Gun Shop Etiquette


May 5, 2003, 01:47 AM
I have a thing about people pulling out firearms without telling me they are going to do so. Hell, sometimes it happens so fast that I get a quiver in the bowels. When you come into the shop please tell me, the guy behind the counter, about your intentions and then follow my instructions.

I really want your firearm to fit your holster. Please though, don't pull out your firearm and start testing fit. I especially get a bit unnerved when I find that you are doing so with a loaded firearm. Please see me first.

Please don't point your firearm at me whether it's unloaded or not. My stomach gets ever so queasy. Oh, don't ask me if you can load up a shotgun I am showing you. Absolutely not!

For my part I will treat you, the customer, with the utmost respect. If I don't know something I will tell you so! I will then try to get you the correct answer. I will attend to your needs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

I will offer my opinion only when asked! I promise that I will not try to sell you something that is the flavor of the month. I will never disparage your opinion or belittle you in any fashion.

Sorry for the rant but Saturday at the shop was a particularly peculiar day.

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May 5, 2003, 02:22 AM
Oh, don't ask me if you can load up a shotgun I am showing you.



May 5, 2003, 03:39 AM
Path, that's hardly a rant. For a man who's had guns pulled on him by (well-meaning, I'm sure) patrons, you're post comes off as kinda mellow. Being kind of a safety jerk, that sort of thing REALLY ticks me off.

May 5, 2003, 07:07 AM
"Can I load this gun?" "Uh, ok." "Stick em up!" :banghead:

May 5, 2003, 08:36 AM
PATH, your words are common sense. How about opening up a shop here in TN? We'll treat ya right! ;) :D

May 5, 2003, 08:50 AM
A few years ago, I was in a pawn shop looking to see if I could find a deal on a surplus rifle. A fellow comes in, looking to have been rolling in the dirt, holds his hand out and asks if he could see if a cartridge he was displaying with his other hand would chamber into that particular scoped rifle in a wildcat chambering.

Without thinking, I said "absolutely not!" and the fellow gave me a confused look before walking out. First off, I was absolutely surprised I answered instead of the shop employee, as it wasn't my place (I never speak for others whom I feel can speak for themselves). It was as if it was a reflex response. I didn't remember deciding to say it, I more or less heard myself say it.
Second, maybe it could have been said differently, such as "let's see what kind cartridge you have and we'll see what we can do".

Looking back at the event, I felt I acted inappropriately (possibly interpreted as rudely, which bothered me). After watching the guy walk out, the shop employee rolled his eyes while shaking his head and I got back to shopping, attempting to analyze what the heck just happened.

However, I can see how one can have an initial "shock-prompted" action/comment after hearing or seeing something that's likely to catch someone off guard.

May 5, 2003, 08:53 AM
It never stops amazing me at the outright stupidity of some people.
Where is their common sense? (!)
I was like a cat on a hot tin roof the two times I withdrew my side arm in a store. I informed the owner, stood in a corner facing in to an open safe while securing my weapon.

How do you keep your sanity? Glad to hear everything was OK though.

Jim March
May 5, 2003, 08:57 AM
Two short quotes from my "revolver checkout thread" which started on TFL...

...and continues here on THR (in the revolver forum)...

WARNING: most of these tests require violation of the "finger off trigger" rule. Therefore, be extremely careful about safe muzzle direction and making sure the gun is unloaded ahead of time, PERSONALLY, as you begin handling it.
SAFETY WARNING: This step in particular is where you MUST watch your muzzle direction. Look, part of what's happening here is that you're convincing the seller you know your poop :). It helps the haggling process. If you do anything unsafe, that impression comes completely unglued.

Carlos Cabeza
May 5, 2003, 11:12 AM
PATH, Does dry firing a .44 mag lever rifle fall under
"Breach of Etiquette" guidelines ? I accidentally (honest) did the unspeakable whilst looking at a Marlin the other day. The kind gentleman only gave me a disgusted look and spared me any harsh words. I did not intend to dry fire the weapon. I was just working the action. (finger on trigger, oops !) I did feel like a complete dipstick though !
The rifle was not aimed at anyone, but at the ceiling.

May 5, 2003, 11:16 AM
Path, your rules sound full of something long missing from our society...common sense!

May 5, 2003, 02:15 PM
Dropping the slide on an empty chamber.....grrrrrrr........


May 5, 2003, 05:10 PM
Wildalaska wrote:
Dropping the slide on an empty chamber.....grrrrrrr........ It was an accident, really! I was asking how to properly depress the slide release when ready to shoot, because I can't reach it with my right thumb. I showed him I couldn't reach it. Guess what, I could!

I felt really bad, but you can't 'undo' that sort of thing. :banghead:

Hey, you didn't really see me do that, did you? :what:

May 5, 2003, 05:43 PM
You aren't supposed to drop a slide on an empty chamber? Why? Do you let it down easily?

And what does it hurt to dryfire? I though it was a myth that dryfiring was harmful.:confused:

May 5, 2003, 06:08 PM
Oh, don't ask me if you can load up a shotgun I am showing you.

Like in Terminator.

Gun shop owner: "Hey buddy, you can't do that."

Arnold: "Wrong!" BLAM!!! :eek:


May 5, 2003, 06:16 PM
I don't get nuts about a dry fire except when it is a .22 and I have asked someone not to do it. (Firing pin can get messed up for obvious reasons.) Please don't keep dry firing the gun continuously though, okay. Better yet, how about a snap cap.

The stuff I mentioned in the first post are the things that get me truly stressed!

May 5, 2003, 06:26 PM
Our local gun shop owner asks only that you let him know before entering with a weapon. After he gets to know you and feels that you are safety conscious, he has no problem allowing you in with your CCW loaded and in place.

Large metropolitan shops probably couldn't take this position, it would just be impossible to know all their customers well.

May 5, 2003, 06:29 PM
Dropping the slide on an empty chamber is not good because there is nothing there to absorb the energy of the slide. Dry firing a centerfire is usually considered harmless but not so with rimfires.
I've always asked before dryfiring, if the shop owner has a problem with it he should provide snap caps. How else are you going to get a real feel for the trigger?

May 5, 2003, 06:37 PM
the few times I've needed to pull out my CCW in a shop I always asked 1. if it was ok and 2. how they want it done, usually they are fine with me pulling out the magazine and laying it on the counter then clearing the chambered round. never had any problems, just move slowly and wait for confirmation.

May 5, 2003, 07:06 PM
All are great points.

My biggest complaint is ignorant salespeople. I go in and ask about a perticular gun, having done much research on it, and he/she starts spouting off about things that arent right. Like telling me Smith made the Walther P99 in the case....cause it says Smith on the slide. I try to correct them and show them how you can tell....they take me for an idiot(which i am im sure).

Or at say a bad shop *coughGunCitycough* i walk in asking if they have a perticular gun. He says no, and then says "why do you want that?" "let me show you the best gun we have here, we sell them hand over fist." If I wanted that M2 I would have asked about it....but i didnt. Maybe my background of sales, you dont tell the customer what he wants....make suggestions at the very most

May 5, 2003, 07:15 PM

A salesman who thinks he knows it all is a dope. I listen to some folks in wonderment at the knowledge they possess. I can't know it all and I don't. I try and stay on top of as much as I am able but I fall short of what I'd like to know. I encourage people to research as much as possible about the firerm they want to get.

If I don't have what you want I'll order it in for you. I want you to walk out happy with a gun that makes you ecstatic. If I fail then you'll go elsewhere.

There is no magic formula save treating people the way you'd like to treated.

May 5, 2003, 07:21 PM
Sounds reasonable to me PATH.:)

May 5, 2003, 07:32 PM
Out here in Kali I usually locate the manager or owner of the gun store, hand over my CCW and my ID (so there's no confusion) and simply ask them if I can carry while in there store.

And usually it's no problem except for the one store where the woman behind the counter had a really hard time believing that I was actually issued a permit.

She got over it.

PATH- I was in the business for 6 years out here in Kali, it always amazed me that after a customer would drop the slide on an empty chamber dry fire the heck out of the pistol- and then say "I'll take it, but I want a new one out of the back''

"what back? there is no back. This is our stock."

"well can you take some off the price, you know, 'cause it's been handled and stuff."

May 5, 2003, 07:34 PM
:D You have them out there too?

May 5, 2003, 07:47 PM
There are a lot of well stated items in this thread.

I encourage people to research as much as possible about the firerm they want to get.

I spend a lot of time learning all I possibly can before a purchase. Not only does it allow me to be sure about making the purchase, I am able to avoid the "why do you want that" and "you aughta have this instead" types.:banghead: I go into a shop/show knowing exactly what I want and buy that model-period. To questions need to answered if none are needed to be asked. No useless stories need to be told. I worked 9 yrs in retail and don't miss the customers a bit!

One thing I'd like to inquire about to those in firearms do you feel when a person comes into your business and wants to sell/trade off one of their firearms. You make them an offer and then get turned down because they (the customer) "know what they sell for". Used gun"X" sells for used retail for $100. Do they really think a gun shop will buy it for $100 and then be able to mark it up from there. (these are also the same ones that always beetch about the prices anyways.

May 5, 2003, 07:49 PM
"well can you take some off the price, you know, 'cause it's been handled and stuff."

Sounds like an old Jack Benny line ... :D

May 5, 2003, 07:55 PM

I'm not in the biz any more, but was for most of the 90's. At our store, we didn't buy/trade for just the reasons you stated. For the dealer to make any money he has to buy the firearm in question for less than he knows it's worth. Simple economics, but can leave a bad taste for a potential seller if he knows what the firearm is actually worth and you offer him less.

What we did was sell your firearm on consignment. We'd get 10% of the selling price and would try and get you the best deal possible because a better deal for you is a better deal for us.

my $.02

May 5, 2003, 08:46 PM
I always get a chuckle out of the fact that the most unfriendly place to those that choose to carry a gun, is a gun shop.

The other side to the lament of gun shop employees, is the number of absolute morons working behind the counter. It works both ways, ya know.

We all want society to feel that our CCW license means we have some training, and some familiarity with firearms. We don't think anything of carrying into the minit mart, or the Mall, but, when you enter a gun shop, you are classified immediatly as one of the unwashed masses.

Personally, I just dont visit gun shops much anymore. Just like I boycott any other business where my gun is not welcome.

Standing Wolf
May 5, 2003, 08:50 PM
"well can you take some off the price, you know, 'cause it's been handled and stuff."

Aw, heck! Give the guy a nickel off, eh?

May 6, 2003, 03:18 AM
I don't see a problem with trying to get a discount on a display gun - that's how it works in most other businesses. You get deals on demo cars (best friend is a car salesman), display computers (I used to work in Best Buy computer department), pretty much any display item at a retail electronics store, and on clothing if it has any defects or imperfections. I always thought it was just part of the business. It seems perfectly reasonable to get a discount on a firearm that has been handled frequently, may have scratches on the finish, and has been potentially abused (ie dropping slide on empty chamber). Naturally this only applies if the display is the only one available.

I do not buy display models. If the shop does not have any more of what I want in stock, I will ask them to order one for me. If they do not want to order one for me (which has never happened), I will go somewhere else. I'm kind of anal about my new guns - I want them to actually be NEW. Buying a used gun is reflected in the price, so why is asking to buy a slightly less than new gun at a slightly less than new price a bad thing???

As far as shops being unfriendly to CWP holders, I wouldn't know. I don't advertise that I am carrying, and I've never had reason to pull my gun in a shop before. If I had to, I'd certainly ask first. At Shooter's Choice I could just go to their indoor range and clear the weapon, then bring it back inside - again, asking permission first.

May 6, 2003, 08:17 AM
Finally got the call that my Rock River Arms 1911 was in after waiting about a year and a half. Upon inspection a loudmouth asked to take a look. Without even blinking he racked the slide and then let it slam home on an empty chamber. My reaction was exactly like Gene Wilder's in "Stir Crazy" as they were throwing him in the jail cell with a 400 pound bald mass murderer. As I composed myself he did it again. The gun shop staff was scared, very scared.

May 6, 2003, 06:10 PM
Upon inspection a loudmouth asked to take a look. Without even blinking he racked the slide and then let it slam home on an empty chamber.

This is one reason why when I do buy from a shop, I'll complete the transaction as descretely as possible so as to not invite this above mentioned type. In most cases I'll order an actual NEW gun and either ask that it not be handled/displayed. Most cases I'll order through my brother so that's not a problem.

This just sparked my mmory...a few years back, my brother put a HK SL6 on hold - with a nice cash deposit. A few days later we were at another shop and noticed the same gun laying on the back counter. turns out the owner of the first shop had taken the gun out and while "rapid firing" broke something. Needless to say, my brother did not buy the gun and expressed his feeling to the shop owner.

May 7, 2003, 11:40 AM
Most of the local shops know me and the fact I carry concealed (I do have a permit), but if I have a gun the a I'm looking at trading I will leave it in the truck, mention it to whoever I'm working with, and then go get it with the action open an the 1st thing they get to see is that open chamber. When I was working behind the counter every gun handed was with the action open and a visual inspection by me before being handed to the potential buyer. I also casual explained the whys and that I expected the same from them.

May 7, 2003, 01:04 PM
How about putting up this sign?

"If you point a gun at me, I will assume you intend to shoot me, and may choose to use lethal force to stop you. So, DON'T POINT A GUN AT ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!"

Okay, it's not subtle, but . . . .

May 8, 2003, 02:10 AM

I have tried subtle and less than subtle methods. Peopel coninue to frighten me no end at times.

May 8, 2003, 07:01 AM
"i'm going to take out my weapon, is that ok with you?"

goes a long way...

the other day i was at a shop and i spotted a s&w #332 for a little cheaper than i paid for the one ive got already, so i start thinking about owning 2 instead of one. the guy goes into a spiel on it so i tell him, "i know, i've got one in my pocket right now,"

then my sweetie meanders over to the p-32's we been thinking about getting her and again the guy's giving me the hard sell on the p-32, so i tell him, "i know, i got one at home." and then "really, i'm just browsing today."

he wasn't my friend anymore after that...:rolleyes:


May 8, 2003, 08:53 AM
So... I'm looking at a $1,000.00 Kimber and I ask the guy... "So, have you had any customers who've had problems with series II safety issues?" He slowly takes the gun back and says.."That's a myth!" puts it in the case and walks away.
Arrgggg - I haven't been back.

H Romberg
May 8, 2003, 12:20 PM
Hey General,
What're the series 2 safety issues? I've been looking at Kimbers. Also, I was the culprit on the slide dropping issue for a number of years till a polite gun shop employee pointed out why it was bad for the guns. I don't ever do it anymore. Just thinking that a polite "I heard that doing that does X" can often turn an annoyance into a better educated gunner.

May 11, 2003, 09:17 AM
H Romberg:
Check here....
1911 Forum -Kimber Safety issue (http://
And here's a search result on "Series II Safety Issues" on the same board..
search result on "Series II Safety Issues" (
I'm still getting a Kimber... You know how bad news travels... Lots of people never had a problem.

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