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Experiential marketing. That’s what The Texas Firearms Festival calls its “come and shoot it” event. And they have the stats to prove it. An exit survey at last year’s Festival revealed that 83 percent of attendees said the hands-on demo day would influence their future choice of firearm. It’s a trend. “Eagle Imports, Inc. has unveiled a new nationwide Range Program,” their presser proclaims. “The program will make available firearms from the Bersa, Metro Arms and Grand Power product lines to qualified ranges that are interested in stocking these firearms for safety training, firearms familiarization and recreational shooting.” . . .

The question being: do you try before you buy? Every time? Or do you [sometimes] take a flyer on a new gun based on reviews, word-of-mouth and branding?

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  1. “Have I Ever Bought A Gun Without Firing It?”

    Only ever damn time I’ve ever bought a gun.

    (shakes head) City folk.

    • Lols, agree… Seems some people are used to having their hands held for everything… I’ve never fired any gun I’ve bought before buying it. Never look at reviews to make decisions. Don’t listen to what anyone else has to say about this brand or that model. If I did, I wouldn’t own any of my 100% reliable Tauruses, or my 100% reliable Llama, or my 100% reliable Hellpup, or my 100% reliable M11, or… Of all the markets in which “reviews” and “word of mouth” are BS, the gun industry is the worst of them all. I expect to work on my guns, knowing the forces involved in their operation. They’re not toasters, many people seem to think everything they buy, including guns, are toasters. Entitlement.

    • Only 2 guns I ever fired before buying one are the M-4/AR-15 and the Sig P226. The rest I bought online sight unseen, maybe handling an airsoft version first.

    • No joke. Where is this mythical land where I can test rifles and shotguns before I buy them?

    • I shot “an” AK before buying “my” AK. Not the same one. Had shot “an” AR before I built my wife’s (very different) AR. Other than that, nothing even close.

      I suppose I had shot my first Beretta 92G before I bought my 2nd Beretta 92FS, if that counts.

      • I had never fired an AR before I built one. I handled one once that I rented for my son at the local range, but that’s about it. That was back in the day before California bullet buttons, when you had to pop the rear pin and load the internal magazine (eight rounds) (a day that state senator DeLeon–and his buddy former Senator “MachineGunner” Yee–wants to return to).

    • Dittos.

      I guess Uncle let me shoot some cousins of things I later might have acquired. Now sadly lost in a ……..

    • Dry fire, yes – live fire no. Most gun shops I have been in will allow dry fire, racking the slide, checking the sights etc. Most of the handguns I’ve purchased have been purchased on-line. Have been happier with the on-line purchases than in store purchases. Probably because I can research the make/model of what I’m interested in without a salesman yammering away trying a make a sale.

    • Exactly … I count on the manufacturer’s warranty if a new purchase doesn’t function properly.

  2. Yes. More people likely do that, than not.

    Let’s be real, most people hardly ever shoot their guns. Look at used gun market, most “used” guns have 50, or less, rounds through them.

    • Same here, I have about two dozen, every single one I bought without shooting it. In a perfect world it would be great if you could test drive guns but there is no way to do that where I live.

  3. Bought my first firearm (mossy 500) used from a friend’s uncle. That’s the only one I ever shot before buying.

  4. Sure I have. Often it isn’t practical within a given window of time to try out a firearm before buying.
    The ranges that rent around me are at least an hours drive away and only once did one of them have the gun I wanted to try.

    It doesnt really matter. Guns don’t drop half in value once you take them out of the shop like so many other products. They hold it well enough for you to test-drive for quite a while.
    If we went by the prices on Armslist you’d think that beating the shit out of a gun for 2 years and blasting it with Krylon actually increases its value for some undetermined reason. Assuming of course any of those listings actually result in a sale.

  5. I’ve bought most of my weapons without firing them. There are a few guns that I would have never bought if I did not fire them first. My FN PS90 and SCAR 16s. I was indifferent to those two rifles until I shot my friends. I then went out and bought my own. The rest all all hope and pray it works guns if they were used. I have a few guns that have issues that were used, but brand spring kits and new magazines should fix the issue. Once I replaced the springs in my Garand, it was like firing a brand new rifle.

  6. Back in the early 90s I went into Longs Drugs here in Colorado Springs simply for a Coke, and found that they were dumping SKS’ that had an evyl bayonet for $60 (Clinton times). For $60 not only did I buy it without ever firing an SKS, but I sold it years later, unfired.


    • O2HeN2,

      You do mixed-gas diving in Colorado?

      How deep is the water out there?

      Or is it for cave diving?

      • Caver + diver (but not cave diver) here. Cenotes are amazing, though, and accessible (and safely do) with just OW cert.

        Nice to see crossover interest with some of my other hobbies. 🙂

        • Florida has a huge cave system, as a result we have lots of sinkholes. About 2 years back one opened up one night under a house near Tampa and took a guy to his death, they never found him.

          Cave diving is popular here, It’s not my thing, someone who I know had her sister die in one. She didn’t drown, she suffocated and watched her tank pressure go to zero. No water in her lungs when they finally recovered her.

          There are parts of the system that go quite deep and the technical divers with mixed gas dive those.

          Anyways, that’s why I asked O2 if there were technical dives in Colorado…


  7. most of the time yes, and the only time i regretted it was with the Glock 30s, and thats only because i paid a small premium because it was hard to come buy so i took a larger bath than i’d like when i ended up selling it.

    Other guns, like the Ruger P95 and Sigma i got such good deals on new than when i ended up selling them i only lost what it would have cost to rent them anyways.

  8. The only gun I’ve bought that I had shot before is a G19. Only shot one before because we already owned one. Every other gun I’ve bought without shooting.

  9. …Sometimes.

    Depends where I bought it.

    A Moss 500 bought from a guy I worked with who was up on felony charges of theft of evidence of aquarium salt water live rock (don’t ask, long-ass story) for 100 USD.

    Took a risk, he said it was unfired, and it looked it, it was OK.

    A few from local pawn shops, they were fine.

    An NAA mini bought new at a gunshow, it was fine as well.

    A few from friends, they were OK.

    I’ve been lucky it seems…

  10. My local gunstores would be unhappy about my opening fire in them (and I’d quickly find myself on the wrong side of dead). So no, I haven’t bought a gun after firing it.

    • “My local gunstores would be unhappy about my opening fire in them…”

      The first pawn shop I worked at had high ceilings so the owner had a .22 bullet trap on top of one of the display cabinets.

      Occasionally after-hours plinking with High Standards, Buck Marks, Ruger Marks had been known to happen…

  11. “The question being: do you try before you buy? Every time? Or do you [sometimes] take a flyer on a new gun based on reviews, word-of-mouth and branding?”

    I can’t remember ever trying a gun before I bought it, although that is a bit harder with top-break S&Ws and other antiques. But the answer on new guns is “Yes, frequently”. The only gun I regretted buying was a Remington 742 semi-auto in .30-06. That sucker ripped off a chunk of the rim instead of extracting the case. Got that fixed, put a 3-9x scope on it, and it never would group better than 5″ at 100 yards. Sold it for what I had in it, and was glad to see it go.

  12. Every gun I own was bought without firing it. Some still have not been fired… I buy them for take-apart and study…

  13. Every gun I own was bought without firing it. Some still have not been fired… I buy them for take-apart and study…

    No reviews or word-of-mouth or brand concerns were involved. I buy a gun because I know of a certain design aspect I want to study. I know how to manufacture, repair, and replace just about every part of it before I buy it.

  14. If you mean the exact gun: always. Most stores won’t let you shoot a gun before buying it, even if it’s in the used case.
    If you mean the same (or very similar) model: a slight majority of the time. But I usually had a good idea of how it would feel for everything except the bang, by holding it and dry firing.

  15. I didn’t know I could shoot one before buying it. Most stores don’t let you do that.

    Or were you asking about purchasing a firearm after shooting the same model firearm? Because, yeah, I’ve done that.

  16. Bought a Ruger SR9c just 2 weeks ago and sold it a week later. Wasn’t my cup of tea. Just ordered an XD Mod 2 in 9mm online 2 days ago having only fondled it in my LGS. Maybe this one will be a keeper.

  17. Nah. Dry fire it a bit and do your reaserch and you’ll be ok if you know what to look for. All but 2 of my 10 guns are either used or Milsurp. The only bad purchase I made was mauser hand loads that were out of spec. (Never buying hand loads at a gun show again).

  18. I bought a G26 today, never fired one before. I bought a KelTec P11, only because it was so cheap and purchased from a friend, and I never shot one. I bought a S&W AR, never fired an S&W AR. I bought a Ruger American, never fired one before buying. I bought a Marlin 795, never fired one before buying. I won a 10/22, never fired one before winning it. In fact, nearly every gun I’ve ever bought is one that I bought without having first fired.

  19. Where on God’s green earth are dealers giving trial runs on a CZ Evo….or a gorgeous coco-bola handled Browning Buckmark?

    At best I’ve only seen top selling 9mm pistols for rent at ranges. Sure as hell didn’t see CZ SP01’s.

    • CZ just had a shooting expo at a local conservation area range. Had the scorpion and sp01 to try (only 5 rounds each, no rapid fire, kinda underwhelming).

      BUT they had a shotgun range setup with Dave Miller’s throwers and a trailer full of CZ shotguns and cases of shotgun shells that you could shoot for free. It was amazingly fun, and really cool to get tips from a world record holder.

  20. Where is this magical land of trial guns where I can put rounds downrange before buying the damn things? Hell if I’m lucky I get to see my guns in person before buying them.

    • You don’t have ranges with rental guns where you are?

      Even here in Illinois, we’ve got plenty of them. None are in Chicago yet (and admittedly probably never will be), but even my regular range in suburban Cook County has a rental counter.

  21. Does gaming count? Because I probably tired 100,000 rounds through my 92FS in Rainbow Six Vegas 1 & 2 before I bought mine. Not one failure, either. ;-P

        • Fallout New Vegas has a similar setup if I remember correctly. Keep the gun maintained and you wont have to spend more time reloading because of a malfunction. Fallout 4 got announced recently maybe they will have a more in depth malfunction set up. Good to see fellow gamers on here regardless.

  22. Marlin 336 30-30 from a pawn shop $90.00 “as is” bought a box of ammo hit the range, first shot I hear “click” no bang. Took to local gunsmith $25.00 for a new firing pin good to go. 1988

  23. Living in New Jermany it is a major hassle to buy a gun, let alone have to sell it and buy a second gun.
    The only gun I haven’t test fired before buying was my Hi Power and that was only because I figured even if the trigger was as bad as everyone said it was I still wanted one for my “collection”.
    Counting the days till I can move out of this corrupt communist state..

    • “New Jermany”

      I’ll have to steal that. Unfortunately it doesn’t work well spoken.

  24. Never test fired a gun before buying it, but I had rented several before settling on my first pistol.

  25. Most of my guns were ones I had not shot. Most of the guns I have shot, I did not end up buying. The only gun I shot before buying was my wife’s Nano and that was because the range we went to had one to rent and we had been considering it.
    I bought an over under Yildiz shotgun before ever shooting one. My GLOCK was such a good deal I had to take a chance and there wasn’t one available to test fire. I bought my CMMG MK4 AR15 online without ever shooting any AR before.
    I think if you stick with quality manufacturers and read enough reviews, you don’t need to try on first. I don’t believe anyone that says “it doesn’t fit my hand” or “I am not accurate with those guns”. Those are lame excuses in order to explain a poor day on the range. It is your technique not the gun’s fault. Yes you have to get used to different triggers, but once you train with one specific gun, you should get proficient with it.

  26. Rented and shot before I bought:
    Kahr PM9

    Rented a similar model before I bought:
    CZ SP-01 Tactical (CZ 75B)
    CZ 75D-PCR (CZ 75B)
    Ruger GP-100 Wiley Clapp (Ruger GP100)

    Bought unfired, but inspected at the shop:
    Ruger 10/22 Takedown
    Ruger SR-22

    Bought unfired and uninspected:
    CZ 2075 RAMI

  27. Every gun I’ve ever bought, I bought without firing.

    Most of them from a dealer or a store had a return policy/guarantee – so I was not concerned.
    Most on armslist (GASP!) I bought and did not fire as I was aware they were project guns.
    Regardless, I always do a bore visual and functional check of the action at time of transaction.

  28. How exactly am I supposed to shoot milsurp before I buy it online? My LGS only stocks new guns (and occasionally like-new items).

  29. Like others, never the same gun. I’m in the market for a compact 9mm, and with so many options, I’d like to give them a whirl before dropping cash. Trouble is, I can rent or borrow a G19 easy enough. Everybody and their mother has one. My alternative choice, the PPQ, I can’t find anywhere (dropped my best chance to rent one today, Athena in Houston, no luck). At the very least, I’d like to hold and dry fire before committing.

    Still, all things being equal, I’d probably pick up the PPQ sight-unseen, but for Blue Label qualification. If anybody has any thoughts, opinions on if the is worth the 50% price difference ($400 vs 600) would be appreciated.

  30. I was going to say I’ve never test fired a gun before buying but then I remembered 26 years ago when I was in the Air Force, a Coast Guardsman brought an over under to the skeet range and let me shoot it for a day. I liked it and then bought it. Other than that, I’ve never even considered test firing a gun before purchase.

  31. Bought without shooting it first? Yes.

    Bought and torn down without shooting it once? Yup, perhaps now half+ of the time. When I buy a new 1911, I’ll tear it down, check the trigger and maybe hone the trigger a bit before I ever take it to the range. Most used guns I buy get torn down, cleaned, inspected and re-assembled before I shoot them.

    There are some milsurp rifles (Mausers, 1903’s/A3’s, etc) that I never shoot after I buy them. They get torn down for customization or re-barreling before I even fire them once.

  32. I must be lucky going to gun stores with decent rental ranges.

    When I was down in St. Louis, Top Gun charged $10 for a rental, but would let you swap guns as much as you wanted. In one day I shot an XD, XDM, Glock 17 and 19, S&W MP, S&W 9VE, and Beretta 92FS back to back. Ammo added up, but it was a great opportunity to test-drive all the different guns before buying.

    Of course, my girlfriend at the time didn’t think she needed a firearm for self-defense. She might have changed her tune last fall…

  33. Have never been to a gun show that allowed you to carry in ammo for test/eval purposes. Likely hard on the shingles.

  34. never fired a gun before purchase. i only own two firearms, and both were bought new. and neither is particularly common in my state for me to just go to the range and meet someone who has one.

    although, i DID fire something similar before my pistol purchase. i was cross shopping a CZ 75 BD and a Sig P226, so i met up with a guy who happened to have a P226 navy and a CZ SP-01. the SP01 is a bit different in it’s grip, but not so much so, and that trip ended up making my choice for me. so technically, i still hadnt shot it before buying my CZ 75 BD, but i had shot a very similar pistol prior.

  35. I’ve never bought a gun I’ve been able to fire first. Closest would be a function check and dry fire if the shop allowed it (which has never been a problem for me).


  36. Hell, I’ve only dry-fired one of my guns before buying it, the rest were ordered or had a trigger-lock.

  37. in central florida there are actually quite a few indoor ranges that are run by gun/pawn shops. most won’t let you rip open a new gun but you can try out most of the used selection for a small fee +ammo that they will then take off your purchase price.

    Personaly no i’ve never shot the same gun before i bought it, I’ve shot similar firearms and decided i liked them enough to want one but those were still -shoot skeet with an 870, bought a 500 or I liked the way a rifle felt at the shop so I found a similar winchester m70 later on

  38. I took a demo of a M&P-15 Sport before I bought it, but other than that, never have. And I’ve only regretted that once, and that was with a Sig Sauer Mosquito. Traded that in for a Ruger SR22 and haven’t looked back.

  39. Yup. My decision to buy a PX4 in .40 S&W was based on reviews and its similarities to the 92FS. Now I have a love-hate relationship with it. It’s a good gun: accurate, and reliable, but damn if doesn’t “do” anything for me.

  40. My 2nd generation 556R. I hate it and can’t get rid of it. Good converstion starter though.

  41. The only gun I have that I fired before buying is one I sold to a friend and then bought back from him a few years later.

  42. I already had a Springfield XD 9 for both OC and CC, and found it a bit large for comfortable CC. So, based on nothing more than a review by none other than TTAG, I got myself a SCCY CP-X 2, and once I fixed my limp-wristing problem (due to more recoil than I was used to with the XD), I’ve loved it ever since.

  43. Given an opportunity, I’ll shoot a gun before I buy it, but I like weird and wacky guns, so not many people I know or ranges I frequent have guns for rent that I want to buy.

    VZ58? I love mine, but if I had to try it first I wouldn’t have ever had the chance to get one.

    My Makarov? My favorite handgun now, but had never seen one in person before my LGS called me up saying they had one finally traded in.

  44. If I had the chance, I would fire a gun before buying it. To date, however, I have not had the opportunity to fire the gun I wanted to buy before purchasing.

  45. i have a guntry club I like to but from who lets me shoot before I buy as long as I buy the ammo from them. It works out well. I was having a hard time deciding between an FNX-40 and an XD-40 at one time. Bought a box of PMC from and ran few mags through each one. Shot the FNX better so that’s what I got. Looking forward to doing another test between the mod2 and FNSC. Probably in 9 this time. Oh. I did end up getting and XD just not the one I shot that day. XDM 5.25 in 45. Great 3 gun pistol.

  46. Any handgun I’ve ever bought I fired before I purchased it. I recently “test drove” the following 9mm’s:
    M&P Shield
    FN Herstal 9C
    Glock 43
    Ruger LC9
    CZ-5 Compact Standard
    Sig P229
    Glock 19 Gen 4
    Sig 938
    Springfield XDS
    Sig 320
    Taurus PT111 Gen 2

    IMO, the top 3 were Sig P229, CZ-75 and Sig P320 by how accurate I was but the Sig P229 was by far the most accurate (for me). Most felt great “in my hand” but when it came to actually shooting them, there was a “happiness hierarchy”. I wanted the 229 but cost made me pick up the 320 cheap. Now I want to trade it in to go with my 1st choice. The range/store I go to has a great selection of guns for rent ($10) and IMO, it’s worth shopping around…it’s fun and eye-opening. Decide for yourself between reputation/hype and how it works for you.

    Wanted the Sig P229 but cost dictated I settle for the P320.

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