I’ve driven Jeep Wranglers for a number of years now. When it comes to building the Ultimate Hunting Vehicle (UHV), Wranglers are just about perfect. They are the AR-15s of vehicle world, essentially modular with limitless options to customize and personalize to your own needs and preferences. There are a plethora of options for overhead storage for Wranglers and I’ve looked at plenty on the Extreme Terrain website. One that has for years caught my eye and imagination is the overhead gun rack for 1987 – 2018 Wranglers. Not a Wrangler driver? No problem, you can get them for other vehicles as well, but should you? It depends.
The appeal of quick overhead rifle storage is undeniable. I’ve thought about it for years. For example, when we hog hunt my favorite place in Texas, we end up driving a 25 mile loop of sorts, scanning fields for the invasive feral hogs. We stop, bail out, chase down the crop devastation perpetrators and then repeat. Rifles stay in the front of vehicle, but are often in the way. That’s why I’ve thought about getting one of these for years. We’ve partnered with Extreme Terrain to build the Ultimate Hunting Vehicle (Go To Part 1) and the RedRock 4×4 Quick-Draw Overhead Gun Rack for Tactical Weapons made the cut. At only $162.99 from Extreme Terrain, that’s a pretty inexpensive way to get this functionality.
Installation is a piece of cake. A couple of crescent wrenches and ten minutes were all I needed to install the overhead gun rack. Made of steel, it is suspended between your Wrangler’s roll bars. On a four door JKU like mine, you could even have three of these – one over the front seats, one over the back, and one attach to the rear roll bars behind the back seat in the cargo area. In the second two positions, though, you’d give up the quick accessibility. If you had your top off, it might look epic, however!
There are some complications that I ran into when putting rifles in the rack. The first won’t surprise anyone who’s been in a Wrangler, it’s headroom. The cross member that runs the width of your jeep won’t be a big deal for most people. You can put the braces that will hold the rifles above or below that cross member. My jeep has a hard top, so to get enough clearance for rifles with optics I mounted the braces facing up, but below the cross member. I put the whole thing as far back as it would fit but found the brace ends competing for my head space. Or at least it felt that way and I’m 5’8”, so I moved it as far forward as I could. Much better. So far so good, the bar seems solid once I tightened everything up.
Next it was time to put some rifles in the rack. First up was the gorgeous custom finished SHWAT™ 50 Beowulf from Alexander Arms. Like many modern AR-15 rifles it has a small diameter handguard on the forend and a compact collapsible stock on the butt. Despite my best efforts, getting a rock solid mount in the rack proved elusive. The nicely padded jaws that hold the rifle can be squeezed or opened as needed to adjust for sizing, theoretically giving them a secure grip on the gun. As pictured, I positioned one jaw behind the castle nut to hold the buffer tube and the other on the front rail. This worked okay, but if you can strap in the buttstock you’ll ensure the rifle doesn’t rotate. A larger diameter handguard would help, I just don’t have any like that in the SHWAT™ armory.
Next I added a bolt action, a Remington 700. Now even though this rack is called the overhead gun rack for tactical weapons, the bolt gun seemed to rest more securely in the rack. Its contours match better. Now that I think about it, that 700 is in fact a “Tactical” model straight from Remington! I think it looks the part anyway. I was pretty happy with how the rack held it, monster scope and all.
In the final analysis, for the price the overhead gun rack is pretty great for a bolt gun, and descent for an AR type gun depending on its configuration. The rack doesn’t provide any security advantages, but certainly keeps your rifles within reach at all times when mounted up front. Given how easy and fast it is to put in and remove from your Wrangler, you can use it when it makes sense and remove when it doesn’t. If you have a soft top, I think you could mount the braces on top of the cross bar leaving more space for your head. I might have to look into that!