How To Behave in a Gun Store – A Guide

September 19 2012
by GSL Staff
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Gun stores can be magical places full of cool gear, knowledge and the smell of Hoppes #9.

They can also be overwhelming to someone new to the world of firearms. They can also be potentially dangerous when the rules of firearm safety aren’t followed.

First off, let’s review the rules of firearm safety (I prefer Jeff Cooper’s wording):

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Following these rules it is almost impossible to have a very bad accident, even if one of the rules is momentarily broken. Your finger accidentally pull the trigger? Shouldn’t be too much damage to anyone or anything if you are following the other three rules.

I also like to personally add the rule that you should always safety check a gun that another person just handed you, even if you just saw them do it. If you don’t know how to safety check that particular firearm, hand it back to the person who gave it to you and ask them to demonstrate the safety check procedure.

Just because you are in a gun store and the guns in the case are brand new does not mean that you should stop following the rules of firearm safety.

The most common safety violation is pointing a firearm at other customers, clerks or yourself. Don’t do those things. Seems like common sense right? Go stand at the counter at your local gun store and see how many times you get swept with a muzzle.

If you want to look down the sights of a gun and get a real grip on it, aim it at the floor or at predesignated places in the shop (some have targets on the wall for this very purpose).

Don’t dry fire the gun. This can damage some guns (especially rimfires). Some guns are safe to dry fire, but ask the clerk first and remember the four rules above.

Don’t try to disassemble the gun. Most dealers don’t want a customer disassembling a gun, even if they know how because if you damage it then no one is having a good day.

If you bring in a gun for inspection, to sell, or to get repaired make sure it is unloaded first. If possible remove the magazine and lock the slide/bolt/action open to clearly show the gun is unloaded. Installing an action lock won’t hurt. The number of loaded guns brought into gun shops every month is staggering.

If you are carrying a gun (where legal) do not remove the gun from your holster while in the shop (unless needed for self defense).

When shopping for ammo, holsters or accessories, have the make, model and caliber of your gun readily available. Saying you need a holster and ammo for your Glock isn’t going to make the clerk’s day any easier.

Do your homework on gun prices before you go. Many gun shops nowadays don’t make too much markup on new guns, but on used guns there is usually some room to negotiate.

Also do your homework on what you want to buy ahead of time. This might include renting or putting your hands on different models. While many gun shop employees are very knowledgeable and helpful, some are simply sales people working a retail job. Without knowledge of your own it’s hard to tell who really knows their stuff and who doesn’t.

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