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6 Best Truck Guns: For When You Need More Firepower preview image
Jan 04 2024
19 min read

6 Best Truck Guns: For When You Need More Firepower

What is a truck gun? Well, as the name sounds, it’s a backup firearm that you keep in your vehicle in case there comes a time when the 9mm under your shirt is not sufficient.

There could come a time when you’re out in the world, 20 miles away from home, late at night, and without cell service. With help 30 minutes away, this would be the wrong time to be ill-prepared.

And while you have your carry gun tucked under your shirt, scenarios could arise when the need for more power or capacity is evident.

That is where a truck gun comes into play.

It doesn’t have to be the most expensive or premium option. For example, the M4E1 from Aero Precision can easily be found for under $800 and is more than enough to be equipped for disaster.

However, it must be compact, versatile, and easy to use. I’ve done my fair share of getting rifles with long barrels out of vehicles, and I can tell you that it isn’t fun when your rifle stops you from moving as quickly as you need to.

That’s why when I’m talking about truck guns, I almost always recommend AR-Pistols like the Palmetto State Armory AR-15 pistol with a 10.5-inch barrel. You get more firepower, but you don’t get weighed down.

There are other firearms, though, that are worth considering if you want the best truck guns. I’ll discuss them and cover other things to consider that could save you time and money later.

Please keep reading to the end so you don’t make the same mistakes I and many other shooters have.

Best Truck Guns & Recommendations

ImageProductPrice
Aero Precision M4E1 10.5Aero Precision M4E1 10.5 Pistol (Upper and Lower)
Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5”Best Value Truck Gun – Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5”
SONS OF LIBERTY GUN WORKS M4 89Best Factory Ready AR-15 For The Truck – Sons of Liberty Gun Works M4-89 
Noveske Gen 3 Diplomat 5.56mm NATO AR Pistol Best Premium Truck Gun – Noveske 7.94” Diplomat Pistol 
Remington 870 Express Tactical MagpulBest Shotgun For The Truck – Remington Model 870 Tactical Magpul
CZ Scorpion 3+ Carbine 9mmBest 9mm “PCC” Truck Gun – Scorpion 3+ Pistol

Best Overall Truck Gun – Aero Precision M4E1 10.5 Pistol (Upper and Lower)

M4E1 ENHANCED 10.5
M4E1 CARBINE COMPLETE LOWER RECEIVER

Specifications

Caliber.223 Remington/5.56×45
Capacity30+1
Weight6.51 Pounds

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Best upper on the market for the price
  • Machined from 7075-T6 Aluminum
  • Short and easy to stow away
  • Typical AR-15 modularity 
  • M-LOK and Pictainny space
Cons
  • It may have to be bought in pieces

My first experience with the M4E1 came after a buddy of mine went to his local gun store and picked up a parts kit from Aero Precision. The M4E1 usually comes in pieces; finding one fully assembled in-store is rare.

Aero Precision M4E1 10.5 Pistol
Aero Precision M4E1 10.5 Pistol via: aero_precision/IG

But, since we live in Washington State, the home state of Aero Precision, we have many of its products in our gun stores.

After we got it all together, we took it behind Mt. Rainier with 500 rounds of 5.56×45 in tow. We got to shooting after a quick dressing with an oil and grease mixture from Mobil1.

It was strange. This rifle cost under $800 altogether, and it felt similar to the BCM Recce I bought a few months prior. It made sense, though, since the M4E1 is machined from the same material.

Aero Precision M4E1 10.5 complete lower
Aero Precision M4E1 10.5 Pistol via: aero_precision/IG

It cycled through each round with no issues. That following weekend, we took it back to the range to see if we could get it to fail. Four hundred fifty rounds later, no dice. It ran flawlessly. The only complaint I had was a flimsy charging handle.

The rest of the components are high-quality, and there is M-LOK and Picatinny space for your accessories.

But that’s a quick and easy replacement.

The M4E1 is a not-so-hidden gem. I chose it for the best overall due to its low price compared to what you get. The M4E1 has performed just as well as the rifles we spent thousands of dollars on.

And that’s why I recommend it as my number one truck gun.

Best Value Truck Gun – Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5”

Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5”

Specifications

Caliber.223 Remington/5.56×45
Capacity30+1
Weight5.5 Pounds (estimate, PSA does not provide weight information)
Overall Length25.5 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • The 30-round magazine gives you all the backup you need 
  • AR-15 platform is highly customizable for different platforms
  • Lightweight and compact for easy maneuverability 
  • M-LOK and Picatinny space 
  • Affordable
Cons
  • You may have to build it

As I said, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a truck gun.

Remember, it’s a truck gun; it doesn’t have to have the Gucci-est showpiece hiding in your car for a rainy day. You can get by with a solid budget option that leaves space for attachments.

Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5”
Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5” via: palmettostatearmory

Palmetto State Armory provides an excellent solution for those on a budget but still want a quality firearm with room for attachments.

And that’s important. When you buy any firearm for a defensive role, you want the ability to add a light, optic, and sling. You don’t want to be rolling around with iron sights and no way to see what’s in the dark.

PSA machines their rifles from 7075-T6 Aluminum like all the heavy hitters do. The bolt carrier is milled from Carpenter 158, shot peened, and magnetic particle tested.

Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol
Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5” via: palmettostatearmory

It’s a proper rifle at a price that competitors cannot beat. PSA’s only downside is quality control. While the company has done an excellent job, some bad apples slip through the cracks.

I’ve had my hands on a few of its rifles, mainly through friends who needed a diagnosis and work done. Primarily, there are tolerance issues surrounding the gas system. However, you’ll know if you have any problems within the first few shots.

Any AR pistol with a short barrel will work here, but PSA sells plenty worthy of a truck gun role, and this one can easily be found on sale for under $600.

Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5” with 100rd drum
Palmetto State Armory AR-15 Pistol 10.5” via: palmettostatearmory

All you need to do is slap on an optic — preferably a red dot since it has a short barrel- a flashlight, and maybe a sling, and you have a truck gun ready to get you home anytime.

What’s cool about having an AR-15 as a truck gun is the ability to swap out the upper for one chambered in .300 BLK and go from there.

PSA has sales more often than not, so finding a .300 Blackout upper for $200 is commonplace.

Again, any AR pistol will do, but this one is affordable and leaves space for buying attachments.

Best Factory Ready AR-15 For The Truck – Sons of Liberty Gun Works M4-89 

Sons of Liberty Gun Works M4-89 Semi-Automatic AR Rifle, .223 Rem/5.56 NATO, 16" Barrel, 30-Rounds, Black
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Specifications

Caliber.223 Remington/5.56×45
Capacity30+1
Weight6.0 Pounds (estimate, SOLGW says 27 ounces, and it isn’t that)
Overall Length 33 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It’s an AR-15, the most American Home Defense gun ever
  • Rail space for multiple attachments 
  • Upgraded furniture
  • HPT and MPI tested
Cons
  • Pricey

This is a proper fighting rifle machined to battle standards. It is machined from 7075-T6 aluminum, the standard for high-end AR-15s in high-stress situations.

SOLGW M4-L89
SOLGW M4-L89 via: sonsoflibertygw/IG

I chose the M4-89 as the best factory-ready AR-15 due to my personal experiences with SOLGW products, including bolt carrier groups, uppers, and lowers. It’s a battle-ready firearm from the box.

Quality control and customer support are also huge reasons.

The M4-89 comes standard with the company’s Liberty Fighting Trigger, B5 furniture, and a 4150 “lightweight” government profile barrel with the NOX flash hider pinned and welded to the end.

M4-89 13.7” Pinned and Welded
SOLGW M4-L89 via: sonsoflibertygw/IG

Good news for those who want to run a suppressor on their AR-15: the Deadair Sandman mounts directly to the flash hider.

I appreciate that SOLGW sends its firearms out with a muzzle device capable of hosting a suppressor.

The M4-89 comes ready for whatever situation with three magazines, a carrying case, and a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a bit pricier but still affordable and built for your finest hour. From personal experience, I can promise you can’t go wrong with keeping a SOLGW M4-89 in your truck.

Best Premium Truck Gun – Noveske 7.94” Diplomat Pistol 

Noveske Gen 3 Diplomat 5.56mm NATO AR Pistol with 7.94" Barrel, MLOK, SBA3 Brace, and Cherry Bomb
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Specifications

Caliber.300 Blackout
Capacity30+1
Weight5.3 Pounds
Overall Length21.25 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Compact package that packs a punch
  • Pistol configuration makes it legal in most states to carry in a vehicle
  • Three-prong muzzle device for quick attachment of a suppressor
  • Comes with backup sights
  • M-LOK and Pictainny space
Cons
  • The price of the gun
  • Price of ammo

No matter what you find yourself up against, a .300 Blackout pistol should be more than enough. Some would even say it’s overkill. But is it overkill when it’s your life on the line? I don’t think so.

.300 Blackout is the industry’s answer to the need for a more powerful round over the 5.56×45 and one that is also easy to suppress for military purposes (and civilian purposes, of course).

Noveske 7.94 diplomat gen4
Noveske 7.94” Diplomat Pistol via: rezkin0099/IG

I categorize rifles into tiers on a scale from “NATO Deathsquad Operator” down to “F tier.” Noveske falls into the NATO Deathsquad Operator tier.

The difference with Noveske is that it’s affordable for someone with the money to splurge a bit on the rifle. Others in this tier of rifles are upwards of $3,000+, are usually out of stock, and have a year-long waiting period from purchase.

Unless you’re rolling in the dough and have the patience of a Saint, they can be unobtainable.

Noveske stands out from the pack by being easy to acquire and affordable (by some standards), with fantastic quality in their rifles and quality control.

Noveske Gen 3 Diplomat Pistol
Noveske 7.94” Diplomat Pistol via:noveske_llc\IG

This particular model is a favorite in my friend group as a truck gun. I’ve been able to shoot it suppressed and unsuppressed, and it’s always worked flawlessly.

The 7.94-inch barrel makes getting it in and out of your vehicle a breeze. There are M-LOK slots to mount your accessories, and it comes with Magpul MBUS Pro flip-up sights.

The Dead Air KeyMount flash hider allows for an easy attachment of a suppressor, making the rifle safer on your ears and those around you.

Overall, this AR pistol will have your back in almost any scenario you encounter with more than enough firepower.

Best Shotgun For The Truck – Remington Model 870 Tactical Magpul

Remington 870 Express Tactical Magpul 12 Gauge Pump Shotgun, 18.5" Barrel, 3" Chamber, 6+1 Capacity, Matte Black
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Specifications

Caliber12 gauge
Capacity6+1
Weight7 ½ Pounds
Overall Length38 ½ Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Highly versatile (shooting different loads)
  • A short 18 ½ inch barrel is easy to stow
  • Easy to use (important for high-stress scenarios)
  • Magpul stock and fore-end
Cons
  • Low round capacity
  • Heavy

Shotguns have been a favorite “oh sh*t” gun for a long time and are arguably one of the best close-range firearms. Nothing puts an attacker, whether it has two legs or four, down like a 383-grain slug from a shotgun.

Remington Model 870 Tactical Magpul
Remington Model 870 Tactical Magpul via: shotgun_world

And what better way to do it than with a shotgun that has been proven time and time again?

The Remington 870 Tactical is a fan favorite and comes in multiple configurations. I recommend the tactical configuration for a truck gun due to the added picatinny mounts for adding lights and optics.

I’ve had my hands on the 870 Tactical during my short time in the Marine Corps in Virginia. If you didn’t know, the 870 has been a particular favorite of ours for quite some time. It’s been all over the place, from Afghanistan to Kuwait, and we kept it around for a reason.

Remington 870 tactical shotgun
Remington Model 870 Tactical Magpul via: shotgun_world

Aside from the government being cheap, of course.

What I like about this particular shotgun is the Magpul fore-end. The front and back of the fore-end are raised, so you can quickly rack your shotgun, even when it’s raining outside, as you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere.

The Stock is also from Magpul and has padding (as most stocks do) to absorb some of the recoil from the big 12-gauge blast. When you’re firing the 870 time after time, your shoulders and the rest will be thankful you had that padding there. Trust me.

One thing is sure: whatever is bothering you won’t be bothering you for long with help from the Remington 870 Tactical.

Best 9mm “PCC” Truck Gun – Scorpion 3+ Pistol

CZ Scorpion 3+ Carbine 9mm, 16" Barrel, 20-Round, Black, Semi-Auto Rifle
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Specifications

Caliber9mm
Capacity20+1
Weight5.3 Pounds
Overall Length15.2 Inches

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • 15.2-inch overall length is the most compact on the list
  • Ammo is more affordable than others on the list
  • Easy to control even in the absence of a stock
  • Comes with backup sights
Cons
  • Not necessarily providing more stopping power

Pistol caliber carbines are popular with suits in three-letter agencies who prefer concealability over insane firepower.

The Scorpion has been one of the top choices due to its compactness. At only 15.2 Inches, this is as compact as you will get.

Scorpion 3+
Scorpion 3+ via: czusafirearms/IG

You see them used often when protecting that old guy in the white house, at least from what I saw when walking around D.C. in late 2021. Of course, it was from a distance, but the silhouette is iconic.

I’ve been able to rent one at my local gun store to see why it’s the premier choice for protecting politicians.

Of course, the one I shot wasn’t automatic like theirs. No sir. Mine only shot one 9mm at a time. Still, at 5.3 pounds unloaded, it’s lightweight and easy to wield.

I’m sure all of this is thanks to the full fiber-reinforced polymer frame used, whereas AR-15s typically use 7075-T6 or 6061-T6 Aluminum, which is considerably heavier.

The only actual drawback of the Scorpion 3+ is the caliber. 9mm is hardly optimal as a backup when you already have a 9mm pistol tucked in your pants. Still, if you’re moving around the city and humans are your biggest threat, this will get you home.

This model doesn’t have the typical A2 angle grip that plagued the older Scorpions; these ones are adjustable for trigger reach.

The Scorpion 3+ Pistol is designed for use in tight spaces. So, if you want to travel light in a smaller vehicle or something small and highly portable, there’s no better option.

How We Chose Our Top Picks:

Carry guns are a huge deal in my shooting circle.

We all understand the need for more firepower when the time comes, and we all like to be prepared. This list comes from the firearms some of us carry in our own vehicles and others we’ve tested and found reliable.

Combining our experiences with feedback from other trusted sources in the industry, any of these recommendations would serve you well as a truck gun.

Who Is This For?

This article is for those considering a backup firearm for their vehicle to get them home safely when their standard concealed carry weapon won’t do the trick.

Of course, you want to ensure you aren’t breaking the law. Some states don’t allow you to carry an AR-15 in your car in any capacity, so this is geared more toward those who live in states that allow it or those who don’t care if they do.

The law is typically the only drawback of having a truck gun. Otherwise, having a truck gun is a great way to ensure you aren’t ill-prepared when things go south.

Do your due diligence regarding federal, state, and local laws that may pertain to you.

Buyer’s Guide

Are PCCs Good Truck Guns?

PCCs are great truck guns, but it depends on the caliber. While 10mm offers excellent stopping power, 9mm isn’t the best backup gun caliber, especially when you most likely already have a 9mm tucked in your pants.

It’s up to you to decide. Again, it’s all about what suits you best. Most of us agree that you should aim to have a higher caliber capable of more damage in your truck.

You’re only going to reach for it when you’re in dire need of help. And help isn’t coming before the threat gets to you, so you want as much advantage as possible.

Step one is having a truck gun in the first place.

Step two is having a truck gun that is more effective than the pistol in your pants.

Make Sure You Have A Camera

Having a camera mounted to your dash and in the back is the best way to gather evidence should you go to court after using your firearm in self-defense. What’s better to help you clarify your side of the story than audio and visual recordings?

Evidence is king, just like cash money. It’s tangible, will help you explain if you forget, and will probably keep the District Attorney from using your situation to push gun laws further.

I suggest a quality dashcam. You get bonus points if you can get one facing the rear in case you get attacked from behind. It is a common tactic that thieves use to catch you off guard.

Safely Storing Your Firearm In A Vehicle

Storing your firearm in a safe is the best way to keep it out of unwanted hands should you leave it in your vehicle. The last thing you want is for your firearm to be stolen and used in a shooting.

But this is where you have to get crafty. You have to figure out how to store that firearm in a secure place while still being able to get it up and online within three to five seconds.

One of the first things you should do when considering a truck gun is look at your vehicle. You don’t want to try and pull a long gun out of a Prius.

You can always store your guns in the back of the car, but getting to them might be a challenge.

Companies like Console Vault provide dedicated vehicle safes to protect your firearms.

Or you can get crafty. I’m installing a locking slide drawer under the seat of my 4Runner. There’s enough room for an excellent 10.5-inch AR-15 under there with spare magazines.

Just make sure it’s safe and not accessible to anyone but yourself and authorized personnel.

Best Ammo For Truck Guns (Caliber Dependent)

Defensive ammo is best for your truck gun. That’s pretty much all there is to it. You don’t need the most expensive match-grade ammo, but you shouldn’t be loaded up with training ammo.

It’s good to find a middle ground. If you’re running an AR-15 as a truck gun, I would recommend 62-grain and above. Aim for hollow tips and rounds designed to expand on contact so you can get the most out of each round on target.

And so it doesn’t penetrate and hit something else you don’t want it to.

If you’re using a shotgun, buckshot is always a good option. Alternating loads, like having one buckshot and then one slug, would also be a good idea.

Pistol caliber carbines can also take defensive rounds designed to expand on impact, just like the rounds you use for your carry or home defense pistol.

Other Items You Should Keep In Your Truck

Here’s a bulleted list of other items that are wise to keep in your vehicle:

  • Medical Kit (Tourniquet, Gauze, Quick Clot (Last Resort), Aspirin, Water, Medical Gloves, etc.)
  • More Water
  • MREs or other long-shelf-life food
  • Ammo
  • Flares (Road and Flare Gun)
  • Emergency Blankets
  • Two Pairs of Underwear and Socks
  • A Rain Jacket
  • $100 Cash

Extras (Optional):

  • HAM Radio
  • Guide To HAM Radios
  • Plate and Plate Carrier
  • Helmet with Comms Headset
  • Jerry Can with Extra Gas

These are things you can acquire over time.

I don’t want you spending much money on things to keep in your truck right now unless you can afford it.

Key Traits for a Good Truck Gun

Truck guns should be versatile, compact, easy to use, and modular.

Make it versatile

When choosing a truck gun, you may want to use a firearm that can also function as a home-defense gun. Not that you’ll need to use it in the house, but you may need to bring it inside if your home defense gun needs to be sent in for repairs.

Keep it compact

You don’t want an AR-15 with a 20-inch barrel as your truck gun. Not only is it a pain to store, but it’s also a way to maneuver around tight spaces. It’s best to keep the barrel length as low as possible.

Keep it simple and easy to use

In the heat of the moment, you’d be surprised how quickly your fight or flight response can make you fight.

Your body wants to run away, but since you choose to fight, it’s acting crazy. Your hands get clammy, your tummy feels like you had bad fish tacos, and you feel woozy.

Don’t pick a firearm that will make it harder on you.

Make sure it’s modular

Attachments for a defensive gun must be recommended more. Not only that, but swapping parts quickly can only help you, not hurt you.

At the very least, you need to have a flashlight on it. Positive identification can not be stressed enough; failing to identify a friend from a foe positively can lead to all types of trouble.

FAQs:

Can I legally carry a truck gun?

Whether you can legally carry a truck gun depends on your local laws. It mostly depends on whether you’re carrying that firearm loaded or in a safe in the vehicle. Generally, it’s legal to have a firearm in a safe in your vehicle so long as the ammo and the firearm are in two different parts of the vehicle.

For example, ammo is in the truck, and gun is in the cabin. Again, check your local, state, and federal laws that may pertain to you.

Can I use a truck gun for self-defense outside the vehicle?

Yes, but again, using your truck gun outside the vehicle can have potential legal ramifications depending on where you are or live. If you’re being shot at, you best shoot back. That’s just basic survival. But, if you’re not being shot at, you should probably focus on using the big death machine you’re sitting in to get away.

Are there specific laws regarding the storage of truck guns in vehicles?

There are plenty of laws regarding the storage of truck guns in vehicles. You have to check your local laws to be sure, although you may find that having a truck gun in most places is against the law, at least in the areas where they would be most important.

When you’re storing your truck gun, think of all the places you can put it where you’ll have access to it quickly while following the law.

Conclusion

I’ve had my hands on plenty of rifles over the years, from your budget PSA builds to the pricier LMT builds. While there is no shortage of great rifles on the market, one thing is for sure: they can get expensive quickly.

The rifles on this list were picked because they provide an outstanding balance of cost and quality.

I almost picked the BCM Recce for the “best factory-ready” AR-15, but Sons of Liberty Gun Works offers you more for your dollar. With the Recce, I got one magazine; with the M4-89, I got three.

It’s the same quality, but you get more.

The M4E1 (Upper and Lower) is one of the best AR-15s for the price. It’s solid and durable, and you only need to change the charging handle and maybe the BCG, and you’re done. That can all be done for under $1,000; you’ll have a rugged and ready truck gun.

Even though I consider these the best picks, other manufacturers make some great truck guns. I considered Knights Armament, LMT, and LaRue but found them too expensive and unobtainable.

Still, it’s all a matter of how much you want to spend.

So, if you’re in the market for a truck gun, I’d start your search with the M4E1 from Aero Precision and go from there. The price leaves room for building your truck gun to match your needs and even having some money left over.

Be good and take care.

Written by Brian Zerbian
Brian Zerbian photo Brian is a USMC Veteran and avid gun enthusiast from New Jersey who loves to spend his time shooting, writing, listening to classic rock, and learning new things. His goal is to help new gun owners and people who are getting into guns get all the best knowledge in the simplest ways. With no technical jargon and seasoned with fun.
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