The Journey to the “Perfect” Trunk Gun. Part 1

If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with the term trunk gun. Some refer to it as a truck gun but basically it’s the thought of keeping a capable firearm in your vehicle that’s more potent than your average concealed pistol.

Why would you want something like that in your vehicle? Well there’s always the fantasies about stopping a major crime in progress but I don’t believe the odds favor that. My reason for pursuing the idea are much more practical.

Earlier this summer I pulled into the long driveway of my in laws. They own 20 acres and always hear coyotes at night, but have never been able to snag one. While I was driving up to their house I caught an animal out of the corner of my eye. As I slowed my car down and opened my window I confirmed it was a coyote. Its brown coat nearly disappeared against the high brush in the front field.

I swiftly drove to the house and quickly asked where the rifle was. My father in law was not available and my mother in law knew where the rifle was but not the ammunition. In that quick exchange trying to locate the rifle the coyote had moved on and was nowhere to be found.

Had I had the firearm I’m about to talk about in my trunk at the time the story would have ended much differently.

In Washington state you cannot carry a loaded rifle in your vehicle regardless of having a CCW permit or not. So for this journey I’ve chosen an AR-15 pistol as my test bed.

Before committing to purchase a firearm I wanted to borrow a T&E (Test & Evaluation) gun from a manufacturer. I didn’t want to plunk a ton of cash down to only be disappointed that what I thought would work in my head didn’t work in reality. Daniel Defense has a reputation of making high quality firearms so I asked for a test gun. They had DDM4 V7p Law Tactical Mil-Spec + pistol on the way the next day.

The V7 is a 10.3″ gov’t profile barrel, wrapped in a 9″ MLOK rail, with a LAW Tactical folding adapter and SB Tactical SOB pistol brace rounding out the rear. Full specifications can be seen at Daniel Defense’s site HERE.

The gun itself doesn’t really matter, most any reliable AR should do. I was going mainly for a barrel length that was a compromise between the extreme shorty’s like the 7.5″ and the standard 16″ carbine barrel. I opted for a 10.3″ but anything from 10-12″ should be sufficient.

Many would choose a red dot sight for a scenario like this. I wouldn’t blame them either, their long battery life, light weight, and compact size make them a very attractive sighting solution for a trunk gun. I personally don’t shoot red dots on rifles very well. My astigmatism makes the dot look like a double kidney bean and I much prefer some magnification on shots beyond 50 yards.

Because this was most likely going to be used to take a coyote or similar animal I choose a low power variable optic (LPVO), in this case a Vortex Razor HD 1-6. I got the version with the MRAD reticle to keep consistent with all my other Vortex optics. See all the details on the Razor 1-6 HERE.

DD Rifle & Vortex

Daniel Defense Rifle w/ Vortex Razor HD

Previous to trying a LPVO I was a die hard ACOG fan. Their 4x magnification model specifically provided a compact body, crystal clear glass, and superb reliability. The downsides were I was stuck with 4x magnification and the eye relief was pretty strict. This is the first firearm I’ve really given a shot with a 1-6 and so far it’s working well. It is a bit too early to tell if it’ll be my go-to or not.

The Daniel Defense ships with the SB Tactical SOB brace, which functions fine, but I wanted a little more. I decided to install SB’s SBA3 brace, which has an adjustable length of pull. I can pull it out to be comfortable behind the scope and then collapse it down to fit in the case better.

Speaking of cases, there are many specific incognito rifle cases on the market. I was about to purchase one actually, but a quick trip to the local Goodwill was all that I needed. For a mere $5 I found a nicely padded small guitar case that perfectly held the pistol. As you can see it looks inconspicuous in the trunk of my car. It fits so nicely that even the neck area nestles the trunk wheelwells.

Small guitar case fits in trunk.

The case would work fine holding the pistol with the LAW folding adapter deployed. I wanted to carry some night vision equipment in the same case so I fold the SBA3 to the side which creates more room in the padded case. The room created fits my PVS7 night vision along with the Crye Night Cap soft helmet.

You may be asking what good having night vision is with a LPVO for sighting? The answer is there isn’t a good way to look through the Vortex with the night vision mounted. The PVS7 is an older style that covers both eyes and it’s a bit larger than today’s modern night vision. The solution is lasers.

I chose a Steiner DBAL-D2 to light up the night and to aim the pistol. The DBAL packs more technology in it’s small package than you can imagine. It has a QD lever mount that firmly affixes it to to the DD’s rail and includes a pressure pad switch so you can fire the unit remotely.

The DBAL-D2 has an infrared illuminator (think invisible flashlight), along with a visible green laser (for daylight usage), and an infrared laser. The nice thing about having a green laser and IR laser together is that you can sight in during the day. The Steiner unit slaves the two lasers together, so moving the windage and elevation on one laser also moves the second. This makes sighting in much easier and quicker.

At night you can choose between a few modes including visible laser only, IR laser only, and IR illumination with or without IR laser. I’ll go more into more details about the DBAL-D2 in a future article but trust me, if you have NVG’s you want an IR laser of some sort.

That is the current state of my journey to the perfect trunk gun. Soon to come are white lights, ammo selection, chronograph testing, accuracy testing, and maybe I’ll throw down my money on a keeper pistol. Stay tuned for more segments…..

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3 Responses to The Journey to the “Perfect” Trunk Gun. Part 1

  1. John Robert Byrnes October 15, 2018 at 10:03 am #

    Another well written review. I have two ar-15s that I keep for “desperate emergencies.” I have no interest in hunting. I have trouble seeing the benefit of the pistol version. It’s not much more portable or concealable. I like the guitar case and the gun is cool looking but it doesn’t seem to have more utility than a full size model and a pistol with some large mags is more practical for self defense purposes. If I was starting from scratch I’d go with this format, but I’m reluctant to spend the money for modest improvements.

    • Zack Carlson October 16, 2018 at 11:49 am #

      Hi John, The main benefit of the shorter barreled pistol model in this instance is the ability to carry it in the trunk with no legal issues. In WA state I cannot carry a loaded rifle. If the law was different I would also prefer the 16″ carbine.

      In regards to your pistol being better for self defense I see what you mean, but this particular gun is more to take a coyote or similar and a pistol would be a tougher shot. I do carry a CCW pistol as well though.

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  1. Steiner DBAL-D2 IR Night Vision Laser & Illuminator - Range Hot - November 7, 2018

    […] a previous article about trunk guns (see here) I briefly discussed having an IR laser and illuminator on your carbine for use with night vision […]

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