Best Truck Gun: Do you need one and which is best for you?

by Travis Pike

March 23, 2023

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Truck gun is an interesting term that’s been around for decades in the gun world. You’ve probably seen lists just like this more than once, so what’s the difference with our list? Well, we looked at the current market to ensure we have the most modern and best picks possible. Plus, we go into detail on not just the gun but why it’s a good gun based on established parameters. This isn’t just a list of guns that fit in a truck. It’s a honed list designed to provide you with the best information possible. 

What’s a Truck Gun? 

Truck Gun?

At that point, it’s less of a truck gun and more of a gun truck.

Before we dive deep into the world of truck guns, let’s discuss what a truck gun is, does, and why you might want one. As the name implies, it’s a weapon that’s carried in your vehicle. Truck gun is a popular term, but it can be your car gun, your Jeep gun, your boat gun, or whatever means of conveyance you may use. It’s not your everyday carry firearm by any means. 

It’s a weapon larger than a handgun and often offers more power, more range, and more capability. A truck gun can accomplish tasks your average carry gun cannot. Truck guns can come in a variety of calibers and in a variety of sizes. They are not your traditional pistol, but like most things in the gun world, it’s really up to what you are trying to accomplish with your truck gun that matters. 

A truck gun can be used for a wide variety of tasks. Oftentimes there is a heavy focus on self-defense and having the ability to engage outside of typical handgun ranges. A truck gun can also be held in reserve and tasked with bugging out tasks. If a disaster occurs, you know you have a capable firearm in your vehicle. 

Finally, my purpose for a truck gun has always been neighborly. I live in a rural area, and it’s good manners to eliminate coyotes and hogs when possible, and a truck gun allows me to do so while riding on my acreage or my family’s acreage. 

Qualities of Good Truck Gun

What makes a good truck gun? I identified four qualities I think make a good truck gun, and I used these qualities to guide my picks. A good truck gun should score high in the following qualities. 

Versatility – A good truck gun should be versatile and capable of accomplishing a variety of tasks. It should be capable of self-defense against a person or animal. It should increase your effective range and overall capabilities. A versatile weapon should be easy to use and should be modular, and easy to accessorize. 

Compact – While these guns are larger than your average handgun, they should still be compact. You don’t want a rifle case taking up your entire backseat. At that point, it’s less of a truck gun and more of a gun truck. It should be easy to store, small in design, or easy to make small. Take down guns, for example, an excellent option for truck guns. 

Capability – You need to match your truck gun’s power and potential to your situation. If you are driving through the Alaskan wilderness, then you might need a powerhouse to deal with all the vicious creatures vying to kill you. If you are in an urban environment, then maybe a pistol caliber makes more sense. If you have miles of open country, then consider a scoped, full-powered rifle. You need to match the capability to your environment. 

It should have the ability to reach beyond your EDC’s normal parameters. This will often lead you to a rifle, shotgun, or braced pistol. It needs to be reliable, as well as powerful enough to deal with your threat situation. 

Availability – There are lots of guns in existence that make for a good truck gun. My Remington Model 81 in .300 Savage is a great take-down rifle, but it’s not one I’d suggest for the average person. You should be able to find the ammunition, magazines if necessary, and weapon fairly easily. I wouldn’t suggest an antique or weapon long out of production. 

Best Truck Gun

We break down our selections into a few categories. Most people might want a truck gun for defensive purposes, and want a either a full power round, a smaller PDW caliber, or a handgun round that share common mags with their handgun.

Some folks will prioritize compactness so it can be used as a backpack gun when they get to where they are going. On the other hand, some may just want something to take out a few varmints terrorizing the farm or a tasty squirrel they see while driving around the property.

Our Best Truck Guns

1. Editor’s choice

Colt EPR

Colt EPR

(Cold Be Any Quality Carbine AR-15)

  • Take Down Capable
  • Easy to Use
  • Absurdly Common
Check Price
2. Compact ‘Shotgun’

Mossberg Shockwave

Mossberg Shockwave
  • Super Compact
  • Extremely Powerful
  • Very Versatile
Check Price
3. Side Charging AR

Brownells BRN-180

Brownells BRN-180
  • Takedown Ready
  • Folding Stock Possible
  • Comes in various Sizes and Calibers
Check price
4. Folding PCC

KelTec SUB-2000

KelTec SUB-2000
  • Folds In Half
  • Uses Common Pistol Magazines
  • Uses Common Ammunition types
Check Price
5. ‘Pistol’ 5.7

CMMG Dissent 5.7x28mm

CMMG Dissent 5.7x28mm
  • Bufferless AR design
  • Ultra Compact PDW
  • Comes in 5.56, .300 Blackout, 5.7x28mm
Check Price
6. ‘Pistol’ PCC

Ruger PC Charger

Ruger PC Charger
  • 9mm Large Format Pistol
  • Interchangeable Magwell
  • Take Down Design
Check Price
Savage Model 42 Takedown
  • Chambers .22LR and .410
  • Takedown Design
  • Ultra Lightweight
Check Price

Best Truck Gun Specs

WeaponBarrel Length Overall LengthWeightCaliber
1

Colt EPR

16.1 in35.5 in6.6 lbs5.56 NATO
2

Mossberg Shockwave 

14.375 in26.37 in5.3 lbs12 Gauge
3

Brownells BRN-180 

10-18.5 inVaries5-6.5 lbs5.56 NATO / .300 Blackout / 7.62x39mm
4

KelTec SUB-2000 

16.25 in29.25 in4.25 lbs9mm / 40 S&W
5

CMMG Dissent

6.5 in14.7 in4.6 lbs5.7x28mm / .300 Blackout / 5.56 NATO
6

Ruger PC Charger 

6.5 in16.5 in5.2 lbs9mm
7

Savage Model 42 Takedown 

18 in35.75 in6.1 lbs22LR / 410

Best Truck Gun List

Here is our list for our favorite truck guns.

  1. Colt EPR ( Or Any Carbine AR-15)
  2. Mossberg Shockwave
  3. Brownells BRN-180
  4. KelTec SUB-2000
  5. CMMG Dissent 5.7x28mm
  6. Ruger PC Charger
  7. Savage Model 42 Takedown 

Truck Gun Reviews

We have gone through what we think are factors to consider in a good truck gun and shown you our list. Now lets go through each of our picks in detail.

#1 Colt EPR : Editor’s Choice

Editor's Choice
Colt EPR Featured Image

Colt EPR

Colts Enhanced Patrol Rifle is a 16in rifle ready for duty with a few upgrades over a basic AR and easily accessorized for your mission.

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  • Shootability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value B

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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Colt EPR Review (Could Be Any Quality Carbine AR-15) 

Colt EPR ( Or Any Carbine AR-15)

  • Barrel Length 16.1 in
  • Overall Length 35.5 in
  • Weight 6.6 lbs
  • Caliber 5.56 NATO

I wanted to name a specific rifle, and I went with the Colt EPR because it’s a relatively affordable, highly reliable AR-15-style rifle. The Colt EPR is a modern rifle design with an M-LOK handguard and BCM Furniture with Magpul Pro Flip-Up sights. It retails for around 1,200 bucks and is a duty worthy carbine.

With that said, any carbine or even pistol AR-15 will work. The AR-15’s takedown design makes it naturally easy to take down and store in a small compartment. Separate the upper from the lower, and you have a very compact package, even with a 16-inch barrel. You can make it smaller by going shorter and into the AR pistol realm as well. 

The AR-15 series are lightweight, modular weapons that can easily mount accessories and optics. The gun can chamber various rounds, and I’d suggest sticking to 5.56 or .300 Blackout. Both rounds are reliable in the AR system, affordable, and easy to find. They are also versatile rounds that can be easily used at ranges from three to three hundred yards. 

The AR’s commonality and affordability make it a solid choice as a travel gun. The main downside is that it obviously can’t function when taken apart. Putting the gun together isn’t difficult, but it will take two hands and ten seconds. It’s not available on the fly, and that might be a downside for some. 

The AR-15 is lightweight, compact, and very capable as a truck gun. This lightweight rifle design is a versatile, easy-to-use, and very commonly available platform for self-defense. 

Colt EPR (Or Any Carbine AR-15) Pros and Cons

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to Shoot
  • Accurate
  • Affordable
  • Takes Two Hands
  • Time To Assemble

Colt EPR Gun Deals

#2 Mossberg Shockwave : Compact ‘Shotgun’

Mossberg Shockwave

Mossberg Shockwave

The Mossberg 590Ss Shockwave 12 Gauge Shotgun features a heavy-walled matte barrel with a cylinder choke bore and a bead sight.

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  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy C
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 38 Reviews

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Mossberg Shockwave Review

Mossberg Shockwave

  • Barrel Length 14.375 in
  • Overall Length 26.37 in
  • Weight 5.3 lbs
  • Caliber 12 Gauge

The Mossberg Shockwave is not a shotgun, handgun, or anything that falls into standard firearm designations. Officially it’s an other firearm. It’s an NFA weapon that features a 14-inch barrel, the Mossberg pump action, and chambers 12 and 20 gauge as well as .410. It’s not a shotgun because it has never had a stock, and it’s not an AOW because it’s longer than 26 inches. For this list, the 12 gauge is the option I’d go with. 

It’s a pistol grip-only gun that can hold up to five rounds of 2.75-inch shells. It’s worth mentioning that the gun can be fitted with an Opsol adapter or a Defender Tactical adapter to use shells of various shorter sizes. When using shells as short as 1.75 inches, it can hold up to nine rounds.

As a weapon that can shoot shotshells, the gun can fire a wide variety of shells, and truck guns should be versatile. The Mossberg Shockwave allows you to dispatch snakes, coyotes, and even big dangerous games like hogs and even bears with the right ammo. The gun can be used to hunt or for self-defense. It can be a heavy hitter or a soft shooter. 

Additionally, the gun is super small and compact. It’s easy to store and will squeeze behind a truck seat or in a trunk. Replacing the pump with a light and adding a red dot isn’t hard. Mossberg firearms are very modular and easy to upgrade. 

The downsides include the fact it can be tough to handle. It takes a lot of practice and training to handle one of these guns with a round of buckshot. Once trained, a shooter can handle the weapon efficiently and effectively with various loads. 

The Shockwave offers compact power and versatility, unlike most other firearms. They are fairly handy firearms, and while tough to shoot, they can be tamed with proper technique. 

We have a full review on the Mossberg Shockwave here.

Mossberg Shockwave Pros and Cons

  • Versatile
  • Powerful
  • Compact
  • Hard to Learn

Mossberg Shockwave Gun Deals

#3 Brownells BRN-180 Upper : Side Charging AR

Brownells BRN 180 Feature Image

Brownells BRN-180 Upper

A side charging short stroke gas piston upper receiver that fits on any mil-spec AR-15 lower that does not require a buffer tube to function.

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  • Shootability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy A
  • Value C

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

F-

Based on 1 Reviews

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Brownells BRN-180 Review

Brownells BRN-180

  • Barrel Length 10 – 18.5 in
  • Overall Length Varies
  • Weight 5 – 6.5 lbs
  • Caliber 5.56 NATO / .300 Blackout / 7.62x39mm

Much like the AR-15, the Brownells BRN-180 is a lightweight, intermediate caliber, semi-auto rifle that’s modern, modular, and easy to shoot. The BRN-180 comes in numerous sizes, and the 16-inch barreled version is a great way to go, but the pistol variants provide a more compact package at the cost of velocity. 

What makes the BRN-180 different is that it can very easily accommodate a folding stock. The BRN-180 is based on the AR-18, or more or less the AR-180. The design uses a short-stroke gas piston design with integral buffers. 

This allows for a gun similar to the AR-15 but with a folding stock for a much more compact design. With the BRN-180, you can fold the stock or brace and pull the upper from the lower to break the gun down into a super compact package. 

Like the modern AR-15, the BRN-180 series is designed to be modular and fitted with M-LOK rails and an optic rail. You can deck it out with most AR-15 accessories and turn it into a very modern and capable rifle or large-format pistol. 

The BRN-180 is a bit pricey, and the right-side charging handle isn’t modern in its ergonomics. If you can get passed those two flaws, then the BRN-180 series is a compact, intermediate-caliber rifle that makes an excellent truck gun. 

Brownells BRN-180 Pros and Cons

  • Folding Stock Capable
  • Take Down Capable
  • Smooth Shooter
  • Expensive

#4 KelTec Sub 2000 : Folding PCC

KelTec Sub 2000

Sold at Palmetto State Armory

Reminiscent of a modernized Sten gun, this one-in-a-million style PCC is designed to be light, handy, and compact.

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  • Shootability C
  • Ergonomics B
  • Reliability A+
  • Value A+
  • Accuracy C

Our Grade

B

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 16 Reviews

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KelTec SUB-2000 Review

KelTec SUB-2000

  • Barrel Length 16.25 in
  • Overall Length 29.25 in
  • Weight 4.25 lbs
  • Caliber 9mm / 40 S&W

The most affordable firearm on our list is the most affordable semi-auto option. The SUB-2000 is a pistol caliber carbine available in either 9mm or 40 S&W. One of the big benefits of this rifle is that it uses common pistol magazines from several different popular handguns, including Glock, S&W, SIG, and CZ. 

The KelTec SUB-2000 series is almost like modernized Sten guns. They use a tubular rear receiver with an ambidextrous charging handle. It uses a simple blowback design, and the main shtick of the weapon is that it folds in half. The SUB-2000’s barrel hinges away from the receiver and over the top of the weapon and locks to the stock portion of the gun. 

This grants you a very compact PCC that is less than 20 inches long overall and easily tucked away in your truck or car. The lightweight design makes it easy to carry, and the pistol caliber design allows you to potentially share ammo and magazines with your EDC pistols. 

The latest Gen 2 model features a hybrid M-LOK and Picatinny rail system for accessories. Mounting optics is difficult, but companies like M-CARBO make spring-loaded optics mounts that allow you to mount an optic that folds out of the way to allow the rifle to fold. 

The main downside to the SUB-2000 is that it’s only a pistol caliber. Even when fired from a rifle, a pistol caliber is still a pistol caliber. You lack range, power, and secondary ballistic effects. Additionally, the blowback design creates a surprising amount of recoil for a 9mm carbine. 

The low price, simple design, and folding nature make the SUB-2000 an attractive trunk gun. It’s a solid choice that easily pairs with your EDC if necessary. 

Check out our Full Review on the KelTec Sub 2000.

KelTec SUB-2000 Pros and Cons

  • Folds In Half
  • Uses Common Pistol Mags
  • Affordable
  • Sharp Recoil

#5 CMMG Dissent 5.7 : ‘Pistol’ 5.7

CMMG Dissent 5.7

CMMG Dissent 5.7

The Dissent is an AR anomaly that uses a proprietary compact action instead of the typical buffer system.

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  • Shootability B
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy B
  • Value A

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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CMMG Dissent Review

CMMG Dissent

  • Barrell Length 6.5 in
  • Overall Length 29.25 in
  • Weight 4.25 lbs
  • Caliber 5.7x28mm / .300 Blackout / 5.56 NATO

The CMMG Dissent is AR-like, but honestly can’t be called an AR-15. It’s something different altogether and lacks a receiver extension and buffer design. It uses an internal buffer similar, but not identical to the AR-18. The charging handle is also moved above the barrel for easy access. Without a buffer, it’s very easy to add a brace, specifically a folding brace, to create a very compact package. 

The 5.7x28mm cartridge is not quite a pistol round and not quite a rifle round. It’s something in-between. This little cartridge works well from short barrels, and the Dissent only offers you a 6.5-inch barrel. Even from the short barrel, the 5.7 cartridges can reach out to 150 yards while remaining fairly flat shooting. It’s small but penetrates well. 

The little round outperforms any pistol caliber at range but doesn’t create a ton of recoil and concussion from such a short barrel. It handles like a dream and sues CMMG’s radial delayed blowback system, although other models of the Dissent use various gas systems. The Dissent is a super modern gun with an M-LOK rail, optics rail, and a 1913 rail for mounting braces or stocks if you take the SBR route. 

The small size and easy ability to add a folding stabilization device make the Dissent a very compact blaster. The 5.7 cartridge is capable of self-defense and enough to deal with most medium-sized animals. However, I wouldn’t take it to bear county. The main downside is both the Dissent and ammunition are expensive. 

If the price doesn’t scare you off, the Dissent makes for a handy little PDW that works perfectly in your truck or trunk. It’s small and falls between a rifle and a pistol in power. It has less recoil, but more range makes it an attractive platform.

Want to learn more about the CCMG Dissent? We did a full review you can check out here.

CMMG Dissent Pros and Cons

  • Ultra Small
  • Lightweight
  • Low Recoiling
  • Expensive

CMMG Dissent Gun Deals

#6 Ruger PC Charger : ‘Pistol’ PCC

Ruger PC Charger Featured Image

Ruger PC Charger

The ‘pistol’ version of the PCC in 9mm that can be taken apart to become extra compact.

Our Grade

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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Ruger PC Charger Review

Ruger PC Charger

  • Barrel Length 6.5 in
  • Overall Length 16.5 in
  • Weight 5.2 lbs
  • Caliber 9mm

The Ruger PC Charger, or Pistol Caliber Charger, is the 9mm pistol version of the Ruger PC Carbine. This micro-sized gun has a 6.5-inch barrel and comes with most of the same features as the PC Carbine. Instead of a stock, it comes with a 1913 rail to mount braces or to SBR. The gun uses the dead blow blowback system and comes with two magazine wells. 

The magazine wells allow you to use Ruger Security 9 magazines or Glock magazines. Glock mags make accessible extended magazines, drums, etc. The gun features an M-LOK rail system that’s fairly short and a top rail for mounting a red dot optic. The controls are massive, easy to use, and honestly, it’s a fairly ergonomic platform. 

What makes it a good trunk gun is its small size and takedown ability. You can remove the barrel from the receiver to create a very small package. Returning the barrel to the receiver is very easy and can be done quite quickly. This makes it easy to store in a small package. 

The downside is that it’s still a pistol caliber. Pistol calibers are tough to use beyond 50 to 75 yards and drop off very quickly at 100 yards. It’s fine for self-defense but not much of a working cartridge. 

The Ruger PC Charger is fairly affordable and offers a super small platform for truck gun use. The Ruger PC Charger is highly reliable, low recoiling, and compatible with multiple magazine types. An aftermarket exists to allow you to convert your PC Charger to various mag types. 

Ruger PC Charger Pros and Cons

  • Take Down Capable
  • Folding Stock Capable
  • Modular Magwell
  • Still a Pistol Round

Ruger PC Charger Gun Deals

#7 Savage Model 42 Takedown : Small Game

Savage Model 42 Takedown Featured Image

Savage Model 42 Takedown

A break action over under featuring both 22LR and .410 barrels.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy A-
  • Value A

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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Savage Model 42 Takedown Review

Savage Model 42 Takedown

  • Barrel Length 18 in
  • Overall Length 35.75 in
  • Weight 6.1 lbs
  • Caliber 22LR / 410

The Savage Model 42 seemingly offers a 50-state legal option for an effective truck gun and working gun. The model 42 takedown is both a rifle and shotgun. It features two barrels, one that fires .410 and another that fires .22LR. This combination gun offers a lot of low recoil versatility in a package that weighs 6.1 pounds. 

Neither the .22LR nor .410 are known for being powerhouses. However, with proper shot placement, either round can be quite effective. The .410’s buckshot capability can take down medium game, and since the gun has a three-inch chamber, it can use the most powerful .410 loads. The little .22LR round can reach out to 100 yards with about 4.5 inches of drop. The little .22LR round is a hole poker, but for taking small game and medium-sized predators in a pinch, it can work. 

The .410 barrel does offer a lot of versatility in its design. You can load slugs, birdshot, and buckshot to accomplish various tasks, from dispatching snakes to downing coyotes and even hogs with good shot placement. 

Takedown is in the name, so you can easily break the gun into two pieces, and it comes with an included storage case for keeping things simple and easy. The case isn’t fancy, but it’s functional and allows you to safely store the gun in your truck or car out of the way. The gun is quite light, and if you bug out, you have a very effective hunting tool in a lightweight package. 

As many recognize, this is just a double-barrel gun with two shots, and that’s it. It’s not a fighting weapon and not something most would prefer for self-defense. In a pinch, any gun is better than harsh language. 

Savage Model 42 Takedown Pros and Cons

  • Dual Ammo Capable
  • Take Down Capable
  • Versatile
  • Two Shots and That’s It

Savage Model 42 Gun Deals

The Holy Commandment of Truck Guns 

If you choose to invest in a truck gun, let’s make one thing clear, you are obliged to follow the one holy commandment of truck guns. It’s simple. DO NOT LEAVE A FIREARM UNSECURED IN YOUR VEHICLE. Locking the car doors does not secure it unless you are driving an armored car. 

A gun left in a vehicle without some form of locking device is nothing more than a loot box for a criminal. Guns should be secured inside the vehicle via some sort of locking device and shouldn’t be left in a vehicle at all over long periods of time. When you come home, it goes inside the home. 

The Legal Considerations 

Also, before you throw a firearm in your truck, trunk, or plane, you should know your local laws. Can you carry it loaded? Is it required to be in the trunk? Do you have to have it secured? You need to be able to answer all of these questions before you decide to purchase a truck gun and start carrying it around. 

Keep It Clean

Most of us will likely have some form of case for your truck gun, be it a hard or soft design. It’s often easy to go weeks without looking at the gun if you just leave it in the case or safe. Every so often, you need to inspect the weapon and ensure it’s clean, rust-free, and ready to operate. The same goes for extra ammo, magazines, etc. You should also check your lights, optics, and similar items to ensure functionality. 

Carry On 

As usual, I suggest making sure you keep yourself a low profile. I’d avoid the NRA and gun company stickers on your back window. It’s a great way to get a window smashed while a thief searches for a gun. 

Keeping a truck gun is a big responsibility. You have to keep the weapon safely secured and stored in a secure manner. While these can be very handy tools carrying one requires a certain degree of responsibility. If you can do that, you have a safe way to carry some extra firepower for dealing with threats, violent animals, and alien invasions. 

Suggested Reading

Number one on our list was any quality AR-15. Check out our Best AR 15 Article to see our favorites.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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