Justification for Packable AR15 Pistols in Vehicles
Major Pandemic 05.08.17
Just a few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the idea of having a packable AR15 pistol tucked in my vehicle, although I have kept a cased AR15 or Tavor in the truck for years. More times than I can remember, that rifle came in handy during impromptu range trips plus the assurance 30 rounds of 5.56 can provide when you are stranded at night alongside the road. It also gave me personal assurance that I would have more than just a handgun in an extended survival or personal defense situation with the ability to place high precision shots under 100 yards and connect assuredly out to 400+ yards if needed.
The Potential Need
Discussing my ideas with a few folks who have been there and done that, I began gaming out a few potential theories. Beyond zombie apocalypse type events, there only a couple logically probable scenarios which could occur:
- Personal defense and security during an active shooter situation
- General support of survival and security needs (such as being stranded or coming home to forced-entry situation)
- Support of movement to a safe location during a hostile/riot situation
- … and of course an unlikely situation where everything goes to hell and you need a weapon (EMPs, Solar Flares, invasion, zombies…etc)
In any other immediate threat situation, the speed and reaction time would require your smaller concealed pistol to come into play first. The logical needs were for a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) which could deliver 90% of the capabilities of a full-length rifle with an acceptable tradeoff of shooter comfort. Naturally, accuracy, legal transportation, accessibility, maneuverability, and concealment would all be factors for a firearm stowed within a vehicle.
Though I was a little sore afterwards, I did spend an afternoon hammering 500 rounds through my truck AR15 pistol. The problem-free beatdown of that AR15 pistol drastically changed my perception of AR15 pistols in just one afternoon. The PDW can bring the firepower. I would gladly suffer a little discomfort for a gun that’s a foot shorter and 2-3 pounds lighter.
Accuracy and Shooting
Over the last couple years I have changed my perspective of AR15 pistols from just range toys to serious viable PDWs. The accuracy of these little AR15 pistols has shocked me. One particular AR15 pistol gave me sub-MOA groups from its 7.5” match barrel. Yes, it will outshoot most rack grade rifles. Most of my other AR15 pistols with premium match barrels can stay well inside a 1.5” 100-yard group and will keep my 6” steel target clanging away all the way out to 400 yards with ease.
The pace at which these little pistols can lay down precision hits is pretty amazing to the degree that I have questioned whether a full-sized rifle would really give me that more of an advantage over a PDW for use in, around, and out of a vehicle.
If we look at the reality of most urban combat shooting engagements, they occur statistically well under 100 yards which is a sweet spot for a short accurate PDW. Statistically it is unlikely that any more than 10 to 20 rounds would ever be needed, but the PDW can still supply plenty of firepower with a 30 or 40-round mag. Four or five extra mags thrown into the carry bag adds substantial firepower capability.
From very light 40-grain high shock hollow points to M855 steel-core rounds, the 5.56/223 offers a lot of options for defense, survival, and threat engagement. It is also statistically unlikely to have a need for supporting a long term armed engagement, but again the PDW can still handle that requirement as well.
One of the most important points as a civilian is ensuring you are arming yourself in a legal manner. If you have a rifle stowed in your car, that can be problematic as you drive from one city to another or across state lines. Many cities and states have goofy rifle laws which can include requirements for rifles to be partially disassembled and cased and almost always unloaded.
Conversely, if you have a concealed carry permit, an AR15 pistol is covered under your permit because it’s a pistol, not a rifle. Unless you are purposefully doing something illegal or demonstrating how easy it is to shoulder a Sig Brace in front of the police, having a loaded AR15 pistol is just as legal as the handgun on your hip. I would suggest referring to it as a “legal AR format pistol” rather than just an AR15 if questioned. The point here is that in many cases having an AR15 pistol instead of a rifle can prevent unintentionally breaking the law should your rifle not fit the widely varying locals regarding stowage for rifles.
Having a legally stowed, cased, and unloaded full sized AR15 rifle in the back of the vehicle is a viable concept, but accessibility to that gun to put it into action fast is another matter altogether. It hardly seems a sound idea to have an accessible loaded AR15 rifle on the front seat of your vehicle with a blanket over for concealment. You’ll likely get arrested.
On the other hand, a concealed carry license allows loaded pistols to be concealed, on the person or within a vehicles or in personal belongings. It would seem that if the need arose, putting a legally stowed, loaded and accessible AR15 pistol in a backpack in the front seat would be far faster than walking around to the trunk, opening it, unzipping the rifles case, and loading the rifle.
Maneuvering a rifle inside a vehicle is tough and most would agree that a short AR15 pistol is more useful. Thinking through a multitude of situations that could occur on the road. My theory is that it would be preferable to have a short maneuverable AR15 pistol if facing a survival situation or stranded roadside camping inside a vehicle.
For clearing between or around vehicles or another urban environment, a shorter AR15 pistol would also seem to be the better tool than a rifle.
Stowing, Concealment, and Movement
Though legality is a big issue, being able to discreetly move with an AR15 pistol may be the biggest advantage of all. There is no way even a disassembled rifle is going to slip into a standard sized backpack. If you need to move with your rifle outside of your vehicle it is going to be obvious you are carrying a rifle around. A 10.5”-barreled AR15 pistol equipped with a folding buffer tube adapter or stowed with the upper and lowers receivers unpinned slips nicely into any standard backpack or messenger bag and no one will know. A 7.5”-barreled AR15 pistol with folding stock can fit into pretty much any smaller pack.
It is my belief that any firearm stored in a vehicle should be easily concealed, and when you’re in a public area should only be moved clandestinely to avoid drawing attention to what you’ve got.
Two events come to mind: One situation where my truck needed unexpected overnight service due to an accident and another where the hotel only offered valet parking. In both situations, I had to de-weaponize my truck and walk through some public areas with what was clearly a gun case. Those incidents taught me that discreet cases should always be used to house firearms in vehicles even if it is just one of those non-tactical square soft cases.
A similar situation occurred more recently when I forgot to remove my firearms from my truck before a routine oil change, but I was able to grab the backpack containing my AR15 pistol and backup Glock 17 and walk over to the coffee shop to wait without anyone taking a second look. A standard AR15 rifle is just not going to give you that option unless it is disassembled and in a more discreet case.
A simple two-point sling or a convertible ALG Defense Quad Dual QD sling offers a carry option, which enhances both concealment and handling. If “it” did happen during a hostile situation where LEO and government officials were on high alert and you had to trek back home on foot, it would be much better to have a little PDW AR15 pistol concealed and slung under a long rain jacket than walking home with a rifle slung over your shoulder.
Discreet Vehicle Carry Options
The discreet carry Sneaky Bags are a wonderful option with plenty of internal tactical storage capabilities. The medium 31” SPYDER sling bag, which looks like a modified tennis racket bag, can conceal several firearms at once, but the weight starts to add up. The standard Sneaky 31” SPYDER bag can accommodate a variety of firearms, for example: a Tavor bullpup rifle, a PWS MOD2 pistol PDW, nearly any assembled 12” barreled SBR or AR15 pistol, and dis-assembled (upper/lower) rifles. It is a handy and extremely well made case.
AR15 pistols of course easily drop into almost any backpack and no one pays any attention to your standard backpack. 5.11’s Select Carry sling pack is designed specifically for PDW use. It has a innocuous shape/style and rapid draw feature that makes it one of my favorites for my Sig MPX 9mm and other AR15 pistols.
Accessories to Make Compact Even Smaller
If you own an AR15 pistol you are missing half of the functionality of the firearm if you have not installed a Law Tactical Folding Buffer tube adapter. This accessory negates the need of disassembling an AR15 pistol to stow it in most backpacks. Deployment is fast: pull from the pack, slam the buffer tube over, charge the AR15 pistol, and shoot. This is a setup that can deploy instantly from any discreet bag when “it” hits the fan. If you are considering an AR15 pistol for your vehicle, then this would be a must-have accessory from my perspective.
The DOLOS V2 also chops an AR15 pistol down even smaller. The DOLOS has a ratcheting quick takedown option to remove the barrel, with assembly and disassembly occurring in less than 5 seconds. The DOLOS V2 is compatible with any Midwest Industries thread pattern barrel nut handguard–which it turns out is pretty common.
Combined with the Law Tactical folding Buffer tube adapter, the DOLOS can become a 10”x8” AR15 pistol (7.5” barrel) package that will fit in most iPad sling packs such as the Drago Sentry and most small sling packs. The shown build features a 7.5” pencil profile Black Hole Weaponry match barrel, Aero Precision receivers, Phase 5 Tactical Hex2 buffer tube, Sig Brace, Nikon 3X BDC optic, and DOLOS adapter with Brigand Arms carbon fiber handguard. This is a 400-yard headshot capable rig that brakes down to only 10”x8” with a 20-round magazine in place ready to party.
Don’t Push the Law
Any firearm within a vehicle has a high potential to be viewed, handled, and checked during any routine traffic stop. It is my belief that most law enforcement folks are tragically uninformed about what is legal when it comes to anything other than classically-sized rifle or pistols. I have had more than a few LEO folks ask me if my Tavor or an AR15 pistol was an SBR.
We all know AR15 pistols are legally just pistols, but if you are pulled over and searched, I would bet that fewer than 50% of police would have the knowledge to clearly identify your legal AR15 pistol as a pistol; hassle initiated.
Additionally, if your AR15 also looks like an SBR with something a non-firearms-educated officer presumes as a stock, you can double the hassle. Sure, Sig Braces are legal, but this is where I suggest a standard buffer tube might be a less-grey option to help avoid extra hassle. Notably with the buffer tube extension the Law Tactical Folding Adapter provides, I would submit that shooting configuration to be so comfortable that a Sig Brace is not required.
Rifles in Vehicles Are Out — PDWs Are in
I had a series of discussions with some badass military, LEO, and security folks who were convinced that PDWs were the more-correct choice for a vehicle-based firearm vs a full sized rifle. Sorting through those discussions, the main re-emphasized points were compact size, firepower, 0-100 yard accuracy/lethality, maneuverability, stowed concealment, and the ability to move with the weapon discreetly when not in play.
From my perspective, the AR15 pistol meets those needs perfectly. One of my friends said it well: “If you are going to war a rifle is preferred, but for shots that might be fired in, around, and from a vehicle or just for personal defense, a faster-handling compact SBR, PDW, or AR15 pistol is tough to beat.”
After a whole lot of shooting, I like the compromise of a 10.5”-barreled AR15 pistol. It has an exponentially quieter bark and fireball and provides a bit more velocity than a 7.5” barrel, and it gives the shooter more room to stretch out. My new favorite factory AR15 pistol is the PWS MOD2 MK107 AR15 Pistol with Maxim Defense Adjustable Cheek Rest. It’s truly an amazing firearm that packs beautifully in the Sneaky Bags SPYDER.
Since I do not want a $2500 (including the Vortex optic) firearm potentially stolen from my truck, I opted for parting together a couple AR15 pistols. The his and hers Pandemic Truck guns are both based on Faxon ultralight 10.5” barrels, Faxon matched headspaced BCGs. My wife’s pistol features an Aero Precision upper, YHM Quick Pull Take-Down Pins, ALG handguard, Rogers Rail light, Burris 3X 332 prismatic sight, Black Rain lower receiver, Mega Arms trigger, and Paracord wrapped extended KAK pistol buffer tube, which extends the “cheek weld” for my wife. We call this the Trump Trunk Gun, since Trump likes everything gold plated–maybe minus the tiger stripe.
My truck pistol uses a Clark Carbon Fiber handguard, Rogers Rail light, Nikon 1-4 scope, Aero Precision optic mount, YHM Quick Pull Take-Down Pins, Aero Precision upper, a billet lower, CMC Match trigger, Law Tactical Folding Buffer Tube Adapter, buffer tube.