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Ruger P89DC
Courtesy Dury’s Guns

By Garrett Owens

Surely designed to withstand doomsday, the exterior of the store is blood red cinder blocks. The windows are barred and it’s located just on the other side of the tracks from our sleepy, happy town.

In bright yellow paint, “Don’t be a Victim” and “Second is our Right” is scribed on the exterior leaving little to imagine just what lies inside. “Not a place you want to bring the family,” reads the only online review I found.

The stale smell of cigarettes welcomes you at the door. A mishmash of metal shelving containing God knows what from the store’s isles, contents having sat untouched so long that a thick layer of dust outlines their positions.

A Macho Man Randy Savage cardboard cutout is superimposed with Obama’s face. The eyes are painted red with devil horns. “I Sux” is in written in the duct-taped speech bubble that’s attached. The effigy blocks the main isle, forcing one to wander around before entering the heart of this beast.

An impressive collection of half empty plastic soda bottles intermixed with remnants of spent chewing tobacco adorn the countertops and all spaces originally designed for office equipment or supplies. This is Ol’ Pappy’s Pawn and Gun.

Reaching the main sales floor, homemade wooden racks reaching to the ceiling proudly display almost every variant of AK, AR, bolt-action, rimfire, autoloading, single shot, centerfire, left-hand rifle and shotgun available. These guns, needing re-homing, are neatly lined up by barrel length, resembling a church’s organ.

An Ol’ Pappy’s employee, semi-auto pistol strapped to his hip, takes a long inventory of his rifle-placing handiwork as he blatantly ignores my arrival. Moving up and down the row, he slightly adjusts each gun’s barrel to the left or right, perfecting this long barreled gun sanctuary.

The glass pistol display case sits in front of the rifle wall, the top almost opaque from years of nicotine. It contains a hodgepodge of handguns organized by what I can only guess to be luck.

I try not to make eye contact with the gruff long-haired fellow behind the case while doing my best impersonation of a regular.


In all honesty, I’m not a typical gun enthusiast. I voted for Obama both times. I’ll choose vegetarian quesadillas over a steak dinner and I like my beer locally brewed and served in the appropriate glassware.

As I scan the display counter, I quickly spot an opening next to a customer who is intently taking aim at various points throughout the store with a snub-nose revolver and I step in beside. Squinting hard through the foggy glass, I get my first look at the goods inside.

“What-er-ya out for?” the gruff long haired fellow slides over and barks at me, obviously trying his best to seem inviting and interested.

“Don’t you usually ask what are you in for?” I reply, head down hoping he would pick up on the prison joke and break the ice. I felt his stare before he replied a stern “no” creating a wall of tension all of the bowie knifes in the place could not cut.

“Umm. I’m just checking out what you guys have. Interested in a XD 9mm…have one?” I mutter, finally lifting my head to make eye contact. In my countless hours of online research, I had decided that was the pistol for me.

“No,” he says immediately, turning to walk down to the other end of the display to help another customer.

Phased and shaken, but not completely deterred, I stick my hands in my pockets and bend down to get a better look at their inventory. Black, gray, blue, pink…every color is represented. Revolvers next to striker-fired, next to guns with hammers.

As I carefully scan the case, I start to wonder how it came to be that each particular gun is now here. Where did these guns come from? How far have they travelled? What is their story? How many are family heirlooms pawned in times of hardship?

Contemplating the pistols’ origins, one catches my eye. It’s stainless steel with a full-size alloy frame and a hammer. A paper tag stringed to the trigger guard states, ‘$299 – Comes with box and 2 mags.’ I try to look past it, but am consumed by the gun’s presence. All other pistols in the case disappear.

Enamored, I stand up straight and look for the gruff, long-haired fellow and muster, “HEY… I’d like to check this one out.”

I think that’s what you should say. Or do I take a number and wait? The gruff long-haired fellow at the end of the counter perks up and is now headed my way, leaving his other customer mid-sentence.

“There’s a couple hundred guns here, you’re gonna need to be more specific.”

“It’s the only one…I mean that one, right there. Price is $299,” I say.

“Oh, the P right there?” he inquires. Pulling a deluge of keys from his pocket, he instantly fingers the correct one, unlocks the back of the case and pulls the gun from its temporary glass holding cell.

“This is a great piece and ain’t gonna last long here.” He cycles the slide a few times and locks it back. Handing it over to me without emotion, a stone cold stare.

Now I can count the number of times I’ve handled a gun on one hand. Spending countless hours online reading everything every pro and vet has to say on what caliber is best for the beginner, the best gun for my money, stopping power and so on made me believe I was a true gun pro. But when push comes to shove, I’m helpless. This is new ground, a new frontier and I am diving in head first.

I take the pistol from him like a new parent taking their newborn from the doctor for the first time. Scared and unsure, I hold the cold piece of steel in my hands, admiring the raw power it exudes, pretending to know what I’m looking for or at.

It seems like what a gun should be. Heavy, made of metal, with a trigger, a barrel and someplace to hold on. Without cycling the slide, checking the sights, internals or gripping it like it was hot, I offer the gun back to the gruff long-haired fellow behind the counter, still cradling it like a newborn baby.

“Cool, thanks.” I say. Nervous, I could feel myself starting to break a sweat.

“You know, this ain’t gonna last in here,” he says, yet again, looking at me and cycling the slide, outwardly confused about my interaction with the pistol.

“These P’s are pretty sought after and in this condition, you just ain’t gonna find another like this.” He places the pistol on top of the case and shrugs off the awkwardness of the situation I just created.

Now I’m running on full auto-pilot, just pure emotion and adrenaline. Without a thought I put my hands back in my pockets and bend back down to take another gander at the inventory behind the foggy glass, not looking at anything in particular, not really sure what I am doing.

I calculate what my next move should be. Run out the door? Inquire about purchasing? Look at a few more guns?

Finally, I make my move. Quickly coming to a full attention, locking eyes with this gruff long-haired pawn shop denizen used gun salesman, I state with authority, “I’ll take it.”

Wait, what? I just said I’ll take it. What caliber is it? How does it work? How old is it? Who even makes this thing? Before I fully realize what I just did, he fires back.

“Good choice, you ain’t gonna find another like this,” confirming my decision like a true used article salesman and now wearing a shit-eating smirk.

Returning from a blackout state due to the insane rush of adrenaline, I have a pen in my hand putting my John Hancock on the 4473 form. Passing over driver’s license along with the 4473, the gruff long-haired fellow gathers the documents and stuffs them in between a few of the spit bottles. The he grabs the pistol from the top of the counter.

“NICS gonna be a minute,” he states with his back to me then heads off to the stockroom.

Standing still and in full recovery from the adrenaline debacle gun purchase, eyes glued to the gruff long-haired salesmen, I can see him fiddling in the back and snickering with his cohort. A combination of smoker’s cough, laughs and snorts ensues from the back room.

Breaking my stare, a few gentlemen come wandering from behind the shelves of preowned junk, take a half-assed glance around the main store then quickly file right back out from where they came in.

Looking around again, I notice another customer at the end of the store who is intently stripping down an AK he’s been gawking at since my arrival, pulling tools from the shelves to aid his endeavor. Above him a bright red sign with white lettering reads, “DO NOT FIELD STRIP WEAPONS.”

Suddenly an Ol’ Pappy’s employee taps me on the shoulder, reaching from behind the case.

“You Garrett?” he asks.

“Yes, are you Nick? I ask.

“Who the heck is Nick?”

“The guy helping me out said that Nick was going to be a minute.”

“No shit. My name’s not Nick, it’s Jay-Jay and Ol’ Pappy, he owns this place. Been running it 22 years. He was referring to the background check, it’s called a NICS.” He starts to break a smile

“Let me guess, you ain’t never been around here?” he asks, now full-on giddy.

“No, Jay-Jay. I’ve never been in the store. In fact, this is the first gun I’ve ever purchased,” I say, feeling rather trusting at this point.

“Huh, Ol’ Pappy back there said he got a stranger. Guess that’s you,” he says. “Well, Garrett, background’s good, let me double in with Ol’ Pappy and we’ll get you all squared up.”

Jay-Jay then heads back to the stockroom. A few minutes pass by before both Jay-Jay and Ol’ Pappy appear from the back room, Pappy carrying a black plastic case. They walk right up to me, both with smiles like Christmas morning. Ol’ Pappy puts the case in front of me, turns around and grabs small a red, green and white box and places it beside the black case.

“Here you go. Your new pistol. Just gave her a good wipe-down,” says Ol’ Pappy.

I turn the case to face me and notice the top of the cases is molded with the name “RUGER.” Popping it open, the gun sits neatly inside, one magazine in the pistol now, with the other magazine sitting perfectly in its molded holding spot. Next to it is a factory magazine loader. There’s not a scratch on any of it, and hiding in the top cover is an owner’s manual.

I take the pistol out of the case and have another good look. “Ruger P89DC” is neatly etched into the stainless slide. Flipping the pistol over I notice “9mm x 19” is stamped into the barrel. Well, I’ve got that part figured out. Feeling lucky I look over at Ol’ Pappy and Jay-Jay.

Ruger P89DC
Courtesy Dury’s Guns

“You know, this is the first gun that I’ve ever purchased or owned.”

“Oh, we know. Ain’t but get a stranger in here about twice a year,” Ol’ Pappy fires right back. Both of them let out a laugh.

“We appreciate not having to do the price dance. Saves us a lot of time,” Jay-Jay pipes in.

“For your commitment to fair pricing standard set forth by this establishment, here’s a half box of plinking ammo to get you started.” Ol’ Pappy takes the pistol from my hands, places it back into the box, takes the tag off the trigger guard and closes the box.

Almost in unison Jay-Jay holds open a plastic, “Thank you for Shopping” bag for Ol’ Pappy to load. Ol’ Pappy places my new pistol and the small green, red and white box of ammo inside. He knots up the bag handles and offers it over to me.

“That’ll be $299 for the gun, $7.99 for NICS and $24.42 to Uncle Sam,” Says Ol’ Pappy while pressing the register keys, shit-eating smirk and all.

“We take cash, cash or cash.”


[This post was originally published in 2017.]

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  1. The first time I bought a gun was at a yard sale. My own gun. Not one of dad’s or my grandfathers or my uncles. My own. It was a sporterized 03 Springfield and I rode it home with an ammo can full of fmj’s on my bike. I was 13.

    Pawn shops have a bad vibe for me. Was in one in Reno just to look and they had false teeth in their display case. False teeth.

    My first 9mm was a Ruger p89. You could beat a tank to death with it.

    • …and you probably overpaid for it, too. In my opinion, it’s worth little more than recycle scrap.

      • Which one? The springfield and 150 rounds of surplus fmj was 40 bucks and the new Ruger was about 250. Both gave excellent service.

        My only complaint with the p89 was it was a tad hefty.

    • Average 4K for false teeth. Some folks are not as fortunate as others so while not ideal if a person can eat and stay healthy then yeah.

    • Imagine the sad story behind those teeth. Getting down low enough that you have to pawn your false teeth, man. 🙁

    • “Pawn shops have a bad vibe for me.”

      That’s a common reaction. Before I got in the business, I associated pawn shops with stolen merchandise.

      It’s slowly changing, thanks mostly to the independent shops cleaning up their shops and up-scaling their image, and the corporate chain shops like Value Pawn and Cash America…

      • The biggest pawn shop in town here also has the biggest selection of new handguns, arranged by manufacturer. Funny, although there is a bunch of pawned merchandise like guitars, jewelry and the like, , there are few consignment or pawned used firearms.

    • to JWM or resident Hill Jack
      “””””””””””””””The first time I bought a gun was at a yard sale.””””””””””””

      Yeah your the typical cheap ass Hillbilly. You never bought a gun worth much more than pocket change and then thought you bought quality because of the price (sarcasm),

      And by the way dummy I have gotten some fantastic deals on guns if you go to the right pawn shops. I have bought more guns in the last 7 years at the pawn shop than I bought when I was still in the work force and going to gun shows.

      Its hard to believe your still as dumb as you were when you were a kid

      • Dumbass vlad. Of course you have free time. Living in a group home on a mental health disability puts you in the category of non productive drain on society.

        • And put your lying mouth in action with your fat feet. Why are you not in Verginia like you promised? Liar!!!!

          And why are you not standing guard at schools like you promised. Again your a Liar, braggart and bag of rectum gas wind. Take a bath this month will you.

          And why are you living in California when you are pro gun. Every day they encroach more on your gun rights.

        • vlad. I will be in VA when I’m needed. Guarding schools requires cooperation with the local .gov. Apparently you fascists would rather see dead children than protected schools.

          As for CA. I’m an American. My rights are nationwide. Once Trump gets sworn in for the next term and he appoints more conservative justices my rights will be honored nationwide. No need to move.

          Isn’t it time for you to go to group?

        • Get off the hallucinatory drugs JM your rights are not Nationwide everyone lives in a State and every State has different laws passed against 2A

        • 2020 is going to be a bad year for you, vlad. Your case worker may have to recommend a secure facility for you after the election. Keep you from harming the community.

          You know how you frustrated nazis like to act out.

      • Vlad, I ask you kindly to please learn the differences between your, you’re and yore and use them properly, along with commas.

        Hint: you’re using your incorrectly. Oh sorry, incorrectly means wrong…

  2. You can find some pretty nice deals at pawn shops. Or complete rip offs. Like a drunk freshman chick, kinda goes both ways.

    This actually sounds like my kind of shop.

    • It’s the kind of place that attracts two kinds of customers: those that know what they’re doing and can get a good deal, and those that don’t and get hosed.

      There are enough of the second type to keep them in business.

    • “This actually sounds like my kind of shop.”

      Same here. Dirt shops are where I used to get the best deals, where the shops didn’t know the true value of what they had on the shelf.

      It’s different nowadays with eBay out there. The really good deals are mostly history, and some of the shops are pricing their merchandise what the highest bidders are getting on eBay.

      I think it’s a part of the psychology of auctions, where some folks go into insane bidding wars because they “just have to win it”. And there are *tons* of stuff on there with ridiculous prices, and the pawn shops that research internet prices have price their stuff based on that, without realizing that asking prices and getting prices are two completely different critters.

      But I still make it a point when driving around to check out pawn shops I haven’t been in before or recently. I’ve occasionally scored some serious good deals in them and flipped them on places like eBay or the high-end audio folks. My buddy that I worked with in one pawn shop years back have discussed a few times over the years opening our own and stocking it with those kinds of deals, and we may still one day…

      • I don’t know how pawn shops assign value to objects. I always sort of assumed, based on the variance in pricing, that it had to do with what they paid for the item.

        • If it’s a pawn item, they usually have have 30-35% of the assessed value in it.

          Plus many people pay on the loan for a time until its forfeited, so they have that.

          So many put exorbitant prices on them since they have little invested. They can wheel and deal or just wait for someone to see something they have to have.

        • “I don’t know how pawn shops assign value to objects. I always sort of assumed, based on the variance in pricing, that it had to do with what they paid for the item.”

          Rarely. The folks I worked for couldn’t give a shit what it cost new, only what (based on their 20+ years experience in that particular shop) thought they could sell it for at their location.

          Pricing stuff really is a tricky art in a successful independent pawnshop. Price it too high, and it sits on the shelf forever. That’s doubly bad, because you have money you spent buying it just sitting there not making you money. Too low, and you have bare shelves. Shops with empty shelves discourages folks from dropping in frequently to browse.

          The best way to determine how well a pawnshop is doing is to try and find out how much money he has “on the street”. A good rule of thumb is, that money is making the pawnbroker 30 percent a month. *EVERY MONTH*. And some folks leave their stuff in pawn for multiple month in a row.

          The bread-and-butter for an independent pawnshop are the customers who end up pawning the same stuff over and over again, and picking it up, each and every time.

          The system really is rigged against the working poor, those unable to get conventional lines of credit. Pawnbrokers have a saying – When times age good, they will do OK. When things go south and unemployment is sky-high, they will do a whole lot better. Pawnbrokers can pay a lot less for what walks in that front door for stuff they are desperate to sell to make the rent and feed their families…

        • Strych – I mis-interperated what you wrote –

          Some shops do that, others don’t. (pricing as to what the shop paid for it).

          Some shops put a ‘code’ on their price tags to indicate what the shops paid for the item. The first shop I worked at had a code system, they used “Lucky trader” where ‘L’ meant 1, and ‘R’ meant 9. and 0 meant 0. Example – the code “L00” meant the shop had 100 bucks in the item. In no way is that universal for all shops…

    • Have you bought any more guns since?

      Why did you pick a pawn shop in the first place. You might have been a little more comfortable at a bass pro or something.

    • “It was a great entry then, even with the hyperbole a bit thick.

      Sad to say, those places exist. I’ve noticed a few of those places locally that have gone out of business, probably when the parent that opened it died, and the kids who inherited it were utterly clueless in operating it…

    • Forget the details about the purchase, Mr. Owens. I measure the effectiveness of a firearm by grains-on-target, per second. How did you do with the practice ammo?

      If you run out of ammo, I suggest reloading it. Costs about 15 cents per round, plus the one-time cost of ~$250 for the press. Less, if you grub for brass at the range (I am not proud.)

  3. I do believe the writer when he says he bought that gun, or one like it, at a pawnshop; the rest of it, not so much. This was a smarmy mishmash of bad fiction cliches when it was first written and it hasn’t improved with time. (I do wonder what my past self had to say about it at the time…)

  4. Oh man, I miss the days with grumpy dudes selling all sorts of oddball stuff – darn near impossible to find used guns like the old days. Those dry old guys are full of wisdom and inappropriate stories. Even had a few that would smoke in their own shops, because they didn’t give a damn. Good times, good deals.

      • I just saw at least a half dozen at the EZ Pawn in town. They were all priced ~$250.

        And actually, I bought a gun that day. Not a Ruger, but an x carry that they thought was a run of the mill 320. They even dropped the price $50. Woohoo!

  5. Good story! Except for the purchase of a Fender Stratocaster about 20 years ago,it reminds me of why I stay out of pawn shops.

    I purchased my first firearms in November, 2016, just prior to Trump’s win. Researched the heck out of it and rehearsed in my head what I would say and do so I would not embarrass myself. Walked up to the counter at the Army Navy gun shop and said to an available salesperson,”I am looking for a Glock 17 and a Remington 870″. The sales person asked “You just want to look or are you buying?”. “Buying”, I said, with confidence that I was not showing myself as a ‘newbie’. So he says, well, let’s get the NICS going”. Before I stop myself, I said, NICS? What’s that?”. My cover was blown.

    Not sure why I did not want my ignorance to show; I am not that way, usually. At work, I often play dumb to pull info out of people. I should have done the same at the Army Navy store. Oh well, remembering it makes me chuckle.

    • “Walked up to the counter at the Army Navy gun shop and said to an available salesperson,”I am looking for a Glock 17 and a Remington 870″. The sales person asked “You just want to look or are you buying?”.”

      My usual response to that is “Well, that depends entirely on you and how the negotiation on the price goes.” Said while smiling, of course.

      True pawn shop story, about 1997 – I used to work in an industry where I was usually hot, sweaty, and very dirty at the end of the day. Really grubby. Sweat and a business where it is very dusty will do that. Looking like the ‘Peanuts’ character ‘Pigpen’ dirty. One of those days, I walked into a pawn shop in Tampa, I had an errand to run downtown that day. I asked to look at something in the display case and got a surly question of “You got money?” from the guy behind the counter. I was a bit taken aback, and replied “Yes?”

      What he said next floored me. “Lemme see it.” he said. To say I was both shocked and incredulous is an understatement. I pulled out my wallet, opened it up, and pulled out the money and started to count it out. When the count got over 100, he said “OK”, and started to open the case. “Hold on, I’m not done yet” I replied. I finished counting out the rest in my wallet (about 260 total, more or less) and reached in my other pocket where I kept my pawn shop mad money (in case I saw a screaming deal I wanted for myself, or could flip to make a quick profit), that was 600 dollars in 100-dollar bills, I recall. Being single with a good job, a *ton* of overtime and no wife can do that to a wallet. “That’s OK” he said as he pulled out what I wanted to see. “You’ve seen I have the money” I said. “Now watch very carefully”. I took both piles of cash, stacked the wallet cash with the 20s on top of the 600 in mad money and placed both back in my wallet. “Now you are going to watch me, and my money walk right out the door of your little shit shop never to be seen again.” I walked out, and have never returned… 🙂

    • I have a buddy. He’s the anti christ when it comes to mechanical devices. Not only do well behaving cars and guns hate him and act up when he’s around but he also neglects these devices to the point it’s painful to watch.

      Every hunting trip or range session ends with a malfunction of some sort or a break down with his gear. We swap stories of his mis adventures at gatherings and have many laughs.

      Except for his Ruger p95. Its more rust than metal. Pitted, clogged and disgusting. But that poor beastie goes bang every time and doesn’t fail to feed or eject. I don’t see how it would be possible but that thing just keeps working.

      As far as I know the only work he’s done on it is to lock the slide back and spray a little wd40 on it. And that may have only happened once. And he’s had that thing for at least 20 years.

      • You could pick those up on line NIB for $300 when they stopped making them (2013, I think). Sold mine to help fund a medical vacation. Thinking of picking up a P94 to replace in. Try .40S&W for a change.

    • My thoughts exactly. I’d also be excited about a P series of striker-fired pistols but with steel frame. I’ve been wanting to pick up a Walther Q5 SF but price is too steep for me (especially right after the holidays). And I’m unlikely to find someone I know that owns one so I can shoot it. But if Ruger can find it in their hearts to do the same thing and price it like the rest of their pistols I’d be all over it.

      Heck, Ruger seems to be doing everything else that’s exciting (to me at least) nowadays, i.e. the 5.7 and a tiny 22lr pistol that holds 10 rds.

      • There’s enough striker pistols out there, some of us actually like DA/SA pistols and they’re few and far between these days.

        • True but very few have a steel frame besides the Walther. And I’d like to have access to a SF striker that isn’t too pricey (for me) or lacks availability.

        • True, I can’t think of any steel frame strikers or even aluminum. The P series was always aluminum except the last one (P95) was polymer (glass filled nylon to be precise, I think).

        • Ah… Now that I’ve looked it up I do see the Q5. Makes sense as a match gun, I guess, but for that kind of money I’d probably just go with a 1911 myself. Unless the capacity is crucial.

        • I handled a Q5 Match SF a few months ago. I’m no trigger expert but the trigger felt no different than a base PPQ’s, though the grip was as perfect as a CZ 75. No way would I give up >$1200 for it (I’m not a competition shooter, maybe someday) but it did make me yearn for a steel or even aluminum framed striker pistol. And yeah in that price range I’d rather have something else like a 1911. Or a New Colt Python (initial reviews are looking good!).

          Anyway a P series striker fired version is what I’d ask for if I could request something of Ruger. If not, just bringing back the P series would be outstanding. I had a P89 not too long ago. Enjoyed it and trusted it to the point that I gave it to my brother in law for home defense. He let me shoot the Jennings he previously had as a HD gun. After shooting it I decided there was no way I would let him use that to protect my sister and nieces. He was really thankful to me for giving him the P89. Told him “It ain’t for you, it’s for my nieces’ and sister’s safety. Don’t you F that up.” Lol I was actually a bit nicer than that, but not by much 🙂

  6. Pawn shops huh? Looked in many, never felt like I was seeing any worthwhile deals.

    My first gun cost me $49 at Jensen’s Custom Ammunition in Tucson Arizona. I was torn between the Ruger 10/22 and the Remington Nylon 66. The Remington cost a little more but I’d been saving up so earnestly my mother offered to pay the difference, and I could pay her back.

    Well, they were out of the Nylon 66 and would need a few weeks to get one in. But there was that Ruger 10/22 right there, brand spanking new and all lonely as heck waiting for my hard earned savings. So that’s what I bought. Or I should say my money bought it but my mother did the actual official buying, seeing as how I was far short of being an adult at the time.

    Still have that Ruger 10/22, never did get a Remington Nylon 66 but I still want one. Don’t know why I still want one, don’t think it’s important to know why. Some things just “are”.

    My second gun bought with my own money was several months later, cost me $5 for a used FIE Garcia Bronco bicycle frame .22 single shot rifle. A neighbor had it, didn’t want it any more and told a few of us youngsters whoever got their parent’s permission first could have it for $5. I actually killed a bunny rabbit or two with it, just to show it worked. Otherwise, has not been fired in decades.

    Still have that one too.

    Have never bought a gun in a pawn shop. Bought them in gun shows, from private sellers never from a dealer. Bought them in local gun shops, in big box stores too.

    In local gun shops I have sometimes haggled but not always. If the price is right, why worry over getting the last half a dollar advantage in a deal? Plus I tend to add a box of whatever the cheapest ammo in the place happens to be, just to be friendly.

    I have in fact haggled once in a big box store. But they had my shotgun on lay-a-way and sold it to somebody else. I was pissed, felt cheated and ripped off and let them know it. The manager made me a better deal on a better shotgun.

    Still have that one too.

    PS: The Ruger P series are excellent handguns.

  7. I’ve made some fine scores in pawn shops, and in the used selection of many gun shops. I’ve bought very few new guns. As long as you know your stuff, great deals abound if you are patient. I’d rather cruise pawn shops and little gun stores than a big box retailer any day. Just in the last year: Mossberg 500 20 ga for $100, Rossi single 12ga for $50, S&W 915 for $300, J.P. Sauer .357 single action for $100, Springfield Ultra Carry Compact 1911 for $225. They may need a little work and a lot of cleaning, but I call them rescues. Gave some a forever home, fostered others until they were re-homed.

  8. My first handgun was also a Ruger P series, the 91 in .40. It was also bought at a pawn shop though my experience was a bit less creepy.

  9. I buy a lot from pawn shops now. You have a chance at talking them down on the price and you can do layaway for no extra cost.

    Where I’m at people on armslist try to sell for so close to what they paid for it or factor in their “upgrades” that when you add the background check price (required where I’m from for person to person sales) that it costs just slightly more to get new anyway. Pawn shops seem to price more realistically.

  10. Lovely tale. Full of all the thinly veiled stereotypes and tropes that the “regular folks” have about us “gun people”. The condescension is well veiled by the overly flowery prose. I’m pleased that you found a pistol in an acceptable chambering for yourself after wading through the fetid swamp of untermenschen. Happy shooting.

  11. NICS check doesn’t cost anything and never has.

    Some states run the check (instead of the Feds) and charge though. Colorado?

    • The person making the call to NICS doesn’t pay anything but they sure charge the subject for the service. Big box stores don’t charge, but many small shops do. FFL make a few dollars as a go between thanks to the law.

      • I had a LGS charge me $70 for a NICS recently, I won’t be back. I found a Marlin ‘70’s era 30-30 at a pawn shop, had $400 on it. Excellent condition. The man said he’d take $350 plus $10 for the NICS, I almost bit. If I go back and it’s still there I will. I had one like it get away from me in hard times 30 years ago and always regretted it.

    • I thought the same thing. I have never been charged extra for a check on a gun purchased from the FFL.Only for transfers.

        • Such an odd number, and such a slap in the face after they stole the surplus out of the DROS fund to pay for rounding up guns from prohibited persons. They call it a fee instead of a tax (doesn’t need a supermajority to pass), even though its only real purpose is to discourage buying of guns. Fortunately, I scratched my buying itch pretty hard in the last few months so I don’t have to get pissed off by the final total.

    • “Some states run the check (instead of the Feds) and charge though.”

      In Florida, the background check is contracted out by the state, to a company that paid the state to connect to the state’s computer system and man the phones to take the calls…

      • Not sure where you are getting that info? I am 01 FFL dealer in FL and I used to have to call directly to FDLE for their approval over the phone. Now I do it online through a dealer only FDLE website. Total cost is and has always been $5 per transaction to the dealer. I then charge $10 to the customer. Now, you could be correct in that maybe a 3rd party is managing their phone system or their website. But in all my interactions with FDLE the person represented themselves as employees of FDLE and not a 3rd party.

        • I haven’t worked the business in 21 years, so it may have changed. That was the way it was explained to me by the shop owner when I was behind a pawn counter, back then…

  12. I love my ruger p89 and its 17 round capacity. I rented striker fired guns and to me they’re not that special. I find a heavier all metal gun manages recoil much better than the “plastic” guns. I put a laser grip on mine. For me I don’t need a newer gun. I think hammer fired guns are safer than striker fired ones.
    And I love the decocker. (smile)

    • You must be using aftermarket mags. The P85 and P89 came with 15 round mags. Bill Ruger proposed a 15 round mag limit (Glock 17s held 17 and were vastly outselling everything else), which turned into a 10 round limit when the 1994 Crime Bill passed. That betrayal cost Ruger a lot of sales. Some people started buying Rugers again after Bill died, and some people still haven’t forgiven the company.

      • I bought mine NIB in 1994. It came with 2-10 round mags. 17 round mags are made aftermarket by Mec-Gar. I still have and use the original 10 round mags at the range. The only time they are empty is right after I use them. Other wise they are always loaded and have been since 1994. They’ve each have had thousands of rounds through them without a failure.

        • The p89 is a great gun. The aftermarket mags are great as well. I didn’t know about Bill Ruger until long after I got his gun. I not selling my p89. Ever.
          And I love my Ruger 1022. And I plan on buying another one. (smile)

      • Bill Ruger is dead. The company is controlled by other people now. Also the owners of Smith and Wesson also betrayed the 2A in the 1990s. A boycott lead by radio host Gordon Liddy nearly destroyed the company. And to this day there are also people who refuse to buy S&W products. Just as some refuse to buy Ruger products. S&W is controlled by other people now as well.

        Do you know Colt Firearms also betrayed the 2A recently?

        Gaston Glock refused to sell his guns to the civilian population. As a european he never believed in civilian handgun ownership. He thought the American Second amendment was stupid.
        Personally I will never buy a Glock Product. There are currently some gun companies that are more loyal to $$$ then the 2A. And they will cut deals with the government to make civilian gun ownership more difficult.

        Be careful out there!

  13. It’s “aisle.” That’s driving me crazy every time I see “isle.”

    Gilligan and his buddies were stranded on an isle.

    A store has aisles.

  14. I do buy stuff in pawn shops from time to time. Sometimes some good deals interspersed within the criminally priced handguns.

    The Ruger Ps are good guns. Not pretty but pretty damend reliable. Nice thing is that you can get factory mags for around 15 bucks from CDNN. Makes them a good house/truck/extra gun.

    I wouldn’t mind having one of the DAO models from their LEO runs years ago. A lot harder to find now.

  15. Glad you bought the pistol. How did it work?
    Secondly why did you go to a pawn shop with such a review for your first purchase? Somehow I don’t believe the story. Are you a rehabilitated Obama supporter now or still a liberal voting fool?
    Sorry for my input here but I just don’t understand why TTAG publishes such dribble. Somewhere back in the woodwork is a liberal who is high up in this establishment.
    Only way I change my opinion on this is if the author admits to his previous mistakes voting for the left. Otherwise he is just a liberal plant who is still voting to take our rights away as American Citizens..

  16. It’s been an awfully long time, mid 80s, but I remember the first gun I bought on my own (had been give a couple by my Dad). I relate totally to the experience. The gun store seemed like an alien world and I had no idea what I wanted or what I was doing. Wanted a handgun of some sort for self-defense. The salesman set me up with a Bersa .380. which probably wasn’t a terrible choice, in retrospect. It would have been either a 383 or an 83 — been so long I don’t know. DA/SA. Pretty gun, nice lines. I wish I’d kept it, but traded it away long ago.

      • Time is money, $8 is quite fair.

        I try to pay my favorite dealer all the time for his services to me but its more a mutual benefit and he keeps trying to give me the whole “military benefit” card. I have him do the transfers on all my orders, he can then claim my transfer as being “in the business”.

        • I don’t begrudge my LGS for what he gets to handle a transfer for me, and he doesn’t seem to mind making a fast $30 for doing some paperwork and an Internet entry. But I would walk out of the place if he tried to charge me for a NICS if I was buying something in stock.

    • What does the check actually cost the shop?

      When I buy stuff online the local place that handles the transfer charges me $20.

      Unless the check is free (i.e., paid with your tax dollars), then either the shop rolls it into the sale price of the gun, or is upfront about what the check is costing you. I kind of prefer the latter.

      • The NICS check is payed for by the taxpayers. Note that some states do the check instead of directly to the Feds. In AZ (where they call the Fed number) there is no charge. In states where the state does the check there may be a charge.

  17. Bought a marlin 60 in a pawn shop 35 years ago for 125.00, used it for targeting a year or so and sold it back to them for 100.00
    Wish I kept it, was a good gun.

  18. I bought my first semi auto pistol in a pawn shop in 1994. It was Ruger P89DC not stainless which I still have. It cost less than $400. It was NIB. At the time in order to purchase a handgun. You were required to get a purchase permit through the Sheriff’s office. Which cost $10 per year. That permit took the place of a NICS before it was required in 1998. There was a waiting period to allow the sheriff’s department to confirm the status of that permit.

  19. “In all honesty, I’m not a typical gun enthusiast.”

    No sh!t? Well, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather.

    BTW, the soy milk is over at aisle three.

  20. Bought my 1st AR for a great price from my favorite pawn shop-Highland,IN pawn. Great folks. Been buying & selling for many years and unlike a bunch of you bigoted idiot’s I don’t judge a man by his teeth,greasy hair or “rough” exterior. I can literally talk to anyone from commoner to king. If I don’t like a seller or shop I just leave never to return. I vaguely remember this article before and thought “don’t you know you’re supposed to negotiate price at pawnshop”?!? Peace out…

  21. Nice lookin Ruger

    My first computer came from a pawn shop in the 80’s. My first gun was a hand-me-down BB gun from my brother. Most pawn shops these days charge as much for brand new for most things. So I rarely go into one.

  22. “An impressive collection of half empty plastic soda bottles intermixed with remnants of spent chewing tobacco adorn the countertops and all spaces originally designed for office equipment or supplies.”

    Gross. No excuse.

    “An Ol’ Pappy’s employee, semi-auto pistol strapped to his hip, takes a long inventory of his rifle-placing handiwork as he blatantly ignores my arrival.”

    Inexcusable. The good pawnshops will greet everyone walking in. (Unless taking care of another customer. If I am, I’ll glance up a moment and say “Be right with ya”.)

    “The glass pistol display case sits in front of the rifle wall, the top almost opaque from years of nicotine.”

    Inexcusable, glass cleaner costs very little. There should be nothing impeding the view of the inventory.

    “Umm. I’m just checking out what you guys have.”

    If I hear that, I’ll say something like – “Sure thing, if I can show you something, just holler!”.

    When it looks to me like the person buying has zero experience, I’ll ask them if they would like me to show them the basics of the gun’s operation. Loading, unloading (with snap caps) basic field strip for cleaning, etc.

    Sounds a lot like a dirt pawn-n-gun that doesn’t care if they want new business. I usually take my business elsewhere, unless they have a deal to good to pass up…

    • Well….Pawn shops are not gun shops. Some try to be, but you usually stock only new HiPoints and Lorcins and such.

      Depending on the shop, I have seen some pretty coarse folks running them. A few do have gun guys working there, but they are rare from I’ve seen.

      My favorite was Hunt & Whitakers in Monroe, LA. I became friend with them in the early 90s. One brother was the gunsmith, the other was the front of the store. They also had a jeweler on staff as well. I often helped behind the gun counter when things got busy and I was in the store.

      Lotta great stories and characters did business there.

      • “Well….Pawn shops are not gun shops. Some try to be, but you usually stock only new HiPoints and Lorcins and such.”

        Pawn and gun shops in Florida have an FFL so they can take guns into pawn and sell them if the customers abandon them.

        I’d say the vast majority of the used guns on the walls and in the display cases in Florida were pawns of customer’s that defaulted on the loan and never picked them up.

        You probably see fewer quality new guns in pawnshops today because they simply cannot compete on price with places like Bud’s online. A surprising percentage of guns pawned here are really nice ones in excellent condition…

        • That was my point. They dont want to have a lot invested in new guns since the pawn loss guns are their bread and butter.

          I think all pawn shops have to have an FFL to be able to commercially sell guns.

          I live in North Florida and I see lots of older used guns and new low budget guns. (Glad Leonad went out of business).

          Not long ago I was looking at a Colt Metropolitan in nickel they had priced at $800.
          The guy told me I needed to “take it home”. I told him i would for 375. He countered with 425. Lots of wiggle room in lots of pawnshops.

    • “The good pawnshops will greet everyone walking in.”

      Apparently I’ve never been in a good one.

      That’s alright though. I don’t much care for “salesmanship” in the first place and because of the way I tend to dress people assume I know nothing about guns and try to “help” with blatant bullshit or what amounts to movie trivia.

      If I want to examine it I’ll ask. Oh, and your “don’t take the guns apart” sign/request? Yeah, with a used gun especially in a pawn shop, that’s not an instruction. It’s a speed challenge. Piss me off and I’ll leave it there in pieces to see if YOU can put it back together.

      Had a couple guys tell me how a PS90 is 100% plastic, slides through metal detectors and X-ray machines like a Japanese assassins knife! Used it’s totally worth MSRP + 20%! Super great deal. They’d even throw in mags at MSRP just as a “friendly gesture”.

      • ” I don’t much care for “salesmanship” in the first place and because of the way I tend to dress people assume I know nothing about guns and try to “help” with blatant bullshit or what amounts to movie trivia.”

        The shop I worked for was decidedly upscale (clean, well-lit, modern furnishings, clean carpet, etc.) and the owner wanted to project an impression of being in a friendly and professional place.

        It apparently worked, based on house he lived in and the ‘toys’ he had. All was not good, however, when he turned the shop over to his only child and retired. Stupid kid ran it into the ground in a few years and it went out of business. The kid pissed away a business worth well over a million bucks. That value I know because before he retired, the national ‘Cash America’ pawn chain approached him and offered him over a million to sell it. He declined the offer because he was leaving the business to his idiot son. The same son who drove it into bankruptcy a few years later.

        But it’s not really surprising, lots of profitable small businesses left them to their heirs who destroyed them…

  23. Reminds me of buying my first Browning High Power. Back in the 60’s they were affordable and the gun dealer treated me right even knowing I was a naive kid. He even threw in 50 rounds of ammo for free. The price of the High Power was $100 and $4.00 tax.

    Believe it or not there was no Federal Law on an age limit in buying any guns prior to 1968 and shotguns did not even have serial numbers. I am not joking. My State had a law that said 21 age limit for handguns but it was not enforced and a lot of my underage buddies bought hand guns and no gun dealer even batted an eye. Showing you how greedy gun dealers were back then too and irresponsible. But then again not one of my buddies ever did anything wrong with the handguns they bought and most still have them some 50 plus years later.

    I was born roughly several decades too late to buy Thompson Machine guns over the counter with no paper work which was something I always wished I could have done. I knew one old man in the 50’s that in prior years cashed in on the free wheeling purchase of machine guns back in those good old days. He had a whole house full of every kind of machine gun there was and the prices would make you cry they were so cheap to buy back in those days.

    Another old man several years later offered me a German Luger for $30 bucks complete with holster and 2 magazines. But I was just a kid and did not have the money. Several years later I did indeed find another sale only this time the price was $75 bucks for a 4 inch Luger and and $100 for a 8 inch artillery model. I bought both as I was working full time by then.

    Even after the restrictions on machine guns were in place you could buy a Thompson from one dealer that had the barrel filled with weld and another Thompson from another Dealer that welded up the receiver so if you bought one gun from one dealer and another from the other dealer you could make 1 workable machine gun out of two disabled ones. This was televised when they were arguing over passing the 1968 gun control bans. I was just a kid then and it surprised me that this was possible. The Feds put an end to that bullshit very quickly after all this was televised.

    Years later there were still a lot of these guns floating around. One of my buddies ordered an MG34 Dewat and was astonished that all that was wrong with it was on small spot weld on the gun that he hit with a rubber hammer and it broke. He then applied to convert it legally back to full auto and he got the paper work filed and bought a barrel and some parts and his $400 dollar investment was then sold some years later for if I remember correctly $35,000 dollars. Not a bad profit on the original $400 bucks. And you will never guess who bought it. I am sure you know him if you are into assault rifles.

    Now that Nato has destroyed most of the surplus arms the heyday of military gun collecting will never come again. And State side no more $100 dollar 03 Springfields brand new in the cosmoline wrap or M1 Garands from the DCM for $160 bucks. I bought two. I was lucky I got to participate in the tail end of it when prices were still dirt cheap in the 60’s and railroad cars of surplus guns were available like $20 for a British Jungle Carbine. A dashing gun that mesmerized me as a kid. Naturally for that price I bought one and it was unissued. Those days are now gone with the wind forever but at least I cashed in on the tail end of gun collecting heaven on earth.

    • You’re recycling stories that you’ve seen here and probably around your fathers shop before he realized just how mental you are and would no longer allow you near the guns. I’ve been to your facebook and if you’re 30 I’d be surprised.

      But you keep up the charade. It’s good for a laugh.

      • To JWM our local clown.

        Yadda , Yadda, Yadda, You never tire of a constant run off of the mouth. Its amazing someone your age is still as ignorant as you were when you got drafted.

        • Just gotta tell folks the truth about our local mental health issue, vlad. You know, the truth, something which you won’t tell. You did tell Zimmerman when I used your real name. So if i do it again I get banned.

          Some things may be worth being banned. Not that a ban is permanent around here.

        • JWM

          Every time you whine it pleases me no end. I laugh every time you do it. I am ecstatic it really stuck in your corn eating craw.

    • If you’re really old enough to have bought a gun for yourself pre-1968, Mr. Vladbot, then you’re old enough to have personally seen the florescence and failure of the socialist shibboleths you’re constantly spouting in here — which means that you’re one of two things: a paid shill or a Bernie Sanders style useful idiot (we hillbillies would usually just say “fucking moron,” but I’m trying to keep the tone a bit more elevated here). No one would pay you to be that blindingly stupid and incoherent in public, so I’m going with option two.

      • Wrong my backwoods outhouse Moron. Every Industrialized Country on Earth now has sensible gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.

        And all of the Industrialized countries have Socialistic programs that help people in need. Yes their economies are Capitalistic but their government maintains Socialistic programs most of which we do not have and those we do have are woefully inadequate.

        What really makes you a shinning star of ignorance along with a lot of people on this forum is that you are a minority gun owner. The majority of gun owners agree with me both moderates and liberals. And you fail to fathom that many gun owners are liberal. I know its beyond your educational background to fathom such a concept but in our gun club alone most of the members (1,000) are solidly democrat.

  24. I bought two guns at a pawn shop last summer, first two I’d purchased from a pawn shop.

    I picked up a smith and Wesson 686 and a Winchester 30-06 WITH a pretty sweet vortex scope attached to it all for $800 cash…?!?! I couldn’t believe it!!! I’ve been stopping in almost every pawn shop I see ever since…but haven’t found any deals quite like that.

    • That’s the secret. Be ready to pounce on the good deals and avoid the rest.

      You gotta be ready to walk away if it doesnt seem like a winner.

  25. We had a local pawn shop/gun store just like the one you described. The owner was a true azzhole. He lasted about 6 months and went out of business.

  26. See that large safe at the back of this sales dude’s counter…well when the SHTF ole tuff guy with his
    sociopathic attitude will be the FIRST one to hide behind that mother. I get sick and tired of these backwoods
    type of idiots that are attempting to sell firearms to novices or others that just might have a serious
    interest in what we love. This BBOS should have given a bit more attention to this customer…you can’t just
    judge a book by it’s cover, but you sure can tell when you are dealing with some simpleton moron.

  27. Ah, the Ruger “P” series. Now that was robust entry of pistols onto the marketplace. When Ruger came out with the platform I was in the market for a pistol and I had done much research by way of my “Guns & Ammo” magazine subscription. In one article, circa 1990, they performed a torture test using the Ruger P85, a S&W and a Glock. They ran 10,000 rounds through each of them and reported on each gun’s ability to function without FTF’s; even minor traits of each. One such detail was how each gun’s firing pin impacted the primer on each round fired. I had noted in their article how the Smith and Glock would impact the primer but would leave a gouge in the primer as the round was being ejected with the firing pin still extended. The Ruger did not have that with their gun. The firing pin left a perfect dimple on each round. So, I bought the Ruger P85.

    I recall at the time how many Police departments were moving away from the 9mm round due to FBI testing and stopping power issues. I wanted to upgrade to something different so I bought my 2nd gun ever, the Ruger P90 DC in stainless and chambered in 45 ACP. I loved the “P” series because although they were not pretty or aesthetically pleasing, but they were over-engineered tanks of a gun that would cycle any ammunition without any failure to feed or failure to fire. I still have that P90 and will never get rid of it. As far as the P85, I ended up giving it to my brother because his wife hated guns and would not let him buy one himself. (Yeah, she hated me for it).

  28. Funny how many memories that story brought back. First couple guns I bought in the presence of a friend I had brought along.
    The first shotgun I bought alone from a popular gun store was just about like the story. I had shot trap a couple times, and saw this o/u for sale – tubes, ported barrels, adjustable stock. I went tin the store a couple times to gander at it, and maybe might have actually handled it. One cloudy Saturday, I went in among the crowd took it out of the floor rack, presented it to counter folk, and with an overabundance of flop sweat said “I’ll take it”. His look curious that I didn’t handle it at all, grabbed for the paprtwork. So in my hot little hands, now I had to walk down the city street to my car at the parking meter. How do I carry it, out here in the public? What are folks going to say? What’s the cop going to say when I get pulled over on the way home with a (gasp) firearm in the car? I thought I’d die. Thrilled, and scared to death. Good times.

  29. To the Author: Obviously you didn’t know any gun owners before the Purchase (no date reference). I hope you have done so by now. I do give you a lot of credit for jumping out there on you own, you could have purchased a real bad gun. You may have made additional purchases by now too. The P89 is a functional handgun but not one to be representative of better products. Their triggers were like dragging course sandpaper with 15 pounds of weight on it. BUT you bought a used gun, so theres no telling what the previous owner(s) did to it.

    Gun owners (not unscrupulous gun salesman) are usually warm and willing to provide information within their experience level. Compare advice from a few of them and you find the repetition of the correct answers. Firearms Forums are libraries of individual knowledge their for the asking. Because you are a novice, put that info out there so you wont be considered a troll with such basic questions and stick to firearms not politics, diet, tree hugging, PETA or climate change issues. You have other Web sites for those.

    Gun buying stories should have an epilogue “pulled the trigger, it went bang, hit target and didn’t jam, dropped it, pee’ed a little, whatever”. For gun folks, that’s the sum of your story parts.

    The only problem with stories like this is we don’t have a frame of reference in time nor you progression since then. We may very well be wasting our time providing advice for bridges you already crossed. TTAG Contributor doesn’t tell us much.

    • Very well put, I second everything.

      Except, EXCEPT……the part about the P89 trigger lol! I did mention on a subcomment above that I’m no trigger expert but I loved the DA trigger. While heavy it wasn’t a headache to pull because it felt so smooth, at least on the one I had. Even felt smoother and easier than the 92’s/M9’s I shot. A nightmare DA trigger is found on a Walther PPK 22.

      But yeah, thumbs up to (the rest of, lol!) your comment Will.

  30. This reminds me of those letters that Playboy and Penthouse used to publish that you just knew were made up by some feverish 16 yo.

    It reads like either a sarcastic parody of what some liberal hack journalist with nothing to do on a Sunday one time whipped together out of all the imaginings he and others of his ilk are sure is what happens all across fly-over country on a daily basis.

    From the chewing tobacco to the accents and attitude it’s all meant to give some liberal pansy a real douche chill while reading as they are reassured that they are so much better than any of these people being written about.

    Frankly, I didn’t see the point. And since a /s sarc tag wasn’t present I have to assume this was done seriously for some reason. And published for who knows why here.

  31. Garrett Owens, I hope you’re enjoying that purchase. As a self described atypical gun purchaser – at least at the time, what drove you to purchase? A follow-up would be interesting and, hopefully, after a few years in the club you realize that we aren’t a monolithic group of old, fat white guys who only eat red meat – not that there’s anything wrong with any of those 🙂

  32. I dislike pawn shops but their prices are often better than LGS for sure. Standing in line behind some amorphous individual trying to get 40 bucks out of 7 shrek DVDs is an infuriating experience.

  33. So..and then what? I thought this was going to be a discretionary tale about why you shouldn’t buy a gun at a pawn shop describing some experiences with the actual use of the gun. I don’t give a damn about how you bought it. What’s the point? If I wanted a folk story I would’ve read Huck Finn. Useless.

    • ..I meant ‘cautionary’ tale. Btw, the article is well-written and engaging so it’s not useless in that sense. Sorry if I sounded negative, I was just expecting something educational regarding it’s use.

      • I wanted to edit my original post instead of these here retractions but I couldn’t rightly figure out how to do it. At this point, I wish I could just delete all of em with a boom stick.😄

  34. Ruger P89, eh?

    Not a bad gun, but not a great one either. Definitely will have problems hitting your target beyond 15 yards, at least center of mass.

    That was my first gun for over a decade.


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