I travel a great deal on the open highways of the western states. As a retired Peace Officer, I have the required permits to make it perfectly legal to carry a gun while I do this. You will never get me to condone carrying guns when it is in any way illegal. There are many laws that are nonsensical, but I have a citizen’s duty to obey them—and exercise the citizen’s right to vote to change them. At the outset of this discussion, please understand that when the laws of your state do not allow carrying as a motorist, the rest of what I have to say is moot.
So what is an ideal list of characteristics for a gun that stays in the car (or, in my case, truck)? Usually, the threat to a motorist is carjacking, which is probably most common in our major cities. Latter-day highwaymen sometimes stop cars in order to rob the occupants of money, jewelry or other valuables or steal the car. Guns are their favorite tools to accomplish this and, in my book, that means they qualify for armed response.
Like most criminal attacks, a carjacking is likely to be very sudden and unexpected. To defense such an onslaught, you have to respond with instantaneous, overwhelming force. If you are interested in making preparations for this eventuality, I would suggest you consider Clint Smith’s Vehicle Defense course at Thunder Ranch. In a week, he will make you aware of the tactics and techniques of fighting from behind the steering wheel of your own car. The question is with what?
Almost any decent handgun in a properly powerful caliber will do, but my experience at Thunder Ranch caused me to re-think my position on armament. Even inside the spacious cab of a big GMC, your movements are somewhat restricted. For that reason, I would not choose a really big handgun. A longer firearm might get all tangled up in seat belts, etc. Short and powerful is a good way to go. And because you might be forced to shoot with the gun all cockeyed in your hand, it seems to me that a revolver, which is not sensitive to limp wristing, is a better way to go. That’s an opinion.