Anatomy of a Truck gun

The sun leaks over the horizon like a tipped kettle of molten steel, as the morning try’s to bid you a new day. But you have been awake for hours already, sleep was fitful at best. The image of the young calf, laying there lifeless, hamstrung and partially disemboweled by its assailant is all you can see when ever your eye lids try to close. “They aren’t evil, it’s just an animal doing what an animal does, trying to survive…”You mumble, hoping that somehow you can talk yourself into believing your own statement. ” That’s all I’m trying to do too, trying to survive.” You believe this statement more than the first. Since moving out West you have tried, and failed at quite a few things. First you were going to be a trapper, with dreams of 100 pound packs of beaver plews, only to find that you were not the first man in these parts to try his hand at it, and fail. With what little money you had let after wondering the woods helplessly, you squared away a plot of land. “Fair priced too”, you remember. Hindsight being 20/20, you know now why the bank had been so willing to let the homestead go so easily. The soil was rocky and not workable, only thing that would grow was blue stem and buffalo grass. So much for being a farmer. Then it happened. One day why you were out kicking rocks, and cursing the worthless dirt that the bank had stuck you with. You see in the distance, a man on a horse pushing a small band of cattle across the prairie, your prairie. You remember the man riding up, dismounting, and shaking your hand. He was friendly, and introduced himself. “That’s one hell of a pasture you got out there, where  you keep your cattle? A man could make a killing if he never had to buy feed.” You try not to show excitement, but in your mind the gears are turning. “This is the break you are looking for, this is where the tide changes” you think to yourself. “Well Sir” you say to the man. “Kind of new to these parts, and looking to get into the cattle trade, but after buying this patch of land im left with little extra. Would you be interested in doing a little horse trading?” That’s how it had all started, turns out the kind horsemen was a fourth generation cattlemen, and there was nothing that he didn’t know about working cattle. Riding, roping, you name it and he knew it. You offered up your land for his winter range, if in turn, he would supply you with a few head of cattle come spring. But, he gave you much more than that. That first winter was hard, but he had fed you, he helped you find and cut wood to keep your small house warm, he tought you the in’s and out of the “Texas longhorn cross” that he raised, hell he even gave you a rifle. Under his careful watch, you were crafted into a cattleman yourself. He tought you the most important lesson “Keep your herd safe, no matter what the cost”. As your reverie passes, you realize that you have already been in the saddle for more than an hour, the sun now lays long shadows across the shallow valley. Ahead you see your herd gathered together feeding. From the lowly 4 head that you had started with, you now have almost 100 cattle that wear your brand. Had it already been 10 years? Then before you can see it, you feel it. The hair raises on your hackles and you know somethings wrong, the cattle start to gather tighter. You watch there movements and try to determine what has raised the fuss, suddenly you can see it. Moving like puffs of smoke you can see the three wolves closing quickly on the herd. In one motion you are off your horse, rifle free of the scabbard and you are closing the distance. “Not today” clears your lips almost as a war cry as you kneel, and fit bead to buckhorn of your old trusted rifle. The first shot comes from nowhere and the barrel is already swinging toward the second dog as the first is crashing to the ground. You lead him a good 2 feet in front of his muzzle as he races at full speed, as you gently squeeze off the second round, you see the third dog in the pack turn tail and head for the hills. You don’t waste the bullet. Two threats down, and one calf lost. The herd lives to die another day…

We in these modern times like to think that we created everything, and that all ideas are new ones created by us to solve some problem that only we have experienced. Look at the survival industry, and all of the coined terms for instance: EDC, truck gun, bug out bag, they have always been around, they just didn’t have cool mall-ninja names yet. In the old west everyone carried  survival supplies, salt, flout, lard, a gun, a pan and a knife. (And to think they didn’t even have an Emerson wave with a modified tanto blade or anything.) They were just called tools, and one of the most important was their rifle. Whenever you took to horseback a rifle was always present, be it in a scabbard or tied across the back of the saddle. It provided food by way of hunting, and protection from predators on both four legs and two. Given, the days where most had to travel by horseback are long gone, but the same staples should remain. A firearm in the vehicle is pretty much a must in most suburban parts of the country. When ever I take the family for a ride I almost always carry 3 things: A chainsaw (that’s full of gas), a survival kit (that’s stocked with supplies) and a gun (that’s full of bullets), for me personally that is a bare minimum for a safe excursion to any place that is off the beaten path. This raises the question “what is a truck gun?” Most will say that a truck gun is an inexpensive firearm that lives in ones vehicle, often times citing such firearms as a Hi-Point C9 or a Mosin, stating that it should be a firearm that you can beat up and is easy to replace if it is stolen. What kind of bull crap is that? Why would you ever buy a firearm with plans for it to be stolen at some point in time? To me personally, a “truck gun” (by the way, when I say “truck gun” it is an all-encompassing term, it doesn’t have to be a truck, it could be an ATV, side-by-side, tractor, combine, boat, kayak, even a car (probably not a Prius)) has to be a firearm that is dead reliable, accurate, fun to shoot, fits within your budget, is always taken, and serves YOUR purpose! If you (like in the story above) own a ranch, your truck gun may be a little different then some. Coyotes, wolves, bears, and the neighbors dog, all can cause a real problem to someone who raises livestock, and as you do your daily tasks of tending the herd and acting as the Sheppard you may run into situations where you may need a more powerful/and or long-range weapon then a standard carry firearm. Coyotes play hell come calving season, don’t believe me? Ask a farmer if you can coyote hunt their property when the are calving (cows don’t drop one time of year or the other, they tend to breed them when they have a healthy supply of help, so it varies from ranch to ranch) Most farmers will gladly let you, and I can bet that most dogs shot that time of year will have grey crust on their muzzle (from eating calf patties full of mama’s milk) and have been living pretty good on the cow’s placenta (sorry if your eating breakfast). Once those two resources are gone, you can guess what the next step is. The calf itself. In this instance you may want something like a .223, 22-250, and similar varmint calibers. But any deer caliber will serve the farmer well (.243, .270, .308, 30-06 etc.) On top of the risk of predators, you always have the chance of an injured animal. Given, you can displace an injured cow with a pistol (I know a man who raises buffalo, and only kills them with a .22 lr revolver!) but in the given circumstances, needing a do all weapon, I would take a rifle in its place. Period! So then, what is the ideal “truck gun” for the average Joe? Well who is “average”, and who is “Joe”? If I get to lay definition to the “Truck Gun” term, it would be a light (probably less than 8 pounds) fast handling (no magnum barrels, and muzzle break’s on this one) firearm,in a caliber that you can shoot effectively (that is up to you and your intended want/need), with iron sights (I’m by no means discounting red-dot’s or scopes on this one, im just saying iron’s for back up). Finding a rifle that still has iron sights, is a little like trying to find an honest politician or a fisherman that has a ruler that reads correctly, difficult, but not impossible. Ruger has a coupe that come to mind, namely the M77 compact magnum, and the gunsite scout (both of .308 Win), also viable options are all of the lever guns currently produced (Rossi has quite a few in both pistol and rifle calibers (pistol calibers make a good accompaniment to revolvers in the same caliber), Marlin 336, 1894, and 1895 (once again in pistol and rifle calibers)) But in all honesty these firearms are pretty expensive on the retail market, so why not buy used? The used market is filled with firearms from yesteryear that ware iron sights proudly, and can still be had for only a mild investment. On top of these you have quite a few choices as for “non-traditional” truck guns. When I sold firearms I sold a ton of AR-15 rifles to guys that harvested grain. As their combines cleared paths, they would often raise coyotes. The collapsible stock configuration on a standard AR lends itself well to being tucked behind the seat of a tractor, and to keeping the old farm dog and chickens safe. On top of the AR platform, there are plenty of firearms that can fill the void in your truck gun collection, if price is a major determining factor (like it is for me) then look towards firearms like the Hi-Point 995 (both 10 and 20 round magazines of 9mm, .380, .40 s&w, and .45 acp models available starting at $315), the Kel-Tec SU-16A (accepts standard AR-15 magazines, and it folds down, with a MSRP of around $600) or the Kel-Tec sub-2000 (the rifle folds completely in half  with closed dimensions of 16.25″ x 7″, it comes in 9mm and .40 S&W, and you specify upon ordering which magazine configuration you want. Models are created to accept pistol magazines from the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 or 40, Sig 226 9 or 40, Beretta 92 or 96, or Glock 17,19 or 22,23. That’s a lot of options if you already carry one of those pistols. MSRP of around $500)

Lastly, if you are not a rifle guy, all is not lost, shotguns are a viable option too. A good Remington 870 or a Mossberg 500 will serve most people for most situations. From clay pigeons to real pigeons, and duck’s to deer, a shotgun can really do just about anything with correct loads, remember they call it “riding shotgun” for a reason. In skilled hands a Ruger 10/22 is as viable of an option as anything else. Handy, available, and accurate. (I carry a Henry survival AR-7 for the same purpose, it doesn’t have the magazine capacity of the Ruger, but it does collapse down into 3 parts that can be stored inside the floating stock) If you just don’t want to carry a long gun in your means of transportation at all, but you carry a pistol daily, use that extra space in your “truck” for magazine. If a guy happens to carry a Glock 17 every day, and carries one extra mag on his person, he has 35 rounds (one in the chamber) on him at all times. If you carry eight standard 17 round magazines, and two 33 round magazine (hey, why not!) stashed in your vehicle, you have a total of 237 rounds of available ammo. Even being lost for a month you got a pretty good chance of bringing ammo back with you. The important thing is to have them available to you, but not so available that someone else gets the wise idea to steal them. There are solutions readily available from companies like Tuff Security Products, (they offer under seat security safes that will hold both pistols and Long guns, as well as magazines and valuables) and from Truck Vaults ( same as above, plus console security systems). Given if someone wants whats in the safe bad enough, they will steal the vehicle. But in most instances, if they get into your vehicle, and they can’t get into the safe, they will probably just steal your favorite Lionel Richie CD and that sweet “black Ice” air freshener that you have (what does “black ice” smell like anyways?) that’s what we like to call “averting the smash and grab”. Most importantly, don’t just leave your gun’s in the car, gun deserve to be inside, there are certain circumstances where we are forced to leave them there, but once you return to your house, bring them inside with you. Vehicles are prone to condensation, condensation causes rust, and rust (on a long enough timeline) renders firearms inoperable, not to mention the havoc that it can play with ammunition. What good is a firearm that won’t function, and ammunition that won’t fire? Evenworse if your firearm is stolen, not only do you no longer posess it, but someone no-good criminal now does. Best case scenario: They pawn it. Worst case scenerio:… Well I don’t even want to think about it.  Remember that the purpose of the “truck gun” is to step in at times where your primary arm may not be sufficient, because first and foremost you have to “Keep your herd safe, no matter what the cost.”

-Grant Willoughby 02/25/2017-

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