Low Profile Travel Guns – A Prudent Idea

I’m about to embark on a rather long road trip across the country. It’s not necessarily desirable, but a must-have. Without sharing too many details, my end destination is not a very good place, it has high crime, high population density, and I’ll be there for several days. Knowing the area’s problems and the danger of being an out-of-towner, I’m not going unarmed. I’m bringing a good concealed-carry firearm as well as a travel gun. I commonly bring a long gun on long trips just in case, but I’ve changed the nature of the firearm I bring along. These days I pack a low profile travel gun. 

I can’t remember where I heard the idea from or from who I heard it, but it stuck with me. If you know, let us know, and I’ll gladly give credit. The idea is that when traveling, especially on long trips, a good long gun is quite valuable to have. However, depending on where you’re going, the long gun you pack might vary. 

Obviously, we comply with the law, and we know certain states have feelings about ARs, standard capacity magazines, and all that anti-gun BS. That certainly forces you into using something a little lower profile than your average modern rifle. However, what if it’s not the law you’re dealing with but a perception? 

The Low Profile Travel Gun 

Put yourself in the shoes of a police officer. You might not be personally anti-gun. Hell, you might be pro-gun or have never really thought in depth about it. You run across an out-of-state driver packing an AR-15, loaded mags, and all the gadgets and gizmos you could ever want. It certainly looks suspicious. You’re not breaking the law and will likely drive away without issue, but it doesn’t mean you might not get held up about it. 

On the flip side, let’s say you have to use your weapon in a defensive situation, far from home. Imagine the potential blowback. Look at how the Rittenhouse situation turned out. There were certainly a host of issues to address, but the fact he carried an AR wrongly described as an assault rifle was the subject of much gnashing of teeth. 

Modern weaponry, covered in all that scary black furniture and rails, might draw the wrong kind of attention. A low profile travel gun can still be a capable tool, but it defies perception. You and I likely recognize that most gun control is essentially about cosmetics, and we want to defy those cosmetics. 

What’s the Low Profile Travel Gun Look Like? 

In my mind, the best low profile travel gun looks like a sporting gun. Some people picture an old man carrying in the deer stand every fall. Wood certainly helps, as does the lack of vertical pistol grips, rials, and whatnot. 

Lever guns are certainly an excellent choice, as are some pump and semi-auto shotguns. My preferred model is a Winchester 1300 Deer Slug gun. It’s a smooth-bore shotgun with a 22-inch barrel and rifle sights positioned on the barrel. It holds five rounds of 2.75-inch shells, and that’s often more than enough for defensive work. Another great choice would be the Mossberg 940 Pro-Turkey guns with their semi-auto actions and red dot-ready configurations. 

A Henry lever gun in .357 Magnum or even .44 Magnum would be a solid choice. They tend to be lighter, and the cowboy association certainly makes them fairly low profile for the environment. 

I would avoid guns that might be somewhat easy to misunderstand. The Mossberg Shockwave, for example, appears to many to be a sawn-off shotgun due to its ultrashort barrel. We know it’s not a shotgun, but not everyone might. The same might go for anything with a brace. The ATF can’t make laws, but if you have one, it might be you hung up. 

Travel Onwards 

This whole thing might seem silly to some and potentially a bit paranoia-like to others. It might even irk some readers. However, I like to travel, and I like to keep things somewhat low profile. A sporting shotgun is still a powerful and capable tool, even if it looks like Grandpa’s deer slayer. If I’m staying overnight in an environment I don’t know, in an Airbnb, I’m not just relying on my P365 in case something goes bump in the night. 

Driving with out-of-state tags is a great way to get some unwanted attention, and I want to avoid that attention if my trunk gets opened, or lord forbid I have to use my firearm defensively. That’s just like, my opinion, man. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.