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Northern Tool + Equipment Adds Gun Gear, Will Hardware Stores Return to the Firearms Fold?

Courtesy of

Gun accessories are mostly sold by companies that are either firearms or sports oriented. In the same way that the mainstream media has shunned firearms related advertising – a sore point for TTAG’s publisher – you don’t find too many mainstream manufacturers expanding their product line into the firearms fold. While the media ad ban has yet to be broken, the expanding firearms market has lured in some major players from outside the traditional sphere. Enter Northern Tool + Equipment Company . . .

Since 1981, the family owned and operated Northern Tool + Equipment has been an industry leader for value-priced generators, pressure washers and 40k other hardware style products. Many of their products are made in China, but they also support American manufacturers, some made in their own 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Faribault, Minn.. And now the company is including firearms accessories in its product line.

Northern Tool has several items in their lineup aimed at guns used as self defense tools, including the new Tee Shirt holster shown above. (The pistol looks to be a Bersa .380.) They’re singing our song. From Their “Packing Tee page”:

Feel free to exercise your Second Amendment rights! Now you can conceal and carry your trusty handgun without the restricting discomfort of a typical holster. The Packin’ Tee T-shirt uses a heavy-duty hook-and-loop fastening system with attachment strips on both sides of the shirt, coupled with your choice of small or large black holster (right- or left-handed, sold separately, see below), to secure the pistol at your side. No need to wear jackets or bulky outerwear to conceal your weapon. Extra-long T-shirt is made of 100% pre-shrunk cotton with reinforced mounting pads, shoulder and arm holes to prevent sagging. Holsters sold separately; order by the hand that you draw with (using cross draw). T-shirt sizes: M–3XL; order compression fit for gun’s stability.

The gun-related products from Northern Tool + Equipment show how the new media is reasserting the gun culture as American culture. Guns and ammunition were commonly available in hardware stores when I was growing up. I could buy ammunition nearly anywhere, and a discount furniture store had barrels of Springfield surplus 03A3 rifles for sale at $29.95. Some of you may remember purchasing rifles at Sears, which used to America’s number one firearms retailer.

All that changed in the 1960s when the elite decided that Americans must be disarmed, pushing through the 1968 Gun Control Act on a wave of emotional appeals and media hype. We still have a long way to go.

I want to see gun mufflers (a.k.a., suppressors or silencers) available in hardware stores, for sale across the counter, just as they are in New Zealand. Remove the idiotic and draconian restrictions on gun mufflers in a reform of the National Firearms Act, and maybe Northern Tool will offer simple and effective .22 gun mufflers for $29.95. It could happen . . .

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch


  1. avatar JonNLakeland says:

    I’ll call this progress.

  2. avatar 16V says:

    A company that is below Harbor Freight is making cheap Chinese firearms accessories available.

    Quoting Clarkson, “What could possibly go wrong?”.

    1. avatar Mk10108 says:

      My daily chuckle

    2. avatar Jay says:

      In my experience Northern’s house brand tool tend to be significantly better than Harbor Freight. Their air tools are even pretty solid if you go one step up from the cheapest option. The cheap option is the same junk they sell in Harbor Freight.

      1. avatar 16V says:

        Fair enough, I haven’t been in one in a decade or so – they left the market only to return in the last couple of years and I have yet to make it to a ‘new’ one.

        I will eventually go check one out (again) though.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “Quoting Clarkson, “What could possibly go wrong?”.”

          Yes, they have some, er, lots of crap there.

          Unless you make your living from them, the high-end tools aren’t practical for those of modest means.

          I own a set of Snap-On metric stubbie wrenches bought cheap from my ‘Pawn Daze’ and love the way they feel. The majority of my toolbox though is Craftsman and China stuff for McPherson strut compressors and the ilk.

          Hell, Dyspeptic Gunsmith owns up to owning a China (10-20?) ton press.

  3. avatar Cpstorm says:

    Here in the Upper Midwest, it’s pretty common for hardware stores in smaller towns to carry a small selection of ammo and cleaning supplies. A lot of the big-box farm supply type stores in the larger towns and suburbs carry firearms as well.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Similar in a lot of relatively rural areas, I think. Here in the NW, my local Ace Hardware is one of my go-to places for firearms. My wife and I both bought our pistols there.

      They don’t have a large selection, but what they do have, the gun-counter guys know inside and out. Their prices aren’t always the lowest, but when I factor in the price of driving from my relatively isolated state-line town to a bigger in-state store or paying a transfer fee, it washes out.

      1. avatar JSJ says:

        Ace hardware here has a relatively nice selection of firearms, both new and used, reloading supplies and a good stock of ammo.

        1. South GA has a NAPA Auto parts store that sells firearms.

      2. avatar MeRp says:

        The family-owned local Ace hardware chain has, in their main store, which doesn’t go by Ace Hardware, a very great selection of guns, ammo, reloading supplies, accessories, etc. Their other stores have a, pretty limited selection, as well.

    2. avatar Katy says:

      We were in small town southwest for Christmas. The tiny hardware store had ammo. Of course, at $20 for 50 rounds of Winchester white box 9mm, i don’t know if they ever sell any of it.

      Still, friendly folks, though.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    yep. Barring nyc most hardware stores sold at least rifles and shotguns and many sold handguns in my youth. Course you could mail order your gun right to your front door courtesy of the usps. We went that route for a number of long guns from sears.

    Why come ttag ain’t reporting on the armed militia seizing the federal building in Oregon?

  5. avatar MiniMe says:

    In Florida you can still find buy guns and gear at some hardware stores, usually in rural areas since the yankee liberals that keep invading the state would get a case of the vapors (freakin’ putzes) if it was in any of the large cities.

  6. avatar Reef Blastbody says:

    16V, below Harbor Freight? The Northern Tool locations here in DFW are several steps above Harbor Freight, and in fact carry Carhartt as well as their own house brand work clothing. I’ve bought a couple of pairs of their work pants and found them to be of good construction for the year that I’ve had them so far.

    I’ll be a guinea pig and give these a try and see how they work out.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      As I noted for Jay, perhaps I am behind the times. They used to be in STL, and believe me, it was well below Harbor Freight. They left, and have re-opened in the last couple of years. I have not been, so maybe things have changed.

      Since two of you have castigated me for my ‘snobbery’ in the world of cheap Chinese tools, I guess I owe them a trip someday.

  7. avatar jz78817 says:

    yep, a couple of “True Value” affiliated hardware stores by me have started doing so, though I think one only offers FFL transfer service.

    I was more surprised that True Value is still around.

  8. avatar Stinkeye says:

    “I want to see gun mufflers (a.k.a., suppressors or silencers) available in hardware stores”

    They’re in the oil filter aisle.

    1. avatar Timmy! says:

      No no no no no no no! Those are “Solvent Traps”! Never shoot the gun with that installed or God will murder a puppy!

  9. My father bought his Winchester 3030 out of the display window at Sears.

  10. avatar John L. says:

    Our local hardware store never left the fold. As long as I’ve been shopping there they’ve always had a (small but decent) selection of ammo and gun cleaning supplies.

  11. avatar S42 says:

    It’s all a matter of where you live. Here in N Central Fl I have a “Farm and Lumber” store just down the road. Everything from horse feed to lumber to hardware along with a large selection of fishing, bow hunting and firearms. One of the few places I could get .22 during the shortage. It’s a modern version of an old time hardware store.

  12. avatar Jimbo says:

    Maybe I’m misremembering, but I think Northern had firearm accessories in their catalogues in past. Maybe 20 years ago?

  13. avatar Dave says:

    One of the best gun stores in my neck of the woods is Millers Ace Hardware. Well stocked in firearms & ammo, and they just branched out into suppressors.

  14. avatar TXGal says:

    I have several 50 round boxes of .380 HP from my dad’s estate, he had purchased from Gibson store in Fredricksburg TX. Colt 911 .380 pistol also inherited hates HPs so gave some to my brother, who has a Sig. Amazing how long ammo lasts, if stored property. Dad passed away over 15 years ago, those rounds still go bang when trigger pulled!

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I have used a lot of surplus ammo for fun at the range in the past. The oldest ammo I know the dates on was 60 yo and still worked like a charm.

      Only ammo that had any hang or misfires on was a case of ww2 made german 8mm mauser. Ammo that was made in the closing days of a losing war, probably by slave labor and most of it still went bang.

  15. avatar jtniggle says:

    I would definitely call this progress.

    Additionally, the three Fred Meyer locations nearest me have started selling firearms and accessories again in the last couple years. And not just .22’s and shotguns, they’ve got pistols and AR’s as well. They were absent for some time, not sure how long, but came back as these locations went through remodels over the last two years.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Fred Meyer. Sometimes I do miss Portlandia…

  16. avatar Dez says:

    Is anyone aware that NTE has owned the “Sportsmanguide” for quite some time so it is only natural that products will probably shift between companies.

    1. avatar Mark says:

      Good to know. I wasn’t aware of that. That same shirt however is only $30 at Sportsman’s Guide. Before you buy anything from NTE, check SG first.

  17. avatar TheOtherDavid says:

    Speaking of hardware stores, I sit in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Kitsap County, Washington, not exactly a hotbed of anti-gun mentality. But our beloved TTAG website is a blocked site by the administrators of the ATT WiFi at this store. Per the blurb on the “blocked site” page, the block list is at the discretion of the venue.

    1. avatar billy-bob says:

      Have found that using the incognito function when browsing defeats that, at least at the hospital I frequent that uses site censoring.

  18. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Guns and ammunition were commonly available in hardware stores when I was growing up. The first rifle I bought was at a hardware and electronics store.
    Some of you may remember purchasing rifles at Sears, which used to America’s number one firearms retailer. Ted Williams branded guns were sold by Sears.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      More than rifles.

      I’ve seen Sears-branded Hi-Standard .22lr revolvers come through the pawnshops.

      Sears used to sell Yaesu FRG-7 shortwave receivers as their model # 412.36380700…

  19. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Rural King which is a farm and home supply store sells guns and ammo.

  20. avatar Bruce L. says:

    Just checked the web site. They only have medium white, large or extra large in black. Looks like sales are pretty good for the t-shirt.

  21. avatar tsbhoA.P.jr says:

    what dept. store didn’t have a sporting goods section with guns fifty years ago?
    i distinctly remember the stuffed kodiak bear in the hunting section at marshall fields on some upper level.

  22. avatar click me says:

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