Firearm Store Etiquette: How to Handle the “Handoff”

  • Jack Collins
The image above is courtesy of Infrogmation of New Orleans

Have you ever walked into a gun store, asked the person behind the counter to see a gun, and then frozen when they handed it to you? Or maybe you’ve been on the other side of the equation, working at a gun shop and passing off a gun for a customer to inspect. Neither of these situations is a fun time if you don’t know how to handle the “handoff.” That’s why our friends Jarred McNeely and his co-host, Rick, recorded this video. We’ll break it down below.

How to Handle the Handoff from Behind the Counter

When handing a firearm off to a customer for them to inspect, Jarred emphasizes that the first thing you need to do is ensure that it’s clear. To do that, pull the slide or bolt back and visually inspect the chamber and magazine to ensure there are no cartridges present. If you’re familiar with the four rules of gun safety, you’ll be familiar with this practice since it’s based on Rule 1 (treat every firearm as though it’s loaded).

After you’ve cleared the gun, lock the slide or bolt open and pass it to the customer. When handing the firearm to the customer, make sure you’re not flagging them or yourself. “Flagging” is a term that refers to pointing a gun’s muzzle unintentionally at a person.

One last thing: While it’s easy to slide a gun across a table to a customer, this isn’t the way to go! Instead, hand the gun to the customer so they can see the chamber is empty. Maintain control of the gun until the customer takes it. One thing that Rick mentions in the video is that the way a gun store employee treats a gun sets a precedent for the customer. If you take handling firearms seriously, so will they.


Image Courtesy of Michael McConville


Handling the Handoff as a Customer

Okay, so if you’re a shopper at a gun store, everything about the “handoff ” has been relatively easy so far. But now, the clerk behind the counter is handing you a firearm for inspection. Don’t panic!

A shopper taking a gun should be following the same rules as the employee passing it to them. Visually confirm that the gun is clear before taking it. At this point, if you have any questions, now is the time to ask! If you want to try aiming the gun to see its sight picture or dry firing it to test the trigger, that’s fine too—provided you remain aware and don’t point it at anyone in the store.

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