreled pump-action shotgun DP-12
Who can resist sixteen rounds of 12-gauge shotgun shells in a package that isn’t even 30” long?

Ok, we know that this doesn’t exactly meet the “inexpensive” goal of our ideal truck gun, but who can resist sixteen rounds of 12-gauge shotgun shells in a package that isn’t even 30 inches long? We’d advise keeping some spare shells handy, but if you need more than 16 shots you’d better hope your buddy brought his truck (complete with truck gun) along as well. Click here to read more about the DP-12.

Price $1,395

 7. Rossi Model 92

Wood stocked Rossi lever-action rifle
Guns like this have been riding along with their owners since before the motorized vehicle was invented.

Simple is good. And the Rossi Model 92 is about as simple as it gets! Guns such as these have been riding along with their owners since before the motorized vehicle was invented, and they can still get the job done today. As a major plus, the Rossi Model 92 is compatible with all .357 Magnum and .38 Special loads, which means you’re in luck if your EDC handgun is also chambered in one of these calibers.

Price: $513.46

 8. Henry U.S. Survival .22 LR

Henry Survival rifle packed in the buttstock
It also floats, when stashed in the stock… boat gun, anybody?

.22 Long Rifle is by no means an ideal choice for self-defense, but it’s a great selection for small game and survival situations. The Henry U.S. survival rifle is so compact once you slip the barreled action into the buttstock, it would serve well as a backup under-the-seat gun to your regular trunk gun. It also floats, when stashed in the stock… boat gun, anybody?

Price: $237.29

 9. Savage Hog Hunter

Savage Hog Hunter bolt-action rifle
The Savage Hog Hunter is a nearly perfect truck gun right out of the box.

Nearly as slim as a svelte lever action carbine, the Savage Hog Hunter is a nearly perfect truck gun right out of the box. In a move that’s sadly becoming rarer and rarer these days, Savage chose to equip the Hog Hunter with a rugged set of big-game style iron sights. Just add a sling (and maybe an inexpensive micro red dot) and you’ll be ready for anything.

Price: $487.59 for .223 and $489.14 for .308

10. Del-Ton Sport Lite AR-15

Black, AR-15 rifle made by Del-Ton
Keeping an AR for your trunk gun helps simplify training, parts compatibility, and familiarity.

It can be hard to get away from the AR-15 platform these days, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Having a truck gun with the same sight picture and controls as your primary defensive rifle can greatly simplify things like training, parts compatibility and user familiarity. The lightweight profile barrel keeps the weight down, which is ideal for firing schedules that don’t call for regular magazine dumps.

Price: $482.94

Part of a Complete Preparedness Mindset

Stashed with a spare magazine or two, or bandolier of shells, the above guns can get you out of pretty much any sticky situation without breaking the bank (for the most part). Add a first-aid kit, water filtration system and a few days’ worth of pre-packaged food, and you’ll be set for the beginning of the apocalypse and most of whatever may come afterwards.

We know you’ve got a shotgun or rifle-caliber blaster stashed someplace handy in your vehicle. What’s your favorite “get out of dodge” gun? Let us know in the comment section.

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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 decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (102)

  1. The idea of a truck gun is fascinating but probably not recommended for most folks. Anybody ever see what happens to a rifle when left in a vehicle for extended periods through all types of weather such as we have in the Midwest? Driving on wet, snowy roads in winter with salty air and in humid summer weather can wreak havoc on a rifle. Of course, the rifle should be periodically removed and thoroughly cleaned but we know that many people probably won’t do that. How many drivers routinely check the air in their spare tire? If you’re not paying attention to vehicle maintenance, gun maintenance is probably slipping as well.

    When one finally needs the rifle, it may well be rusted, unreliable and unsafe. If there is ever a need to leave the vehicle unattended, the rifle is likely to be stolen. If the stolen rifle ends up in the hands of a minor, you could be liable for any damage or harm done by your rifle.

    I think it is far better to concentrate on carrying the best, most reliable pistol with spare ammo and magazines.

    Also, I would avoid stashing any short-barreled rifles or any weapon that does not meet the BATF definition of a rifle. That is, the barrel should not be less than 16 inches and overall length should not be less than 26 inches. If the weapon is not considered a rifle, then it should be registered as a pistol. That’s more paperwork and another thing to worry about.

    I think if one is going to keep a long gun in the trunk, then it should be something simple with minimal levers, switches. It should be wrapped in an oily towel or cased with dessicant. The gun should be low cost, probably used and it should have very low commercial or street value. The gun should not be stored loaded but it should be fast and easy to load with ammo that is hidden in the car.

    So what would I use for a truck gun? If I was so inclined, I would stash a used 12 gauge or 20 gauge Mossberg pump action shotgun that would cost no more than $150 at a pawn shop. As the writer pointed out, even a new Mossberg Maverick shotgun can be bought for less than $250. The shotgun barrel can be easily removed for storage and hiding. If a thief finds the shotgun, he won’t easily find the barrel if it is hidden separately. A used lever action .30-30 rifle can be had for $250 or less but it won’t easily break down. A Mosin Nagant surplus rifle can be had for as little as $100 and the bolt can be removed for safe storage. These are potent weapons that are low cost, reliable and hard hitting. Street value is low and these weapons are not as attractive to criminals as an AK-47 or AR-15.

    1. My point is that looking like a wolf gets wolves killed. They never see the rancher that shoots them. You won’t look helpless unless you are very very weak looking. Even then how you carry yourself makes more of a difference than anything else. There are plenty of people that won’t see you as dangerous just because you have a visible weapon. You have to be concerned about all of the people who see you but you don’t see them. Those people won’t shoot you just because.

  2. I think one thing to remember is in a shtf scenario, if you really need a gun to get home then things have gone very very badly in the world. At that point I don’t think it’s a good idea to walk around in public by yourself or in a small group with a visible weapon. The opportunities for someone to snipe you and take your weapon are endless. You can only succeed in making yourself a target or nontarget in that scenario. Being armed with a really cool rifle and a tactical pack would make many people want to shoot you and take your stuff. Even a guy with a 22 can kill you without you ever seeing him.

    1. You make a good point, David. So, in that SHTF scenario, initially having that concealed pistol and trained to use it comes first. That would be the case where “you use your pistol to get to your rifle” (trunk gun). Discretion is more important, especially in a SHTF scenario, than to look tacti-cool.

  3. All of this trunk-gun talk, reminded me of an old movie, in which the hero had the ultimate trunk-gun. The movie, Deal of the Century, with Chevy Chase. Chase’s character is in S.A. to make a gun sale, little punk comes up, holding a tiny revolver and robs Chase at gun point, wallet shoes. In the back of Chase’s station wagon is a large crate. The punk wants to know what’s in the crate, Chase opens the crate, pulls out an M-60, takes the punk’s gun, money and shoes. This would be the ultimate trunk-gun for any situation, at least I think so.

    1. @ RL Diehl.

      Well, the three you mentioned do have a way of “Reaching Out and Touching Someone”. Before they can get into range, of you!

  4. I carry my sidearm as well as my M92 PAP under the backseat in the Jeep. One 30 Round mag and one 75 round loaded, yet uncharged, drum is my get home weapon. Remember, this is for a sudden emergency, so not too likely to need hundreds and hundreds of rounds or multiple weapons/calibers to get home. If things are that bad we’ll have seen it coming. Jus’ my two cents.

  5. I have a Savage 24J .22LR/.410GA in my vehicle as well. I bought a buttstock cheek rest for it. It holds 10 shot shells and a pill bottle with .22 Long Rifle bullets. I also keep a few adapters in there, one that reduces .20 GA to .410GA/.45 LC and one for .38 SPL.

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