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Old April 23, 2011, 05:43 PM   #1
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New Car / Small Trunk

I've been thinking about buying a new car, something on the sportier side.

The one question I have is this -->
[Note: I live in New Jersey]
What if the trunk of the car is too small to carry a rifle case? Can I then put the rifle in the back seat assuming it was locked in a hardside container (like a Pelican case)? [Since NJ doesn't allow collapsible stocks, my AR-style rifle is pretty long.]

Assume for the moment that the car is a Mustang or similar -- i.e. it would be very easy for me to reach the back seat from the driver's seat so there'd be no way to put the rifle case 'out of reach'.

I know the answers I get will not be useful in a court of law... I'm just wondering if anyone has had to deal with this before and what the issues are.

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Old April 23, 2011, 06:16 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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Do you have a specific car in mind that actually has a trunk small enough that a rifle won't fit? A mustang certainly has a trunk large enough that any normal rifle in a normal case will fit EASILY. I mean E-A-S-I-L-Y. I can't think of a car that won't fit a rifle case in the trunk. They might exist, but I can't think of one. My uncle had a Ford Festiva that had the smallest trunk I've probably ever seen and it fit a rifle case.
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Old April 23, 2011, 06:35 PM   #3
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Most trunks are bigger than they look. One rifle case shouldn't be much of a problem. Definitely fit check before you sign on the dotted line.
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Old April 23, 2011, 06:47 PM   #4
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My 1720 Pelican case has the following exterior dimensions: 44.37" x 16.00" x 6.12"

The trunk for the 2011 Mustang is as follows:
As you can see from the pics (see link above, then scroll down to where you see this text), the basic opening is 40" wide at the bottom / 37.5" at the top and 11" high. Just beyond the opening there is maybe 1/2-1" more height to the bottom of cross brace.

The narrowest spot between the side panels in the trunk at the top (can see in pics) is 34". But as the other guy said, the trunk floor drops off around 7" beyond the base of the seat and with a seat back angle of 70Deg...
Maybe I can fit a soft sided case no larger than the rifle itself to save a few inches, and also put the rifle in at an angle, though I'm not sure it will work.

Last edited by jg0001; April 23, 2011 at 07:21 PM.
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Old April 23, 2011, 10:47 PM   #5
Eagle Eye
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Porsche 944 -- no trunk. It is a hatchback design with fold down kiddie seats. The rear is reachable with long arms. The rifle is in a case....I don't think LEO would give me a hard time if I am doing nothing else illegal (related to fire arms).
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Old April 23, 2011, 11:21 PM   #6
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Exactly how does the state law read?

My guess would be that the intent is simply to ensure that the driver can't grab a gun and shoot a traffic cop. If the case is locked, that should do it. (At least, that's the way the FOPA law reads.)
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Old April 24, 2011, 11:49 AM   #7
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Pulling out my NJ Gun Law Guide... AND referencing the NJ State Police website...


Shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel, shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances.

The firearm should not be directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the passenger compartment, the firearm and ammunition must be in a locked container other than the vehicle's glove compartment or console.
Hrm... If I read that literally, just keeping it unloaded and in a closed & fastened container (not locked, not in the trunk) is enough. I could have sworn I had been told otherwise... I suppose what concerns me is the 2nd paragraph. For my SUV, putting the rifle way in the back is well out of reach from the front row of seats, if not the second. However, this wouldn't apply to a Mustang... which DOES have a separate compartment, but it may not be big enough.
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Old April 24, 2011, 04:30 PM   #8
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Most trunks are bigger than they look. One rifle case shouldn't be much of a problem.
+1. Before you panic, keep in mind that most seemingly small trunks have hollow space underneath the trunk lid's perimeter. The trick is to start with an empty trunk, insert one end of the rifle into this hollow area, and then angle the other end towards the diagonally opposite corner of the trunk opening.

Using this technique, I can fit a 48-1/2"-long Mosin-Nagant M91/30 into the trunk of 90-97 Mazda Miata- a vehicle with an almost comically small trunk partially occupied by the spare tire and battery. The M-N just barely fits, but a Lee-Enfield No4 fits with ease.

I'll wager you that almost any modern sporting rifle will fit in the Mustang's trunk with room to spare.
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