Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gun Buyers' Habits That Drive Me NUTS!

I currently dabble in the firearms industry as a gun salesman for a big box retailer and encounter customers with varying degrees of firearms knowledge. Before you instantly make the assumption that this post is the rant of a 'gunshop commando' just being an asshole; you need to hear me out. I look forward to helping someone purchase a firearm for defense or their new waterfowl gun. I really enjoy helping a parent match their child to their first firearm. I'm even eager to cover the most basic concepts as far as firearms are concerned. I never try to demean, talk-down too, or piss-off customers; because at the end of the day we all started somewhere and we are always learning. (Never forget that)

"The grip is too short"
I have several people everyday walk up to the gun counter and ask for a small carry pistol. I will always start at the smallest; LCP's, Glock 26, etc. Once they hold the pistol their pinky and ring finger start to wiggle and they look at me, "This doesn't fit..." You see now I'm confused; are you looking for a small pistol that is optimized for (simple) everyday carry or something larger? I realize that many companies offer extensions for magazines that allow for a full size grip, but once you enlarge the grip you are basically negating the purpose of the small pistol in the first place; being a small/light carry gun.

Most often folks will end up deciding on a Glock 19/23, M&Pc, XD/m Compact which can be concealed just fine when using a good holster and belt but most folks have no intention of investing in those things. A week or so later they end up walking back up too the counter looking for a smaller gun. AHHHHH

"That gun would be good for a woman"
The size or caliber of a firearm doesn't have anything to do with the gender of the end user! Speaking almost directly at the LCP sized gun men will vocalize the quote above. Simple physics must be recalled when shooting firearms. If you take a 9mm and fire it from a SIG 226 (34oz.) and a Diamondback DB9 (11oz.) the recoil will be perceived as much more significant firing the smaller/lighter pistol; making it far less attractive for a female. I am not implying a female can't handle it but more often than not these small/light pistols are considered perfect first guns for their wife/girlfriend/sister/mother; when they are the opposite.

"I have an HK USP Tactical, FN 5.7, Styer AUG, and a Barret M82A1 but I'm looking for a Hi-Point."
Why do people insist on prefacing questions with a list of firearms they (may or may not) own? Maybe this one just bothers me but 9 out of 10 times a conversation opens with the quote above they are always looking for a cheap gun. This flows into the next quote well...

Decocks Beretta 92 and a Concerned Look Covers Face, "That's not suppose to happen."
No, that's EXACTLY what's suppose to happen it's just like your HK! <--- That's what I want to say but because I'm a nice guy I walk them through the process, function and purpose of a decocker.

"I'll take this $200 gun over that $500 one because it does the same thing and I'll never use it anyways."
I always try to outfit the customer with a firearm that will meet their needs and budget as best as I can. But the quote above makes me sad :( Let's be honest for a moment; they will probably never need to use it. Most of us will never really need to use a firearm for self defense but a gun is a unique tool. If you find yourself in a situation where you need a gun and don't have one; you won't need another gun ever again. This doesn't always mean you need the most expensive firearm; the first rule of a gunfight is too bring a gun. A common phrase in use is a small/cheap gun in the pocket is better than a large/expensive one in a safe. We all start somewhere.

"I'm looking for a S&W Sigma; I don't want to carry my XDm. I don't want to scratch it."
I sold a XDm to a new hire of an armored car service (the XDm was his decision) that he intended to carry during his duties. Less than a month later he came back looking for a Smith & Wesson Sigma to carry on duty instead of the XDm. He was worried about the XDm getting scratched up. I tried to reason with him by telling him the XDm is better suited for his purpose and that he shouldn't worry about the gun getting beat up. Duty guns get rough because they're duty guns! I tried to even use Springfield's own marketing by telling him 'XD' stood for 'eXtreme Duty' but the irony was lost on him.

If you buy an expensive gun with the intent of using it as a carry/duty/fighting gun don't puss out turn it into a safe queen. You bought quality because you knew you needed it. I have a Kimber Pro Carry that I treat like a Glock and it shows. I don't know about you but I love seeing a gun that has received heavy use (not abuse; there's a difference).

"My buddy is a Soldier/Marine/Cop/Ninja and he said..."
I once thought that all Military and Law Enforcement Members knew things about firearms too. Once I joined the Military and later became friends with Law Enforcement I quickly came to realize that the majority don't know JACK! Don't fall into the trap of assuming that a person who carries a M4 or a Glock everyday knows everything there is to know about firearms. They may be intimate with that particular gun (sometimes not) but that doesn't give them a blank check to opine on all firearms.

The way I like to look at it; my breathe of firearms knowledge is a mile wide but only inches deep. It's maybe a couple hundred yards deep in certain areas but I still have a lot to learn in many others.

There are lessons that can be learned from every quote above and some were just me complaining... either way; have a good day because I know I will. Good luck and have fun!


  1. "...he came back looking for a Smith & Wesson Sigma to carry on duty instead of the XDm."
    "I tried to reason with him by telling him the XDm is better suited for his purpose."

    How so? Sounds like a 12 lb. trigger might be just right for him. BTW, my first gen Sigma .40 was very accurate with Winchester Silvertip ammo.

    1. You will be hard pressed to find someone that will claim the Sigma a better overall pistol than an XDm. The reason I was trying to reason with him was because he had just dropped a ton of cash on a sweet gun and was now looking to cast it aside for a stupid reason. I will concede that the first gen Sigma had a better trigger than the current models. Thanks for reading Peter!

  2. Most gun buyers (especially first-time gun buyers) have no idea what they want, because they really have no idea what criteria their gun is for. If you say it is for self-defense, well what does that mean in your case? Home defense only or will you carry it too? How will you carry it, which kind of holster, pocket carry, purse, etc.? Do you know what kind of gun works best with an IWB holster and your body shape? And there are so many other questions that they can't answer yet, and some that they don't even know that they should ask.

    Until you have bought a gun, and tried to use it for a while, you can't know which gun will be best for you and your needs. The end result is that EVERY gun owner either ends up going through a few different guns until they find the one(s) that work best for their needs, or they give up on guns after the first one turns out to not meet their needs.

    Unfortunately, these trial and error purchases are a necessary part of the learning process for a new gun owner. As a guns salesman, you can't tell a first time gun buyer that he will not be happy with his first gun, even though you know that. But try not to be disappointed or frustrated when they choose a gun you know they will hate. Think of the failure of the first gun purchase (or even the 2nd or 3rd gun purchases) as part of the learning process for the first timer. And it results in more sales for you, so it's a win-win for you.

    1. I agree completly with you. Most seasoned gun lovers have sold several firearms that when they bought; they told themselves, "This is the one." It never ends, it's a journey. I never thought I would like Glock as much as I do. Then when the M&P came out I was quick to dump the Glock only to find out that I can't shoot an M&P to save my life! Back to the Glock I went. I also never thought I would enjoy revolvers as much as I do today.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts Bob

  3. I worked in a range once upon a time; I carried a Browning HP 9mm in a OWB holster. Can't tell you how many times, whether on the range or in the retail gun store, I got the comment, "hey! You're gun is cocked! You'll shoot your ass off!" My common response was, "don't worry about my ass. You worry about your ass and I'll worry about mine."

    1. That is a good one. I had a guy the other day tell me that I didn't need to leave the hammer cocked on a 1911... which I replied; To put it on safe I do.

  4. You have the patience of Job. I gladly profess ignorance, but I'm learning.

  5. I think the key is so many folks are fed so much mis-information about guns, they just don't know any better... As a former law-enforcement officer myself with many friends still in the business... some LEOs are very knowledgeable while other LEOs... well, their duty gun is the only gun they've ever used...

    When I teach NRA and Oho CCW courses, or even our 4H kids... I often get folks who want to rush out and by a gun... I tell them to wait until they've tried a few out in class and on the range or that belong to the 4H club... then go make your purchase...

    And sometimes, like many things, it takes several purchases to eventually get to the right one... which explains the gun safes of firearms I've filled over the years... still trying to find the right gun...

    Side note: I annoyed a gun counter commando once because I asked to see a gun, he checked it then handed it to me... I pointed it in a safe direction and pulled back the slide and checked it to make sure it was empty/clear... he said, "I just checked it, it's safe."... I said, "I know but now I'm holding it..." and my 12-at-the-time daughter chimed in and said, "when a gun's in our hands, we check it because we're responsible for it."... the sales guy looked very annoyed... I an instructor and father... was beaming with pride...

    Dann in Ohio

    1. LOL That's awesome! It is a good habit to have and should never be questioned.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Dann!

  6. So you're annoyed that someone who doesn't know what a decocker is is surprised when a gun they've never handled before decocks?

    1. No. What drives me nuts is when someone says they own a gun that has a decocker (HK USP) then picks up another gun with the same safety system (Beretta 92) and act surprised/confused by how it functions. It's not the fact they don't know what it is that annoys me, but the fact that they just told me a lie.

      Being lied to should annoy everyone.

  7. SELLINGs a TOUGH BIZ! Have 'Top Sales' friends who go home & isolate themselves until the next day because they can take no more from not a single nother human being! Yet they're Top Sales people!!

    People r, by nature, contradictory, repugnant and just plain stupid - BUT THEY ALWAYS KNOW BETTER, OF COURSE!! Dont beleive me? Just ask them. Whether its selling Life Insurance, shoes, Computers r guns, the 'line' of questions & comments doenst change, trust me. Thats why I APPLAUD this Writer for hanging in there, day-after-day. Just guide them best u can - but remember the first rule of SELLING: At the end of the day...

    Its just a job! : ) So never get "personal" in ur recommendations r the customer. Always stay P?rofessional.

  8. How to look for a carry gun, for anyone, any gender, any race:

    Go to a well stocked gun store. Ignore all advice about caliber and size for the moment.
    Pick up, handle, aim (at where the ceiling meets a wall) and rack all of them. Cock the ones that are double action. Drop the hammer and see how it's done on all of them.

    You will find out that quite a few feel like hell or you cannot rack them or something else. Be picky as all get out here. If you "Just don't like it" fine, next!

    This will bring you down to a few. 4-6 probably.

    Go to a gun store that rent them. Rent all these finalists. Buy a box of ammo for each. You will absolutely hate one or two of them and won't much like others. You'll probably be down to 1-3 you still like.

    NOW start thinking about ideas like "Stopping power" and other gun store terms. Only use this if you're not already down to one you like best.

    If you have a tie, rent each on different days and shoot about 100 rounds through each on its day. You'll probably really be down to just one by now.

    Get a gun belt and spend the money on a good holster.

    So far this is the best advise I've come up with and I've not changed it much in the 10-15 years or so I've used it.

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