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Is that title a little clickbait-y? Maybe. But the most dangerous gun salesmen do exist. They just aren’t dangerous in the way you might have assumed I meant.

Obligatory Disclaimer: I am a firm believer in the Constitution and that all gun laws are infringements on the Second Amendment, so don’t think the type of firearm is what I believe makes him dangerous; it’s his ability to weaponize ignorance.

The most dangerous gun salesmen come in two varieties; ignorant and asshole.

The Ignoramous

Let’s touch on ignorance first since that’s the most commonly encountered form of the terrible gun salesman. Often they are mislabeled as a “Fudd,” but that would be unfair to the wet-behind-the-ears salesman.


Fudd Definition

A gun owner who falsely believes that the Second Amendment only applies to firearms they own or prefer. Often times they are in favor of so-called “common sense” gun control laws targeting what they view as “tactical rifles” like the AR-15 or AK-47. They don’t recognize that any gun law is an infringement on the Second Amendment as a result of their poor understanding of the Constitution’s purpose.


The ignorant salesman can be just as dangerous as the asshole if not well supervised. There is no malice intended. The poor bastard just doesn’t know any better.

Don’t fret, though, he isn’t necessarily a lost cause. The ignoramus will usually learn as his coworkers correct him. We can hope that time will teach the ignoramus and he will slowly become less of a danger to his fellow gun owners.

“They don’t know what they don’t know.” – Tom Victa

With any luck, the ignoramus won’t be able to afflict too many consumers, with eagle-eyed coworkers stepping in and providing the consumer with correct information. The ignorant salesperson’s largest contribution to the firearm industry is perpetuating hogwash gun store myths, but they rarely do any serious damage. (For more information, see “Fuddlore“)

How to Handle the Ignoramous

Handling an ignorant gun salesman isn’t an overwhelming challenge. The first step is to do your own research before making a purchase decision so any garbage information that may dribble out of the salesman’s mouth is entirely ineffective.

When the ignorant salesman says something like, “All defensive calibers start with a 4,” educate them a bit if you have the knowledge base and the time. If you don’t, but know they are wrong, challenge them to do some more reading. Information can be used as an effective weapon to slay ignorance as long as you use it properly.

Example:

A female customer approaches gun counter in search of a defensive firearm . . .

Ignorant Salesman: “Howdy!” tips fedora
Female Customer: “I’m looking for my first handgun.”
Ignorant Salesman: “Your best bet is a 5-shot snubby revolver little lady, it’s the perfect gun for a woman.”
Bystander You: “Ma’am, you might want to rent one of those before buying one, the recoil can be a bit painful.”
Ignorant Salesman: “That’s a good idea! Ma’am, would you like to test fire one first?”

The Asshole

We established that the ignoramus has his heart in the right place, but what about the specimen who only cares about hitting his sales target at the expense of the consumer? Allow me to introduce you to the “Asshole.” You might also know this salesman as “The Manager” or “Store Leader.”

This genus of gun salesman is the one that is actually dangerous and will leave those who know a few things about firearms to wake up in a cold sweat the night after shopping at their local gun emporium. Don’t worry too much, though, the chances of encountering an “asshole” salesman in the wild are slim and when you do find one, they stand out like a sore thumb.

You might notice that oftentimes the “asshole” is in some leadership role within the store thanks largely to placing sales goals above all else, but that isn’t what makes them an asshole.

The fact that they know they lack the knowledge to advise a customer and refuse to learn or take some classes is what earns them their asshole status. This hyper-focus on sales numbers before all else results in customers receiving incorrect, dangerous, or advice that could put them in violation of the law.

That’s right, we’re talking about the guy who will sell an AR pistol to someone and then recommend a vertical foregrip to capture the added margin on the sale of the accessory.

The heartbreaking thing is that some of these salespeople are fully aware that they are suggesting their customer breaks an unconstitutional federal law and don’t care because they are after that 0.5% commission kickback.

How to deal with the Asshole

Shop somewhere else. They aren’t interested in doing right by the customer. Vote with your wallet.

Author's Note

In the interest of full disclosure, this article is a direct result of watching several interactions between customers and the newly appointed “Store Leader” of the range I have been shooting at for the last 3 years, about a year and a half of that I also instructed their “advanced” classes.

Repeated offers of lessons from the instructors on staff being turned down made it clear he had no interest in educating himself or anyone else. After less than 90 days of giving terrible advice to customers, the Asshole walked out like a high school kid quitting his job at Arby’s, leaving behind roughly a dozen of his hires who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

The store is now in the hands of someone who is somewhat smarter and is plagued with a minor case of Dunning-Kruger, which is an improvement I guess.


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53 COMMENTS

  1. LOL…hilarious you use a disguised Shoot Point Blank storefront. Lots of kids work there. I bought my most recent gun there & the kid couldn’t figure it out. He got help. Being a chain I cut them some slack. Not so my other haunts. If you act like you know it all be aware no one does. Especially pawnshops. And there’s multitudes of shops nearby let alone crap on the interwebz. I’ve only been at the gun thing for about 11 years but bought & sold for over 30. Yeah this is clickbait. So what?

    • Yeah, It’s the SPB on Loop 820 in North Richland Hills, Texas.
      I was just at that location a few weeks ago. Picked up a like new 2002 production Walther P99 Titanium with pre-ban 16 rd mags.

      • Yea I immediately recognized my old hood and the 820 location haha Never actually been in to the range there but I have bought ammo and other things they actually had in stock during 2020.

        • 👍
          We’ve had a few Walther Forum group shoot events at that range.
          Been going to Texas Gun Experience range lately.

        • “Yea I immediately recognized my old hood and the 820 location haha….. ”

          This wouldn’t happen to be Taylor G by any chance, would it? 🤔

  2. At my usual gun shop, last year, around but not on Black Friday, I heard a young salesperson tell a young woman who was there to purchase her first gun, “Since you are going with the Glock 19, you might like this holster; it is designed for appendix carry. That makes it easy to conceal.”

    I interrupted: “Excuse me, ma’am. Before you choose a holster and a carry style, you might want to take some of the training this store offers. I know two of the trainers, they are top- notch. Once you’ve learned to handle the gun safely, you can talk with your instructor about carry-styles and holsters.”

    The gun- clerk agreed.

    The new gun- owner smiled and thanked both of us, and headed to the background check counter.

    Maybe it is just me, but suggesting appendix carrying a Glock 19 for a first-time gun owner seemed less than sagacious.

    • I rarely interrupt a sales critter anymore. Most sales people get pizzed off. I learned that when I did in home sales & many antique & flea markets. A good way to make an enemy and/or get banned…

      • And I literally don’t give a flying f*** what some idiot “gun salesman” thinks . . . and if it results in a “ban” from a range? I was going to the wrong range in the first place.

        As a long-time shooter, I feel as if I have SOME obligation to try to counter information/advice that is actually WRONG. If the salesman doesn’t like it? They can counter my contrary advice (usually EXACTLY the example the author uses – “That may work for you, but you should try it first. This range rents these firearms; rent one and try it. Get some training. THEN make up your mind about what firearm/carry option you want to adopt . . . and be prepared to change your mind a year later, when you have even more experience.”

        The best role a POTG can play is . . . try to encourage education and training. I’ve ocasionally taken a class or training session that I thought was unsatisfactory; I have never taken one that I regretted. Even the bad ones teach me something – even if it’s only, “Wow, I never knew people were giving advice this bad”.

        • I totally agree. I don’t care if I pizz a salesman off. Better that than to have some newbie get burned and turned off on shooting for the rest of their life. I can live with a salesman hating me for ruining a sale that would have put him out front for the month. I can live with being banned from a gun store. I can’t live with someone who might become a world famous shootist being completely turned off by some schmuck at the sales counter.

      • LifeSavor and Lamp, agree and well said.

        Former water walker, you, not so much. Your comments have been shit lately, even Minor has been taking you out to the wood shed. So tell us again how well you lick the boot.

  3. I’ve met my fair share of the second type depicted above…the A$$hole. In all cases, either the top manager or the proprietor himself. And in all cases, permanently lost my business. In one case, I was told something that was clearly and blatantly in opposition to Federal law, and when I provided correction – even with the U.S. Code reference for support – he became so upset with me that he walked away from the counter. I walked out of that store and never went back.

    • And in 2021 you can leave a nasty rating on fakebook,google & that restaurant thing. And tell everyone you meet how much they suck. It’s a small world( like the antique dealer world). My wife controlled her Etsy shop ratings for positive only. Doesn’t matter now as their rates increased with no increase in sales. Shipping is abysmal!

      • Hey, FWW,

        We have ‘stuff’ my wife inherited from her brother. He was an interior decorator who also did his own faux finishes on damaged furniture he picked up at Christy’s in NYC. We have furniture he never got to repair and finish. Would you be interested in seeing some pics? I want this stuff out of my house. If it is valuable to you, you can have it, no charge.

  4. It pays to do research and to try before you buy. Have a checklist of requirements and see what meets those needs. When I was selecting a rifle for my son to learn and gain experience it had to meet the following:

    Short
    Light
    Low recoiling cartridge
    10 round magazine
    Iron sights (optional)

    The Ruger Scout in 5.56 met the requirements. Shame people didn’t buy them when available because they are now averaging $1800+ on AusGuns site

    • Wouldn’t the Ruger American Predator in .223/5.56 also fit that role much less expensively? I think you can even use 10 round Mini-14 magazines.

      Of course a basic AR-15 would also work just fine.

      • Unfortunately not in my part of the world. Mini14 magazines are hard to get and are popular for Lee-Enfield .223 conversions.

        Easier to get something that takes AI pattern magazines as they are easier and cheaper to buy.

        And my son also likes the Scout.

  5. Not sure I have had this experience. I have purchased a large number of firearms over the years at a large variety of places and I can’t honestly remember running into someone like those mentioned in the article. Most everyone I have dealt with knows firearms and doesn’t try any kind of high pressure sales. I did have a female friend who I taught how to shoot and helped her purchase her first firearm and recommended she go to a store that held CCW courses where I had gone years before. Apparently she ran into someone like that who talked her into trading in the gun we had just bought for her for a more expensive one. The one thing I would recommend for all gun buyers not just new ones and that is to research online reviews of different products and to read some articles on buying a firearm for the first time. I have found it very helpful to educate myself on firearms I might be interested in and to read what others have to say about buying firearms for the first time or otherwise.

  6. The most dangerous gun salesman is myself. I can’t seem to be able to say “no”. Maybe not the danger you meant, but dangerous (to my wallet) none the less. 😂

  7. It doesn’t occur to me to consider the advice of gun store workers any more than I’d get cooking tips from grocery store employees

  8. Acquaintance of a local gun store employee/salesman was out with said local gun store salesman buddy at range. Had a foldout ‘shooting table’ setup at 300 yards with an M1A with a gazilion power nc star optic.

    Me: Nice rifle, how are the hits going?
    Gun Salesman: Not sure, I’m zeroing it right now.

    Conversation over, go back and sit in the truck as I knew with the little knowledge I had that I didn’t want to linger and partake in the absolutely stupid conversation that was about to continue.

    After they left we went up to shoot pistols. My buddy I was there with had stayed in the convo and said gun salesman was unsure why he didnt see holes in his target.

    After adding stupid and stupid together I decided to look around and walked towards where the shooting table was positioned at 300. Found what I was looking for. As many rounds as gun salesman shot I found impact ricochets in the ground 40 – 50 yards from the berm.

    This guy sells people guns and I am sure people who are new listen to his ‘advice’. So Ignoramous category for this jolly fellow!

    • Probably shot out the effective life of his optic, too. Cheap scopes are not known for holding zero past a few hundred rounds, if that.

    • Didn’t think to zero at a closer distance first?

      For me 100m is my baseline. Usually for 200m, up 2-3 minutes for most calibers. Up about about 3-4 again for 300m.

      • The range I belong to encourages firing a few shots on the 25yd range to make sure the rifle is ‘on paper’ if it’s new or new optics. Saves time and frustration by doing gross adjustments if needed. I once watched a guy with a new AR and iron sights trying to zero at a 100yd. Even with two guys behind him and a spotting scope the rounds were lost in the backstop or going over.

        • I watched a local police department swat team try zeroing their very expensive .308 and very expensive scope (paid for with taxpayer dollars). Of course they started at 100 yards and as far as I could tell, never printed on the paper. I would have suggested starting at 25 yards, but they were such snotty a.h.s that I decided to let them bang away with zero results. I did score though. They threw 60 Federal Match brass in the brass can which I retrieved.

      • You always get it in the park before moving further back to zero at a particular distance if that is your goal.

        This example presents a very severe safety issue though as those rounds he was smacking the ground with 50yds in front of the berm could have been just as easily off ABOVE the ground, flown over the berm and flew on for who knows how long. This dimwit had no idea where the rounds were going and dumb luck with mounting his crappy scope, mount, height over bore and the initial point of scope thankfully had his dumb ass slinging rounds into the ground instead of yards over top of the berm.

        Again this moron is recommending and giving advice to newbies on guns. So he has the ability to pass on his ‘zeroing’ idiocy to new shooters and make additional dangerous situations occur. Of course there is no test to sell guns and it doesn’t pay all that well so these examples are numerous. From personal experience knowledgeable gun salesman are few and far between. Do not depend on them for ANY information. Do your own research.

  9. Run into one at Bass Pro who was both. I returned all the items I had in my cart. Proceed to tell that manager he hired a moron and never returned to Bass Pro shop.

  10. Over the years I’ve been purchasing, selling and trading guns I’ve run into both of the aforementioned salesmen.
    Truth be told, most of the time I stay quiet with the Ignoramus unless he’s spouting something dangerous to a potential purchaser. I will then speak up and have made the decision to do so a handful of times over the years.
    The asshole is a whole ‘nuther situation. I stay away from them whenever possible. If it’s the owner I don’t go to the store and dissuade friends from going there as well. What amazed me is to see reviews of those kind of places. Lots of “They are the best!”, “They know what their doing!” etc. Very few who speak and call out their faults and failures. Word of mouth has to be the main transport of truth in that case.

    • We have a gun store here where the sales people know nothing.

      You ask: “does it come in black?”

      sales person: “don’t know, let me check.”

      You ask: “I’m looking for a 9mm, something mid sized, Glock if you got it?”

      sales person: “don’t know, let me check.”

      You ask: “I need a lower for an AR-9 build. Do you have one?”

      sales person: “don’t know, let me check.”

      Their answer to everything is “don’t know, let me check.”. They never try to offer advice or opinion unless you ask for it then it goes something like this…

      You ask: “You think this will work for what I want to do?

      sales person: “don’t know, let me check with Bob. Hey Bob, he wants to do “insert-this-that here”, will this work for him?”

      Bob: “don’t know, let me check”

      Some how or another no matter what the question or discussion is all the sales people manage to somehow answer with “don’t know, let me check …”

  11. There is a third type IMO. The Super Tactical Operator Salesman who knows everything. I never engage these types when shopping/buying. By the time I hit a gun store I already know what I want and why. However this type will tell war stories about how ‘there he was, knee deep in grenade pins ect Buy this gun cause I know what I’m talking about.

    What really will get under my skin is the husband who is talking to the salesman/counter clerk about a gun for the “little woman” …while the wife is standing there! Makes me grit my teeth hard. I want to yell out “She’s the one that will be shooting it, not you! Let her decide you arrogant *****!”

    • That third type falls under the second type. I have yet to hear of a super tactical operator that openly shares war stories with randos to actually know what they are talking about and they have no interest in being corrected.

    • What’s the difference between a used car salesman and and a computer software salesman?

      The used car salesman KNOWS he is lying and knows how to drive too.

  12. I think the dangerous gunm salesman is the one you meet in a hotel room, who ask to see your money, then you both drive out in his car somewheres to get his stash.
    You can never be to sure of someone’s driving abilities.

  13. I ran into two interesting types at a gun show years ago. The first sold me a 94 Winchester Trapper in .357. It looked like new and seemed ok, so I bought it. I wrote a check and this clown flashed a deputy sheriff badge and told me what would happen if the check was bad.
    It turns out the rifle was bad. Had some broken internal feeding parts and I had to take it to my friendly gunsmith for repair. He knew of this reserve deputy. Nobody would buy guns from him because he was an idiot.
    At the same gun show there was a guy selling AR barrels of all lengths. I was looking at a 10″ barrel and asked if it would fit on a standard milspec AR receiver. He went into a panic, took the barrel away from me and wouldn’t even talk after that. I was asking out of curiosity, not an intent to make an SBR.

  14. A prospective buyer walks up to the counter and starts with a vague and unsure discription of something with no real understand of much of anything asking the sales clerk “what do I need”?

    I see this all the time. It isn’t just with guns. It’s with cars, computers, and clothing. It’s asking the cable guy where in the home HE thinks the modem should be installed.

    I over hear a conversation with an Academy salesmen what 12 gauge rounds he would recommend for self defense to which the response is bird shot. (Perhaps we should consult a particular vise president?)

    What tv should I buy? What gun should I buy? What car should I get?

    THIS is how people get lied to, fooled, and mislead.

    How am I supposed to know what YOUR needs, wants, and desires are? Much less what YOU can afford.

  15. I heard a clerk at a chain store telling a young black man, interested in a mossberg shockwave, that the firearm was perfectly legal to be carried as a concealed pistol and loaded/accessible in the passenger compartment of his car. I had to interrupt to prevent the young man from catching serious charges and remind the clerk that the old-era state (MI) law considering firearms 26-30″ in length as “pistols” had been changed some 6 years prior and his advice was bad. The clerk said “uh, oh yeah, i forgot, you just need to hacksaw off a half inch or so from the barrel and then it will be fine”.
    yup. he said that. So I told the young man the clerk was instructing him to commit a federal felony, that he should leave and never come back, then I gave him my phone number and told him to call me if he had any questions.
    Store manager didn’t care when i notified him. Apparently I observed the middle of the stack of assholes, but it’s assholes all the way down AND up.

  16. The store manager at my local gun store isn’t an ignoramus or an asshole, but he still gave me illegal advice that would have had me committing a state felony if I had followed it. I don’t want to get too specific, because I don’t want to get anyone to get in trouble, and I never know who’s reading this, but…
    I told the leading gun lawyer in my state exactly what the gun store manager told me to do. The state’s leading gun lawyer said that if I had followed the store manager’s exact advice, I would have committed a felony!

    In the store manager’s defense, though, his advice would have been legal in the other 49 states — only in New Jersey was it illegal! It’s also one of those laws that almost NOBODY knows is a crime, not even gun store managers. But cops know. It’s one of those crimes that only exists because under New Jersey law, all guns are banned, and then the state carves out certain specific (and very limited!) exceptions where they are not banned. For example, all handguns (even BB guns) are banned in New Jersey (even if you have a FPID card), except when traveling directly to and from certain locations specified by law, with absolutely no stops in between. Even if it’s a BB gun, and it’s legally purchased, legally owned, registered to you, locked in your trunk, unloaded, you have no ammunition in the car, and you have an FPID card, you still can’t transport a gun without the impossible-to-obtain “Permit to carry a handgun” — which nobody in NJ can obtain except politicians and cops. But some NJ gun store managers don’t realize this, because their FFL license lets them transport and ship things that we ordinary peons can’t.

    The moral of the story: NEVER take legal advice from a gun store employee, not even from the manager, because even if it’s legal in the other 49 states, it might be illegal in your state, and is almost always illegal in the People’s Republic of New Jersey.

  17. FYI: Dunning Krueger, a famous sociological experiment suggesting dumb people think they know more than they actually do, has been proven false. Subsequent studies attempting to replicate that result have proven fruitless. Please put this one in the same dustbin as phrenology lies.

    • I don’t know. I worked with the living example of Dunning Krueger. He once testified under oath that he never made a mistake. His colleagues were aghast until I reminded them that it isn’t perjury unless you know you are not telling the truth. If you are too stupid to realize that your whole life is a mistake, you can safely testify that you have never made a mistake and not be prosecutable because you haven’t willingly told a falsehood under oath if you are too stupid to recognize what you have just said is absolutely and utterly incorrect.

      If I were ever asked that question I would say, “Counsel, would you put some parameters on ‘ever’? Do you mean in the last five minutes? In the last two days? In my whole life?”

      “Obviously in the last five minutes perhaps not. In my whole life, most assuredly. Too many to enumerate.”

  18. Obviously there are these type of salesmen who don’t know anything about the product they are selling. Not just at gun stores, also every other aspect of retail sales. There is no reason that a consumer today cannot get sufficent information to make a informed decision before purchasing anything. When shopping for a firearm, if I don’t personally know the salesman, I assume they are idiots.
    On the other hand, there are very well educated people who know absoulutely nothing of other subject matters. I have a friend who is a well repected doctor. He would not know how to change a flat tire, so there’s that.
    Ever been to a car dealership? Just about every salesman know nothing about the vehicles they are selling. All they know is from the brochure or the latest Motor Trend or Car and Driver magazine. Which equally know nothing about cars.
    It will get worse when people who got education degrees from just On-line learning are being hired. Deemed experts who have no real experience and never actually performed the job of the people they are managing. Just my opinion based on experience…..

    • Agreed. Just ask them what the differential ratio is. You will invariably get a stare like you have just spoken Urdu to them. Most of them don’t even know what a differential ratio is for starters.

  19. “They don’t know what they don’t know.” – Tom Victa
    Original: non sciunt quid nesciunt
    The saying’s been around a loooooong time.

    • Yes, that is true; Tom is the guy that got it stuck in my head as it was quoted. Is it possible that he paraphrased something said by someone else long ago, sure. I’m still giving him credit for it sticking with me.

  20. Only one Gun Store in my neck of the woods I trust. Knowledgeable Owner with Knowledgeable salespeople with diverse backgrounds. No high pressure sales techniques employed. If they don’t have an answer, they take the time to research it, to give the most accurate info they can find. Not a single employee with less than 10 years experience or time with the store.

    99% of the guns I own were purchased there. I didn’t get the lowest available price, but I’ve also never paid full MSRP, and I don’t mind paying a fair market price. I know everyone that works there, their first name, and they recognize me by name when I walk in. 40+ years of patronage and never being steered wrong once, is worth a lot in my experience. It’s also not something I’ve seen or heard from the Corporate Gun Vendors.

  21. I had a similar experience from the General Manager at Hinterland Outfitters
    (Dallas, Texas) who I asked for his advice about my problem with the new requirements for a drivers license in addition to the background check. After extensive research for over a year I decided a CZ75 S01 Tactical was in my price range with numerous positive reviews, I bought it and waited two weeks to be sent to Cabela’s FFL dealer. But I hit a political issue from New Mexico requirements in changing one’s drivers license, without knowing the United Nation’s had infiltrated this corrupt Democrat state into revealing personal data, mortgages, income and so on only to change to an in state NM drivers license. Because of these change’s I could not get my purchased weapon, Cabela’s had to return it and I was charged 15% restocking fee out the $748 dollar gun paid. Now even truck drivers who won’t get vaccinated are denied a drivers license.

  22. Ok, just one more. I was at a gun show in Dayton, Ohio back in the 80’s. I was looking over some pistols at one table that was mostly full of pistol grip shotguns. A ghetto thug type walked up with three homies and started handling the 870’s. He asked the vendor in a squeaky, pimp voice “Say, man. You got any of these in a semi-automatic?” The vendor said nope, not a one. The thug said sheeeeit and walked away. I was watching from in front of at least a half dozen 1100’s.
    I smiled at the vendor, he smiled back, and then I bought a gun from him.

  23. The article’s title is spot on. Shooty McFruity “Store Leads” are (for the most part) ill informed about firearms. Add to that the corporate fools have decided to end employee training concerning firearms, how to properly handle them, and learning about the products. Originally they required a NRA basic pistol class and RSO training of all employees, that went the way of the dodo long ago. Their classes have been gutted removing anything that is connected to any NRA or USCCA, opting for inhouse written products of poor quality. They have their own inhouse instructor certification program done on the computer, the only reason they have any USCCA or NRA cert instructors is if state required. All one needs to do is look at the Instructor Mike promo’s to see what they think instructors should be.
    They do have some great qualified instructors but corporate is working hard to fix that, much the way they drive out competent sales people. There is no benefit to being competent or excelling, just sell anything to anybody. If customers have any questions, take an online class from them.
    So don’t have high expectations when you shop there, don’t depend on customer service, and be prepared to be asked for your email address so they can spam you with regular prices veiled as “sales”.

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