Shopping for new equipment is always exciting, but it's important to follow gun store etiquette so you fit in and have a pleasant experience. While gun shop employees are there to help you, there are a few things you can keep in mind to ensure you're being respectful, safe and aware of others in the store.
Consider this your official guide for gun store do's and don'ts to start your visit on the right note.
1. Always Follow the Rules of Gun Safety
As soon as you step foot in a gun shop, you'll notice the large selection of firearms available for purchase. Depending on the store setup, you may have to ask to see a gun from behind a counter or go through the shop with an attendant to find what you're looking for.
When handling firearms — even in a store setting with visibly empty chambers — all customers should follow basic gun safety rules.
Act Like Every Gun Is Loaded
Whether you're in your own home or a gun store, always act like every firearm you see is loaded. Any time a gun is put on a table or handled by another individual, point it in a safe direction and confirm that it is empty as soon as you pick it up again. You should follow this protocol even when a gun store employee hands you a firearm from the shelf.
There is no time limit to this rule. Even if you just watched another person check the gun's chamber, you must do so for yourself once it's in your hands.
Only Point Firearms in a Safe Direction
Carelessness in a gun store can lead to someone getting hurt — and make other patrons uncomfortable. Even after you've finished a gun safety check and know there is no ammunition in a firearm, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and do your best to avoid “flagging” others with it.
Leave Your Finger off the Trigger
This is perhaps the most important gun safety rule to follow in any setting. Guns only fire when someone pulls the trigger, so practicing trigger discipline is a proactive way to prevent any negligent discharges. When you're handling a firearm with no intent to shoot, place your finger along the frame rather than inside the trigger guard.
If the shop you're visiting allows you to dry fire the gun to test the trigger, do so with the muzzle pointed toward the floor or ceiling after confirming that the chamber is empty.
2. Research Before Visiting a Gun Store
Check to see if the gun store you'll visit has a website detailing their inventory. Browsing firearms online is a great way to get an idea of what you might want to demo or purchase. Ideally, you can check out detailed product descriptions to learn more about a particular gun before you hold it.
You can also explore online reviews to hear what real shooters and industry experts have to say about specific firearms. A major perk of researching firearms before you visit a gun shop is that you will save time and potentially some money. There is a wide variety of gun brands on the market. You'll likely have more than one option for hunting, self-defense or recreational shooting applications at price points that work for you.
3. Understand Your State's Gun Laws
Some U.S. states have more restrictive gun laws than others. For example, residents of New York, New Jersey and California may have a difficult time purchasing a firearm compared to locations like Texas or Utah.
It's common for gun laws to be up to interpretation depending on the state, making it difficult for gun shops to stay up to date. You should always do business with a reputable firearm store that has positive customer ratings for the best experience. Whether you have questions about a gun or how to make a purchase, a reputable shop should steer you in the right direction.
See what you can do to research gun laws applicable to your state and check in with a store you feel comfortable asking for further details.
4. Refrain From Joking Around or Talking About Illegal Actions
Shop owners and employees have a responsibility to offer guns to qualified individuals who will use firearms safely. Talking or joking about illegal activities can get you kicked out of the store permanently. Even worse, you could end up speaking with a police officer about your decision.
When you know something is against the law, refrain from asking a gun store about the topic. Also, never ask a professional to make exceptions to their rules or skirt the law while shopping — they can't and they won't.
5. Ask for Permission When Handling Guns
Firearms are expensive, so it's natural to want to cycle the action or dry fire before you buy. Letting a gun store employee know what you'd like to do keeps them in the loop and gives them a chance to offer suggestions for proper handling. For instance, some firearms shouldn't be fired with an empty chamber, so it is always wise to ask permission before you try pulling the trigger.
Even if you have years of experience, you should always listen to the shop's staff while handling a gun. These associates are there to ensure you have all the knowledge you need to use their products safely and correctly.
6. Remember to Be Polite
Being polite goes a long way in a gun shop. There could be times when a clerk has to help multiple people, so plan on waiting in case there are others in line ahead of you.
Good gun store etiquette is appreciated and tells workers you're a serious buyer, so you should always treat gun store employees how you would like to be treated.
Some shops take guns on trade for credit toward another purchase. Remember to keep your expectations for trade-in values realistic — the margin on firearms is typically fairly low, and smaller shops can only do so much to bring the prices down. Consider asking if the seller will include a box of ammunition or an accessory with your order if the cost of the gun is too high or you've seen the same product at a lower price elsewhere.
Outfit Your New Gun With Parts From Wing Tactical
At Wing Tactical, we only sell firearm parts and accessories we would use on our own guns. All of the offerings on our site are in new condition and qualify for next-day shipping. We're a veteran-owned business with a mission to serve every kind of shooter.