Gun Shop Etiquette – How To Behave Yourself In a Gun Shop

There are thousands of gun sales in the US each day (it is estimated that on average there are 56,600 guns sold each day!). Not all are from experienced gun buyers, some will be from first time gun buyers too. That means there are a lot of novices out there that might not know the proper etiquette for visiting a gun shop.

For a lot of people going to the gun shop is an enjoyable experience that they look forward to, much like a kid in a toy store! For that reason we put together a quick list of things we should keep in mind when we make our visit to the gun store, in order to ensure it is not only a fun trip for everybody but also a safe one!

Why Firearm Owners Need Gun Shops

While the proliferation of online firearm purchasing has become a lot more common, there are still services that these gun shops provide that are preferable to internet transactions. Gun shops can:

  • Make certain purchases for enthusiasts that they sometimes can’t do online.
  • Provide gunsmithing and other repair services.
  • Be a local source of parts and accessories.

Let’s Start With The Gun Shop Itself

Before we review how you’re shopping, let’s take a look at where you’re shopping. Responsible firearm users deal only with legitimate gun dealers, which means that they both have and display on their premises any required registration. In most cases, in addition to Federal registration, state and local certification is required as well. Patrons should also take the time to make sure that store owners and employees are knowledgeable about all aspects of the products that they are selling, too. Not only does this guarantee that buyers will have a better shopping experience, it can protect them from getting caught up in legal ramifications based on misinformation from sellers.

Gun Shop Etiquette

Handling And Pointing

As a firearm enthusiast, it’s understandable that a trip to a gun store is like a trip to a toy store. But of course, guns aren’t toys, which means that as a matter of practice, you and all others within said shop should behave as though all pieces are loaded. This means that firearms should be handed back and forth with muzzles pointing away from each other. And if you want to do anything beyond holding the piece to examine it, check first with shop personnel. Many stores have a specified target area within the shop set up where customers can practice “air draws”.

Sale Poaching

Have you ever gone into a shop, seen another individual attempting to sell a piece to the owner and thought, “I could make a better deal for both of us if I cut in and take that sale over?” It’s just plain rude to jump in and interrupt an in-progress negotiation. And while it’s perfectly legal to conduct a private firearms sale under certain circumstances, this type of sale can cause a world of hurt for unwary private buyers as well. Instead of poaching, gun shop etiquette calls for an interested party to wait for a potential sale to fall through. Rather than rush over to the potential seller, the potential buyer should first ask the gun shop owner:

  • Was there a reason or reasons why you declined to make this purchase?
  • Is the firearm’s paperwork and ownership history in order?
  • Does the piece appear to be in good condition?

Look at it this way. If the gun shop owner does purchase the piece, you’ll be in the right place to purchase it for yourself.

Please Don’t Squeeze The Merchandise Without Permission

“Dry firing” or releasing the slide on a piece can actually damage it. Always get the permission of store staff before doing so.

There Are No Dumb Questions, Only….

If you are a first time or novice firearm user, don’t try to bluff your way through a potential firearm purchase. You won’t fool the staff or other store patrons. And honesty with staff insures getting the help that you need to acquire the firearm that’s right for you.


Many establishments need to see your permit before even allowing you to handle the piece, never mind allowing you to purchase one. Save everyone time by bringing yours with you and having it ready before asking to see merchandise.

“Horse Trading”

Gun shop etiquette allows for a reasonable amount of haggling. Getting an owner or staff member to reduce the price by a few dollars is generally acceptable. Expecting to have a price reduced to match what you’ve seen online is not. Remember that “brick and mortar” merchants have expenses and overhead that online ones don’t.

Have You Heard The One About….

Jokes, comments, and “humorous” stories about people being fatally shot or injured with firearms aren’t acceptable anywhere, and that’s most certainly the case for gun shops.

Safety First

Yes, we know that the shop employee isn’t going to hand you a loaded firearm. You should still perform a safety check before examining any piece that you are handed.

Wrapping Up

What do you think are some of the most important things we need to do/not do when visiting a gun shop? Do you still visit your gun shops regularly or do you mostly do your shopping online? If you have some thoughts, we would love to hear from! Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About the author: This article was contributed by Joe from Joe is a gun enthusiast that started his blog specifically to not only learn more himself, but to also share what he learned with others in the community.

One Response to Gun Shop Etiquette – How To Behave Yourself In a Gun Shop

  1. Doran February 17, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    Good morning to all,
    I go online mainly for reviews and to check local gun shops inventory and to get a perimeter of what a gun is going for in and used.
    I have bought ammo online (once) but no guns. I personally like the interaction of a real specialist and want to support my local or regional dealers. going into the shop itself it develops a relationship with them that is worth the few dollars you MIGHT save buying online.
    Just my musings.

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