6 Tips for Transporting Survival Guns

6 Tips for Transporting Survival Guns
The author recommends


Best survival guns

Best Survival Guns for Travel
Instead of a handgun, the author suggests keeping a long gun as your designated in-vehicle survival weapon.


When sudden disaster strikes, where will you be? No one can be sure. Add the additional variables such as whether the disaster will be more or less localized in nature (fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, unknown localized disorder) or one that is national (economic collapse) and you realize daily preparedness is crucial.

There is a very strong likelihood that you and your family won’t be at home near your stored provisions and SHIP (Shelter In Place) protection when it happens. I spend more than 80 percent of my waking hours at least an hour away from home on any given day. Getting back home from work in the event of sudden disaster requires forethought and preparedness than just packing an off-duty or concealed carry handgun. The locale and habits of the population you will need to travel through to get home will dictate just how much gear you will need in your vehicle with you daily.

For 32 years there hasn’t been a day I left home without an off-duty handgun. Until I joined our SWAT team at the Union County sheriff’s office, a handgun, a reload or two, a cutting tool, a less-lethal weapon and a small flashlight was all I felt I needed.

Ten years ago I was right, but not today. While on the team I carried my M4 carbine, sniper rifle and call-out gear in my car on a daily basis, and haven’t been without a rifle in my vehicle since. I still keep a similar response kit in my car as I am on 24-hour call status with the Baltimore PD. Law enforcement everywhere now views a long gun as our primary off-duty gun, with the handgun as backup.

Prepared cops and law-abiding civilians taking the same view must ensure that when they carry long guns in their vehicles they are in compliance with the local, state or federal laws applicable to their jurisdiction.

In addition to legal compliance, consider the following tips for transporting survival guns:

1.  Unless you keep your vehicle VERY close at hand, you should have the long gun securely locked in the trunk, with an additional locking mechanism that can actually be bolted to the body of the car or truck-such as those available from Santa Cruz Gunlocks.

2.  Don’t display any firearms-related decals on your car.  It’s like sticking a “Help Yourself to My Guns” sign on it.

3. How quickly can the weapon you selected safely be brought into action from a loaded or unloaded condition? This must be practiced.

4.  If the gun is kept in your vehicle long term, what are the maintenance requirements?

5.  Any electronic device on the weapon can fail or pose other risks. A nearby agency lost a SWAT vehicle and gear when a weapon’s light was bumped into the “on” position in the case, causing the vehicle to catch fire. Save electronic devices for home-based SHIP guns.

6.  Don’t use an expensive or irreplaceable long gun as your travel gun. It shouldn’t break your bank or heart if stolen. At the low end of expense and magazine capacity but at the high end of reliability and intimidation are pump shotguns. A fine example is the 12-gauge Mossberg 590A1 with a collapsible buttstock. The collapsed stock takes up less room than a standard stock model, and its Mil-Spec reliability is legendary.

DPMS Panther Lite M4-style Carbine
The author recommends this DPMS Panther Lite M4-style carbine as one of the best survival guns to keep in your vehicle.

Prefer a higher round capacity? A direct impingement AR-15 with military-style iron sights and a carry sling is hard to beat.

Two good examples are the value priced Del-ton Alpha 220H, 20-inch, full-size AR-15 A2-style rifle, and the 16-inch Panther Lite M4-style carbine by DPMS. Quality is high on both and neither will monopolize your funds. Both can mount a bayonet.

Keep these rifles clear of add-ons so they can be brought into action without turning anything on, adjusting anything else, and focusing on something other than your threat. The full size Del-ton rifle allows the 55-grain 5.56mm round to work to its full ballistic potential.

The Sporter Rifle from IO firearms is an AK variant that is value priced, reliable in the extreme and very smooth handling if you favor the Kalishnikov pattern.

If you live in an area that forbids semi-autos rifles, you could consider a lever-action gun such as the Marlin Model 1894 in .357 Magnum/.38 Special. Lever guns were the first assault rifles, and the 1894 is powerful with low recoil and holds ten rounds in the magazine tube.

Depending on where you live and work, you may or may not want or need to incorporate a long gun into your daily travel plans. That is up to you. If you do, make sure you stay focused on the issues of legality, safety, weapon security and practice.

What are the Best Survival Guns?

What are the best survival guns?
What are the best survival guns? Find out in Mel Tappen's Survival Guns book.

When Mel Tappen wrote Survival Guns in 1979, he set out to answer that very question. Since then, the book has reached classic status. Whether you're looking for an urban survival gun or something for the wilderness, Survival Guns is required reading.

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  1. Scott – I want one of the AR15 U wrote about – 16-inch Panther Lite M4 Style carbine by DPMS or A;pha 220H.
    (PROBLEM)…. My dealer can’t find a sourse. Can U help????

  2. Good advice! Although I don’t entirely agree with the author about not having a weaponlight and/or optic available on your long gun. Both will significantly increase its effectiveness. Most tactical style flashlights can be disabled by simply unscrewing the tailcap partway, thereby preventing an accidental activation…especially if it’s kept in a good protective case as it should be! (The Surefire G2X Tactical is an excellent example of a reliable & extremely durable weapon mountable flashlight that can be easily disabled, counted upon to work when you need it and that won’t break the bank!) As for the optic, there are many good options. A modern Aimpoint will work for 3-5 years on a single battery, depending on the model, and they are superbly reliable. A low powered variable scope is also a good choice. Even models with illuminated reticles (HIGHLY recommended) will work just fine even with the battery is dead, and the magnification can help with precise shot placement & target identification.

    Some other firearm options that you may want to consider, especially if you frequent areas controlled by anti-gun political regimes, are rifles like the Ruger Scout Rifle. It’s a bolt-action .308 with a 16″ barrel, laminated stock, 10rd detachable box magazine, superb iron sights & provisions to mount either a conventional or long-eye relief ‘scout’ scope. As far as I know it is legal pretty much everywhere in the U.S.. Ruger’s Mini series of rifles–the Mini-14 in .223/5.56 or 6.8SPC & the Mini-30 in 7.62x39mm Russian–are also good defensive choices that are far more ‘PC’ than the AR15 or especially the AKM! (Yes, I hate ‘political correctness’ as much as you do, but I hate being arrested by some jackass who doesn’t like my gun even worse!) Leave it in its original configuration. Adding a pistol grip or a collapsible/folding stock defeats the whole ‘PC’ purpose. If it has a wooden stock, that’s even better. (For some stupid reason wooden stocks are considered far less ‘evil’ than black plastic by hoplophobes.) Also, with a car gun, stainless steel is your friend. Stainless steel with a good protective coating, such as Ceracoat, is even better!

    A Kel-tec Su-16 in .223/5.56–which uses standard AR15/M16 magazines–makes a good rifle for this purpose as well, and it folds in the middle making it even easier to slip into a daypack unnoticed. Kel-tec’s pistol caliber Sub-2000 series carbines, available in both 9mm & .40S&W, fold into a compact package that’s only 16’1″ long, are very lightweight, extremely reliable and can be had set-up to use either Glock, Beretta, S&W or Sig Sauer pistol magazines. (The Beretta & especially the Glock versions are by far the most common.) A Sub-2000, matching pistol, spare mags, light & good knife will easily fit into a small daypack or even a briefcase. I have a friend in Boise who keeps a locked briefcase set-up with these contents in his office at all times, along with a similarly stocked ‘Care Bears’ school backpack in his car. (Seriously, if YOU were trying to steal a gun, would you look in the pink ‘Care Bears’ backpack? Most thieves wouldn’t either. It’s very effective camouflage!)

    • All excellent points, and adding quality lights and quality optics are always a possibility. When I was on my former agencies SRT Team, I carried my entry M4 outfitted like this, with Aimpoint, laser and weapons light attached. I found that with the variations in temperature throughout the Ohio year, that I was losing battery power, and that the weapon took more attention to detail because of the electronics. Now my response rifles for my current PD, for active shooter and variable situations are both full size AR’s, with no other attachments. Just my preference now, especially since we have no SWAT team and the response tactics.
      Care Bear camoflage method is a great idea. Sort of like keeping my notebook computer in a Bible case-also a reduced chance of thievery.
      Thanks again for your excellent thoughts.


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