Trunk Guns: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Trunk Guns: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I’ve been at this a while. I can remember when a box of .45ACP retailed for less than 10 bucks. I’ve seen people pay $150.00 for a new SKS out of the crate and a box of ammo and get change back. I remember when GLOCK was a new player in the market and the implementation of the AWB. Over that time, I’ve had a lot of conversations about disaster preparedness—we used to use the word “survivalism”–and those conversations often included a discussion of the trunk gun.

An in-car survival/preparedness kit is a must for all of us, and many preppers insist that this must include a long weapon to supplement your CCW in the event of an emergency. I am not opposed to this idea—depending on your circumstances, it might be a necessity. If I lived on a ranch in Montana or a homestead in the Alaskan wild, I’d be damn sure to have a rifle handy. If I were working a farm in the rural South, I’d like keep a shotgun in the truck “just in case”. Moving away from those obvious extremes, the situation is a bit more complicated for urbanites and suburban dwellers. I can’t tell you what to do; I simply don’t know enough about you and your life. However, I can make some suggestions and offer some considerations.

Gun safety and security are first and foremost, as always. In addition to always obeying the rules of gun safety, it’s incumbent upon you to keep your trunk gun both concealed and secure. There are a host of ways to do this, so make sure you choose one that’s effective and appropriate.

Secondly, choose an appropriate firearm for your needs. There’s a lot to consider here: geography, the law, your personal tastes. A long weapon that fits the needs of a wilderness dweller might be overpowered and unwieldy in the tighter confines of the city. Likewise, a pistol caliber carbine might be a great choice in the suburbs but fail miserably against a charging bear. Pick something that fits the bill, that you can shoot well, and that is reliable.

Speaking of reliability: don’t neglect maintenance. A firearm left in your vehicle needs more care, not less. The temperature changes can lead to condensation, and subsequent rust. This can affect the gun, the ammo and where applicable the magazine. Make sure you take steps to give all three the TLC they need. Take care of your gear so it can take care of you.

Finally, because it has to be said: stay mindful of the laws and rules. Each state has its own law about storing and transporting weapons, so make sure you know what they are and stay within the law. Likewise, your workplace may have its own policies about guns, both CCW and in your vehicle. You’ll need to take those into account and perhaps make some hard decisions around them.

I do not at present have a trunk gun, but I’m strongly considering it. Please get in touch and share your thoughts and experiences; we can all learn from each other. So until then, stay safe out there.

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Michael Jenkins is a writer and editor based in Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a lifelong reader, gardener, shooter, and musician. You can reach him at
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S L Haynes

I quite often have my pistol grip Winchester Defender 12 gauge as a trunk gun in suburbia Houston, TX. Too many thugs live in this city. It comes in the house when I’m not in the car. I have an open carry permit (LTC) and my carry gun is a Ruger SP101 or sometimes a Ruger P85.

John Northrop

A Sub2k carbine resides in my go bag, a 5.11 Rush 24, which uses my GLOCK 9mm mags and ammo – same as my carry G 19, or G26. It rests in the water bladder area as it folds up. Mine has been 100% dependable. Cheap enough too. I hate to think i’d need it and what I’d use it for…but that’s why the whole go bag and the smaller E+E bag within it exists any way. Go bag is in my jeep every day, locked in a frame mounted custom steel box.


AR pistol. CCW covers it. Unlawful to have loaded rifles in vehicle.


The shortcoming with the trunk gun concept (handgun or long gun) is that when you need it, it’s in the trunk. If your situation allows you time to get to the trunk, it allows you time to drive away in a 2-ton weapon in case someone tries to stop you. If you can’t drive away for some reason, you still have to exit your vehicle to get to the trunk, exposing yourself to harm. Seems like the best bet is to get a CCW permit and carry in the vehicle.

Jim Lagnese

IDK. It’s getting a little out of hand. What’s next, armoring my car? What I’d like to see is more custom solutions for hiding pistols in cars. There are some for Chevy pickups/SUVs etc, but no one sells a comprehensive offerings. That said, I drive a beetle convertible and a BMW bike. Not much room to store guns efficiently. If I was going to have a rifle, I’d probably do something unconventional: A lever gun. Something in 44 mag or 45 colt and use Buffalo Bore’s Deer Grenades. Or I could customize my 444 with a longer magazine tube.


My Steyr fits nicely in that boot/pocket thing on the door if I have to go in the bank or Post Office.


I carried a Rossi R92 357 Mag Lever action on my dual sport. It had a 16″ barrel, so it was easy too strap to my rack in a canvas bag. It didn’t go everywhere with me, but when heading to the mountains, it was always with me

Fred Miller

It does depend on your location and need. Normally I have a well oiled, good ol’ pump 12ga in the trunk with several reloads of Hornady XTP 00, 1600fps, 8 pellet buckshot in a plastic box to keep them dry, along with a box of .45s. I also keep a Hi-Point .45 in a treated case in the trunk. Why a huge, heavy, ugly Hi-Point? Because I’ve seen those things get full of dirt, rust, run over by a truck, and even shot, and fired every time. Plus, they’re cheap and have a lifetime warranty. If anything happens to it, you can scrap it and afford to buy a new one the next day. It’s a perfect camp and trunk/truck gun. I don’t want to keep an expensive/sensitive gun in the trunk because of the environment. Other than that, I always have my carry gun on me with a couple of spare mags.


What about your ammo? it can easily get to 140 f in the trunk in the summer sun. I would like to see an artilcle about the effects of long term ammo storage (6 months or more) under those conditions of 140 in the day then 70 at night..