Why buy guns from your local gun shop? an editorial by Mark Freburg You already know or will soon find out that you can find new guns cheaper at places other than gun shops. Nevertheless I think it makes good sense to buy from gun shops anyway. Let's talk about why.
Your local gun dealer has very likely been in business for years, and probably will continue to be in business for years to come. His shop will have dozens if not hundreds of guns in stock and if he is worth his salt he will be happy to let you come in and handle any or all of them. You can see how they fit you, try the trigger pull, look down the sights, heft them for weight, and ask a million questions. Your dealer will answer them, and hopefully you will go away with a good deal of knowledge that frankly you can't get anywhere else.
When you get ready to buy a gun, your dealer is most likely going to have it in stock, and if he doesn't he will usually order the model you want with no money down. When you complete the purchase the dealer is going to make sure you know how to work the gun, load and unload it, and in general handle it safely. He will show you the owner's manual and any accessories that come from the manufacturer. If there are accessories you've decided on that don't come with the gun, anything from magazines to holsters, odds are good your dealer will have it available to buy right there.
Finally, after you buy your gun you may have questions. You may even have a problem with your gun. It is unlikely, but every product manufacturer occasionally makes a product with a defect. If this happens to you, your gun dealer is going to be there tomorrow, next week, or next month, and the responsible dealer will take care of you after the sale. This may mean simply answering questions that arose after the purchase, or sending the gun back to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.
Your local gun shop may charge a little more, but his service is worth a few dollars. Your local gun shop is a good place to do business.
Compare this with your alternatives. One popular place to buy guns are gun shows. Here you can often buy new guns for closer to wholesale prices.* Why not save money? The reasons are simple. Almost none of the benefits I listed for the local gun shop are true for a traveling gun show seller. You buy today and he's gone tomorrow. Even if you've seen him around, there is absolutely nothing that guarantees he will be back next month or next year. Your gun show seller is unlikely to have the selection of the gun shop. He is unlikely to have the time or desire to spend with you looking at his guns. Often gun show sellers are weekend businessmen and don't really know much about the product they sell. One thing I really dislike about buying a gun from a gun show is that by being packed and unpacked and handled so much, many of these "new" guns become shopworn. You don't need that.
Another alternative is to buy from a distributor and have it legally transferred to you via a local FFL (Federal Firearm's License holder). Your FFL holder may mean well but odds are he is not a stocking dealer, has nothing to show you, and may know less than you about the product you want to buy. If he places an order you'll normally have to pay him in advance, with no idea when the gun will arrive. If it is wrong or unsatisfactory in any way, he will probably send it back for you, but in the meantime he still has your money and you have no gun.
How about an online auction? While popular with knowledgeable collectors, this has to be among the riskiest ways in existence to buy a gun. You take all the chances, because the seller is not going to send any gun until he has your money. You have little to no control over him either. Not the way to buy a new gun!
In conclusion, I strongly believe it is best to pay a little more and reap all the benefits of your local stocking gun shop. (25 May 06)
* Since this was written in 2006, gun shows are an even worse alternative because they no longer offer guns at prices much lower than gun shops. They have been taken over by traveling dealers and what you get are retail prices yet you still have all the guns being packed and unpacked weekly. Pass. (2 Aug 12)