Everyone who enjoys shooting had to buy their first gun at some point. It can be challenging and intimidating if you aren’t too familiar with the process. You may be intimidated by the background check or maybe by the gun shop itself. Whatever the reason is, purchasing a gun is unlike anything else because there are regulations and laws set in place and you must adhere to these regulations. Don’t let any of this discourage you. Buying a gun isn’t illegal and it isn’t as complicated as you might think. I’ll give you some guidelines to make the process easier.
Decide on a gun
The first thing that you need to do is decide what kind of gun you want. There are many different kinds and they all do different things. You can decide this by thinking about what you want to use it for (self-defense, hunting, target shooting, etc.), ergonomic factors, and also your budget.
Budget is usually the biggest factor when purchasing a gun because they can be incredibly expensive. Also, when considering your budget, you need to think about future expenses. The bigger the caliber, the more expensive it is to shoot your gun, so if you plan to go to the range often you might want to consider something on the smaller side.
There is a perfect combination of price, ergonomics, and use for everyone. You will just need to do your homework to find the right fit.
Get your hands on them
Once you have chosen a top few guns that you think you might want to buy, you should see if you can get your hands on them. This is strongly recommended because you will not be able to decide if you like how the gun feels by looking at it. All guns feel different. They have different angles, weights, contours etc. It really is best to hold it, feel the grips in your hands, and even fire it if possible.
Many ranges rent out guns pretty cheap. If you can find one that rents out the same one you’re looking at then you should go test it out. If you can’t find a range that rents or they don’t have what you’re looking for you can see if a friend or family member has the same one that they can show you.
If you don’t have a range to rent or a family member with the gun you want, you can at least go hold some of the guns at a gun shop or big box store. This will work, but most of these places have cable locks or something equivalent so you won’t be able to feel the action and sometimes the grips.
Research, research, research
Next, you need to go online, read reviews, and watch videos. Find as much information as you can on the gun you have your sights set on. Read about the pros, cons, problems, and what people think. It is important to be an educated buyer because this can save you headache and money in the long run.
Also, watch videos on firing it, breaking it down, racking it, and loading/unloading. This will give you all the knowledge you need to finally go buy the gun. This will be infinitely more important if you are buying a used gun. You will know the in’s and out’s and also how to operate it which will curve some of the anxiety of buying your first gun, and you can feel confident during the transaction.
Decide where to buy
Now that you have decided on a gun and have all the necessary information that you need, it is time to decide where to buy it.
*Keep in mind that all states have different laws, so some of these might not be applicable to you. Please research your state’s laws to see what channels you may legally purchase through*
Gun store: This is usually the easiest and safest way to buy a gun, but it also the most expensive and mandated. Stores have overhead so their prices will be higher than other places. Luckily, the background check will be complimentary and legit.
You can’t go wrong purchasing from a real business. This method will vary from state to state because some require a waiting period of several days from the time you purchase to the time you pick up, and other hoops that you may have to jump through.
Online: Purchasing online is the best place to find deals. You can always get exactly the gun you want and you can probably find a discount if you look. The drawback to purchasing online is that it takes longer. First, you will need to find an FFL near you that does transfers. An FFL is a licensed firearms dealer.
Most gun stores and pawn shops will do FFL transfers for $30-$50. Once you find a dealer, you will need to purchase the gun online and send the company your FFL’s license information. Once they communicate, your gun will ship out and you can go pick it up at your local dealer.
Private: Private sales are a great option if you have them. Many people will buy a gun and then decide that they don’t like it and sell it at a discount. If you live in a state that allows private sales of firearms then you probably have a local website. For example, Texas has a website called Texas Gun Trader.
There are also national websites that cover every state very similar to this. These are basically Craigslist, but for guns where people can post pictures, information, and meet people privately to do the transaction. This method is not for everybody. It is good practice to have a bill of sale and take driver’s license information to protect yourself.
Go buy it
You’ve done everything that you need to do. Go pick up your gun and take it to the range!