Gun Shop Etiquette: The Do’s & Don’ts While Shopping For A New Gun


For most of you, a trip to the gun shop is like a child walking into a toy store; you want to try everything and take them all home with you. However, as much as we would like them to be, gun stores are not the same as toy stores. There are both spoken and unspoken rules, along with an expected decorum while shopping in a gun store.

Understanding these rules and decorum helps everyone in the store, both the employees and other shoppers, experience a safe and respectful shopping environment.

Let’s jump in!

1. One Firearm At A Time Please

We understand the excitement can be overwhelming. To want to see and touch multiple firearms. Compare them side by side, hold them in your hands together, see how each feel in your grip. However, out of respect for the employees and other shoppers it’s advised to only have one gun out on the counter at a time.

2. Don’t Flag Me Bro!

The rules of gun safety are to assume the gun is always loaded, and to never point the gun at something you don’t intend to shoot. When handling a firearm in a gun store (or anywhere for that matter) don’t cover (also called flagging) other patrons or employees with the muzzle of a firearm.

Consider yourself in the same situation. You wouldn’t want someone inadvertently pointing a gun at you, would you? Be respectful and always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.  

3. Ask Before Trying

Many times, making a firearm purchase is an expensive ordeal. Guns are not cheap, and we understand you want to feel confident about your purchase before spending your hard-earned dollars. Sometimes that calls for releasing the slide, or even dry firing. However, please keep in mind that you don’t own the firearm just yet.

Most stores will let you do this, but it’s polite to ask. There are even some firearms where dry firing is not recommended. So, asking before you try pulling, squeezing, pushing, and slamming the various components of the gun is the right thing to do.

4. Come Prepared If You Want To Trade

If you intend to trade a firearm in at your local gun store, please come prepared. By that we mean don’t walk into the store with the firearm in your hand. Certainly, you can understand why this is a bad idea. The best thing to do is bring the firearm in the case that it originally came in; or even an aftermarket case if you don’t have the original.

Furthermore, give employees at the store the opportunity to remove the gun from the case and inspect it if they wish. This is just a good and safe policy for everyone. We’re dealing with firearms here, not toilet paper you’re looking to return at Costco.

5. Always Safety Check Without Exception – Every Time

It doesn’t matter if the employee just showed you it’s clear. As soon as you pick up a firearm ANYWHERE, the first thing you should be doing is a safety check. This policy does not change in a gun shop.

6. Have An Idea Of What Guns You’re Interested In

The internet is a wonderful tool for information. You probably have an idea of what kind of gun you are interested in, but it doesn’t hurt to do some research online before you go in. There are countless video reviews, articles, and blog posts about almost every modern firearm. You might be surprised by what you learn and didn’t know about the gun you thought you wanted.

Alternatively, you might also learn about other firearms that align better with your interests. Being informed before going into the shop will save you time, and could also save you money.

7. Bring Your Permit And Other Necessary Documents

Seemingly every state has different rules. Understand your local laws before going in if you intend to make a purchase that day. In some instances, you need to show your permit before you can even touch one of the firearms. Other documentation may be required as well.

If you are unsure of what you need, a gun store is a great place to talk to an expert on local rules. Just don’t expect to walk out of the store with a gun unless you meet all the legal requirements in terms of permits and documents.

8. Haggle Away, But Be Respectful

There is nothing wrong with trying to haggle. Everyone wants to save a few bucks. If you’ve seen a firearm elsewhere at a better price, or the same one online for a few bucks cheaper, go ahead and ask the store if they can work with you on the price. Keep in mind, however, that online purchases generally have several other fees attached to them. Things like shipping and transfer fees can suddenly shoot up the overall cost on that super price you originally saw.

More importantly, keep in mind that local smaller gun stores can’t often compete with the big volume online retailers. The store owner needs to keep his doors open, so be respectful if you decide to haggle. Sometimes, asking the store to throw in a box of ammo or a holster is another option to help bring down the cost of the initial purchase.

9. Illegal Means Illegal. Don’t Talk About It.

This shouldn’t need to be explained, but let’s discuss it for just a second. If you know something is illegal, don’t ask the gun store about it or ever ask them to bend the rules for you. Just don’t ever do it.

10. Be Polite & Respectful

You don’t need to be religious to understand the “Golden Rule.” It is a simple one to follow and applies well in a gun store. Treat others, both employees and other shoppers, as you would like to be treated. Keep in mind that employees talk to a lot of people all day and are expected to provide a lot of knowledge on many firearms. So be patient with them.

Also, remember that not everyone in the store may be as experienced in firearms as you are. There are a lot of new people entering the world of firearms today, and their experience at the gun store may be their fist impression of the firearm community. So, try and be respectful and helpful to everyone involved.

Have anything to add?

Let us know in the Comments.


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About the Author

Xavier Roberts has worked in the firearms industry for several years, and has written previously about gun laws, self defense, and product reviews. His EDC gun is a Chippia Rhino 40DS in an Alien Gear Holster, along with a Templar Knife and a Rugged Rosary.

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