Traveling Gun Cart


Cree Vicar Dave - SASS Life Regulator #49907

Gun carts are an essential part of Cowboy Action Shooting™.  If you have been involved in this game for a while and are handy with tools you are probably already on your second or third cart.

In our sport, gun carts are as varied as our outfits.  After sizing up what was used at our local club, my first cart had a similar look, had 2 wheels and was made out of red oak.  It looked great but was so heavy it took 2 men and a boy ta place it in my vehicle.  A while later my golf cart was converted into a gun cart for my first out of state shoot.  It worked, but didn’t have any bells or whistles.  The third cart was to be the cart to end all carts.  It was made out of red cedar.  This offered both light weight and great appearance.  There was room for 5 long guns, two good sized storage boxes on the back and room for an ammo box on the front.  The cart had 4 wheels for stability, an umbrella stand and also folded down for transporting.  The ultimate team gun cart.  I really thought that it would be the last one that I would ever need. 

After heading south for the winter a couple years in a row, and finding out that when packing bigger is not always better, I spotted a sleek, narrow, streamlined gun cart at one of the shoots I attended.  It had room for 2 long guns, a long narrow tray extended out the front bottom for ammo, ear plugs, etc., utilized two wheels and folded up for travel.  Sizing it up I was impressed with the concept, but, for me it needed a few extras. 

If it were a couple inches wider 3 long guns would fit nicely, a rifle, double barrel and ‘97’.  The open tray out the front could be a little higher and incorporate a light weight hinged cover to keep the sun and rain out.  An umbrella rack would also be good.  And I like the concept of 4 wheels but after my experience with four fixed wheels on the last cart I thought maybe caster wheels on the front would be better.  A couple boxes for storage would be good for stowing ear plugs, Balistol, tools, etc.  A parking brake would be good when sitting on an incline.  So let the designing begin for the “Traveling Gun Cart”. 

One of my old drafting instructors would always say, “It is always easier to change it on paper.”  That is very true.  You can change your mind, erase, redraw or totally change the plan on paper a lot easier than you can build a cart and then remake it into what you really want.  Using graph paper with 1/4 inch squares you can sketch your ideas on paper and keep remaking it until it appears to be a working design.  It says in Proverbs 15:22 RSV, “Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisors they succeed”.  So ask questions.  But even so, with a prototype it has been my experience that a few revisions may be needed when finished. 

White cedar was the wood of choice.  It is fairly strong, long lasting and readily available in our neck of the woods.  Red cedar or pine would also work well.  I used about 6 one inch rough sawn boards.  When using rough sawn boards it is a good idea to get a couple extra, as after they are planed, usually there are knots and other defects to contend with. 


6 – 1”x6”x8’, boards planed to 3/4 inch thick

2 – 8”x1 5/8” wheels with 1/2 inch center holes.  I found the 1/2“ holes were plastic and had no bearing or bushing.  So I enlarged the holes and installed brass bushings to prolong wheel life. 

2 – 3 1/2 “ high caster wheels.

1 – 1/2”x2’ threaded rod.

4 – 1/2" flat washers for each side of the wheels. 

2 – 1/2” nylon insert narlock lock nuts.

2 – 3/8 “x around 1 3/4" Carriage bolts for the cart hinge point pins. 

1/2" copper tubing or some type of plastic tubing can be used for bushings to keep the 3/8” hinge pin bolts from wearing into the wood. 

2 – 3/8” lock nuts for the carriage bolts. 

4 – 3/8” Flat washers, 2 on each side between the upright gun rack and bottom tray, for spacers.  There needs to be around 3/16” clearance between the tray and the gun rack so it will fold up and down without binding. 

2 – 5/16” x 1 1/2” long thumb screws.

4 – 5/16” Flush hidden nuts, 2 used in the inside back of the tray to hold the gun rack upright and 2 used, one on each side, of the tray toward the front to hold the gun rack down horizontal for travel.

1 – 0.032” thick or a little more by around 13”x24” aluminum or other metal cut and bent to fit.  I cut it around 2” longer then needed both ways, snipped the corners on a 45° angle then bent the extra under to give the metal added strength.  Then it was bent on the lone center line to fit the top roof pitch. 

1 – piano hinge 1 1/2"x48”.  This is used for the tray cover and the 2 storage boxes on the back. 

1 – 5/16” x 12” galvanized rod for the parking break.  It is bent 90° around 2” from one end and held in place with clips.  It’s used to extend through holes in back bottom of tray and wheel for a parking break.  The hole in the plastic wheel was reinforced by bolting a washer on each side of it. 

1 – 1”x6”x13” or so oak board (for the bottom back plate of the upright gun rack.)

Various screws, bolts, washers, nuts, deerskins, dead bolt, small hinges, etc.  


Instead of being a detailed instruction article this is rather a show & tell.  Provided are detailed “tape measure on cart” photos to show what the sizes are.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and if that would be the case it would be a good sized book before finished.  If interested, many cowpokes would probably change some dimensions to fit their needs anyways.  I would suggest that the rear axle holding the 2 fixed wheels be placed as far back on the bottom of the cart as possible for stability.  Also, if I were to make another one I would use larger caster wheels on the front.  The ones I have work well on hard surfaces and grass but tend to give problems on gravel.  Larger wheels could then be used for the back or the 8” ones could be used by extending the threaded rod axle down from the cart bottom to match the height of the higher casters.  Look for an old lawn mower sittin’ around it might be useful.  Most have 8”to 12” plastic wheels on the back. 

Tray glue up. The tray is used for an ammo box, tools, etc. Thin cardboard used for locating the hing point. The top back of the tray had to be rounded over to allow the rack to clear when folding down. The oak board is placed at the lowerpart of the gun rack. Locating/drilling holes for the thumb screws in lowered position. To help kee the holes perpendicular to the surface a piece of wood was drilled in a drill press and then clamped to board to be drilled.
Locating/drilling holes in oak lower back plate of gun rack. Under side of cart. The rear axle had to be moved all the way to the back of the tray to keep the cart stable. The metal cover is bent to fit the slope of the tray top. A piano hinge works well on the cover. Small screws hold it to the wood and pop rivets to the metal. A small metal angle was used for a ridge pole. Traveling gun cart. I made another box for the front of the tray because more equipment is needed when I shoot the Frontiersman category.

One critical measurement is the hinge point to allow the vertical rack of the cart to fold down level with the horizontal tray on the bottom.  I used a couple pieces of thin cardboard cut actual size to find the pivot point that would accommodate folding the vertical gun rack down to horizontal.  The bottom of the rack will probably have to be trimmed to accommodate missing the 1/2" threaded rod axle.  The gun rack is held upright with two 5/16”x1 1/2” thumb screws tightened through the oak gun rack bottom back plate into the back of the tray.  When folded down level the same screws hold the rack secure for travel by tightening the same screws through the forward front of the folded down gun rack into each side of the front of the tray .  The tray cover is around 1” higher at the front & back center.  If the hinge point is located properly the top of the gun rack (or the long gun gate) will also hold the metal cover closed when folded down by touching the center of the cover.  Deer skin was used on the top of the gun rack to help protect the barrels and also where the butts set.  The skin is held in place with DAP acrylic silicone clear caulk used as glue.  Guns are held in place with a gate made of cedar, deer skin lined.  The gate has a hinge on one end and a dead bolt on the other.  The handle is set back to allow for long gun muzzle clearance and can be made to swing forward for travel.  The bottom of the tray can be made of 1/2” plywood or a glue up of the wood used on the cart.  A rabbit cut was made on the bottom of the tray, and the bottom was cut & glued in place.  Weeper holes around 3/16” were placed in bottom corners of tray and long gun butt stop.  The galvanized rod was bent and installed to correspond with holes in lower back side of bottom tray and in back wheel.  The rod is held in place with small clips.  This rod is moved out into the wheel for parking.  The plastic wheel hole is reinforced by using 2 small bolts/nuts to hold a washer on each side of the wheel hole.   To set the brake the rod is lifted up over a stop and pushed out through the hole into the wheel.  Finish it up to individual taste.  I used a light stain and exterior varnish.  But if I had a do over I would use a natural stain and exterior varnish.  I think this is the best gun cart yet, but wait, I’m going on another shooting excursion soon and who knows what I might find along the way. 

Cart in down position. Notice that the bottom of the gun rack (at right) is rounded to allow it to miss the rear axle when folding. Side view of folded cart. Notice the position of the thumb screw. Holsters are placed on each side of cart.
Width of gun rack of cart.
Oak is used on the bottom/back of the gun rack for extra strength. Holes are placed in it for the thumb screws.
The same thumb screws are used to hold the cart up or folded down.
Gun rack side measurement.
Cart in upright position. Notice the bolt for the pivot point & the rod through wheel setting the parking break.
Width of tray.
Length of tray.
View of handle.
View of parking break in bottom back of tray. The long gun butt space in back of tray is lined with deer skin. There are small wood blocks screwed in place that hold parking brake rod in park or moving position. I used 3/8" DIA. steel rod but 5/16" Dia. should suffice.
Top front.
Front of tray, vertical.
Front of tray, horizontal.
Top of rack, deer skin lined.
Top of rack. Long guns are held in place with a gate that is lined with deer skin.
Tray with cover opened. Notice the angle ridge pole running down the center. The tray is used for an ammo box, to store clean patches, brass brushes, cleaning rods, etc.
5/16"x 2" long thumb screws used to hold the cart upright and to hold it folded down for transportation.
Back bottom of upright cart. Notice that the 1/2" threaded rod anle is at the very rear of the tray.
Vertical measurement view of back of cart.
Vertical measurement view of bottom/back of cart. The boxes sitting at left can be taken off by removing one wing nut. There is a 1" aluminum angle secured to the back of the boxes. One 5/16" stud in the center and two equally placed 3/16" posts hold each box to the cart.
My first two gun carts. On the right is the 1st one, a 2 wheeler made out of red oak and veighing in at Heavy!!! I ended up drilling a series of holes in the sides. That helped a little. The second, on the left, was made out of a golf cart. It held 2 long guns, had a plastic fishing box screwed onto the top for storage and a small military ammo box was strapped to the front. It worked kind of well on my first out of state shoot a few years back.
My 3rd gun cart was made out of red cedar, held 5 long guns, had 4 in line wheels and a place for a large ammo box on the front. I added a militart ammo box carrier in front to hold all the extras required to compete in the Frontiersman category.

The point of this article is not a “how to guide” but to plant an idea in your mind of what could be done, and have you improve on it.  I truly enjoy seeing all the unique Cowboy Action items at the many clubs I attend.  One of my goals is to stir your imagination by relating to you what I have encountered in our travels while inspiring, enhancing and promoting such a great God and Country sport as we have. Remember to wear all safety equipment needed and follow all tool safety instruction when working on projects and playing with them.

Hope ta see ya on the trail

God bless,

Photos by:

Indian Paintbrush

The Vicar’s Wife