There are few things we love in this great country more than our trucks, but guns qualify. So if you’ve got the one, it’s borderline un-American not to have the other hanging in the back window. Plus, if you spend any amount of time riding around on hunting property or a ranch, it won’t be long before you come across something that needs shooting.
For some people, a good truck gun is just the cheapest, handiest one you can get your hands on—maybe a used H&R single-shot that gets stashed in the truck box or behind the seat until a coyote scurries across the two-track. Real cowboys like a short lever-action .30/30 that can trade from truck to saddle scabbard. An AR will get folks’ attention, but that’s more of a liability than a plus when you have to replace it and your busted back window.
To me, a dedicated truck gun must be compact and quick-handling first and foremost, and have a proven track record for putting up with life off the pavement. It should also be quiet and capable of taking small game and varmints at long range, as well as bigger critters close-up in a pinch. And yet, it should not be overly tempting to thieves. With all of these criteria in mind, I have assembled the ultimate truck gun. It may look a little tame on the surface, but that’s by design—and it’s packing a few surprises.
MSRP: $979 ($400–$500 used)
Ruger’s M77/22 has several key advantages over other truck guns. It’s a bolt action, so it’s inherently accurate and jam-free. Short and compact, the M77/22 is faster out of the truck than a fireman. And it’s easy to reload thanks to a six-round detachable rotary magazine that’s flush with the bottom of the gun, so it won’t snag on the upholstery or catch the steering wheel when it’s put into action, and it won’t teeter-totter when rested over the hood, either.
Maybe the greatest attribute of this walnut-stocked workhorse is that it doesn’t throw a lot of flash from a rear-window rack. Even the dumbest thieves aren’t apt to risk jail for what appears to be a beater rifle.
MSRP: $39 for 50
The centerfire .22 Hornet cartridge sends a 35-grain pill at 3100 fps, making it a great coyote, rabid-skunk, or vermin gun out to 300 yards. It was introduced in 1930, and its minimal recoil, long-range lethality, and ability to be reloaded made it popular with yesteryear’s ranchers; it deserves a revival today. With only 750 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, the Hornet is not a cartridge for deer or big game. Using heavier bullets like Winchester’s Super-X 45-grain jacketed soft points, however, the Hornet can put down feral hogs at close range.
Sitting pretty atop the rig is a Leupold HOG 1–4x20mm scope that won’t break the bank nor break down over miles of potholes and cattle guards. Although this model is marketed for hunting hogs, it’s ideal for general-purpose work in a variety of lighting conditions, and it’s well matched with the .22 Hornet’s capabilities. The scope’s Pig Plex reticle features a circled crosshair and vertical hashes for precise holdovers and wind drifts. Keep it at 4X for medium- and long-range shots; turn it to 1X for aggressive hogs and snakes that slither too close. The 20mm objective lens is compact, yet plenty bright. Most important, this optic gives you Leupold’s unwavering quality for under $300.
MSRP: $755, with installation (plus $200 BATF suppressor stamp)
Here’s the real secret to my tack-driving truck gun. The heavy-contoured, 22-inch tube looks like a bull barrel from Ruger’s factory. But it’s actually a combination barrel and silencer. Made and installed by SRT Arms of Arizona, the baffled barrel sleeve reduces the Hornet’s crack to a buzz. That means it won’t cause any livestock to crash through a fence, and it won’t alarm the new neighbors from Chicago, and you won’t need to grab your hearing protection along with the gun. You won’t need it.
The Cheek Pad
This cheek pad from Blackhawk raises the stock’s comb for a perfect, accuracy-enhancing cheek weld when using a scope. Plus, shell loops and a zippered pouch keep ammo at your fingertips and a spare magazine handy without having to root around in your console. (I’ve seen your console.)
Finally, though it has nothing to do with a cheek pad, it’s worth noting that while an inexpensive window rack like the one in the photo above is classic, I recommend a Big Sky BSR overhead rack that costs $70. It will suspend your ultimate truck gun out of sight of would-be thieves. Yes, you may appear borderline un-American to some, but you and I will know the truth.