When I was a boy, every truck you saw in Texas (even in urban areas) seemed to have a gun rack in the back window with two or three different long guns proudly displayed on it. A rifle or two and a shotgun were not at all uncommon to see inside vehicle windows, but that definitely is now quite rare. While not illegal, people are more conscious of concealing their firearms in vehicles due to theft and urbanization (people aren’t as used to seeing firearms in plain sight these days).
That said, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Many people I know have a designated “truck gun” that they don’t mind being knocked around or subjected to lots of abuse, but picking one can be a little tricky. Several factors come into play when selecting one:
- Are you in a rural or urban area?
If you live in an urban area, statistically you are not likely to encounter threatening wildlife. Obviously personal protection is the name of the game here, so many people opt for a pistol instead of a long gun. Concealed carry pistols are often small, but in your car’s glove box you can keep a duty pistol if you choose to.
- Defense or pest control possibility?
As mentioned above, if you live in a rural area then you may need something to nail a coyote anxious to snatch a chicken from a coop or grab a lamb. I have a relative who just last year lost a chicken every few days until he was coming home late one night and was able to take care of a suspicious coyote poking around the coop with his trusty Browning BLR.
Find a gun that is likely to meet your needs that is priced right. Remember that a gun banging around in your vehicle is going to get scuffed up.
- Likelihood of being stolen?
Secure/hide your firearm to the greatest extent possible. Phil White once told me that almost all the quality guns recovered from criminals are stolen. I also know several people who have had their vehicles burglarized and their firearms taken.
- What are you familiar with?
If you have an 870 you use for shooting sports and hunting, it might be a good idea to look for a cheap base model to use as a truck gun. Likewise, if you hunt with a bolt action rifle and are concerned with seeing a 350 pound hog on your land, keep that in mind (and the prospect of bacon).
So with all these factored in, what do I keep in my vehicle?
Before I get to that let me say that I am more concerned with seeing a bobcat or coyote on my land seeking to startle one of the calves (pretty hard for a yote to get a calf, but a desperate hungry coyote may try) than I am civil unrest or “SHTF”. Because of this I tote around a long gun rather than a pistol. Factors I looked for:
- Common ammo
After all of this I found a pretty unique, reliable gun to use: A Madsen M47.
The Madsen M47 was the last bolt action designed with general issue military service in mind and was touted as the “lightweight military rifle”. It features a recoil pad, muzzle brake, and excellent sights:
It is short, compact, and fits well in most vehicles (including my jeep or my sedan) and is incredibly accurate.
It fires commonly available 30-06 and I got it for $500 as well, so I the price was right too.
So I was able to find a nice surplus rifle in a great caliber that meets my needs, but I have thought about getting something semi-automatic. I might capitulate one day, but until then I have a gun that meets my needs adequately that I don’t worry too much about.