In my post Three Stupid Things Westerns Taught Me About Gunfighting I recommended carrying a trunk gun. There ain’t no junk in my trunk; I port a Benelli SuperNova ever-so-tactical pump-action 12-gauge shotgun. I chose Big Ben because scatterguns are the ultimate conversation stopper. In terms of reaching out and touching someone out there, somewhere, a scoped rifle would be a better choice. But those slugs sitting on the shotgun’s sleeve aren’t exactly chopped liver. Before posting your choice below, check out the TTAG editorial team’s pick for best trunk gun . . .
Tyler Kee – writer
My ideal truck/trunk gun is a bare bones DI [Direct Impingement] AR-15 chambered in 5.56 NATO. Trunk/truck guns are supposed to be cheap, forgotten, and dependable. As such, I’d use fairly cheap components like PSA blem uppers and lowers, but I would spring for a nice trigger like that 2 stage Geissele that I tested. I’d probably pony-up the money for a full length hand guard like that Odin Works or BCM KMR and I’d pair it with set of iron sights. I’d match it up with a Magpul CTR stock, and some variation of a Streamlight TLR-1 mounted to the forend. Slap a cheap nylon sling on it and give it two loaded PMAGs of 55 gr FMJ and I’d be set.
Jeremy S. – Writer
My ideal trunk gun would have to be an integrally-suppressed .300 BLK AR-15 with a magazine or two loaded with subsonics and a handful of other mags loaded with supersonic ammo. This would give me the more-likely-to-be-used capability of putting down a wounded animal or otherwise firing a few rounds quietly, while still retaining the capability of a rifle for real defensive work. Alternatively, if I carried a GLOCK as my EDC I might go with a suppressed GLOCK-magazine carbine/SBR. Of course, if Kel-Tec’s CMR-30 runs well and shoots straight, I’d consider keeping my PMR-30 and a CMR-30 in the trunk with like 10 loaded magazines and the AAC Element 2 on the muzzle of the CMR. I think any “trunk gun” needs to be part of (and fit into) the “go bag” or “bug out bag” that anyone who actually has a “trunk gun” almost certainly has as well.
Dan Zimmerman – Managing Editor
I don’t have a trunk, but if I did, I’d want to fill it with something compact and easily maneuverable that packs a punch. And while I’m not much of a rifle guy, one of the of the best things I’ve shot recently is a friend’s AR pistol equipped with a SIG Brace. So if I’m equipping my hypothetical trunk with a hypothetical gun, I reckon it’s going to be with a Primary Weapons AR pistol tricked out with an SB Tactical brace and 30 rounds of whoop-ass. Yes, there are less expensive options (especially for a trunk), but I was impressed by Tyler’s favorable opinion of the PWS pistol. It may even be worth SBRing it, too, just to stay, you know, legal.
Nick Leghorn – Testing & Reviews Editor
The problem with most trunk gun suggestions you see is that they are (A) too big and (B) too much gun. While the side-of-the-road shootout is a possibility, a more reasonable scenario is being stranded in the middle of nowhere for a long while after your car broke down — like Joe Grine did on the way to Las Vegas for SHOT Show this year. Far be it from me to dissuade someone from a suppressed 300 BLK SBR, but in my opinion a Ruger 10/22 Takedown is perfect. The small form factor means that it doesn’t take up half your trunk, and you’ll be able to live off the land should you find yourself stranded for a bit. And as for self defense? .22lr ammo has a higher first round kill percentage than anything else besides a shotgun.
Jon Wayne Taylor – Writer
The nice thing about driving a big ol’ truck with lots of storage space: I don’t have to settle on one gun. If I were so tragically cursed, though, the one gun in my truck would be a Mossberg 500A1. It’s not very likely that I will need any kind of defensive weapon while in my truck. It’s possible, but unlikely. (In an encounter where I need to defend myself or others, 00 buckshot has a spectacular terminal effect.) What happens quite often: I see pigs, deer, or turkey while driving off the beaten path. The shotgun and its myriad loads make it extremely versatile against lots of different game. Pond jumping ducks is hard enough with a cylinder bore shotgun, but darn near impossible with a center fire rifle.
Tom in Oregon – Writer
Personally, I think the best trunk gun is going to be the pump shotgun with an 18″ barrel. With an extended tube, speed feed stock and a side saddle, you have ammo availability. Different sources of ammo also means ammo versatility. Bird shot, buckshot, slugs, door breachers, flechettes, bean bag. The shotgun can play defense or offense. Threat too far away for a smoothbore? That’s great! Distance equals time equals options. Need to seem non-threatening? Throw on a hunter orange vest and sling that bad boy. Is 12 gauge kick too much? Drop to a 20 gauge. What’s not to like about a good, reliable pump shotgun as the ideal trunk gun?
Ralph – Writer
Any “best” is subjective, but the criteria for selecting a best might be more objective. Here are my criteria. It’s often illegal to transport loaded guns and it can also be unsafe to do so, so a trunk gun needs to use external magazines for fast loading. It also needs plenty of firepower. Those criteria rule out pumps, break-opens, bolt and lever guns. It’s a semi-automatic or nothing. A trunk gun has to be powerful enough to shoot two- or four-legged vermin, zombies and dinner, which rules out rimfires. It should be a handy size and fairly moderate cost, which rules out the M1As and similar fan favorites since they are either too big, too spendy or both. It needs to be robustly built, affordable and accurate with just iron sights. An entry-level AR-15 in 5.56/.223 such as Smith & Wesson’s M&P Sport would be fine. A Ruger Ranch Rifle in like caliber may be the definitive trunk gun.