Car Safes And Trunk Guns

A few weeks ago, we discussed why you really don’t want to carry a pistol in a so-called “car holster.” I still stand by everything I said in that post, but I must admit, for years, I kept at least one pistol inside my car. Sometimes, I kept another, larger, gun in the trunk for those times when a pistol might not be enough. 

Let me explain why. 

There is no real reason to use a car holster if you rely on a larger-sized pistol carried on your waist or in a holster. You can access your pistol on your waist just as quickly as you can in a car holster. Plus, you get the added advantage of having your gun on you when you leave your car. However, not everyone has the luxury of being able to carry a large defensive pistol on their waist all the time.

I used to work in a white-collar office environment. I was fortunate to work in offices where I was allowed to carry a pistol on me so long as it was concealed. I figured out that carrying a small .380 ACP in my front pocket was the best way for me to be armed while not upsetting my coworkers or company policy. But I also had to drive to and from work each day. That meant a long commute where I sat buckled in to my car with my gun in my pocket. I quickly realized two things:

(1) it would be very difficult (if not impossible) for me to draw a gun from my pocket holster while strapped in to my car; and

(2) while a pocket .380 might be great for cubicle-to-cubicle combat, it is a poor choice for the longer distances likely found on the open road. 

Security Vs. Stealth: Is It Too Much To Ask For Both?

car safes work - do you need a trunk gun?

“Hold gun owners accountable.” Think about that phrase for a second and what it might mean to you.

Trying to balance the need to stay safe on the road with the need to keep my firearm secured proved to be a bit of a challenge. The most common solution to this problem is a trunk gun.  However, that wouldn’t really work because if I needed a gun to defend myself I would need it in a fraction of a second. I needed a solution that would

(1) keep a defensive pistol near me,

(2) keep the pistol safe when I was not in the car, and

(3) still be quickly accessible for those times when having a gun was literally a matter of life and death. 

This is where a dedicated quick access vehicle safe (like the Hornady Rapid Vehicle Safe) comes in handy. The safe is secured to the frame of my car with a steel cable and is opened with either a key lock, touchpad combination, or RFID chip. It’s that last feature — the RFID chip — that makes this safe most useful for my purposes.

My smartphone is almost always near me. On the back of my phone is a small disc that contains the RFID chip for my vehicle safe. To open the safe and access my gun, I merely wave the back of my phone over the top of the safe and, presto, the safe pops open and my gun is right there. If for some reason my phone isn’t handy, the Rapid Vehicle Safe can be opened with a RFID bracelet, combination keypad, or mechanical key. 

It’s simple, fast, and easy. Better still, my gun is securely locked away out of sight and away from the hands of any crooks out there.

But What About A Trunk Gun?

Right now, some of you may be saying, “Why go to all that bother when you can just stash a rifle or a shotgun in the trunk?” 

Valid question. 

Let’s consider for a moment what the trunk gun is, what it’s supposed to do, and what role it has in the life of an armed citizen.

The idea of a trunk gun springs from two different sources. The first is the range gun: a rifle that’s used outdoors to do the work that a pistol can’t do, such as chasing predators away from crops and livestock or protecting yourself at distances beyond pistol range. Classic examples of this kind of trunk gun are found hanging in rifle racks in the cabs of pickup trucks all across America. 

Cops Have Trunk Guns, I Should Have One Too, Right?

The second kind of trunk gun is the patrol rifle commonly found in the back of police cars (as an aside, isn’t it interesting how the same semi-automatic AR-15 is called a “patrol rifle” when the police have one but an “assault rifle” when you or I have one?). The rifle or shotgun that police rely on is meant to provide extra firepower in situations where their sidearms are insufficient to stop the threat.  

Are there times when a trunk gun makes sense? Yes, there are. When I used to travel around rural Arizona it was my habit to toss some water, a small “bug out” bag full of essential gear, and a lightweight rifle in the trunk of my car. My trunk gun of choice was a Kel-Tec SU16C. Lightweight and tiny, this rifle has a lot of nice features that make it an attractive last-ditch rifle. 

I also take a pistol and rifle with me when my family goes camping. Do I foresee having to fend off the zombie apocalypse from the alpine forests of Greer, Arizona? No. But can I relax a little bit more around the campfire knowing I have something with me that reaches out to 100+ yards? You bet I can. 

When A Trunk Gun Doesn’t Make Sense.

Keeping a rifle in the trunk of my car doesn’t make a lot of sense for me most of the time. I don’t live on a farm or a ranch. I live in a small suburban town, and I don’t do much driving in rural areas anymore. I’m also not a cop, so it’s not my job to take bad guys into custody or defend the community at large. My job is to keep my loved ones and myself safe. If I show enough force that a bad guy (or gal) breaks contact and goes off in search of easier prey, that’s a win for me and my family. 

Car Safe

Two is one, one is none, right?

How would a trunk gun help in that situation? I don’t think it does. If a deadly threat appears when I’m in my car, it’s either going to appear so quickly that I will not have time to stop, park my car, pop open the trunk, and get my rifle, or appear at such a distance that I can simply drive off and avoid it all together.

Active Threats

But what about active shooters? Don’t you want to keep a rifle in your trunk in case you’re involved in an active shooter event? Not really.

Let’s look at an active shooter event in terms of your mission as an armed citizen. My mission, first and foremost, is to keep my loved ones and myself safe. Any benefit I may provide to the community as a whole is of secondary importance to me.

If I’m Christmas shopping in the mall and the Leprechaun Liberation Army decides to attack, my mission is to get my family to a position of safety. Getting there will not happen instantaneously, and the time it takes me to get everyone to safety is time that the police will be using get on site and deal with the threat from this gang of diminutive, heavily armed Celtic fairy tale creatures. Problem solved.

We also now know that most active shooters quit when confronted by another force. Is my concealed carry pistol the best means to end an active shooter’s rampage? Probably not. Can I protect my loved ones and myself in an active shooter situation with just my concealed carry pistol? Probably so, though I hope I never have to find out.

Just In Case Your Pistol Isn’t Enough

Security is key in keeping a firearm in your car. Despite all the effort that’s been put into strengthening your vehicle to survive a collision on the road, it is still not a gun safe. As such, if you choose to keep a gun in your car, you should lock it up in some way that will frustrate all but the most determined of crooks. The last thing you want is to find out that your legally purchased firearm has been stolen and is being used to commit crimes. Keeping your guns safe and locked up when not in use helps not only you and your loved ones, but also everyone else in your community.