What to Look for When Buying a Gun Online and In-Store

Is there anything you can’t buy online?

Holiday shopping, groceries, and even firearms are just a click away. However, sometimes shopping online can be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Delayed shipments, legal regulations, and more can put a big hamper on an online buy.

If you’re thinking about purchasing your first gun or adding to your growing collection, you should this article is for you. We’ll show you the pros and cons of each purchasing location, along with a few of the best gun buying tips.

Read on to learn all about buying a gun online, or in person.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Gun Online

One of the most significant benefits of buying a gun online is that you’ll have access to various prices. Since you’ll be able to price shop, it’ll be easier to find the best deal.

Many online gun stores can offer discounted prices thanks to the lack of overhead. They pass the savings on to you since they don’t have to pay for a physical brick-and-mortar store.

Another advantage of buying online is that there won’t be any tax if the vendor is out of state. There are certain exceptions where states might require you to pay tax on a pickup.

For instance, California has a rule that you must pay the pickup tax whenever you buy out of state, online or in-store. However, the majority of states will waive the pickup tax fee.

The Downside to Online Shopping

When you shop online, you’ll be forfeiting your opportunity to handle the gun. You’ll also be missing out on a chance to form bonds with gun store employees. Knowing experts in the gun world can be a tremendous resource for building your firearm collection.

Also, if something breaks, you’ll have to take your firearm to a gunsmith or factory. Whereas, when you buy in a store, you can usually take it back to the purchasing location.

Lastly, you won’t be supporting a local business, and you’ll have to wait for shipping. None of these reasons should stop you from shopping online if that’s your preferred method. You’ll have access to a wide selection of firearms, with some of the best customization opportunities available.

Where to Purchase a Gun Online

If you decide to purchase a gun online, the first step is finding an online retailer. We suggest going with name-brand gun retailers since they’ll be the most reliable.

There’s a lot of competition among retailers in the gun world. This means online retailers will be putting their best foot forward online. This includes providing a user-friendly website and a simple checkout process.

You’ll also enjoy high-quality photos of their product inventory. If the website doesn’t have these customer-centric features, take your business elsewhere.

Where To Buy In-store

Are you purchasing your firearm at a brick-and-mortar store? Then we suggest going somewhere local.

The closer the gun retailer is, the better. That way, you can always pop over to the store whenever you have a question about your new piece.

Choosing a local store will also mean that you’re supporting a local business, and that’s always a big plus! Another advantage of shopping locally is that you’ll be able to test out the new gun time and time again.

After returning to the store and handling the gun several times, you’ll finally be able to know if it’s the right one for you. There may even be an on-site shooting area, so you can test the gun out in real life.

Picking the Right Firearm

How can you be sure you’re buying the right gun? If you’re shopping online, you will need to rely on photos and customer testimonies to explore the different firearms.

We also suggest watching YouTube videos, so you can get a feel for what the gun looks like in action. Notice how intense the recoil is. If you get a gun with heavy recoil, make sure you understand what causes flinching, so you can avoid it.

If you’re shopping at a physical store location, be sure to handle the weapon before making any purchasing choices. Ask employees for their opinion, and recommendations too.

Gun Purpose Matters

Before diving deep into the different features, each gun has to offer, consider your needs first. Putting purpose at the top of your shopping checklist will make it easier to find the perfect gun– online or in person.

For instance, are you purchasing a gun for personal defense needs? Then you would probably enjoy a simple handgun made exclusively for self-defense purposes.

Were you hoping to go out and get in some shooting experience? Then consider getting a larger pistol that enjoys greater accuracy and a more extended range.

Larger guns will be more accurate thanks to how they fit in your hand and the reduced felt recoil. However, a smaller pistol will still be the best choice if you need to carry it on your person. You can also check out the different types of AR-15 handguards, for a new shooting experience.

Gun Safety and Maintenance

Another thing to consider is how easy it’ll be to maintain your firearm. If this is your first gun, you won’t want to get a firearm that requires complex maintenance and care.

Easy-to-maintain handguns include Glocks and Sigs. Whereas, a more difficult gun would be 1911.

Make Your Purchase Online

After picking up the perfect firearm, will the online retailer ship it to your home? No.

Online gun stores will never ship the gun directly to your doorstep. Instead, you’ll have to pick up your new gun at a local dealer.

The dealer will have to have an active federal firearms license. Almost any brand-name gun store in your area should be carrying a federal firearms license or FFL.

There are even some collector shops and pawn shops that carry FFL licenses. Is there a local store you like that doesn’t have an FFL?

Let them know you’re interested in shipping guns to them, and they might apply for a FFL. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Once the gun arrives at the predetermined gun store, it’ll be like buying it in person.

Speed up the Process

Do you want to get your Firearm as soon as possible? Then we suggest contacting the local gun store that holds the FFL license personally.

Let them know that you will have a firearm shipped to their store so you can pick it up. Tell them if the gun is coming from an outside source, so they can prepare.

Pickup Fees

Find out ahead of time what the local gun stores fees are surrounding pickup services. It’s normal for a gun store to charge anywhere from $25 to $100, but the prices change from state to state.

The fee covers the time and effort that the gun store owner has to accept, secure, and transfer the firearm. If you like the fee that the store is offering, go ahead and arrange the transfer ahead of time.

Give your local gun store the mailing address, along with the email address of the online retailer. This way, the gun store can send proof of their FFL ahead of time to make things snappy.

You’ll also want to contact the online retailer and let them know what local store they need to ship your firearm to. Provide them with the full physical address and the phone number for the gun store.

Find Accomodating Stores

Fair warning: many stores that hold FFL licenses don’t enjoy helping people who purchase guns online. They’ll be missing out on a lot of the profit margin but still having to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

You’ll want to talk to fellow gun enthusiasts to find an accommodating store that won’t trouble you. If not, you could wind up with a local gun store that tries to make up for their lost profit by sticking you with high fees.

Background Check Rules

Whether you’re purchasing online or in person, you will need a background check. Visiting a local gun store, they’ll be able to complete the background check for you.

What exactly would stop you from being able to purchase a firearm?

If you’re a fugitive or spent over a year in jail, you won’t be able to purchase a firearm. You also won’t be able to buy a gun if there’s a restraining order out against you.

Another no-go situation would be if you renounced your United States citizenship. You’ll also lose eligibility for a dishonorable discharge from the military.

After the background check clears, purchasing your gun in person will be fast and easy. However, resist the urge to leave the store without thoroughly inspecting the firearm first. You’ll want to double-check that there aren’t any damaged parts for your new gun and ask any questions you might have about gun maintenance.

Find the Right Gun For You

If you want to take advantage of a wide variety of firearms, buying a gun online makes sense. Since online retailers have such a wide selection of guns, start reviewing the different pieces available today. Once you find a weapon you’re smitten with, call a local gun store to see if they have it.

You don’t have to buy from the local store, but you can get a feel for how the gun handles. For more ways to get what you need, read another one of our blog posts.