We’ve all heard the tired “boating accident” trope, and it was funny while it lasted, but in all seriousness, boating season is upon us, and a lot can go wrong on the water, so let’s take a look at boat guns. The term boat guns is an aquatic adaptation of the term “truck gun” or “trunk gun,” and generally refers to keeping a rifle or shotgun handy for self-defense, or sometimes for impromptu hunting (or fishing?). The concept of keeping a rifle or shotgun in a vehicle is usually quite controversial since vehicles can be easily broken into. Another source of contention is that some people question the ability to simply drive away in the time it takes to retrieve a long gun from a storage compartment. Despite all that, there have been instances of people needing to defend themselves from a boat, so we’ll take a look at the top 5 guns you should consider for a boat gun.
Boats & Guns @ TFB:
- POTD: Percussion Pistol Used for Starting Sailboat Races
- Concealed Carry Corner: Carrying a Firearm While Boating
- TFBTV Sinking a Boat with an AK-47: Boat vs. AK
- US Navy Seizes Over 1,000 AKs from Boat off Coast of Yemen
Boat Guns: Top 5 Long Guns For Boating Defense
As I’ve said before, each deadly force encounter is different, which means that a boat gun may, or may not be useful depending on the situation and your ability to get to it if the need arises. Having a long gun handy if you left your pistol at home for the day, knowing you’d be swimming from the boat, or just didn’t want to be bogged down with a concealed carry weapon in the heat can bring some merit to the boat gun concept. Deadly threats can come from shore, or another boat. Knowing your state laws is also a factor in choosing your boat gun. For example, my state has a law against shooting a rifle or shotgun slug over bodies of water, whereas buckshot and birdshot or a pistol are fine.
Examples of Troubled Waters:
- Man plinking in the woods barely misses fishermen on a boat. While it doesn’t appear there was any intention to harm in this case, there’s a short window of time the almost-victims didn’t know that.
- Man charged with shooting a boater.
- Man shoots and kills intruder on boat in marina.
Here is my list of the top 5 long guns for boating defense:
MOSSBERG 590 MARINER
Of the Top 5 Boat Guns list, the Mossberg 590 Mariner will at least come to everyone’s mind due to its “Marinecote” finish and synthetic furniture construction, specifically designed to deal with wet environments. Having 8 rounds of 12 gauge buckshot or slugs on board should be able to solve plenty of deadly force encounters. Everyone can probably agree that boats are expensive enough already, so the Mossberg 590’s MSRP of $764 shouldn’t break the budget too hard, and the slim design of shotguns should be able to slip into a compartment on most boats.
There’s no denying that the AR-15 is “America’s Rifle,” so stowing one as a boat gun shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for those living in free states. AR-15’s come in all sorts of configurations such as rifles and pistols, as well as being available in boat loads of calibers. Prices can also accommodate most budgets, starting around $500 when you can find a deal. AR’s aren’t quite as sleek as a shotgun for storage in a boat, but may be slightly easier with a 20 round magazine, or storing it with the magazine outside of the gun.
HENRY ALL-WEATHER LEVER ACTION RIFLE
Lever action rifles are one of those “safe bet” picks that are less of a hot button firearm for people in states that highly restrict semi-automatic rifles, or for those that are concerned about drawing the attention of an overzealous prosecutor. Lever actions should also be considered if you’re boating to another country for the same reasons as above, but certainly, check whatever legalities of the country you’re traveling to first. Henry Repeating Arms makes a set of nicely done All-Weather Lever Action rifles in .357 Magnum (and .38 Spc), .44 Magnum (and .44 Spc), .30-30 Winchester and .45-70, that can also be loaded using the side gate for quickly topping off the magazine tube. The pistol caliber models have a capacity of 10 rounds, the .30 caliber model has a capacity of five rounds, while the beefier .45-70 offering has a four-shot magazine. The Henry All-Weather models do have a heftier MSRP of $1141. If you’re not overly keen on those calibers, Henry also makes models in 13 other centerfire chamberings.
RUGER PC CARBINE
Although the Ruger PC Carbine wasn’t exactly designed with aquatic activities in mind, its features make it an easy choice for anyone in your party to defend your boat. The Ruger PC Carbine is light, handy, soft recoiling, and can share magazines with your Ruger or Glock pistols. It’s basically the M1 Carbine of our time and is supported by lots of aftermarket companies, and the fact that it can be easily taken down can’t hurt for cramped storage even in the smallest boat. It’s also semi-auto, while providing slightly less “evil” looks. Ruger lists the base model of the PC Carbine at $649 and it’s available in 9mm or .40 S&W, with further factory options costing more.
BENELLI NOVA H2O SHOTGUN
The Benelli Nova H2O pump-action shotgun features a nickel plated barrel and magazine tube. From the factory, the Nova H2O comes with a four-shot capacity, but there are also three-shot magazine extensions to be had if you want to boost that capacity. Benelli has priced the Nova H2O at $669. Between the synthetic furniture and nickel finish, the Nova H2O should hold up well as a boat gun.
HONORABLE MENTION: SOMETHING IN 7.62X39MM
Our last honorable mention pick of the Top 5 Boat Guns actually made the list more for the caliber than the particular rifle, which, as the subheading suggests, is 7.62x39mm. This option is also more geared toward our international sailors who are more likely to encounter piracy. This caliber leaves you with plenty of rifles to choose from, such as AK47 variants, Ruger Mini 30, Ruger American Ranch, CZ 527, Howa 1500, and the Galil ACE to name a few. Modern piracy seems to involve a lot of rusty AK47 derivatives chambered in 7.62×39, so if you end up going bow-to-bow with pirates and survive, you should at least be able to replenish your ammunition for the trip home.
What do you think about the boat gun concept? What would your ideal boat gun be and why?