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Top 5 Picks For The Best Backpack Gun by Scott Witner August 02, 2022

Updated: May 24

Prior to this year, the idea of incorporating a survival rifle into your everyday carry was not really a mainstream concept in the shooting and self-defense world.

A lot of us had certainly thought about it, but I don’t think many people were going to the trouble of actually doing it on a regular basis.

I know a lot of dudes that have discreet bags they use to transport their guns from one place to another without drawing attention. And I’ve seen some backpack rifles that are used for rodent control or hunting.

But in this most recent wave where people have been buying weapons at a rapid rate, the long gun seems to be geared toward personal defense and everyday carry.

What is a Backpack Rifle?

A backpack rifle or takedown rifle is usually a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) type of firearm that is compact enough to fit inside a low-vis bag you might carry with you in public on a daily basis.

For those working in an office environment, it might be some kind of messenger bag. It could even be a diaper bag, gym bag, or backpack. Basically, something that’s not going to look out of place for your lifestyle in your everyday routine.

For a list of our favorite concealed carry backpacks, check out our article on the Best Concealed Carry Backpacks for Urban Environments.


at Amazon


Prices accurate at time of writing

A backpack rifle is most commonly a short-barreled rifle or pistol caliber carbine with a stabilizing brace. But it could also be a takedown rifle.

What is The Best Backpack Gun?

Maxim Defense PDX AR Pistol

Maxim Defense MD9 Pistol Caliber Carbine

CZ Scorpion EVO3 Pistol


Kel-Tec Sub 2000 Pistol Caliber Carbine

Why Carry a Backpack Rifle?

Why are backpack rifles and carbines so relevant today? There are two major factors that come to mind when answering that question.

The first is innovation in the firearms industry. Compact carbines have been around since the early 2000s, but within the last few years, we’ve seen huge strides in the category of compact personal defense weapons. From pistol stabilizing braces and new compact pistol caliber carbines to new rifle loads that are optimized for short-barreled weapons. The fact that they are commonly available, has opened the door for people to work them into the role of everyday carry and personal defense.

The second, and probably more important reason is that 2020 happened. With the global pandemic and rise in violence, mainstream media continually paints a grim outlook on society. Most of our cities, in my opinion, are still generally peaceful places to be 99.9% of the time.

The events of the last two years have highlighted just how fragile that peace can be though.

With the increase in rioting, mob violence, possible acts of domestic terrorism, and a possible increase in violent crime as a result of inadequate law enforcement; Are you prepared to deal with these threats at hand, protect your homestead, and keep your family safe?

Again, the likelihood of these scenarios playing out is slim to none for most of us, but if that changes, it would be a good idea to have your options figured out ahead of time.

What is the best backpack gun? Here are our top 5 picks for backpack guns that can easily fit inside most everyday carry bags and give you an edge in the chaos.

Maxim Defense PDX Pistol

The Maxim Defense PDX is designed to handle everything from the fierce demands of Tier 1 military units to the American citizen needing a reliable weapon for home defense and personal defense when on the move.

The PDX dominates CQB encounters and achieves maximum terminal ballistics on target. At just 18.75" in overall length, the PDX delivers groundbreaking power and performance in a subcompact platform.

At the heart of the award-winning PDX is the Maxim SCW stock system. This patent-pending system cuts down the length of the stock to just 4" allowing you to conceal it in almost any bag.

The Maxim Defense PDX is also equipped with the Maxim HATEBRAKE muzzle booster. This significantly reduces recoil, decreases the flash signature, pushes gasses and concussion waves away from the shooter, and improves overall performance in short barrel pistols and rifles.



Prices accurate at time of writing

Maxim Defense MD9 Pistol Caliber Carbine

The package weighs in at just over six pounds unloaded and 20 inches collapsed, adding to the small footprint. It also accepts all Glock 9mm pattern magazines, G19 or longer. This is a significant advantage over the other platforms on this list because, if you’re carrying a Glock sidearm, then you can use the same ammo and magazines between the two.

An issue seen in previous pistol caliber carbine designs is that the shooter would use the magwell for their support grip which would cause the magazine to move just enough to cause failure to feed malfunctions. Maxim Defense recognized this issue and mitigated it by extending the length of the magwell, giving the shooter a full support hand grip without interfering with the function of the magazine.

The Modified HATEBRAKE muzzle booster emulates the back pressure of a suppressor. Not only is it directing the blast forward and away from the shooter and those around the shooter, but regulates the cyclic rate. The advantage of this is whether you’re running the included HATEBRAKE or a 9mm suppressor, the cyclic rate is going to be consistent and not over-gassed.

To maximize the velocity and accuracy of this pistol caliber carbine, Maxim Defense went with a barrel length of 5.8". The optimal barrel length for the 9mm cartridge is roughly 6", so with the MD9, you’re getting optimal performance out of the 5.8" barrel.


at Maxim Defense


Prices accurate at time of writing

CZ Scorpion EVO3 Pistol

Compact, lightweight, low recoil, high capacity, relatively quiet, and shoulder-fired. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect survival rifle? Enter the CZ Scorpion EVO3 Pistol. Yeah I know it’s not exactly a “rifle" but bear with me.

The CZ Scorpion is considered a pistol-caliber carbine due to the fact that it shoots 9mm Luger. The ammo is somewhat affordable and easy to find. You can practice with it at indoor shooting ranges that only allow pistol rounds.

Sure it doesn’t have the terminal ballistics of a true rifle caliber, but it’s certainly a capable and effective weapon in the right hands, especially with hollow-point ammunition.

The smaller 9mm round is a lot quieter than popping off a 5.56 round.  It’s especially quiet when fired from a pistol-caliber carbine with a longer barrel.  It’s not considered hearing safe, but subsonic loads are going to do a lot less damage to your ears than any 5.56.

Overall, the CZ Scorpion EVO3 is a high-quality pistol caliber carbine that is well made and easy to control.



Prices accurate at time of writing

Sig Sauer MPX Pistol

The Sig Sauer MPX is an innovative configurable PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) platform that can be purchased in a variety of configurations including pistol, pistol plus Sig Brace, rifle, and NFA regulated SBR. The Sig Sauer MPX feels just like an AR-15, so all its controls and features translate extremely well.

This Sig MPX Pistol configuration can slip into most small backpacks or messenger bags and deliver a very fast response option with deadly precision.

The Sig Sauer MPX was originally designed for the person wanting a gateway to SBR registration. Buy the MPX like any other pistol, go and shoot it, send in the Form 1 NFA eForm to "SBR" the gun with a rifle stock. While you wait for that process to complete, you can still go shoot the gun.

The MPX platform is well thought out, flexible and configurable for future upgrades. It’s fun to shoot at the range, it could work for home defense, or it could even work as a truck gun. The options are really limitless.



Prices accurate at time of writing

Kel-Tec Sub 2000 with Folding Stock

Available in 9mm and .40 caliber, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 appears to be a somewhat minimalist, mostly plastic, black rifle.

What makes the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 much more versatile than others in its class is that you can buy this rifle in variants that run on different magazines.  Smith and Wesson M&P, Sig Sauer P226, Beretta 92 & 96, and Glock 17, 19, 22, & 23 are all options you have when making your purchase.

This is extremely cool because you can now have compatibility between your rifle and pistol. In my case, I carry a Glock 17 as my CCW pistol, so I can now interchange my G17 mags between my CCW pistol and the Kel-Tec Sub 2000. This is extremely useful because you only have to carry one type of ammunition and utilize the same magazines. Pretty revolutionary of Kel-Tec to come up with that.

The bottom line is, that you get a survival rifle that can be folded up and stowed inside a backpack or duffel bag and keep not far from your reach.  Whether you’re on a camping trip, out on a day hike, or just protecting your home, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is a potent weapon with tons of potential.



Prices accurate at time of writing

Yes, the title of this is worded as ‘the best backpack gun‘ and our top 5 picks are technically defined as “pistols", although the same goes for SBR rifles. The only real difference is you’re using a stock vs a pistol brace.

Finding an actual rifle, with a 16" barrel, that will fit in a backpack is somewhat of a tall order. Even with a folding stock, you’re going to need a taller than normal backpack.

I’ve seen several guys that come from prior Tier 1 military units that backpack their RECCE rifles. Whether that is in a backpack when they are out in the woods or in a motorcycle saddlebag for a road trip. How do they do it? They break the rifle down and throw it inside their backpack.

With all that said, here is our recommendation for the best backpack gun. The Maxim Defense MD9. We chose the MD9 because of its versatility when paired with a Glock 19 or Glock 17.

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