Thinking about trying to get my FFL


March 6, 2008, 01:13 AM
Well, the title about says it all but the main reason I'm putting it in here is that, I don't personally know any FFL dealers and I'm wary of most stuff I see on the internet, especially when they ask for money:scrutiny:

So, what I'm wondering is, I know there are some people on here who have their FFL and was wondering what advice and true life experiences they might be able to share. I just don't want to walk into this with a blindfold on.

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March 6, 2008, 07:05 AM
Are you ready to be in the business of selling guns? It's a tough way to make a living.

March 6, 2008, 10:40 AM
I say do it as a hobby that pays for itself. There is no money to be made selling new guns. 20.00 or less is a pretty good profit per gun.

I sale on the Internet so 20.00 profit is more of a dream than reality. Pennies some times are the difference between profit or loss.

You can not keep your FFL by getting a hand full of guns for you and your buddies.Transfers are what keeps your license. I do tons of transfers so I have no problem getting my FFL renewed.

Used guns have a lot of potential for profit. You can not give top dollar when buying or trading used guns. This may tick your friends of because they like most people think there is a large mark up on guns and ammo.

You can not even match Wang Mart or any of the large box stores on ammo prices. They are selling it less than you can buy it in bulk. If you are going to stock ammo chose it well.

I was naive going into this business. I really expected a a Hugh 20-30% margin.When I started getting price schedules my stomach shrank. I really did think the local gun shops were making more than they actually are.

March 6, 2008, 10:50 AM
hotpig pretty much nailed it. From an investment standpoint, you can't get too many numbers to crunch before going into it because no one will give out wholesale prices until you send in your FFL. A lot of online places are selling at about $10-17 over cost on many guns, that will give you a starting point on your business plan.

There is money to be made on used guns. A lot of times when people need money quickly the guns are the first thing to go, and if you can show up with cash in hand you can buy someone's collection for good prices.

March 6, 2008, 11:18 AM
We're going through the process now. My suggestion: if you don't know how to run a business, don't bother. Expect thousands in start-up costs (legal fees to form LLC, safes, security system, initial inventory). Check with your homeowner's insurance to get additional coverage for a home-based business.

Also, we have to file monthly sales/use tax returns, plus quarterly income tax returns, on top of the FFL recordkeeping.

Honestly, the reason we are getting it is not for retail/internet sales and transfers. There's a shop less than a mile away for that. DH used to work for a manufacturer and has a lot of machining and gunsmithing experience. So, since the local shop doesn't have a gunsmith, and they don't do NFA transfers (no interest on their part, they cater to hunters and instructing new shooters) we're getting the license to play to DH's strengths: highly accurate bolt and semi-auto rifles (0.5 MOA or better when NIB, or we replace it), gunsmithing, NFA transfers, government contracts, etc.

We know we can't compete with ChinaMart or even the retail store, so we're not trying. Instead, we're filling a void in our local market, and it's worked out. The retail shop refers folks who need gunsmithing work to us, and we refer people looking for instruction to them. We'll do transfers, but that's not where we'll make our money.

March 6, 2008, 01:00 PM
+1 to all thats been said here. I will definately keep all that in mind as I continue to dig into it. I intend to do this more as a side hobby than anything else, unless it happens, on the off chance, to turn into something bigger than I intended. Also, in reference to transfers. For some reason, almost all the stores and shops who used to do transfers are no longer accepting them. They continue to buy and sell guns but will not do any outside transfers and, contingent on if I can get my FFL, I may be able to fill a niche in my town. But we'll see how it goes and I'll definately post more as the process continues.

Again, thanks for all the replies;)

March 6, 2008, 01:47 PM
Do transfers, and lots of them. Get the word out on Arfcom, Gunbroker, etc that you'll do transfer for $10 or $15. Run a good offer like "Transfer three lowers for the price of one!"

March 6, 2008, 11:04 PM
I am not an FFL, just a customer. The formula a couple of shops in my area use and are upfront with used gun sellers is they will pay 60% of the price they think they can get for a gun. They walk through the blue book with you and explain how they are judging the condition, anything significant missing or added, etc.

They do a pretty steady business of used guns along with new. There are always guys short of cash from lay off, kids in college, divorce, changed their minds, etc. and are willing to selling at a big discount for the convenience of selling it TODAY for CASH/CHECK. I have been on both sides of that equation.

They do not try to chisel either party by subterfuge, but they ensure they make a pretty decent profit. Always ask for original grips, sights, cases, accessories. I have never had a shop pay extra to get them but if I know I will never have that model of gun again I am happy to throw them in.

Be matter of fact and don't insult the guy (what a piece of crap, you should messed this up, why did you ever buy this junk, etc.).

The selling is easy. Guns like Glocks, SIG, H&K, Ruger and Smith revolvers, are no brainers for buyers. Remington, winchester, Browning, Marlin are no brainer long arms. The more stock the gun is the broader appeal it will have.

Good luck!

March 7, 2008, 02:02 AM
The guns get them in the door. The real profit center is accessories. The cost is lower, the mark up is higher, and there is less record keeping.

Make sure you get a sales tax license and pay your state sales tax!

March 7, 2008, 10:57 AM
thanks guys! keeps the comments coming, I learn something new or some new advice everytime I log on

Sir Aardvark
March 7, 2008, 11:42 AM
It's tough to make a living doing it unless you find some special niche market.

The Internet has made competition pretty cutthroat.

When you figure out your return based on the amount of time you have to put into the business, you'll soon find out that you could make more money doing something else.
Add to this all of the official oversight, and you have the beginnings of a big headache.
I did make money while I sold guns, but not much, and I had a "Real" job in addition to my FFL, so my livelihood didn't depend solely upon selling firearms.
It might make sense to have an FFL as a second source of income, but may you have the best of luck turning it into a viable career.

Be thankful you don't live in California - I needed 7 separate licenses, permits, and certificates to sell a handgun when I had my FFL - the State regulatory oversight was worse that the Federal.

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