BIG-5 Firearms Registry?


September 23, 2008, 10:20 AM
Yesterday, I went to one of the local BIG-5 sporting goods stores in my area to purchase a Norinco/Hawk/Interstate Arms Model 982. I was chatting with the manager about NICS and the additional paperwork BIG-5 requires. I am used to filling out only the form 4473 for long guns. He politely informed me that BIG-5 keeps a national registry of all firearms purchases with the name, address, and phone number of everyone who buys a firearms through them :scrutiny:. I asked him if they destroyed the records at any point and he said they didn't. :banghead:

What was really distrubing is that he was incredibly cheerful while telling me all of this like it was some sort of epiphany BIG-5 had and the rest of the country would be better off if ALL PURCHASES WERE REGISTERED. He then went on to say how it was a great marketing tool, allowing BIG-5 to see what and how much of a particular item people were buying. A likely story.

The clueless clerk:

So, after I fill out my form 4473, I get a purchase order reciept, and walk over to to the register to pay for the gun (I still do not have posession of the weapon). The register is on the opposite side of the store, so I had to walk across the store sorta like doing a perp-walk. I could tell some of the other customers knew I was buying a gun and were either scared, disapproving or just dumbfounded "why I would be doing such a thing". So I get to the register, and the sales clerk politely tells me "I have no idea how to ring this up". At that point, the manager who did to 4473 paperwork had to come over to the register and basically tells the clerk the exact keystrokes to enter. Finally, payment is complete.

At this point, I have to walk back over to the gun counter to actually take possession of the shotgun, but before I do so, I am required to sign another line on the form 4473 (Boxes 25 and 26 I think). Something about re-acquiring the firearm. In addition to this, BIG-5 has their own form that I sign in order to acknowledge I am taking posession of the weapon. After all the "extra" paperwork is done, the manager hands me the gun (in the box), and I make my way across the store again, with all the same customers looking on with disapproval.

Maybe it's just me, but why did I feel like some sort of criminal buying a shotgun from BIG-5? After this experience, I don't think I'll be buying anything else there unless it's free or nearly free.

FWIW, this happened at the BIG-5 in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle.

Has anyone else had this type of experience buying guns from BIG-5? Normally, I go to other gun stores, the transaction is quick, thorough, and I'm not treated like I have the plague as I walk out the door.

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September 23, 2008, 11:11 AM
Guns seem to be a side business to the ones I've been in inside of in Idaho.

The extra paperwork and hassle make it just not worth my time to shop there any more unless something truly amazing hit the surplus rack a friend or someone gave me a heads up on.

September 23, 2008, 11:43 AM
I have purchased a number of old MilSurp rifles from Big-5 over the years, including most of my K-31s and M95s. When they have a sale, their prices are about the best around. I have never had a bad experience buying from them.

Until recently, they did require purchasers to sign the line on the 4473 form which is normally used only when NICS delays the purchase and the buyer takes delivery at a later date. The last couple of times they haven't asked me to do that. Someone in their legal department had a serious fetish about having every single space on the form filled out, even if it was not strictly required.

The multi-copy firearm sale/pickup form is their backup to the federal paperwork. When that gets to the register, the rifle's serial number goes into their computer system as 'sold'. You need to sign that one as proof that you took physical possession of the gun on a particular date. To me, it feels more like a legal CYA procedure they came up with than a sinister attempt to track buyers. After all, they already have the same information (and more) on the 4473.

I do know that they have auditors who visit each store periodically and verify that there are no errors which the ATF could squawk about. They once called me back in three months later to change and initial a correction because I had transposed the day and month when I dated a form. They definitely use their own form as a cross-check against the 4473s and their inventory book.

If you had to manage hundreds of stores where thousands of clerks with little training and sometimes little brains were selling guns on your FFL, how would you insure that every sale was handled correctly?

September 23, 2008, 12:07 PM
I never understood why some people get so worked up by the store employees walking with you and the gun to the cash register. They are doing this to prevent a straw purchase. Why do you think other customers are looking at you at all or thinking you did something wrong? Has service at the chain stores gotten so bad that people are assuming the only time an employee interacts with a customer is when they are suspected of shoplifting.

September 23, 2008, 12:11 PM
I've bought 2 Mosins from Big 5, and never felt like it was too big of a deal, and yeah, I had the manager walk to the cash register each time and have to tell the cashier what to type. That stuff typically doesn't bother me. Also I've never bothered to care what anyone else in the store might think about me buying a gun, or how the store personnel handle it. Why would I give a rats a...?

Sorry you felt it was too difficult. When they have those sweet sweet milsurps on sale for those rock bottom prices, I just can't resist!

September 23, 2008, 12:15 PM
hardwarehacker, I am guilty of highlighting a problem without proposing a solution. So here's one: they should sell handguns too, and not limit their long gun sales to sporting arms. If they did this, I can bet their would be a substaintial increase in sales across the board. If they use their buying power to acquire thousands of gun people REALLY want, you can almost bet those jack-of-all-trades store managers would be forced to hire someone more knowledgable about firearms. More products sold, more people hired....likely someone more competent would be overseeing the sales.

MAKster, I wasn't escorted anywhere (which is odd, because I was the last time I bought from BIG-5). I am just complaining about the logistics of purchasing from BIG-5 and the intermingling of non-gun people during the purchase.

And yes, ultimately it does seems like a CYA legal move, but it is pretty annoying. Honestly, the reason I was there was the price, they are difficult to beat for pump shotguns and milsurps.

September 23, 2008, 12:16 PM
What bothered me was the 'treated like an idiot' and 'takes 40m to buy anything' approach, combined with piles of non-legal required forms.

I compare it with the pleasant experience of buying the same rifles for $10-20 more tops at other local stores, except they may have actually been inspected by someone at least in a cursory manner for obvious product deficiencies.

Good luck finding bore lights etc at a Big 5 to see what you're buying ;0

September 23, 2008, 12:27 PM
Yes, it would be great if they carried a few handguns. Not necessarily a big selection, but some good-quality functional models. Similar to their present selection of long guns. Maybe even a few milsurps, like the CZ-82/83? As you point out, their chain-wide volume buying would let them offer good prices.

I should probably thank Big-5 for encouraging me to get into old military rifles. There are only two real gun stores in this town, and one of those handles almost exclusively police gear. Big-5 has given me some great deals on Swiss, Austrian and Russian rifles over the past few years. I'm on a first-name basis with several of their people, and they are always very helpful.

Larry E
September 23, 2008, 03:11 PM
I'd solve the problem by "cheerfully" telling the clerk that I'd take my business elsewhere. It might be a little drive north on I-5, but I'd take my business to Kesselring's north of Mt Vernon. Owned and run by shooters, good prices too, at least when I lived in Seattle 9 years ago.

September 23, 2008, 03:56 PM
I could tell some of the other customers knew I was buying a gun and were either scared, disapproving or just dumbfounded "why I would be doing such a thing".
I think you're being too sensitive. I shop (also in WA) at B5 with my 1911 carried openly on my belt and nobody seems to care.

September 23, 2008, 08:42 PM
They just don't have the routine down enough to speed through the process like any real gunstore. Yes, it's a pain, but how often do you really bear it to get whatever cheap Milsurp they might have by chance. Consider it a trade-off in getting the better price; having to put up with the idiot cashier, slow manager, and eyeballing fellow shoppers. And don't forget the pics. :)

September 23, 2008, 08:49 PM
I just picked up a Yugo SKS at Big-5 here about a month ago in the Bay Area and was treated great. As far as a registry...well first I've heard of that.

September 23, 2008, 08:57 PM
They were just admiring what a great purchase you made.

Don't get insecure. I'm kinda used to people gawking at me, but I know every gun I own legal.

But it is peculiar how Big 5 handles their point of sale.

September 24, 2008, 02:02 AM
They just don't have the routine down enough to speed through the process like any real gunstore.

I know one of the local managers, really nice guy. Stupidly competent. Even with him it takes 25m+ and there's no wasted time.

These days there just isn't anything I don't have on the surplus market that they carry - nor is there really anything in the pipeline to change that.

September 24, 2008, 03:43 AM
The manager is an idiot. I was a manager for Big5 years ago, when you buy a gun there, they fax a copy of the 4473 to the main office as a backup copy and to ensure that the inventory numbers are correct and that no firearms are 'slipping thru the cracks'.

September 24, 2008, 04:04 AM
Gun Registry's do not work. I live in Canada and our government tried that years ago, as I'm sure you know it was a billion dollar failure. Not even half of us bothered to registry our guns. Why did they think people would voluntary do it in the first place?

September 24, 2008, 04:15 AM
Actually what Big 5 does is log the sale in their FFL log book which every FFL licensensed dealer has to do. Local B5 used to make you fill out info in their log book but I think the ATF auditors told them to stop and have employees fill out the log instead. Class 01 FFl's must turn in their log books along with 4473's when they go out of business.

Normal gunshop :
You buy a gun at a gunshop you fill out the 4473 leave with the gun, later at end of day dealer takes days sales 4473's and logs the transaction in his bound book and files the 4473's.

Can Big 5 get anal about gun sales... you bet ! Better safe than sorry when dealing the BATFE and their audits....

September 24, 2008, 09:56 AM
Big 5 was cool for a while, Yugo SKS for $399... = NOT COOL!

September 24, 2008, 10:12 AM
I was under the impression that BIG-5 has a separate database that they maintain, aside from all the requirements of being an 01 FFL. Maybe the manager was wrong, maybe not. Either way, I'm not nearly as concerned about the other shoppers giving me a mean-mug so much as I am concerned that BIG-5 is developing and maintaining a body of information we fight through legislation to prohibit the .gov from doing.

Also, it was a bit shocking because I bought a couple other guns from BIG-5 and never heard a peep of this. And, to the manager's credit, he knew what he was doing (in terms of the transaction) and had no trouble preparing any of the paperwork. One thing though, as he was filling out my 4473, he left his log book open on the counter in plain view of me. I glanced at another 4473 from another gentleman and saw all of his information on a 4473 from a previous transaction. So much for confidentiality. Am I going to be the one that has my info displayed to the next guy that buys a gun at BIG-5?

There's plenty of other gun shop near me that have great service and selection. But, for things like pump shotguns and mil-surps, BIG-5 kills them in price. I've seen M44's being sold for $150 at other local gun shops. That is insane. When it comes to pistols, EBR's or other mainstream stuff that I need, I go elsewhere. A purchase at BIG-5 is about a once every 2-3 year event for me.

September 24, 2008, 10:39 AM
BIG-5 is developing and maintaining a body of information we fight through legislation to prohibit the .gov from doing.

Well. Big 5 is not the government. Therefore they are not enjoined from doing it. If you feel certain that's what they're doing, and you fear that info getting into the hands of gun banners, then don't shop there I guess.

September 24, 2008, 11:33 AM
Regerlvr, knowing what I know now, I probably won't go there to purchase a gun again. As I said earlier, it would have to be free or nearly free. That being said, the main purpose of this thread was to at least make other people aware of BIG-5's policies, so they might make a more informed decision in the future.

September 24, 2008, 11:38 AM
I am confused. Coming from New Jersey, who are the "Big Five"????

September 24, 2008, 12:08 PM
BIG-5 Sporting Goods. It's a second-tier sporting goods store.

They usually publish weekly flyers in the Sunday paper. That's where I've seen all the guns I've ever bought from them on sale.

September 24, 2008, 12:21 PM
Do you like your shotgun? :) Thats what it all comes down to. Was it worth it? :D

September 24, 2008, 12:43 PM
Big 5 has laminated stock Mosin 91/30's on sale this week for $99.99.

September 24, 2008, 12:52 PM
Do you like your shotgun? Thats what it all comes down to. Was it worth it?

I just un-boxed it, wiped it down quickly and dumped it in the safe. I have several guns that I have yet to shoot for the first time. The 982 is at the bottom of the list.

I am in one of those..."buying before the election, just-in-case" modes. I expect I'll like it just as well as my mossberg 500 security. If anything, the 982 felt a little short for me. I may upgrade the stock before shooting it. From MAX100's and others' impressions, the 982's are no worse than the remington 870 express...which has been around for 50 years +.

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