By Sam Hoober
Before we go any further, the “truck gun” is by and large a bad concept. It’s usefulness is too narrow, too constrained, far too specific to really be a worthy investment.
A concealed carry pistol, kept on one’s person, is almost always a better idea.
The gun you have on you is better than the one that is not. “Fighting your way to a rifle or shotgun” is another way of saying “I successfully got out of danger, but went back because I think I’m John Wick.”
However, there are a number of incidents – some recent, some not – that arguably give the idea more credence than it might seem to have at face value.
Some of us remember the Reginald Denny incident in the 90s. Denny, for those unaware, was a truck driver passing through Los Angeles in the weeks following the Rodney King police brutality trial.
Denny was pulled from the cab and beaten within an inch of his life, including blunt force trauma to the head with a concrete block. Some onlookers saved his life by intervening, but he suffered lasting brain damage as a result.
If Denny had a gun in the cab, he arguably could have stopped the rioters from grabbing him out of it, and driven away.
Then we have the recent pattern of protesters stopping traffic, such as this recent incident in Portland, Oregon:
Or this example from September of 2020:
Then there’s the perpetual instances of road rage, as well as the instances where mass shooters were successfully confronted by an armed citizen who had time to retrieve a weapon from their vehicle.
It’s not what you’d call “Plan A” material, but it has been done successfully.
After all, Charles Whitman – the UT Austin shooter in the 60s – was pinned down by police as well as civilians who retrieved rifles from their cars, homes and even nearby sporting goods stores to return fire.
The suppressing fire didn’t hit him, but kept him behind cover and allowed the Austin PD to ascend the tower and put paid his murderous rampage.
There have been some other incidents as well, of course, but those are just some examples. The point here, of course, is that there are enough documented instances where deploying a long gun – or possibly a handgun – from a vehicle could be a sound tactic.
However, before one started searching for that perfect AR pistol online, one has to be aware of what the rules of engagement are. Generally speaking, you need to face a threat that poses a clear, present and unequivocal danger to your life or that of someone else to use deadly force.
Now, when it comes to protesters stopping vehicles, the dividing line is not that they’ve stopped you or said some nasty things. It’s when they either are about to shoot your car, or pull you out of it.
Don’t take it from me; take it from an actual expert. Here’s Massad Ayoob on the topic; listen to the last two minutes of the video.
Note that what he stresses at the end of the video is “a battle avoided is a battle won,” which is the best advice for dealing with mobs and protesters. If you live in an area or will be passing through an area known for having them, the best thing to do altogether is not go there.
He has a lengthier video on the topic if you’d like to learn more in a more in-depth examination of the topic from one of the foremost experts on armed self-defense.
However, let’s take the next step. Let’s say you’re convinced you want to have a truck gun, and let’s say a long gun that’s compact, for fast deployment if you had to, and that a concealed carry pistol isn’t enough.
To keep one properly, you must have a safe storage medium inside your car for when you’re going to be out of it. Said storage medium must be concealed, and must be securely locking.
Locking the car door isn’t enough, even if your AR pistol or what have you is hidden under the rear bench seat (or whatever) of your vehicle.
As most are aware, guns are being stolen out of vehicles all the time. So if you are going to leave a gun in your car, make sure that it’s in a concealed and securely locking container, which is preferably secured to the vehicle so that the container itself can’t be stolen.
Oh, and don’t go thinking that you can get the same storage rack as the police. Rifles and shotguns get stolen from police cars too.
Once safe storage is settled, then you can start contemplating the tool.
Short-barreled ARs and AR pistols are the natural first thought, but it is in this application that the AK-47 family actually begins to have some superiority compared to the AR platform, specifically the side-folder.
Just say no to underfolders; they’re terrible and always have been. The side folder, and how come?
The AR platform depends on the buffer and buffer spring assembly to return the bolt to battery and chamber the next cartridge. That adds extra length to the weapon.
Granted, not so much that it makes it unwieldy, but consider that a 10.3″ AR pistol (such as the pistol variant of the Daniel Defense MK18) is almost 6 inches longer than a side-folding AK with the stock folded with the standard 16-inch barrel.
Of course, you can also get a shorter barrel. You can also install a Law Tactical Folder but bear in mind that a Law Tactical Folder renders the weapon inoperable when folded. A folded AK stock doesn’t prevent the gun from being fired if needs be, and that’s an edge when seconds count.
However, none of this is to say that we should all start rolling with a side-folder in the car.
It’s also not that just because there’s been some civil unrest lately it’s all of a sudden true that this concept of a type of self-defense gun is all of a sudden totally viable, and not a niche weapon that is otherwise just going to sit there uselessly 99.99999 percent of the time.
In reality, a concealed carry gun is more practical, so long as you’re putting in the practice.
Also, you know what the best defense against mobs of violent protesters is? Don’t be where they’re at.
Sam Hoober is a hunter and shooter based in the Inland Northwest.