The local gun store is a sometimes strange, often wondrous place. It’s an amazing way to get your hands on products you might be interested in but can’t normally reach, and often their used inventory is unbeatable in diversity and price.
Recently, we broke down the “Who,” “What,” and “When” of visiting your local gun store. We’re going to finish our list with “Where,” “Why,” and “How” — maybe we can help you with your next trip!
Where- This can be broken down in two ways:
- Is this gun store close enough to merit the drive for whatever deal you’re hoping for? It’s the “local” in a local gun store. It’s silly to drive two hours to save 20 bucks — make sure you’re valuing your own time!
- Where do you see yourself putting or using this item? If you’re coming to the store for a specific firearm/optic, you’ve hopefully already asked yourself that question. In this context, it’s a great tool to use for those trips where you don’t have a specific purchasing objective. If you’re raiding the used gun inventory for that one piece to take home make sure that piece has a place once you leave the store — that place can be on the range, on your favorite hunting plot, or even in a display case. Just so long as you’re still content once the euphoria of “Ooh, new gun!” wears off.
Why- Perhaps the most important of all of these questions to consider, it’s essential to take a moment and ask yourself “Why am I going to this particular gun store?”
I’m all for supporting local business, but it’s no secret that many online retailers can undercut a lot of prices. Often, they really are the right choice. So, ask yourself — are you looking for expertise? Are you looking for that in-store experience? Do you want a particular product, and just not mind paying a modest markup for immediacy and the local economy? Do you want to see the used inventory that online platforms don’t often have?
You absolutely should support local business when you get the chance — just make sure that you know why you do and what price differential you’re willing to undergo to support your local business, so if you see a major retailer sale three weeks after you made your purchase at a local store you’re still confident in your choice.
How- Last, but not least — how are you going to pay for your purchase? If you’re buying a 50-round pack of ammo, it’s not such an issue, but if you’re buying an $800 rifle, you need to be sure you can — you know — pay for it. If you’re going to bring some kit or a firearm to trade in, make sure you bring everything pertinent to your trade-in with you. Preferably you make your purchase with cash-on-hand, but if you need financing, see if your local gun store does layaway.
As responsibly-armed citizens and sensible shoppers, it’s on us to make smart shopping choices. If you can, use your next time at your local gun store as an opportunity to bring a friend new to firearms into the community!
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The local gun store is a sometimes strange, often wondrous place. It’s an amazing way to get your hands on products you might be interested in but can’t normally reach, and often their used inventory is unbeatable in diversity and price — I’m a sucker for antiques, myself.
We’re going to take a moment or two and break down the “Who,” “What,” and “When” of visiting your local gun store. Maybe we can help you with your next trip!
Who- Who are you about to be dealing with? Is this a gun store you’re familiar with? A firearm salesman you’re familiar with? If not, have you read reviews on the store or heard about it from friends? This kind of information is vitally important to ensure you get the best for your money without ticking off your local small businessman. I’ll give you an example:
Two of my favorite local gun vendors, William and John, both own small firearms businesses, but operate them in very different ways.
John is an estate sale specialist, often with the majority of his firearms inventory being antiques. He exclusively sells used inventory. He prices his used inventory high intentionally- he’s one of those guys that doesn’t consider a sale a good deal unless he’s haggled for at least a quarter hour.
William is completely different. His inventory is smaller, and tends to be evenly split between used and new inventory, where he specializes in modern, affordable firearms and optics. When William sets a price on a piece of used inventory, he has set it as low as he can while still being profitable. If you bring him cash, he might be able to let you out the door for the tag price — that’s about as good a cut as you can hope for.
Both are perfectly valid ways to run a business — there’s nothing wrong with a little haggling, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with starting your prices low for the sake of your customers. However, if you approach one as you’d approach the other, you’re either going to overpay or offend a small businessman who’s already doing his best. Those are both real people, by the way, and I made the aforementioned mistake both ways before I realized I needed to prepare myself a little better — so there’s no judgment, here.
Homework is going to be your friend.
What- This one’s easy — What do you want? What are you hoping to get out of this trip? Is it ammo? Is it a rifle sling and case? Are you finally able to pull the trigger (ha!) on a new optic? Are you getting a new firearm? Do you want to raid the used firearm collection for a gem? Do you want to just shoot the breeze with the owner during a slow hour?
These are all absolutely acceptable reasons to check out a local gun store, and you can have more than one reason to go — but know why you want to go if you value your budget.
If you don’t care about your financial well-being, well, I wish you Godspeed and good hunting.
When- When are you planning on buying your intended product? Is this an immediate purchase, or are you laying some groundwork for a purchase or two down the road?
If you’re doing some on-the-ground research, it’s often a good idea to mention it to the salesman/owner. They might be able to help you anticipate future sales or updated models coming down the pipeline you may not yet be aware of. Plus, if you’ve got something you’d like to have in a month, you might be able to order it through them, minimizing the threat of whatever item you’re looking for being out of stock.
Have fun, and be prepared! We will be here shortly with the second part of this series: Where, Why, and How!
For some, gunsmithing is a job. For others, a hobby. But for Kip Carpenter, it is a way of life. The ever-savvy gunsmith is a master of his trade and has the experience to back up all his learning, both in the classroom and in life. As a young man, Kip got into gunsmithing with a friend and learned from his friend’s father, and learned how to shoot from his own father. He was also instructed by his god-father, a gunsmith and professional shooter. Kip began gunsmithing when he was just 14 years old, an age where most haven’t even fired their first pistol. At this time he split his love for gunsmithing with another hobby, playing the guitar. Shortly after this Kip started reading up on anything he could get his hands on about gun repair, and ever since then we’ve been witnesses to history in the making.
Kip has amassed a treasure trove of certifications during his time as a gunsmith. His credentials include being a certified pistol smith, shotgun smith, rifle smith, rimfire rifle smith, and advanced glock armorer. He also earned Armorer’s Certificate from Barrett Firearms on all of their long range rifles. The accomplishments don’t end there, as Kip is also a certified NRA instructor. Eventually, his passion and expertise came together and Kip opened up a shop in Colombia, Tennessee, where had moved to in order to help take care of his ailing father. While in the small town, Kip quickly noticed that the they were in dire need of a gunsmith. From enthusiast, to student, to businessman, Kip’s gunsmithing career has completed the cycle, as he is now not only an instructor at SDI, but also our Master Gunman. SDI’s VP of Academic Affairs Mike Olson perfectly summed up what Kip means to the institute.
“As a member of our faculty, Kip Carpenter has guided and mentored SDI students for years. His dedication to our student body has been demonstrated time and again by his willingness to work one-on-one with his students, help other faculty members, and answer any ‘gun question’ under the sun. In his new role as Master Gunsmith, Kip will lend his 30-plus years of experience in the firearms industry to guide the Department of Curriculum and Assessment in the development and revision of our courses while still bringing his expertise to SDI’s students in the classroom.”
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, Kip really loves what he does. In fact, the only thing that Kip may be more passionate about is teaching. Being able to share all the knowledge he’s gained with the next generation of gunsmiths is what Kip loves most about his job. Their inquisitive nature and desire to learn as much as they can about the craft of gunsmithing reminds Kip asking as many questions as he could in his beginnings. Don’t take my word for it, Kip sums it up perfectly himself.
“What I love the most about being an instructor is passing on the knowledge and history to a new generation of future gunsmiths, so the art of gunsmithing will continue long after I am gone. I also love the questions these young men and women ask me it reminds me of me; I would ask all kinds of questions to gain any knowledge I could and I see the same desire in our students and it makes me so proud of them! I tell you I have the greatest job in the world being at SDI”
So what advice does this Master Gunsmith have for those interested in getting into the trade?
- Learn all you can learn from reading books to hands on to just asking question. The master admits that he’s still learning till this day.
- Have confidence in yourself and do not be afraid to mess up it happens you learn from it and move on!
- Don’t commit to anything you are not trained to do it will just get you in a bind with the customer and damage your reputation, also be completely honest!
- Always obey the laws!!
- Enjoy what you do and take pride in your work and work space! No one wants to leave their firearm with someone who seems unprofessional or disorganized.
SDI gives Kip the ability to share his love and knowledge with young up-and-coming gunsmiths and he couldn’t be anymore grateful. Kip has been with SDI for three years and sees the school as one big, happy family. Everyone from SDI from the faculty to the students are thankful to have Kip on the team and hope he’ll be with us for many years to come.