As in a carpenter’s workshop, every firearm in your collection should have a purpose and, despite naysayers, the role of the humble “trunk gun” can be among the most important.
First off, let’s talk about just what is this beast that we call a truck gun?
Historically speaking, these firearms have their roots in the “coach guns” going back to the 1700s when smooth roads and horse-drawn coaches with steel springs enabled travelers to go on extended trips in relative comfort. As highwaymen and brigands soon made these carriage-borne travelers grow light in the pocket at the point of a knife; pistol or musket-armed coachmen began to accompany the route for insurance purposes.
This later evolved to the classic Wells Fargo stagecoaches in the Old West who employed a guard “riding shotgun.” Farmers and those just traveling around town in rural areas likewise often carried a fowling piece or carbine in the buckboard to bag passing game and chase off predators of both the four and two-legged variety as needed.
As motor cars replaced the horse, travelers often carried a pistol– with companies such as Colt, FN, S&W and Iver Johnson creating and marketing small, concealable handguns around the same time as the rise in private auto sales. It is no coincidence that firearms genius John Browning invented the .25ACP, .32ACP and .380 ACP back to back in the early 20th Century.
Other compact guns, made specifically to carry in rumble seats, or boots, such as the Ithaca Auto & Burglar— a SxS shotgun with just 10-inch long barrels– became popular. Thompson submachine guns were marketed in the 1920s to some Ford dealers by Auto-Ordnance salesmen to sell alongside their products.
By the 1960s, pickup trucks with gun racks in the back window proved popular and, while younger readers may be astounded, were commonly seen in small towns with a Winchester 94 or war-surplus Enfield bumping along the road. At the same time, many family sedans often had a handgun in the glovebox with strict warnings to the youth of the family under penalty of dope slap to keep out of said compartment.
Today, truck guns are still a thing, even if they aren’t in a truck. With the growing popularity of stabilizer-equipped rifle caliber handguns such as Krinkov-style AKs and Commando-type ARs, these very compact and NFA-compliant firearms can bring a lot of firepower in a very small package. When it comes to the classic reasons for coach guns– holding off brigands and highwaymen– truck guns still fill this niche. This is especially true when secured in more modern overhead racks that fit unusual vehicle types such as Jeeps and crossover SUVs. Of course, be sure of local regs when it comes to transporting firearms to stay safe with the law, as it varies significantly from state to state and sometimes even from city to city inside the same area code.
For those only temporarily storing a long arm (or very long handgun) in their transpo, such as in cases of hunting and target shooting, a backseat or rear compartment rack or sleeve may be a better idea.
When it comes to handguns left in vehicles, there really is no excuse to just throw a pistol or revolver in an unlocked glove box these days. This is the best way to get a firearm stolen in an auto burglary or in the hands of a youth or someone otherwise not granted access to said popgun.
Magnet mounts can stage a handgun in an unusual spot that a crook may overlook but are still not as secure as a dedicated locking vault or box that can be either secured to the vehicle via a cable or bracket such as under a seat. Sure, these won’t deter a chop-shop-level crook with access to tools and the time to use them from making off with your valuable gatt, but it will throw a monkey wrench into the much more common smash-and-grab style of auto burglar. With this being said, always document the make, model, caliber and serial number of any firearm stored in your vehicle and put that information in a safe place so that you can report it to police if the weapon is stolen and never use an extremely valuable or heirloom gun as a truck gun. Further, be sure to lock your vehicle when not in use in the first place. You would be surprised at how often unsecured guns are stolen from unlocked cars.
In the end, your mileage may vary on the practice, but should you carry a truck gun, remember to keep it out of sight and check it regularly to ensure its location and usability. This includes regular preventative maintenance and cleaning, rotating ammo, and, in cases of secured firearms, that the locks are maintained and in working order.