First Gun Store Visit Survival Guide

  • Jack Collins
The above image is courtesy of Thayne Tuason

Are you itching to get into firearms, but a little nervous to venture into one of your local gun stores for the first time? Never fear! Local gun shops are often fairly understanding and accepting of new customers—as long as you follow a few simple rules. We’ll help guide you through learning how to buy a gun below.

Gun Shop Survival Guide: Follow These Rules at Your Local Gun Stores

Although your first visit to the local gun shop may be a little bit intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to help you breeze through your first gun store visit!

Make Sure Every Gun Is Unloaded When You Handle It

This is probably one of the biggest mistakes that newbie gun buyers make. They’ll walk into one of their local gun stores, ask to see a gun, and then begin handling it after the employee behind the counter passes it to them without checking to make sure it’s empty.

This is a big no-no. Sure, the gun store employee should have checked to make sure the gun is empty. Heck, if it was sitting there behind the glass, it shouldn’t be loaded in the first place, right?

Of course not.

But what you’re really doing here is establishing good firearm handling habits. Whenever anyone ever hands you any gun at all, your first instinct should be to ensure that it’s empty. It takes less than a second, and then you can rest easy knowing you’re not handling a loaded gun. Don’t worry about looking like a nerd to the gun store employee—they’ll appreciate knowing you’re not a scrub.


Image courtesy of Michael McConville

Don’t Flag Anyone!

One of the biggest things to bear in mind during your first trip to the local gun store is to mind where you’re aiming. Even after you check the gun to ensure it’s not loaded, you don’t want to go around pointing it at the store clerk or any other shoppers. Remember one of the cardinal rules of gun safety: do not point a gun at something you don’t intend to destroy.

That doesn’t mean you can’t check out the gun’s sights, though. When I’m looking down a gun’s sights in a store, I usually aim at the floor or at some non-living thing in the shop. Depending on the gun, I’ll even pull the trigger a few times to see how it feels (unless it’s a rimfire gun, since dry firing them can damage the firing pin).

Bring Your ID and Ask Questions

This seems like a no-brainer to anyone who’s bought more than a single firearm. But no matter who you are or which gun store you visit in the U.S., you’re going to need to bring some kind of government-issued ID. Federal laws prohibit gun stores from selling firearms to anyone without running a background check, and to do that, the store needs your ID. You’ll also need to have your most up-to-date address information on your ID.

When you head into your local gun shop for the first time, it’s definitely helpful to have some idea of what you’re looking for. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions! Most gun store employees legitimately love firearms, and they’ll be happy to share any info they have with you. It’s part of the fun of buying a gun from a local store rather than from some shop online.

Learn More about Firearms with SDI

After you pick up your first firearm, you’ll naturally want to learn everything you can about taking care of it. That’s where SDI can help. Our extensive online courses can help you broaden your firearms knowledge—regardless of your skill level. To learn more, explore the full list of available programs we have to offer.

Spread the love