Picking A Truck Gun

Alex C.
by Alex C.

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.

  • Cost?

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:

  • Handiness
  • Weight
  • Sights
  • Durability
  • Cost
  • 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.

Alex C.
Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.

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  • Random Disabled Person Random Disabled Person on Dec 06, 2015

    Kind of a sad subject.....,

    Having went to High School at the end of 1980's & beginning of 1990's, there wasn't much of issue with "truck guns" in the back of truck windows on the school campus at my high school. that was just common culture. I'm sure many of the older readers remember it not being an issue. Especially during hunting season. I was in the outer edge of the 2nd largest city in my state(south-mid Atlantic). While the school drew locally from a rural area with farms and families that hunted, the city also bused in inner city kids to racially balance the school system. No guns were stolen and/or messed with. The worst problem was half the school "getting sick" on the day when hunting season opened. Followed by if someone was missing and over due, a good portion would "skip classes" to go out looking for them. The school's principal and assistant principals would discuss hunting and firearms openly with students interested in such and showed interest in pictures of successful hunting.

    No one felt threatened, most kids had knives on their belts and many had already put in several hours of labor before school started. Even with all those weapons, none were ever used when fights broke out. The school didn't crack down until the mid/later 1990's when the school board brought in an idiot superintendent from a gun paranoia idiot zone.... He freaked over the imagined threat when he finally left his ivory tower and actually went to the schools he supposedly was in charge of..... The school even had a cannon they fired at touch downs and victories. Which was stored in the mall of the school between games, where kids could access it...... God knows what they have to do to lock that dangerous evil thing up nowadays...... The big question is with all those truck guns so readily available on school's campus for decades, where were the school shootings and violence..... Since those guns have been removed, the schools have had the police out more to deal with violence & fights.

    We have lost the right to keep our property easily accessible ( and on display) because of society's lowest common denominators. Even sadder leaving fishing poles or a level in the back window rack is likely to get your vehicle broken into.

    Amazing how different parts of the country will freak out on sight or truck guns in truck gun rack, while others barely notice unless there is rifle they share an interested in. Which the group that is the later is safer with less violence.

    Maybe we need to bring back the truck/rear window gun racks for exposure therapy for people? It would be a less threatening way to open carry as a protest reminder.

  • Missourisam Missourisam on Dec 06, 2015

    $500.00 seems pretty high for a military surplus truck gun. I can buy a new Savage Axis in .308 0r .270 for less, new in the box. Of course I'd have to force myself to go out and sight it in. Bummer.