Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Should You Bother With A Trunk Gun?

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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Handguns can be effective, but the truth is that they pale in comparison to almost any long gun. Basically, anything bigger than a .410 shotgun or .22LR rifle is superior in terms of firepower than virtually any handgun in terms of velocity, energy, penetration and everything else.

Even Bill Jordan, the legendary Border Patrol officer, US Marine, competitive shooter and gun writer acknowledged as much in his classic work “No Second Place Winner.” While the handgun is certainly a capable instrument of personal defense, the long gun (shotgun or rifle) was vastly superior if you had the option.

Not that Jordan didn’t believe in having a good handgun in a gun holster, of course; Smith and Wesson designed and produced the Model 19 “Combat Magnum” based on his desired specifications.

As a result, a certain school of thought favors the idea that a handgun is something you use to shoot your way to your vehicle. At that point, you retrieve your trunk gun and commence to lay down serious fire. A number of people keep an AR-15 or a shotgun in the trunk for this exact same reason, along with a good supply of .223/5.56 or 00 buck.

On paper, it’s a great idea. A car gun retrieved by the owner has even worked in the real world; there are examples of when a person was able to get to a vehicle and retrieve a firearm in order to put a stop to an attack of some sort. For instance, one such incident was the Pearl High School shooting in Oct. 1997. During that incident, a vice principal – one Joel Myrick – retrieved a handgun from his vehicle, which he used to detain a school shooter. The shooter, Luke Woodham, was successfully detained and is now serving multiple life sentences for his crimes.

That said, there are other examples where it didn’t work out so well. Take the case of Sgt. Timothy Gramins. Gramins has a certain amount of notoriety for carrying 145 rounds of ammunition on him while on patrol due to a shooting incident he was involved in, according to PoliceOne. Gramins stopped a suspect who didn’t intend on being taken alive, and opened fire almost immediately after Gramins initiated a traffic stop; Gramins was still in the driver’s seat when he started returning fire.

Gramins had a Remington 870 in the cabin of his car and an AR-15 in his trunk – neither of which he had time to access. In total, he shot 33 rounds of .45 ACP before the suspect collapsed – leading him to conclude that 47 rounds was not enough.

The total time elapsed in the gunfight was 56 seconds.

Conventional wisdom of defensive shootings (and many officer-involved shootings) is the “rule of threes,” or that most shootings occur within 3 yards or fewer, involve 3 or fewer rounds and take about 3 seconds or less. While a great many incidents do take place inside those parameters, a great many also do not – including both civilian defensive shootings and officer-involved shootings, as plenty of police shooting data over the past decades has demonstrated.

Point being that while it is a great idea, and something like that has actually worked in some situations, there are also plenty of situations in which it isn’t going to do you any good. As a result, it’s certainly a good thing to have…but make sure you’re practiced up with your handgun. There’s a good chance that’s all you’ll have time to use.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit