Gun Shop Etiquette
OK, i got my permit and will be going to a few gun shops this weekend. Other than common sense stuff, is there any no-no's or things that I should be made aware of when shopping for a handgun? I am very new to all of this and will be asking many questions. I am sure I will look like an idiot at some point while shopping, but I would like to minimize those situations if possible. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Don't aim the gun at the salesperson or any other customer. If you feel the need to look down the sights, do it off in a corner after you've made sure you're not going to be having someone staring down the barrel of a gun. I HATE when I go to a shop or a show and I'm swept by some moron!
Don't take the word of the salesperson as gospel. Many have personal preferences that are not based on fact, and many are told what gun to push be it because they are told to do so by management, or if they sell enough of a certain product they can win cash or prizes. Go with what gun you feel is right for you, not on what the person behind the counter tells you is the right gun for you.
Don't fall for the whole "Stopping power" crap. If you're new to guns, don't be pressured into buying a .45 or a .40 over a 9mm because the you hear from some gun rag or a sales person that the .45 has more stopping power. There are plenty of dead people that will argue that the 9mm has plenty of stopping power. Again, go with what you like.
Do rent guns if you have a chance and shoot the ones that feel good in your hand.
Do shop around and check prices on the internet before you buy. Even after FFL fees, you may come out ahead.
Ask if they have a cash price and/or make sure the price they have on the tag is not a cash price. One of my local shops adds 3% to the price of every gun they have if you use credit as opposed to cash or ATM.
I probably could think of more, but my kids are using me as a jungle gym right now and I'm a bit distracted, so I'll let others add on.
Do you have anything in mind of particular interest? Would you buy a used gun or a CPO (certified pre-owned)? Looking for something ready to go, or something basic where you can add to later? (like night sights and such)? Do you have a spending cap? Your limit? Best to go in with all those things in mind. Don't go with money burning a hole in your pocket.......after you've shopped a while, you'll have lots of better ideas. The staff at the gun shop should be friendly enough to help you with any questions, or show you how different pistols operate. Also...look around at ammo while there and the prices. This may sway a decision on caliber is you are looking for something more easy on the wallet and practice sessions. I would also go to more than one gun shop if available in your area just to compare prices and stock. Some shops are dealers for specific manufacturers and get better deals on certain brands than others. They generally pass the savings on to the consumer. Volume dealers usually do this. If you do buy something this weekend..........hit them up for some freebies! Hats, shirts, stickers, periodical magazines...anything and everything they are willing to give away to a good customer! Good luck!
Don't be afraid of asking questions. If you don't trust their answers, or find that they are pressuring you, go to another shop. Its been my experience that you will get better answers going to smaller shops where the employees actually know some of what they talk about. Go to the larger stores, i.e., Gander Mountain, Academy, etc., they mostly have just employees that can BS their way through a question or only quote price. Still not satisfied, bring their responses here. There is more than enough experience here to help you out. Just my .02.:mrgreen:
Originally Posted by ashman
I am leaning towards a 9mm simply because i would rather learn on a 9mm than a .45 which I will purchase down the road, i am sure. I feel I will be a better shot in the long run if i learn and practice on a 9mm for the first few months anyways. Plus I plan on putting a lot of rounds in the first year and the 9mm will save me a ton of coin. That having been said I am not ruling out a .45. From all of the research the Springfield XD or XDm seem to be a good fit. Although I don't really have a spending "limit" I would like to keep it under a grand out the door. I am leaning towards a new handgun for the first purchase, possibly used down the road. The one shop I have visited just opened their range and have rentals available. I don't plan on purchasing this weekend, just shopping.
Originally Posted by Ram Rod
I recently went to a gun shop for the first time. I had a really good experience and everything the guy told me has held up in my research. Just go in, find someone to talk to and tell them your looking to buy your first handgun. Give them any parameters you know now (such as intended use, budget) and ask what they recommend. Ask any questions you want, even if you think they are dumb. If you find that you feel intimidated or are not being taken seriously, you are in the wrong store. A good gun shop should WANT to help you make the right decision and be safe in doing so.
I left feeling like I got some really helpful information. They even recomended the range where I am going to take a basic gun saftey course, even though that place also sells guns.
Biggest piece of advice - its never too early to get in the habit, assume every gun you are handed IS LOADED. drop the clip and rack the slide to confirm. My Daddy instilled that in me at a young age - too many "unloaded" guns kill people.
If you are looking at concealable weapons ALWAYS ask permission to test it's pocket-ability.
Just my .02
my first hand gun was a .45 and wouldnt change a thing ,I love that caliber.(ITS MY FAVORITE)Anyways I would definetly go with an XD,I have 2 glocks,a S&W M&P 9mm thats my only 9 and dont want another and I have a XD .45c and it is my favorite hands down nothing close.It is also my carry and my home protection ratchet.When you grab the guns at the shop see which one fits your hand like a glove look at the sight as stated before but not pointed at anybody,finally then style if you are into that.Good luck
The local gun shop I go to and shoot at, will let you look at anything they have..No pressure..Very helpful....They always pop the clip out and lock the slide open and look in the chamber (semi-auto) and with revolvers the snap open the cylinder and check it, then they hand the gun to me in that way...Even if they hand it to me like that and stand there as I look at it and hand it right back and as they are placing it on the wall again and someone else asks to see it, they do the same thing...
ask any and all questions if you are not sure...They should be more than willing to talk to you and answer any questions...I have never found any who act like a car salesman trying to pressure or say "on sale today only" to try to tempt you to buy it...
Ask to see how it breaks down for field strip and clean..don't be afraid to ask any question you can think of...
it should be a no pressure, helpful, enjoyable experience...if the guy/girl acts like an ass I would get real uninterested and leave (never happened to me yet)....Most of the people there will love to talk about guns..
DO NOT do anything you've seen in a movie with a shop gun (or any gun for that matter). This includes the following,
1. spin the cylinder on revolvers.
2. flick a revolver closed.
3. turn the pistol anywhere near 90 degrees to the horizontal while holding it out (gangsta style)
4. ask about stopping power (or killing power hehehe)
5. ask about penetration of bullet proof vests
6. point the gun at or near anyone
7. ask about converting anything to full auto
8. break down a gun without asking
There's a few.
My advice is:
1. Don't pretend you are SWAT team or SpecOps operator. Tell them you are a newbie and need help. Tell them why you want to buy a handgun, like "I want to buy a pistol for home self defense and for occasional sport shooting. I don't need a concealed weapon." Or whatever else your needs are.
2. Repeat step 1 at more than one store. I went to four stores and a gun show before I bought.
3. Ask everyone the same questions. You will rapidly learn that this industry/hobby is full of opinions and not all are the same. For what it's worth, this forum is full of mature opinions with little of the useless talk you hear or read elsewhere. (Except for one frequent contributor who answers every question with "buy a German pistol." You can ignore him if you want.)
4. You want to avoid, "Dood!!1! You have to have at least a .45 to blow away the Zombies! My friend has a .500 magnum and it's even better!!!! And <fillinbrandname> is the only one you want! If it's not <fillinbrandname> it sux!!!! The Rapid Deployment Force at the mall won't use anything else!!!!3!" You get the idea.
5. Generally speaking, the smaller the caliber, the cheaper the ammunition. Everyone should have a .22LR rifle and pistol. You might want to buy this first. 9mm ammunition is about 25-30% cheaper than .40SW and about half the price of .45. .22LR rounds are practically sold by the pound out of a barrel at the hardware store.
6. Learning how to shoot accurately is more important than brand name or caliber. After about 1,000 rounds I can reliably hit in a three inch circle at 20-ish feet. I can sometimes do that at 30 feet. So, if I'm attacked by a stationary paper target, I'm all set! Seriously, if I had to shoot to defend myself I would not be afraid of the recoil, noise, or muzzle flash. I know that I can point into the center of mass of a human-sized target at the most common ranges for shooting, and I think I could pull the trigger (I don't think I will know for sure unless, God forbid, I had to actually do it). I'm thinking of buying another pistol strictly for target shooting since I enjoy it, but for the primary use of self-defense I'm already set. That's because 1) I went through a basic handgun class, and 2) I've shot a lot in the last two months. The fact that my pistol is a brand most people have never heard of, and definitely doesn't look tacticool doesn't mean that it won't do the job.
7. Training. Have you considered taking something like the NRA's introduction to handgun class BEFORE buying something? It's worth the time and money. Owning a firearm is a big responsibility and I personally think it's worth 4 or 8 hours and $100 to learn from an expert. All the ranges around here offer classes like this. I assume they all do.
Good luck and let us know how it works out. :watching:
Most excellent advice. Wish I'd thought of it first...
Originally Posted by zhurdan
Incidentally, the first question I asked at the first gun store I visited was, "What's the etiquette for shopping for a gun? I don't want to do anything dangerous." The nice clerk spent ten minutes showing me how to safely look at autoloaders and revolvers without scaring him or other customers to death, and without breaking the guns (you seriously DON'T want to flick the cylinder out on a revolver -- you'll either break the gun or send it flying through the glass counter top).
Haven't bought any .380 lately have you. Cost almost the same as .45ACP.
Originally Posted by JustRick
In Connecticut you are required to take (and pass) an NRA basic safety class prior to getting your permit, so I should know the basics.
Originally Posted by JustRick
Thanks for all of the great advice from everyone, it will be helpful over the weekend!!!!
Make sure the gun feels good in your hands. It should feel as natural as possible. After handling a few you will understand what I mean. Keep in mind that when you fire the weapon that it is very loud and very powerful. The more comfortable you feel with a weapon the better you will shoot.
Well, I did use the weasel words "generally speaking." :smt083 When I wrote that I was thinking of the 5.7x28mm cartridge used in the FN FiveseveN, which is $$$.
Originally Posted by tekhead1219
This might be a big NO NO....
Dont do any of those gun spinning cowby tricks...
he he he he
Okay...the 9mm and the 45acp. Learning with a 45acp wouldn't really be out of the question. It pretty much depends on the pistol. A full size 1911 or a SIG P220 won't make it seem as bad as a compact model plastic frame pistol. Weight will help mitigate recoil to some extent. My first pistol was a Ruger P89DC, my second was a Norinco 1911A1. Loved them both, but shot the 1911 more eventually. I learned on the 1911 in the USMC which may have helped. Those hi-cap 9mm and 40cal pistols may end up costing you more in ammo in the long run rather than up front. With my single stack 45acp, I might shoot 50-100 at the range. My 9mm or 40's mysteriously eat twice that much in half the time! LOL! If you get the chance to try some out at your range......humor yourself and try a SIG P220 if available. They also make a carry version of the P220. Don't be too concerned with looks of pistols...everybody says Glocks are ugly. None of this is any consequence as deciding on a life saving tool shouldn't be about looks. Get what fits and works well for you everything else put aside.
I agree with JustRick when he said go to as many shops as you can and "talk shop" with the people there..... It helped me to weed out the people that just wanted my money, and those that were willing to teach and help and keep me as a customer..... some places I went to gave me a hard time about the FFL transfer and tried to talk me out of it (buying online) others were totally happy to help.....
Here are a few basics for in the gun store:
1) Never-ever cover anyone with the barrel of the gun. If you wish to point the gun and look down the sights I would suggest pointing it at the ground. Unless you are actually going to dry fire the gun, never put your finger inside the trigger guard. (see #3).
2) Even though the clerk should check the weapon when he takes it out of the case and hands it to you, you should check it yourself before you do anything else. Determine that the magazine is empty or not in the gun and rack the slide open to inspect the chamber. On a revolver, open the cylinder and check the charge holes.
3) It is good manners to ask permission to dry fire the weapon before doing so. And make sure you have performed step #2 before you do so.
4) When handing the gun back to the clerk or placing on the counter, put a revolver back with the cylinder open. With a semi-auto drop the mag and lock the slide open before giving it back. Always make sure the barrel is not pointed at anyone, especially the clerk when placing the gun back, even though the action is open.
Hope this helps.
Don't dry fire a weapon until you've asked for and then received permission to do so. Some handguns (mostly rimfires) do not do well with dry fire, and some gunshop owners don't do well with it either. Asking permission first will sometimes gain you a bit more respect with the salespersons too.
Don't cock a revolver unless you ask for permission first. Doing this will eventually put a line in the cylinder, which although inevitable, will decrease the value of a collectable.
Don't say anything negative about the 1911 platform. Most gunshop employees think themselves as experts about this platform, and many will take it personally if you say anything negative about St. Browning's design. Same goes for the AR or the Garand.
Don't holster (if you happen to have one on your person) or pocket a weapon before asking permission. Doing this type of action can mar the finish, thereby instantly decreasing the value of a handgun.
IOW, don't do anything that has potential to add wear and tear to a firearm until after you've gotten permission.
Don't wear an Obama t-shirt, unless you're a hot-looking female (highly unlikely).
Thanks for all of the feedback. I wasn't able to get to the shop this past weekend, so I am not sure when I will get there.
Just as a note, you can hit or miss on small stores just as much as your larger stores. Take for example down here in the Hampton Roads area:
Originally Posted by tekhead1219
Bobs Gun Shop: small store thats been in existance for 60+yrs now, where the owner still works the counter. Some of the guys there can talk your ear off all day long, some, just know the bare basics, generally better knowledge though. But be wary of the older rangemaster, he's a bit of an arrogant ass.
Bass Pro Shops: I've dealt with about 5 staff members, and only one was even somewhat interested in selling a firearm and knowledgeable about firearms at all.
Gander Mountain: I can say I was a bit impressed by the one in Richmond. In sitting down and talking rifles and shotguns with three of their staff, one a manager, we covered different rounds for different species, ballistics, handling, followup shots, etc. They didn't always try to sell the most expensive and the information they gave me was parallel to reports I've seen from average sportsmen.
So, it can really vary place to place. As a note, larger chain stores like Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, and Cabelas will usually have cheaper prices since they have buying power and the ability to buy in bulk. However, its hit or miss with the staff, some stores just hire anyone, some actually hire people who own firearms themselves. Just gotta shop around
This is funny. Though most is common sense it is funny how many people will aim to shoot and not even realize that the gun is pointing at some kid or something.
Another funny one that I saw was some "expert" gun shopping for a used gun.
He had a little bore light on his key chain. shined the key chain from the action side and looked down the barrel of the pistol. His eye was touching the end of the barrel. I just chuckled and looked at the sales person who in return rolled his eyes.
There is a bigger chain store here in Michigan where the clerk was more interested in helping the guy with the good looking wife than to help answer any questions. I had a better expirence with the smaller private stores where the help is much more interested in all the customers and was more than happy to help. If you go to a place that tries to force a specific brand or model of gun on you just turn and walk out the door and go to another place. The best thing to remember is that this is a purchase that you will have for a while so make it a good one. No reason to rush into something that you will regret later.