Tips on buying first gun


December 16, 2005, 04:17 AM
After test firing several guns I've narrowed down my choices for pistols I'd like. I'm finally ready to purchase my first gun. My only question now is... what should I do? Does anyone have any tips on how to negotiate a good price? Tips on places for cheap FFL transfers in Florida? I've heard of some places offer cash discounts, is this true? What are some things I should look at if I decide to buy a used gun? Thanks a lot for any help you can offer!

Also, I've heard that some shops charge tax on FFL transfers and some don't. Is this true?

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December 16, 2005, 08:49 AM
Don't have any info for you on the FFL transfers, but check out pawn shops in your area sometimes they will charge a bit less then a gun shop. Also if there is a range in your area that you go to a lot see if they can do it for you at a good price.

As to what gun well you need to look at several things. One being what you like best. Which gun fits your hand best, looks best to you, do you prefer one brand over another. If you are going to carry a gun it may as well look good to you and be something you are proud to own. Don't sacrafice hand feel, but two guns that feel equally well in the hand to you, both just holding and when fireing (different guns have different felt recoil even within the same caliber) you may as well go with the one that you would be more proud to own.

Second is the price fo the gun. To some of us money is no object and not sure about you but many of us don't have that luxury.

Third is the guns intended use. What do you plan to be using it for? If it is something you plan to carry on you may want to look at guns that are a bit shorter and/or slim. If it is just for home defense and range shooting you can get a gun that is a bit longer barreled without having the concern of concealability. Also to figure into this is caliber. Will it be purly defense? Range shooting? Combination of the two? For something just going to be used for defense with only occasional range use to keep your skills in order you can go with a larger and stronger caliber like .45. It wont break your wrist or your wallet if you wont be fireing it often. If it is going to be a range gun only you can go with a weak very cheap caliber like .22 that you can afford to shoot all day cheaply. For a combo you want something that is a good well rounded caliber like 9mm or 40S&W for autos, if you want a revolver go with a .357 magnum, you can use the mags for defense and can fire .38 specials at the range, just remember to clean the cylinder well so you don't get a ring which could cause ejection problems when you use the mags. They are good calibers for defense that also wont break your budget to go to the range for the day, the 9mm esspecialy in that respect.

December 16, 2005, 09:06 AM
Welcome to THR. One way to find an FFL holder who does inexpensive transfers is to go to and click on buyers. Plug in your zip code and you should get a list of dealers in your area including what they charge. That's what I did up here in Ohio and I found an FFL holder who only charges $10, while most of the others charge $25.

The general consensus on this and other forums is that there is very little markup on guns. It is certainly true in my area. With the combination of gun shows, hobby FFL holders, and online shopping, there are several ways to get really good deals without negotiating.

Some dealers offer cash discounts (discount for using cash), or another way to put it is that they charge more if you use a credit card. I see this often at gun shows, since there tends to be alot of cash floating around.

You will get much good advice on this forum. poppy

December 16, 2005, 10:13 AM
Good post! I'm glad that you were able to test fire several firearms before coming up with your "short list" to choose from. All too often, a new shooter merely chooses a firearm because it LOOKS "cool", or because of the caliber. At least you KNOW how those test-fired firearms feel in your hand and how they shoot.

Shop around! Compare the prices at as many gun stores and gun shows as possible. Keep your eyes open for any advertised special prices. If you find what you want at a gun show, "haggle" with the dealer (they expect that). If the gun show dealer comes up with a reasonable price, don't mind "haggling" with him some more! Maybe politely ask if he'll "sweeten the deal" a bit, by throwing in some accessories and/or ammo.

Yes, a cash sale will often give you a bit of a discount, but not always. Just don't mind asking if they'll come down in the price for a cash transaction.

Used? New? That's going to be entirely up to you, but for your FIRST-ever firearm, I'd suggest that you get something NEW. That first firearm will be all YOURS, without a previous owner. Besides, it will come with some sort of warranty that you can be sure of, instead of a used firearm that is no longer under any sort of warranty.

If your choice is based solely upon the cost, and if you were "rich", you would have bought a better brand or model, here are a few suggestions:

Don't compromise your WANT! If you're short on cash, don't get something that is "second best". Save up for the BEST! Maybe tell your relatives and friends that you'd rather have CASH for Christmas, your upcoming birthday, etc. Work a few hours of over-time on your job, if possible, until you have enough. Re-cycle aluminum cans! Sell something that you no longer use on E-Bay, or in your local newspaper. Ask your relatives if they'll give you a short-term loan. Hold a "garage sale". Do without a few "luxuries" for awhile.

Several years back, I wanted a rifle that was going to set me back quite a bit, but I didn't want to dip into the savings account. I needed to come up with $1,200. At one point, I thought that I might take me 6 months to come up with that amount, so you can understand how I surprised myself by being able to come up with over $2,000 in just ONE month by using several of the above-mentioned "money makers"!

December 16, 2005, 10:37 AM
While new is nice, you can save real $$ on used.
If it turns out you don't like your choice, you'll lose less on a trade.

Many used guns are carried or stored alot and shot little.

Do be wary of "custom" looking pistols ( action jobs, aftermarket parts added etc.) Unless you know who did the work.

Do buy a pistol you can learn to shoot. If magnum, try starting with special loads.
Many years ago, a well meaning Dealer talked me into a .357 as my first gun...with full house BLAM, BLAM loads! I think it set back my learning to shoot by years.................a .38 special or 9MM would have been a better choice for me.

December 16, 2005, 11:52 AM
I too would encourage you to consider buying used, since price seems to be one of your concerns. New is great, but LNIB can be even better.

Most of my purchases have been LNIB, but I must admit that my first few were new, because I had no experience and I relied on gun rags rather than other means of information.

You are starting from a different place than many of us old farts. You have better information. What took me several years to learn from attending many gun shows, buying and selling and shooting many guns, making good deals and lously deals, you can get (besides the shooting thing) right here in a matter of days.

A search will get you several check lists for buying used guns. Those lists are in my head now so when I go to the Dayton gun show tomarrow, I will be prepared. I will have enough cash to take advantage of that next good deal. I will have a list of guns that I will look for, but if something presents itself that is not on the list, and it is the best deal at that show, that's what I buy.

I try to stick to my ANIB set of rules. For example I wanted a Ruger KP90 real bad and bought one at a show that showed some wear; it had 3 mags but no box. At a later gun show I found the same pistol, but this time ANIB with 2 mags and $65 less than the first one. That lesson helped me establish a key used gun rule. Don't buy a common gun unless it is truly ANIB. I kept the 3rd mag and sold the first pistol for a slight loss.

Stick to some rules for yourself and be patient. By sticking to my ANIB rule, I have been able to pick up some really good deals that have greatly enhanced my collection. You can use the same technique for online purchases. poppy

December 16, 2005, 12:18 PM
Find a gun show. Go to it. You might find a deal, and you might not, but the point is variety. You will have the opportunity to look at and handle literally thousands of guns. I buy almost exclusively from my local shop because I like them (and their prices are pretty good), but they don't carry anything near the variety you will find at a gun show.

December 16, 2005, 12:58 PM
1) Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Boards like this one, although we may gripe about our particular guns, tend to collect gripe stories and not "everything is fine" stories.

2) Do price the ammo the gun will use. Had I done it over again, I likely would have gone with 9mm instead of .45ACP, since ammo is half the price (not that I am going to do it over, mind you).

3) Don't do anything hasty. Any gun can be ordered, no need to impulse buy.

4) Do think of the possible uses. Don't get a huge gun if you plan to do concealed-carry eventually. Don't get a mouse gun if you only intend to do home defense.

5) Shoot the gun. Often. Learn to master your new pistol, both at the range and on the cleaning table.

6) Be very careful. Learn the four rules, and practice them ALWAYS.

December 16, 2005, 03:29 PM
Shop around and cash is always better

December 16, 2005, 03:31 PM
Before purchasing your firearm, spend a few minutes at the ammunition shelf investigating the cost of owning your choice. .22LR is about as cheap as it come at 550 rounds for $10. Next in line is 9mm / .38spl at $8. per 50 rounds. Anything outside these calibers will run something like $14.00 per 50 rounds. If you become a serious shooter, the cost of ownership will quickly outrun the cost of acquisition.

December 16, 2005, 08:33 PM


About the only advise I have for you is deside what you want and shop around. Also check on closed deals to find out what guns are going for.

Dont buy used save the frustration and buy new.

Dont know about Florida but here gun prices are very competitive. Not much wiggle room for retailers like I said just shop around and know what the going rate is.

Standing Wolf
December 16, 2005, 09:32 PM
When haggling over a price, always bear this in mind: the very worst that can happen is that the seller will reject your offer; conversely, you can reject his, too.

If you don't get the price you believe is fair, go somewhere else.

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