While an epic hunting road trip can be a dream come true, it also presents a problem—how do you secure multiple guns for numerous activities while on the road?
When speaking with Brian Booth, Founder of Sporting Accessories ᴸᵀᴰ, he described to us what sounded like the perfect October week. Fall in the Northeast offers some terrific sporting opportunities, and Brian was getting ready for a truly epic road trip. It was to begin in New Jersey with hunting Rail Birds on the Maurice River in South Jersey. Then, it was off to Long Beach Island for oysters and drinks with friends followed by the 8th Annual Pumpkin Buster at Cedar Creek, an NSCA sporting clays shoot. Finally, he was to take off to the North Maine Woods with his brother, Mike, to meet some good friends for grouse and woodcock hunting.
For any serious sportsman, there will be times when we are traveling a lot of miles with several shotguns in the back of our SUV or pickup—and we all suffer that same feeling of anxiety knowing that these are not truly secure in our vehicles. Competition shooters experience this challenge at weekend tournaments where they are shooting in 12-gauge events as well as the sub-gauges and the side-by-side; the bird hunter experiences it when heading to places like South Dakota for a nice week of pheasant, duck, and sharp-tail. Regardless of the destination, there are times when we are traveling with a lot of guns and long periods when our vehicle is out of sight. Jim Shepherd refers to this as separation anxiety – that feeling we have when we know when our guns are secured in cases, but unwatched in the back of our vehicles.
Separation anxiety—that feeling we have when we know our guns are in their cases, but unwatched in the back of our vehicles.
To say that Brian was looking forward to such an epic road trip would be an understatement, however, it did present a problem. All the events would be very different experiences and required using a different shotgun, and Brian would not have time to get home to swap guns out of the safe. Instead, he would be trekking along with a lot of shotguns in the back of his SUV. What’s more, he planned to break up the drive to Maine with an overnight stay in Boston and visit his son in college. We all know valets and overnights can be the curse of the traveling sportsman. Luckily for Brian, he was able to rely on the security and peace of mind provided by the Crushable Vault.
Back in 2014, Brian recognized that there were very limited options for securing his shotguns in the back of his SUV. Without the benefit of a locking trunk, he was concerned that his shotguns could easily be stolen by someone simply breaking the window of his vehicle. This became increasingly worrisome as he was off shooting with his sons and had multiple shotguns at risk. I guess it is only scary if you think about it. Our guns are secure at home in our safes. We take pride in locking them down and protecting them in our homes, but that is not where we use them. They are for busting clays and storied hunts. When we travel with our favorite firearms in the back of our trucks and SUVs, they are not secured and that is when they are most vulnerable. With thefts of firearms from vehicles doubling in some regions year over year, we need to address this risk seriously. We can stick our head (or guns) under a blanket and hope everything will be okay, or we can secure them.
I guess it is only scary if you think about it. Our guns are secure at home in our safes [but]…that is not where we use them. They are for busting clays and storied hunts.
Too many of us rely on a blanket to keep things out of sight. Instead, Brian and a few of his friends, including his current partner Christopher Merritt, developed the Crushable Vault line for securing firearms, ammo, and other valuables in the back of SUVs and pickups. This discreet product line provides a high level of security without eating away at valuable cargo space, so you still have room for your dogs, kennels, and gear needed for the trip.
The latest version of the Crushable Vault is the Field Vault. Like its predecessor, the Original No. 1, it is a soft-bodied case containment system that looks like a nice piece of discrete, high-quality, rugged luggage that does not draw attention to itself. The No. 1 Crushable Vault was introduced in 2015 and provided a whole new option for securing your shotguns in your vehicle. After studying how shooters were using the No. 1, the company decided to update the line with a few changes and introduced the Field Vault, which, for starters, has a traditional 18-ounce waxed canvas exterior. This duck cloth is durable, looks sharp, and is available in either Pecan or Black Walnut. The water-repellent qualities and unique character of the waxed canvas have been known and used in one form or another for hundreds of years (think really heavy-duty Barbour)–important when coming back from the hunt with wet dogs, wet boots, and wet gear. In addition to its water repellent qualities, it is a durable, attractive material much appreciated in the sporting world. No other fabric patinas and wears like waxed canvas. The Field Vault is also available in black, heavy-duty 1680D Ballistic Nylon for those seeking security and durability at a lower price point.
The Crushable Vaults are sewn and assembled by craftsmen in Bolivar, Tennessee, and have high-quality, YKK solid brass zippers made in Macon, Georgia that accent the waxed canvas nicely. To secure your firearms, they utilize 10mm diameter braided steel locks for maximum strength and flexibility. A protective vinyl cable coating protects against scratches and a wafer cylinder offers maximum pick resistance. Each lock has a Limited Lifetime Warranty. One lock wraps around your shotgun case and another is intertwined and connected to your vehicle. You can easily secure two shotguns in their Negrini-style gun cases per vault. Using the Negrini two-gun case plus a single gun case, you can actually secure three shotguns in a single Field Vault—a key element in making this particular road trip possible for Brian. The Crushable Vaults look sharp and discrete in the back of your vehicle while offering no indication of their contents.
See how easy it is to use the Field Vault:
Like many of us, Brian appreciates fine shotguns. He believes they are meant to be used and are no fun sitting in the safe at home—but was it really necessary for him to bring five guns on this trip? Many of us like to use our guns and really prefer shooting the right gun for the sport. Brian told us, “There is no way I would have brought one of my vintage side-by-sides to hunt railbirds nor could I use a sub-gauge in a 12-gauge sporting clays competition.”
“There is no way I would have brought one of my vintage side-by-sides to hunt rail birds nor could I use a sub-gauge in a 12-gauge sporting clays competition.”
To place this in context, railbird hunting is a unique experience. These are small, migratory marsh birds that feed on wild rice—a diet that makes them especially tasty on the table. You hunt rails in the traditional manner mastered by the Camp family in Southern New Jersey over four generations ago standing in the front of a skiff as a guide uses a long pole to push through the marshes. It is a delicate balancing act with two people standing up on what feels like a giant paddleboard. One man pushing, the other shooting, each hoping to keep his balance and not dunk the other. A line of four to five boats pushes through to get the birds to flush rather than running for cover. It is no easy feat. Rails flush together like a covey of quail but fly like woodcock, making for some incredible shooting. It is also not something you bring your best gun to as there is a high probability you may end up in the water!
Hunting railbirds over the past decade, Brian has found a great combination in his Fabarms Elos over/under 28-gauge—which he uses almost exclusively for this hunt—paired with steel #7 shot. He has tried using a few old pumps but felt they put him at a serious disadvantage to the other guns in the boats. This is not a gentleman’s hunt, and, if given the chance, his friends would feel no remorse poaching his bird right in front of him (and laugh while doing so). Not only is this gun extremely reliable, but it is also light, weighing 5 1/2 pounds, and was the first gun secured in the Crushable Vault in the back of Brian’s SUV for the trip. Trust me, he needs every advantage when shooting with the likes of Dr. Huston and his lighting .410!
Up next, Brian was heading to the Pumpkin Buster Tournament at Cedar Creek, a terrific sporting clays course in Millville, New Jersey that does a very nice job setting targets. While this would only be his second competitive shoot, Brian was hoping to make a good showing as he would be shooting with his friend Jeff DiLazzerio, a fine shot who runs Breda U.S.A., importing their line of semi-automatic shotguns. Jeff and his team made several modifications to these semis that were very well received by U.S. shooters. At this tournament, Brian would shoot his Krieghoff K-80, a gun he really loves and that makes quite an impression with its fine Turkish walnut stock and Plantation Scroll engraving. Its fit, heft and balance make it a perfect fit for him on the clay’s course, and, needless to say, losing it would be very painful! He secured it safely the Crushable Vault case alongside the Fabarms.
Finally, Brian had to pack for the North Maine Woods where he and his brother were heading to Libby Camps for grouse and woodcock. Few places have such a stellar reputation for this as Libby. Matt Libby, Jr. strongly suggested using a 20-gauge, and Brian was also excited to bring up some of his side-by-sides. Like many of us, Brian prefers a side-by-side when shooting birds over dogs. They would be walking old logging trails in thick cover and grouse are explosive flyers. He opted to bring his Griffin & Howe Round Body Game gun and a vintage Belgium Guild gun for his brother to borrow. It would be a perfect grouse gun with its 26-inch barrels and open chokes—an excellent choice for the cover they would be in. He also brought along another vintage Belgium Mainwaring 16-gauge side-by-side as a backup as it would be foolish to travel all that way without a spare. These were guns three, four, and five that were coming along for the road trip, and Brian would have been very concerned if he did not have a way to confidently secure them. He secured these in the second Field Vault.
Libby Camps is a terrific destination. Brian said the birds were plentiful, the scenery breathtaking and the hospitality amazing. Great wines, fine cocktails, and terrific food were a great comfort after a long day pushing through the old, overgrown forest roads. Their guide, Don Kleiner, a Master Maine Guide and true gentleman, and his dogs who know these woods well put them on birds all day long. Brian said that he was also very patient with his dogs who were not quite as comfortable in the North Woods. Brian summed up this hunt saying, “Mike and I made some great shots as well as owning our share of gaffs. The dogs learned a few new choice words, but we loved every minute of it and already booked our return trip for next year where we hope to repeat this adventure.”
The nice thing about the Crushable Vault is that it allows us to travel with our guns without issue. Using a Negrini Two Shotgun Travel Case and three of the Manufacturers’ gun cases, Brian was able to secure all five guns discreetly in two Crushable Vaults. His Expedition was loaded with five shotguns, an English Cocker and a German Shorthair Pointer each in own their respective kennel, ammo, and gear for two for a long weekend. He also had two flats of ammo secured in the Field Edition Pistol & Ammo Vault. Frankly, I am not sure how Brian would have been comfortable doing this, especially with the overnight in Boston, without the Crushable Vaults. It is nice to be able to travel with your guns without always straining to keep an eye on your vehicle.
Your guns are most vulnerable while you are on the road as the bulk of gun thefts entail firearms being stolen from vehicles. We all know people that have been subject to such crimes and we have heard the story of Kim Rhode and how her prized shotgun (the one used to win four Olympic medals) was stolen from her truck. Can you imagine a road trip like this and not having your shotguns secured? The loss would be painful, the trip would be ruined, and the administrative hassle could be overwhelming. Brain vividly recalls the time his friend, John Fowler, had a Krieghoff K-80 and a Beretta stolen from his SUV during lunch at an Outback Steakhouse after a morning shoot. The theft was painful, though he was lucky and the gun was recovered. “But what stood out to me,” Brian noted, “was the amount of time it took and the hassle John ran into in getting his gun back from the state of California. As I recall, the process took about a year. That’s a long time for a competitive shooter and top-notch instructor to be without his custom-fitted guns.” The Crushable Vaults take the worry out of transporting your favorite shotguns. It is far better to take precautions today with the Crushable Vault than to deal with such a loss later.