Questions to Ask When Buying a Gun

November 1, 2023
Buying a Gun

If you plan to visit a gun store to purchase a firearm, it is natural to have questions, especially if it’s your first time owning or buying a gun.

Understanding the right questions to ask yourself and the gun store staff can make your visit more enjoyable and productive. Even without a specific make and model in mind, asking the right questions can help narrow your options so you make the right choice.

Considerations Before Planning Your Visit

Having questions about guns and gun ownership is natural, no matter your level of experience with firearms.

If you are new to the world of firearms and shooting, you shouldn’t feel intimidated or afraid to ask more knowledgeable shooters, even if your question is basic. Most individuals who own firearms and those working in gun stores are approachable, well-informed, and eager to assist beginners.

Prior to visiting a gun store, take into account two essential factors. Think of these as your preliminary guiding inquiries:

1. Am I Legally Allowed to Own and Purchase Guns?

While the right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, federal law carves out exceptions under specific circumstances. You are barred from buying a gun at the federal level if you meet the legal definition of a prohibited person, which generally includes the following:

  • Convicted felons
  • Fugitives from justice
  • Unlawful users of controlled substances
  • Individuals adjudicated by a court as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution
  • Illegal aliens
  • Dishonorably discharged U.S. Armed Forces servicemembers
  • Persons who renounced their U.S. citizenship

In addition, federal law states that if you are under the age of 18 (or 21 when purchasing handguns), gun stores may not sell firearms to you.

Even if you aren’t a prohibited person under federal law, local laws may prevent you from owning or buying guns. For instance, in Michigan, you must have a license to purchase a pistol or a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) before you can buy a handgun from anyone, whether a gun store or a private seller.

Starting on February 13, 2024, Public Act 19 will go into effect, and the law will be updated to expand this requirement to all firearms, not just handguns. Always ensure you stay up-to-date on all local and state gun laws.

2. Can I Safely Handle a Gun?

If you are a first-time gun owner with no prior experience, familiarize yourself with the four primary rules of gun safety before visiting. Gun stores may allow you to handle firearms and, if they have their own range, try them out. Applying these rules will teach you the basics of safe handling and shooting, keeping yourself and others safe.

Visiting a Gun Store

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Visiting a Gun Store

After refreshing yourself on gun safety basics and ensuring you are legally able to own guns, prepare for your gun store visit with these essential questions.

1. What Do I Need a Gun For?

The answer to this question determines the type of gun and ammunition you should purchase. It’s important to verify that your chosen firearm aligns with your intended use since each gun is designed for specific purposes.

For example, while you can use handguns in competition shooting and concealed carry, the best models for each application will differ. Concealed-carry pistols are generally small, lightweight, compact, and have short barrels to make them easier to hide. Competition shooting handguns are longer, heavier, can have adjustable sights, and aren’t intended to be carried concealed.

What makes a gun suitable for one purpose can make it less desirable for another. Knowing what you want or need a firearm for helps you make the right choice and avoid using the wrong tool for the job.

Common reasons to purchase a gun:

  • Home defense
  • Concealed carry in public
  • Hunting
  • Plinking or target shooting for fun
  • Competition shooting
  • Exercising your Second Amendment rights
  • Collecting or investing

2. How Much Am I Willing to Spend?

Once you know what role you need the firearm to fulfill, the next most important question to ask yourself is about your budget. Just like shopping for a new car or electronics, the larger your budget, the wider the range of options.

First, determine how much you are willing to spend. Then, decide whether you are flexible on your target amount. Having flexibility means being willing to pay a little more than your set budget to get a more desirable model.

For instance, suppose you have a $700 budget for a home defense shotgun but come across a reputable and reliable model priced at $780. In this scenario, it’s important to weigh if the additional $80 is within your spending capacity.

If you must stay within your $700 limit, inform the gun store staff during your visit; they can assist you in finding a suitable shotgun that fits your price range. Don’t forget that your budget should also cover accessories and consumables, including:

  • Extra magazines (if applicable)
  • Ammunition
  • A gun belt (if you don’t have one already)
  • An appropriate holster for each handgun
  • Suitable slings for each rifle and shotgun

3. Do I Have a Place to Store Guns Safely?

As a gun owner, safety should always be on your mind, even when you aren’t shooting or handling your weapons. Every responsible firearm owner should have a gun safe, which is a crucial accessory. It fulfills three functions:

  • Preventing gun theft or unauthorized access. The gun safe’s first and most important job is keeping your firearms out of the wrong hands when not in use. They are an excellent safety solution, whether you’re worried about children finding guns or thieves and burglars.
  • Protecting your guns from damage. A high-quality gun safe can protect its contents from high temperatures or water damage. If you experience a home fire or a flood, a gun safe will ensure your weapons do not suffer irreparable damage.
  • Complying with local laws. In some jurisdictions, a gun safe is a legal requirement. For example, in Michigan, Senate Bill 79 requires safe gun storage in any building where children are on the premises or are reasonably expected to be. This bill passed in 2023 and will go into effect starting in February 2024.

4. Do I Have Time to Practice?

A responsible gun owner is a well-trained, accurate, and proficient shooter. Marksmanship is a skill that rewards regularity, and there is no such thing as training too often. Ideally, you should practice as often as you can.

However, time and budget constraints mean this ideal is unrealistic for the vast majority of gun owners. Fortunately, there are ways to fit in training and practice, no matter your time or budget. Consider implementing these exercises in your everyday routine:

  • Dry-fire practice. Dry-fire drills let you practice drawing, aiming, and pulling the trigger without live ammunition. All you need is a relatively modern firearm and at least 5 to 10 minutes, making it easy to fit in daily. You can also use snap caps or dummy rounds to protect your firing pin from damage.
  • Draw stroke practice. If you plan to buy a handgun, purchase a holster and practice drawing from it. Draw stroke practice helps you see how safely and quickly you can draw your gun, which can be especially important for concealed-carry.
  • Shooting range visits. Consider visiting a shooting range or another safe location to practice shooting with live ammo at least once a month. While dry-fire practice is like preventative maintenance for your shooting skills, actual live-fire shooting is the only way to improve your accuracy and proficiency.

Engage with a gun store employee

Questions to Ask a Gun Store Employee

If you’ve decided owning a gun is for you and you’ve asked yourself the right questions, you are ready to visit a gun store and start browsing. Engage with a gun store employee by asking these questions to help narrow down your choices and find the most suitable gun for your needs:

1. What Are Your Recommendations for My Purpose and Budget?

Knowing what job the gun needs to fill, how much you’re ready to spend, and your budget will help the employee offer suggestions.

This approach assists in evaluating whether your budget aligns with your intended purpose. For instance, while you might find self-defense handguns under $300 at your local gun store, locating a competition shooting rifle within the same budget could prove more challenging.

2. Can I Handle This Firearm? / Can I Try The Trigger? / Can I Dry-Fire This Gun?

Handling a firearm before deciding whether to buy it isn’t just allowed; it’s recommended, and most gun stores will be happy to let you do it.

No matter the gun’s specifications and feature lists, handling it yourself is the only way to see if a particular model is sufficiently ergonomic for you. Check whether the gun feels comfortable in your hands.

Verify that the controls, such as the slide release lever or the magazine release button, are easy to reach and use. Ask if you can dry-fire it and check whether the trigger feels crisp and easy to pull.

3. What Ammunition Would You Recommend?

The ammo you need depends on the gun’s make, model, and your intended purpose. When choosing ammunition, you must remember two concepts: caliber and projectile type.

  • Caliber refers to the types of cartridges it accepts. For example, a .45 ACP pistol should only be loaded with .45 ACP ammunition. You should never use ammunition of the wrong caliber for your firearm; you risk destroying your firearm and injuring yourself.
  • Projectile type refers to the type of bullets, shot, or slug the ammunition is loaded with. Common projectile types for pistols include full metal jacketed (FMJ) and jacketed hollow point (JHP).

Depending on the guns you’re interested in, the gun store employee will recommend ammunition of the right caliber and projectile type. For example, if you’re interested in a .45 ACP pistol, the employee may recommend you use FMJ ammunition for practice and JHP ammunition for self-defense.

Find High-Quality Guns and Ammunition in the Detroit Area at IFA Tactical

Whether you’re looking to buy a pistol, revolver, shotgun, or rifle, IFA Tactical can help you find the best gun for your needs. Browse our extensive inventory and find the best guns, ammunition, and accessories for self-defense, competition, hunting, and plinking.

Do you have questions about guns, shooting, or concealed carry? If so, contact our team today for assistance.

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