Carbine Carry Ideas for in Your Vehicle
Terry Nelson 05.08.19
As an admirer of a short barreled rifle, or carbine as most would call it, I am rarely without one in my truck as I travel. Understand not all states are gun friendly – as we know – and it seems to get worse by the day. Therefore, know the laws of your state and wherever you travel when it comes to gun carry inside your car. I have been an advocate of carbine carry inside a vehicle, ready and accessible, for decades and continue to do so today. Aside from admiring short rifles, why would I want to carry one in the first place? Basically, whatever I can do with a pistol I can do better with a carbine with the obvious exception of concealment, accuracy and increased distance capability comes immediately to mind. Add in a red dot optic that co-witnesses with your iron sights and you begin to get the idea how effective these carbine carry ideas can be.
I consider a carbine a 16-inch barrel length firearm with a fixed or collapsible stock that fires rifle or pistol cartridges and is intended to be fired with the stock in contact with the shoulder. I would not eliminate “pistol brace” stocks that are attached to a much shorter-barreled gun just because the firearm is classified as a pistol. These systems are legal to be fired with the pistol brace pulled into the shoulder (depending on current ATF interpretations) and they give excellent maneuverability in tight spaces such as your vehicle. Fortunately I reside in a state that allows a loaded gun to be carried inside the vehicle. Besides what good is an unloaded gun for self-defense? Obviously safety and responsibility rests directly on your shoulders when it comes to any gun carry.
You may be wondering how I carry a carbine day to day inside my truck, accessible on short notice. Below are some ways I have carried a carbine over the years; I am sure there are others, but these are a few I have experience with:
Between the seats
Most vehicles today have a split type front seat with a console between them. Very often, I carry a carbine wedged between the split seats or between the seat and console itself. In other words, the carbine is immediately to my right while driving and instantly accessible if needed.
This is my top choice for carrying in the vehicle and will work with most short-barreled rifles. I will admit a flat-sided gun like the lever action carbine trapper model 30-30, for example, is best suited for this method. I keep the magazine loaded with the chamber empty. A carbine with an extended magazine works well also; the magazine is what holds the gun in place between the seats. The gun stays hidden from view by some article of clothing such as a jacket.
Roof and front compartment racks
In years past I have carried a carbine and a shotgun with this method. Most common are commercially made racks that are designed to hold the gun securely in place by a mechanical device. Some, as used law enforcement vehicles, lock the gun in place and require pushing an electronic release switch to access the carbine. If you are in an area where security of the gun is always a risk, then this method may be for you.
Below or behind the driver’s/passenger seat
I have also carried by this method, but it is much less preferable in my opinion. In this case you must have a seat cover or some type of carrying device that with allow the carbine to lay crossways, either under your legs or on the back of the driver’s seat. There are commercially made devices that will work for this technique, or you can devise something yourself. The problem is that there is nothing quick about getting the gun out in an efficient manner and may require you to stop and open the car door to access the carbine. Placing a carrier behind the front passenger seat where you as the driver can access the carbine by reaching across and behind the passenger seat may be a viable compromise. A simple device to keep the rifle in place and within reach behind the seat is the Snap Rack by Lucid Optics:
You may also want to consider how to move your selected carbine to and from your vehicle in a less than obvious manner. There are many discreet bags on the market today. I often use the Defcon Compact Assault Bag or CAB for transporting a carbine that is easily taken down such as the AR platform or one that’s very short in overall length, such as a pistol brace system. Something as simple and discrete as a duffel bag or backpack may also be used.
Now, let’s look at just a few carbines that are conducive for quick accessibility and carry in your vehicle:
AR platform pistol
Here I am speaking of such platforms like the Sig P516 with the “arm brace.” In the 10 inch barrel, chambered in 5.56, this platform provides wonderful in-vehicle access and mobility while still allowing the shooter to have a point of contact to the shoulder if the need arises. While there have been some discussions as to the legality of this pistol being fired from the shoulder like a carbine.. in an immediate threat environment I will opt to do what needs to be done (check the ATF website for the latest info on this topic). There are numerous platforms available that allow for this shortened barrel in conjunction with a non-traditional stock or “pistol brace”. The ability to use a standard 20, 30 or even 40-round magazine, make these systems are ideal for vehicle carry. Condolences to you, good citizens of states that are under such extreme government control that you are not allowed higher capacity magazines for your shooting enjoyment much less your own self-defense!
Trapper model lever action
Between various manufacturers (Winchester, Henry, Rossi to mention a few) there are many caliber choices here including the .357 and .44 magnum. My choice in the past was the good ole 30-30. In the short Trapper model (16 inch barrel), this little lever gun is ideal for carry inside a vehicle. It’s also very flat sided making it quite easy to position between the seats for easy access. I carried this carbine many miles in this manner, and still do on occasion. In 30-30, it’s an effective cartridge out to around 200 plus yards. If there is a downside to this package it’s the tubular magazine capacity of five rounds in the 30-30 cartridge. The nice attribute about this platform, if it concerns you, is that it is not considered one of those “evil assault rifles”.
M1 30 carbine
The 30 carbine has been around since WWII. With an 18 inch barrel and magazine capacity of 15 or 30 rounds, this 30 caliber semi-auto has a muzzle velocity of about 1,990 feet per second. This little carbine has been in military and police service around the world. While perhaps not the most ideal cartridge, it certainly fits the bill for a quick access carbine inside a vehicle and is quiet enjoyable to shoot.
Kel Tec Sub2000 or CMR-30
Moving into a pistol cartridge in a short carbine (16.25 inch barrel) it would be hard to argue the ease of access and maneuverability this little package offers. Standard offering is 9mm and 40 S&W. The Sub2000 uses Glock magazines and therefore will accept the extended 33-round 9mm and the 22-round 40 S&W versions. Another great feature is the ability of this carbine to fold in half for extreme covert carry. It’s very easily carried between the seat and console right next to you while driving. Along the Kel Tec line you may also want to take a look at the CMR-30 in 22 magnum. This hot little .22 cartridge has been used over the years for everything from bringing in the camp meat to self-defense. If survival is on your mind, couple this with the Kel Tec PMR-30, the accompanying pistol that takes the same mag, and you have an excellent bug out package.
Obviously this is a short list of carbine options available. However I have personal experience with each of the above listed platforms and know they carry well inside a vehicle. Additionally I’m sure there are other methods of vehicle carry than those listed above, but what I described here has worked for me over the years.
As always the security of a firearm moving it to and from the truck and while in the vehicle is your responsibility. Pistol carry in the car is not a new idea for most, but carbine carry in the car probably is, new ideas are sometimes the best!