Riding Shotgun

| April 10, 2015 | 6 Comments

Depending on where you live, you can keep a loaded SBR, PDW, or rifle caliber pistol within easy reach inside of a normal, everyday bag.

One of the many benefits of carrying a pistol version of a rifle caliber weapon is that most states have different laws about carrying a loaded pistol vs a rifle in the passenger area of a car. An AR15 or AK47 pistol may be legal to keep loaded right next to you, whereas a rifle version of either weapon may need to be left unloaded, in a trunk, or both. In the case of Minnesota, the law uses barrel length as a deciding criteria between a rifle and a pistol, which makes for interesting definitions*.

I typically drive a 4-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. I keep my bag directly behind me on the passenger seat. I can grab the bag’s bottom by reaching around to my right. If I need to exit the vehicle, I can quickly grab the bag after opening the passenger door.

I also strongly advocate the use of regular, everyday bags for the regular, everyday carry of vSBR and PDW. These packs blend in where even normal looking purpose built bags do not.

For example, I was pulled over this week because my highway express lane pass did not work properly. My Jeep didn’t trigger the toll transmitter, and a state trooper stopped me. After checking the status of my account and transmitter he let me go.

My .300 Blackout AR15 pistol was behind me the entire time, inside of an ADIDAS Rydell bag.


If I had my pistol inside of this, the trooper and I may have had a different conversation:


If I had a purpose-built “discreet” firearms case and the trooper recognized it, we may have had a different conversation as well.

The idea here is not to fool a law enforcement officer, but to stay discreet. Minnesota is not a duty to inform state, and I believe it is best to avoid firearms discussions whenever possible. The nice trooper that pulled me over may not known the finer points of firearms law, or the legal differences between an AR15 rifle and an AR15 pistol. Why expose yourself to this potential interaction? As many are fond of stating, “concealed is concealed.”

I kept my hands clearly visible at all times, addressed the officer respectfully as “Trooper,” responded appropriately, and verbalized my intentions to move before doing so. Our conversation was professional, brief, and safe.

I also recommend carrying your SBR / PDW with you. The main reason is accessibly to a tool if you need it. I think dedicated truck guns have even a more limited usage window than a bag carried weapon. I also carry a trauma kit with me in the same bag, so that’s nice to have on-hand. An important secondary reason is that taking your weapon with you keeps it from being stolen out of your car. Yes, it’s possible to lose track of a bag, but my Jeep is out of sight for the majority of the day.

Where do you keep your SBR or PDW?

* LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This article may have discussed topics that are legal or illegal in your city, county, state, and/or country. I am not a lawyer, I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice. Please seek legal advice if you have questions about the laws of your area.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

6 Comments on "Riding Shotgun"

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  1. Nathan says:

    Good article.

    Why do you feel dedicated truck guns have such limited use compared to bag carried guns?

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi! Great question. I am only in my car for about an hour a day. If needed, going to a car and back is not only impractical but in some states (such as mine) it would fail to satisfy the duty to retreat and reluctant participant requirements for self defense.

      A bag gun in a car is still available in the car, but a car gun is not available when I am not in the car.

      Everyone’s situation is different, but those are my thoughts.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. wilsonhines says:

    I have a custom built AR-15 pistol built from a “transferred Receiver.” In other words, it was not transferred as a pistol or a rifle. I have a Form 1 which is currently being processed. I keep a copy of my shrunk and laminated ATF 4473 transfer form in my bag.

    North Carolina law is very loose and easy going, but our CCW law does throw a modest trick our way. The CCW law only covers pistols. Not rifles and not knives. If you have an SBR, well, it’s a Rifle by NFA definition. You cannot conceal that purposefully. With that being said, in NC, they aren’t going to say anything to you if they ask, “Hey, what’s under that blanket in the backseat?” and your answer is “a rifle” or “a SBR” or whatever. They aren’t going to say anything to you if it’s in the trunk either, because that’s locked up. It would take a jerk of a cop to mess with you on having that rifle in the backseat covered, because it’s not very readily available.

    Now, what this means for carrying like you do with an SBR AK or AR in your bag is that it would, indeed, be illegal. That’s why when my Form 1 stamp gets back, I have another lower I will be using on a 7.5″ upper, which will be a pistol, for use in that bag.

    Generally speaking, I go back and forth from keeping my bag in the trunk 50% of the time or keeping it sitting vertical behind me in the driver’s side backseat, with my laptop bag in front of it.

    Monday, in a bomb-threat to a Walgreens whereas I was in a Starbucks only 100 yards away, we were asked to evacuate. I opened the top of my bag, locked a round in the chamber, and put the sling on my QD Endplate, placed the bag in the front seat, put my S&W pistol in the perfect-fit cup holder by the gear stick, and got out of Dodge asap. The reason I did that was because it is a very large parking lot and the congestion was understandably crazy with a lot of people walking around trying to leave. I never knew who could walk up to me in my car and demand to have their get-away vehicle, if the bomb-threat were legit, which thankfully, it was not.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      I did a little research in how North Carolina defines firearms and you are definitely not allowed to carry a rifle or shotgun on the CCW permit. After reading most of the laws in NC, I was surprised to find that they are far more restrictive than where I live now — which is surprising.

      • wilsonhines says:

        NC vs MN: it does strike me that MN is more loose. That being said, you don’t find the stark-raving idiocy in NC lawmen as you find in many states regarding weapons. It’s hard to explain, but basically, as long as you keep your mouth polite and don’t act funny, your good to go. I imagine, I would not put those laws to test in, for example, Charlotte or even Raleigh. But, in more rural cities, we’re still in the South.

  3. B R KURTZ B R KURTZ says:

    Well lets just say there are cops and then there are cops. If I had seen your “gun bag”, I would have wanted to talk ABOUT GUNS; but I can assure you most of the officers I work with wouldnt have recognized your commercially available “gun bag” because most cops in Merry Land arent gun guys. Sadly though, if they did you could expect to be talking to a drawn pistol, or at least waiting till I got there to tell the officer to bother real criminals.

    So yeah I very much DO like conventional bags. I also think you need to have an assortment of bags to fit the occasion (ask your wife or girlfriend why she has so many purses). I use “day packs”, messenger bags, and old school brief cases, depending where Im headed. Sure theres some overlap; but mostly each has its place and its best to coordinate the bag with your personal attire. Just as leather brief case looks out of place with jeans but correct with a suit. So too does a comic book super hero logo pack fit in at the mall when I with my kids.

    Enjoy the shopping, now you and your girlfriend can both have something to shop for and remember no white before Labor day………

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