Let me start by saying that it is your responsibility to know the gun laws of your state and how those laws relate to carrying a firearm in your vehicle. If in doubt, do your research!
For the purposes of this article, I define a carbine as a short rifle with an 18-inch or shorter barrel. The stock may be fixed, collapsible or of folding design. I do not limit this discussion only to semi-auto actions, as you soon will discover.
So why carry a carbine in a vehicle? Because anything I can do with a handgun I can do better with a short rifle. Another reason: I just plain admire and love carbines.
In a vehicle, I have limited space in which to move. If I must fight or defend myself from within or around my mode of transportation, the ability to move with ease can become challenging with all but pistol or carbine. I give myself a huge advantage with the extended barrel length, stock weld to my shoulder and sight radius the carbine offers. Plus, in most cases there is a greater distance and accuracy capability in part due to the high velocity rifle cartridges of most carbines.
There are countless applications for a carbine when it comes to a survival situation. So in my estimation, the carbine has a place in every single vehicle I own. I have carried a carbine for decades while traveling roadways in this country. (I currently reside in a western state that has no law prohibiting a long gun, loaded and accessible, inside the car.)
With all the above in mind, let’s take a look at some possible choices for carbine carry in a vehicle.
1. Trapper model lever action.
Between various manufacturers (Winchester, Henry and Rossi, to mention a few), there are many caliber choices here, including the 357 and 44 Magnum. My choice in the past was the old, trusted 30-30. In the short Trapper model (16-inch barrel), this little lever gun is ideal for carry inside a vehicle. It is also very flat-sided, making it quite simple 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 200-300 yards. If there is a downside to this package, it’s the tubular magazine capacity of five rounds in the 30-30 cartridge.
2. 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.
The “pistol” does come with an ATF compliant letter stating the arm brace is for arm support to the pistol, thereby not requiring a NFA permit due to the short barrel length. 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 makes these systems ideal for vehicle carry. My condolences to citizens of those states who are under such extreme government regulation that you are not allowed standard magazines for your own defense!
3. M1 30 carbine
This carbine platform 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. It has seen 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.
4. Kel-Tec Sub2000
Moving into a pistol cartridge in a short carbine (16.25-inch barrel), it would be hard to argue of the maneuverability and ease of access this little package offers. Standard offering is 9mm and 40 S&W. The Sub-2000 uses Glock magazines and consequently will accept the extended 33-round 9mm and the 22-round 40 S&W versions. Another handy 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.
5. Kel-Tec CMR-30
Another innovative offering from Kel-Tec is the CMR-30 in 22 Magnum (16-inch barrel). This hot little rim-fire cartridge has been used over the years for everything from bringing in the camp meat to self-defense. I like the CMR-30 because the stock system telescopes flush with the back of the receiver. It comes standard with a 30-round box magazine. Aside from a great vehicle carry gun, if you are thinking survival, couple this with the Kel-Tec PMR-30, the accompanying pistol that takes the same mag, and you have an excellent survival package.
As I previously stated, this is a short list of carbine options available. I do have personal experience with each of the above listed platforms and know they carry well inside a vehicle. Bottom line: Carbine carry in my everyday transportation is the rule, not the exception.
What would you add to the list? Delete from it? Share your firearm advice in the section below: