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I’m not a gun guru. I just play one on the Internet. Lucky for me, I have you, our Armed Intelligentsia to keep me and the guys honest. If we offer factually or strategically bad advice you guys let us know—in no uncertain terms. We amend our text as needed, learn and develop. I am, in fact, a student at The Truth About Guns University. And when I go to a gun store I am amazed at the misinformation provided by professional gun salesmen and women. Check this from a story about soaring gun sales in California . . .

“Most people think a handgun is a good idea because they have no idea about guns,” [Glendora’s Gunslingers Gun Shop owner Jeff] Taverner said. “I always try to explain to people that a handgun in the house is not a good idea.”

Taverner said a shotgun is a better choice for home defense.

“Usually the noise will get (intruders) on their way,” he said.

Yes it’s ye olde “racking a pump-action shotgun will send bad guys scurrying” misegos. Even if it might, do you really want to depend on that? A handgun on the hip in the house is better than most anything else you can name—especially a shotgun that may not be within arm’s reach. And a handgun lets you use a hand for dialing 911, gathering friendlies, opening doors, etc. And, and, and.

In terms of product knowledge, I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous mistakes by sales staff. How about a rifle for skeet shooting? Seriously.

What’s the worst advice you’ve heard at your LGS, and why do you think so many gun stores get it so badly wrong?

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  1. I’ve come to regard the “racking the twelve gauge” thing as a sales tool. The next time I hear it, I’m going to ask about the woman whose story was told here, who had the gun pointed at the bad guy in her house, and he kept coming. I’m thinking a little racking sound would not have had any more effect on him.

  2. You do have to admit that if you can reliably use a rifle for skeet shooting, you are pretty badass. Then again, if you do, I sure hope you are skeet shooting someplace with miles of permanently deserted land ’cause there’s no telling where that round might come down…

  3. 1st, they are salespeople, not actually people of the gun. my favorite gun shop has a rental range inside, they have a large staff with a fairly high turnover. and even if they are pog, doesn’t mean they all have the same level of training or experience. ask 10 shooters any question about guns and you’ll likely get 10 different answers, why should store clerks be any different?

    • THIS times 1,000. I can not count the number of times I have overheard some “expert” salesman say the following to a potential customer in conversations like this:

      “Hi there, I’m a first time gun buyer and I’m looking for *insert gun brand* because I’ve read a few articles on them, did my research, and they seem like a good choice”

      “Oh *insert gun brand* is garbage, what you want is the Deluxe Tactical Featherweight Magnum Ambidextrous Cobra Model with two laser sights, flashlight, and toaster included. Trust me, this is what you want.”

      “Okay that sounds nice, how much will that be with four boxes of ammo and an extra magazine”

      “Only $1395.95”

      It really bums me out when I walk into a gun shop and the clerks are total dicks to novice customers and just wanna steal peoples’ money by selling them the top shelf goods under the pretense that they’re “an expert”.

      • I got a look from a guy once that was simultaneously pained and disgusted when I asked about some used .22 rugers once shop in SJ had. This right after they had a break in and had a lot of their inventory cleared out. I stopped mid sentence and walked the hell out.

      • I hear you. When I was buying my first gun I new that I wanted a Sig, but first I asked about a Glock (which has since replaced the Sig), and all I got was a very condescending talk, something like “well, if you REALLY want it, I guess it’s an OK cheap basic pistol” sort of nonsense. Really? If they don’t like Glocks so much, why even sell them? I’m no expert on guns, but I know enough. On many occasions it seemed to me that the guys selling guns knew next to nothing, but wanted to be perceived as some kind of high and mighty experts.

        • Just like a lot of guys online, some people love or hate a particular brand, and aren’t afraid to say so.

          As a 1911 guy, I occasionally get crap from plastic worshipping gun store employees when I want to take a look at a 1911… Not sure why, as I’m generally attempting to give them twice as much money as they’d get if they succeeded in getting me to buy a Glock/XD/M&P… Putting down the JMB fanboy is more important then making money I guess…

        • I certainly don’t mind when people have their favorite brands, but on too many occasions I’ve witnessed first time gun buyers being almost forced to buy an HK or a Sig, but what they really needed was maybe a Glock or XD. Many novice customers don’t know the difference between double and single action, caliber type, internal or external safeties, or cost of magazines and other accessories. The sales staff didn’t care much to explain the differences, they just want’t to push the most expensive option.

      • i have no idea what a normal pay scale is for gun shops. but this particular place has a lot of young people working there, maybe the turnover rate is normal for that age group.

  4. “A .22 is a better caliber for self defense than a .357 magnum.”

    Heard from a gun store owner in Jacksonville, FL in the 1990s.

    • Well, I guess the recoil is more manageable? A hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a .357, but has this man never heard of a .38 Special?

    • Well, there have probably been 1,000s of words expended on the appropriatness (or not) of the 22 for SD. What I have noticed since getting into guns a few years ago, is that there is virtually NOTHING one can say about guns that won’t spark argument, controvery, and the voicing of deply held opinions. Inevitably, someone with 300 years of experience doing X arrives on the scene to set everyone straight. Even for these guys though, there seems to be a lot of variation in opinion. Therefore, while gun store employees DO often say some dumb things, its also true that by and large they are in no win situation. If I was one, I’d ask a lot of questions of the customer. Isnt the best caliber for carry the one the person WILL actually carry and WILL hit something with ?

      Personal fav gun store story: had my heart set on an FN 5-7. Went to 2 gun stores. In both stores, clerks scoffed and activly critiqued the 5-7, and steered me towards lower priced guns…guns/calibers I already had. I still wanted the 5-7, but slinked out of both places, not feeling good about buying one from guys who thought I was a sucker.

    • Honestly, if I was dealing with someone who wasn’t a gun enthusiast, and only wanted something for home defense—I think I’d point that person toward a .22 also.

      Ever fire a Magnum load in an enclosed space with no hearing protection? I have. It SUCKED. A miss with a Magnum will totally disorient the shooter. Meanwhile, if you have a .22 handgun with 10 hollowpoints on deck, you have a good chance of scoring multiple hits with little disorientation.

      Do I carry a .22 as my primary? Nope. But it is my backup, and I would not feel unarmed with my PT-22. I guarantee you several .22 HP to center mass will dissuade someone from messing with me.

        • probably shot at a bad angle. if he had shot himself in the chest, the bad dreams would have been gone for good.

        • Well, if we’re talking about things in the head that won’t kill you, just google rebar through the head. There’s plenty of things that can be shot into your head that won’t kill you. I’m pretty sure if rebar doesn’t always kill you, then no caliber will always kill you unless we’re talking about a Howitzer.

      • Without realizing it, YOU just gave an example of a successful DGU carried out with nothing more than a .22 cartridge. You see, there was an individual who was trying to kill someone (in this case, himself) who was wounded with nothing more than a measly .22, and after sustaining the wound he was dissuaded from trying to do any more harm to anyone. In this case, .22 got the job done!

  5. First gun I ever bought (for home defense) Springfield XD in 40…
    Me: how do I clean it and how often?
    Salesperson: you don’t need to clean it, just keep using it until it jams then run a toothbrush on the inside (of the slide)….
    Knowing what I know now… it’s one of the reasons I don’t go back to that store.

    • Oh boy. I just bought a Glock 19, and I entertained the thought about shooting it til it quits, no cleaning or anything til it stops. Of course, I would never do this to a gun I intended to use for home defense.

      • One professional trigger puller of my aquaintance will NOT carry a clean pistol. Just won’t. He’ll clean it before a range session, then after verifying function, he’ll carry it dirty.

        • I clean my guns before a range session and carry them dirty also.

          Ever notice how the first couple of shots from a clean gun never seem to go exactly where you thought they should? Though most people just assume it is just because they are at the range after a break and need to “take a few shots to get back into it”, there is actual science at work here.

          Even the best oils (which hopefully everyone does after cleaning their gun) leave a residue. Indeed they are designed to leave a residue as that is how they protect the gun. But the first round from a clean gun has to remove that residue, and this has negative impacts on the ballistics of that round. It causes a loss in velocity and accuracy. Further, no guns barrel is perfect; this is especially true of used guns. As bullets travel down the barrel they hit nicks, scratches, divots, ridges, and other often microscopic imperfections that affect the rounds accuracy and velocity. As they do this they leave a little bit of themselves in many of these imperfections, making it nicer for the next round that travels the same path. As long as you use basically the same rounds (same type of metal on the bullet), this buildup stays until it is either removed through cleaning, or a completely different type of round is used.

          Since in a DGU you want every advantage in accuracy and velocity, carrying a clean gun is actually counter productive.

          As a personal rule, I like to put at least 12 rounds through a cleaned gun before I start serious shooting. If the gun went through a serious deep cleaning where copper solvents were used, then I have an entirely different routine that takes a full day of about 100 rounds and lots of light cleaning sessions. But that is a different post for a different day.

  6. Meh, they’re people and people ain’t perfect.

    I’ve seen all sorts of people make ridiculously silly mistakes about all sorts of things, gun store employees being no exception. There are no knowledge requirements to be a gun store employee, as long as you can sell I’m sure the owner could care less what you know.

    BTW, racking a shotgun CAN be an effective tool (ask me how I know), but it needs to be backed up with the willingness to send buckshot down range at any badguys who don’t immediately run for their lives. Not saying it’s the best tactic, or even a good idea… But it can work.

    • +1 2wheels, twice i’ve seen the racking of a shotgun get the desired results. but always have a plan b if that doesn’t get it done.

        • plan b is everything from buckshot to running like a stripped assed ape. i take no options off the table when it comes to staying alive.

    • I’ve always had a hard time understanding how ‘racking the slide’ is effective at scaring an intruder more than the 120+ decible blast of that first chambered round…

      • first, if i can avoid firing i will. i live in ca and would rather not be put through the grinder for defending myself and my family. not everybody that is breaking in to your house is going to be part of a well trained and armed team. i have 3 dgu’s where i never fired a shot. and the police did not get involved because i did not call them. in my misspent youth i saw a bar fight brought to a screeching halt by the reacking of a shotgun. most people hear that noise and they’re done, they wanna go home.

  7. Love seeing Yiddish in gun blogs. Misegos, awesome! Gives me some hope that more members of the tribe will come to their senses and embrace firearms.

  8. While trying to find a new hunting rifle last week, I ended up in a sporting goods store in Portland, OR.
    I filled out my paperwork standing between a guy regaling a customer with how awesome and useful snubnose revolvers were because “plastic guns just melt the guide rod and fall apart if you shoot them too fast” and another on the other side who after telling me that the AKs they had were “terrorist guns” started explaining to a man in nice hipster-townie clothes how what he REALLY needed for home defense was an M&P 15 with a drum mag.
    There’s a reason I usually go to the more redneck/country gun shops. The prices may be higher, but the people behind the counter don’t pick out their guns based on what they see in movies.

    • +1 on the “country” gun shops. I think most of the monkeys working the gun counters in sporting goods chain stores wouldnt know a single action cowboy gun from a revolver.

      • There’s actually an excellent one near where I work in hillsboro. It’s a nice little country-flavored suburb of portland, and the shop is run by ex-army and current police who know their shit and only sell what they’re interested in themselves. The only problem is being a smaller shop and only selling what they like, selection can be limited a bit.
        Still, it’s far preferable to going to Big 5 or Dicks Sporting goods and asking if they have .45-70 rounds and getting either a blank stare or a box of .45 ACP dropped on the counter.

        • Willamette Valley Arms
          2110 Northeast Cornell Road
          Not the greatest variety since it’s a small place, but most of what they have is actual good gun stuff, and what they don’t have they’ll be able to order fairly painlessly. They sell a good bit of AR parts too, including AR-10. One of the guys just finished a build off a mega arms receiver that he’s quite proud of. There’s a machine shop next door where the guys just got the paperwork to start manufacturing silences as well.

        • Sorry, I typed before I thought that one out fully…distinction between single action only cowboy gun and modern SA/DA revolvers should have been made more clear.

      • I’m pretty sure “single action cowboy guns” are revolvers.

        What’s the Ruger Blackhawk? It’s single action—it IT a cowboy gun?

        • Also, Jean Paul I believe you meant to capitalize “IS” instead of “IT”? Maybe? If you’re going to be snarky, at least do it right…

      • I stood at the counter of a Sports Authority in a mall in CA once doing the paperwork on a purchase and listened to the sales guy tell 3 different customers in a row that whatever gun they asked him about was a good gun because,”…that’s what the Navy SEALS use!”. Three different customers, three different guns, yet apparently the SEALS were using all three. I wanted to ask him if there were any guns for sale that the SEALS weren’t using.

        • Just wait until a real Navy SEAL comes in and asks him about a gun the SEALs don’t use. I’d love to see the look on the salesman’s face when the SEAL goes ‘No, we don’t.’

  9. For about three years, I worked as a gun clerk, and then a supervisor at the gun counter at a local sporting goods store in Fairbanks, AK. From personal experience, I can say that some sales people really are less educated about firearms and defensive tactics then many of the readers of this site.
    My personal policy was always to state clearly what was opinion, and what was fact. For example, fact: a shot gun can work in a home defense situation. Opinion: I thought, and still think, that in many situations a 18in barrel pump shotgun is one of the best “answers” to the home defense question.
    Now, I also made sure that new shooters and the old hands knew that for any gun question, every one has an opinion, and they won’t all be the same. The darnedest thing is, two diferent answers might both be right- it’s not quite like math.
    This site has several advocates of pistol home defense- and that’s not a wrong answer. I have a shotgun. I don’t live in the city- and I am as worried about bear as I am about home invasion. Am I totally wrong? I don’t think so. I am also not totally right.
    I have a solution that I think works for me, that I have practised with, and I am confortable with.
    Now- like I said I worked at a small store- I supervised three other employees. It’s easy to train, and correct three people, who love their jobs, who make good money and want to keep making money.
    In a big chain store- not so easy. Revolving door employees- low wages- lack of knowledge on everyone’s part, and a hard pressure to sell anything- everything. It’s not unheard of up here for a clerk at a big store to be told to sell one brand, or one model of gun to ge it off th shelf. And then, don’t ya know, suddenly that .22LR Ruger mark 3 is the best thing in home defense, in concealed carry, in large game hunting ever. Tomorrow it might be an M&P-15.
    Is this right? No- but it happens.
    I always advise people looking to buy a first gun to go with a knowledgeable friend, and whenever possible, shoot the same model of gun before buying.

    TL:DR – some sales people are pushed to sell specific guns / solutions that work for you might not be what I want / some gun questions have more the. One Right Answer

  10. I have noted that a lot of younger store clerks , have very little know how about guns , ammo, you name it ,, many can not do any math in their heads , i have noted this is a result of our UN EDUCATION system. and they have no real interest in anything if you talk to them .. like empty heads too….

    • Recently a young woman asked for a calculator to multiply the price of a certain item by six. Within a few seconds I was able to give her the correct anwser before the other individual could open the calculator app on his phone. She was suprised I could do that math in my head. I was sad that no one else around me could.

      • I will sometimes pay in odd amounts just to be irritating. Like 12.23 for an 11.72 bill. You’d be amazed how many people can’t do the math. I mean, not just in their heads, but have trouble even with some sort of machine in front of them.

  11. Fortunately I’ve been blessed with informed gun salesmen. When I bought my first pistol, a Sig P229, the guy behind the counter tried to talk me into a P2022, but that’s it. And the one time the salesman knew it was my birthday and talked me into the 75 round drum for the WASR-10/63

    • The Sig SP2022 is not the best gun for home defense, for carrying, or even for fun at the range, but it isn’t bad at any of those things. It is a good compromise gun. It is a great gun for a first-timer who really doesn’t know what he wants, because it is a decent gun for all of those possible applications. Another reason it is a great gun for a first-timer – its low price and the relative low price of its ammo (9mm).

      Many first-timers will eventually learn what they truly want from a gun, and then buy a second gun that better fits their actual intended purpose.

      It sounds like your first gun salesman was a good listener. He found out about your needs, desires, and expectations; then he offerred you a gun that met them perfectly.

      In my case, the SP2022 was a better choice as my first gun. Since then I have bought a Sig P220 and a .22LR conversion kit for the P220. I may buy an HK-45 or a Kimber Covert or Crimson Carry as my third gun. (I’m still thinking about that next purchase. I think I want a Safety so I can safely carry it in single-action mode.)

      • I contemplated that P2022 for a bit. But I had already put a few thousand rounds through a couple of P229s. When I was at the rental counter at the range, or shooting with friends the 229 just kept calling to me. I bought it from the guy who offered the 2022. I’ve bought 2 more pistols from his store since then, and steered customers his way. He was trying to get rid of the 2022s on his shelf and knew I wasn’t going for it, so he let me have the 229 on my hip right now. Now when I go in, I tell him what I want, he tells me what he’s got and what he can order.

      • I love my P2022, I think it’s the most underrated Sig pistol out there. 15+1 capacity, decocker, nightsights, lighter than all other Sig’s and less than half the price of all other Sig’s! I’ve heard other’s complain about the trigger, but after probably 1000 rds through it, mine is very smooth. Yes, I’d love to have a P226, but with the lack of money, I’ll stay with the P2022!

  12. I was not at a gun store when this incident happened . I was buying cartridges for my Hilti concrete nailer . When the clerk at the checkout saw the cartridges she said ,”Oh my God , are these bullets ? We’re not supposed to sell guns here! I told her they were not guns , but blank cartidges that have the equivalent similiar to a .22 cal to shoot the nails ,at which time I showed her the said nails . Her only response was … Oh ! I tried to “educate ” but she seemed to be not too interested in carrying the discussion any further , I just let go with a laugh .

  13. I took my little sister out gun shopping once. The salesman tried to talk her into an aluminum J-frame. She’s never owned her own firearm, and only fired a double action revolver on one or two occasions (a Colt Python). How she was supposed to hit anything with a J-frame I have no idea.

    I guess his line of thinking went like this: “Hey, she’s a small person, this is a small gun, clearly a match made in heaven!”

  14. A 8 pound, 50 inch long, awkward 12 ga shotgun is the perfect choice for a 100 lb 5’2″ woman.

    What an idiot.

    • 50 inch shotgun? What kind of home invaders do you get? Bison? The only 50″ gun I own is a Lapua, not for home defense unless you happen to own a really really big mansion…with a runway…

    • I think my 20 gauge youth model pump would be an excellent choice for a woman of that size. Load it with number 4 buckshot and that’s a great home defender.

  15. I can forgive some lack of knowledge in LGS employees – after all, many of them are minimum wage, experienced and young, and (as someone else pointed out) just as likely to be working there because Wal-Mart wasn’t hiring that day as because they actually know and love guns.

    No, the things that drive me crazy are gun shop employees who are either patronizing and dismissive of me because I’m a woman, or who actually do things that are actively unsafe. I had an example of both at the same time at one gun shop I went to — the sales guy was trying to explain why poor lil me couldn’t possibly have the strength to operate a big manly gun (Glock 19) and why I should buy a nice little Ruger LCR instead. In the course of so doing tried to show me a technique for racking the slide that muzzled me (when he was showing me) and had the gun pointed at another customer’s…sensitive manly parts (when he was trying to “help” me do it.) Never mind the fact the fact that I had already racked and locked the slide to check that the gun was unloaded, and that I’d done it just fine without his help. Never mind the fact that I’d already told him I was shopping around for a gun for IDPA as well as for self-defense, and that I’d fired a 1911 and liked it except for it being a bit big for my hand.

    To top it all off, he muzzled three customers getting the gun out of the display case, and when I asked him (a) if it was okay for me to dry-fire the Glock, and (b) where would be a safe backstop for said exercise, he looked at me like I was speaking Chinese.

    Needless to say, I won’t be shopping there any more.

    • Agreed. I have been muzzle swept by employees and customers way to many times in gun shops to want to go in anymore.

      The same could be said for a lot of public ranges.

      For that reason alone most of my gun research and shopping is now done online.

      Thank you TTAG!

  16. I went into a gun store around October 2011 to ask if they had any 6.8 SPC in stock. After asking another guy in the store, the consensus was that 6.8 SPC does not exist. Not good. I did show them some photos of my new 6.8 upper, and 6.8 ammo photos. Needless to say, I didn’t get any 6.8 ammo that day.

    On another occasion, I went to a gun shop / range in June 2012 and wanted to try some new .38 + P JHP ammo for my Smith 340. I was told not to shoot JHP ammo at paper targets because it was a waste. Well excuse me for checking my equipment, reliability, and point of impact with ammo that I would actually use in a DGU. I never went to that range again.

  17. I was at Wal-Mart one lazy afternoon and went back toward the ammo case to fetch some Hoppes. A middle-aged female clerk was putting away things in the gun supply aisle and looked soundly out of her element. At last, she came up to me, pointed at a Daisy air rifle box on the shelf, and asked me if I knew whether that was a pistol or a shotgun.

    Didn’t even know where to begin answering that one…

    Not really “gun store sales staff” per se, but lord help the person that asks her a firearms-related question.

  18. All the clerks I have spoken with have given me legit information. My bone to pick with the majority of them does not come from misinformation but something else.
    I am a junior shooter, whenever I walk into a gun store I am immediately labeled as a irresponsible brat know-nothing. This sentiment only remains until I prove to them that I know more or equal to what they know about firearms. I understand that the majority of junior shooters might be less mature(not with my experience) but being treated like dirt at gun stores doesn’t exactly make me want to continue to be active in the sport.

  19. Some bad advice that I overheard was yesterday from a salesman who is honest and sincere in trying to help customers and who has outstanding technical knowledge. He couldn’t adjust from his tactical semi-military mindset of combat combat combat to relate to non-gun lovers ie average people new to guns who only want one for a home defense emergency and won’t put much effort into training and practice. The man gave far too much technical information to the two women which caused them to leave a second time without buying.

    • To clarify: the salesman did not give technically wrong or dishonest advice. He gave bad advice based upon the need and situation of an individual customer’s situation. The customer needed a KISS ‘keep it simple stupid’ basic beginner handgun solution.

  20. As to why you expect a clerk to know anything, it’s that they sell this stuff every day. When I go into the irrigation supply house the clerk behind the counter knows what they carry, which one has a parts kit available, what is better quality then the other stuff they carry and similar basic stuff about irrigation products. When I go into a shoe store and talk to them about buying new shoes I kind of expect that they know more about shoes than I do and can suggest some shoes or boots for what I’m planing on using them for and I can expect that their suggestions won’t be wildly inappropriate.

    I have no idea why it’s unreasonable to expect that in a gun store.

    • Because at least in my experience it never turns out that they actually know enough what to answer any questions I have left after doing exhaustive research on the piece I am interested in. Same thing happens with electronics and computer equipment clerks. I especially like it when they recommend I Google something they can’t answer… as if that gem of advice needs to be given… I guess regardless of if they “should” have expertise or not I consider it unreasonable to expect something that has demonstrated consistently not to be the case.

  21. I don’t know about advice, but I was recently thrown out of a gun shop……and here’s why.

    I asked to see a neat looking rifle on their shelves (an AK clone), and the owner handed it to me with the safety off (not all that uncommon a thing to do with AKs for some folks). I immediately did what I do any time I handle a gun, I stripped the magazine out, checked it, slowly pulled the charging handle back to inspect the chamber (physically and visually), and eased it forward.
    I was then kicked out of the store for “Taking the f***ing gun apart!”.
    I’m sure I could think of some dumb advice given by a gun-store commando, but that experience is probably the best example of an idiotic clerk I can think of.

      • I’m fairly certain it was. I talked to another store down the road (they were a lot nicer), and they said that the guy has a really bad temper and doesn’t know jack about guns, he just sells them.

        • I can’t imagine how he sells any guns with the attitude that removing a magazine and checking the chamber is “taking the gun apart”. I wonder what he’d do if you dry fired the gun too…

        • If the clerk doesn’t strip the magazine and check the chamber himself BEFORE handing it to you, he is an asshole. I think it is common courtesy to check a gun clear before handing it to someone, and for them to ‘re inspect once they receive it.

    • what bothers me about your entry is that they have weapons at their hips/ at least you own us one thing; what state???????????

  22. There are plenty of exceptions, but as a whole I think clerks at gun stores tend to be rude and ignorant. Think for a minute and compare the attitudes at gun stores compared to your local clothing retailer. Odds are, when you go into a store to buy a pair or bluejeans or a shirt, you will be greeted with a smile and a helpful attitude. If you go in and ask for help buying a tie, they probably won’t say “I don’t think you really want one of those neck ties. They are for fags and sissies. What you want is a bolo tie and a Stetson”.

    Now compare this with many gun stores where the clerk (who is often a complete idiot and has no idea what he doesn’t know) feels the duty to spout his opinions off like anybody gives a rats rear end. These idiots would sell many more guns if they just acted like anyone in retail should act.

  23. I’m with Ralph on this. The only thing I ask most store clerks is where to find something if I haven’t spotted it, and that’s often a challenge for them. If I’m buying anything more complicated than a box of cereal, I’ve already answered my questions before going to the store. I identify what I want and keep asking for it till I get it.

    The only exceptions are hardware stores whose clerks have already shown me that they know what they’re talking about and gun stores with the same. Even the latter have moments of exceptional stupidity. I once saw a sign labelling boxes of surplus 7.62 x 25 Tokarev as Broomhandle Mauser ammo. I took the sign to the clerks and told them what would happen if a C’96 owner used those rounds, but the sign was still there days later. Not my lawsuit… At least their selection is good, and I know what I’m buying.

    • in the old days, before the iron curtain fell. i brought a tokarev tt33 pistol home with me. after a fruitless search for ammo, this being before gore invented the interweb, i found a gun shop full of old farts. the owner listened to my tale and produced a box of 7.63 mm mauser ammo and told me it would work in my “goddam commie pistol” he also said not to use any ammo i might have brought home for the gun in anything but the “goddam commie pistol”. he was right on both counts.

  24. I’ve experienced both constructive and foolish advice/comments from behind the counter. Perhaps it’s just coincidence, but when I do my research online and do a Bud’s Gunshop transfer, I rarely get any comments other than a compliment on the choice of gun.

    When a novice goes for the first time, it’s always best to bring a reasonably knowledgeable person. If the salesperson senses that a fairly knowledgeable person is there, they tend to get help from someone more experienced.

    I did have a rather remarkable experience at Cabela’s a while back. When asking about black powder revolvers, the employee immediately directed me to a black powder enthusiast. Out of my list of questions, there was one that he didn’t know – so he went to another area and brought a coworker/friend into the conversation. I’m now a black powder addict! (TTAG, some articles about black powder would be really nice!)

    The point is this: If you have an uninformed person behind the counter, it’s going to be difficult unless you know exactly what you want. If you have an enthusiast behind the counter – with a shared interest (semi, revolver, black powder, etc.) you’re likely to obtain a great deal of knowledge, and maybe even make a new friend.

  25. “Usually the noise will get (intruders) on their way,” he said.

    Oh, yeah? Well, what if the robber is deaf? Didja ever think of that? I’ve heard lots of people yell “Stop, thief,” but none of them ever stop. What does that tell ya?

  26. Sheeeat…who needs a pistol OR shotgun?? When the bad guy’s hear my mother-in-law snoring in the front bedroom, it sends them packing. :0 Face-palm.

  27. Wow, I showed up late, but honestly both the pumping of the shotgun and the carrying a firearm on the hip around the house and which is more effective are just opinions really, that’s it, one makes more sense to you than it does to me, doesn’t mean either one of us are wrong. Personally I choose both, Shotty by the door and a firearm on the side.

  28. My personal shibboleth is to ask if a gun store carries .38 Super ammo. If I get a blank look and “you mean 38 Special?” in response, I know I’m probably not dealing with the sharpest tool in the shed.

  29. The worst advice I’ve ever heard a gun store clerk say

    “this is a GLOCK 17, made famous by the rappers “ICE T” “Cop killa” you feel a little threatened you whip this baby out and show it off”

    The contertop commandos really annoy me, that particular clerk knows his guns very well actually, it’s his grasp on the law the bothers me

  30. The only problem with using a shotgun for home defense is over penetration! I have seen tests that show that a buckshot load will penetrate multiple layers of drywall or plywood while most handgun rounds will lose most of their energy pretty quickly (5.56 or .223 will not penetrate two layers of drywall with enough energy left) and not do much damage to anything far enough away from a wall.

  31. This is surprising…why?

    The key to successful product sales (of ANY product) is NOT product knowledge….

  32. Fairbairn / Sykes themselves suggest the homeowner get a shotgun over a pistol, but not for the reasons given here. They stated that the average man was more likely to be familiar with the operation of the weapon as a major reason for going to it.

    That said, the ease with which they apparently felt the 1911 could be learned means that all a homeowner would need was a few trips at the range.

  33. My local gun store is Cabelas in Dundee Michigan, can’t fault them for selection or knowledge, the hard part is waiting in line! I would say a lot of the problem with gun stores is the intimidation factor, a newcomer to shooting can be made to feel like an idiot by asking simple questions. My answer was to do a lot of internet research, go to a couple of ranges and rent a selection of handguns (from 9mm Glocks up to a S&W .460) to get a feel for what works for me. In the end, I ended up purchasing a CZ P-01 for a couple of reasons, I wanted a steel pistol with a hammer that was tried and tested but a little different from ‘the herd’, and I wanted 9mm for the cheap & available ammo. Every review I read seemed to rave about the pistol and so far (3 years and approx 2000 rounds) it hasn’t had a single problem.

    Back to gun stores, I knew what I wanted, Cabela’s had a sale on for the CZ so all was good. Maybe however, the clerk could have made some alternative choices? It’s hard to say though, when a customer comes in with a specific make & model in mind should the clerk go out of his/her way to present a range of options? I think the big area that the gun stores should concentrate on is the advice given to newcomers, some of the above stories are shocking!

  34. I went to a gun show this weekend and heard some of the stupidest/misinformed/scary stuff that I have heard in a long time from the crowds milling around the various tables. I realize that everyone has the right to own a firearm, but I seriously believe that a lot of people just should not exercise that right.

    Of course I believe that there are a lot of people that shouldn’t procreate either.

  35. I was recently trying to decide between a S&W M&P Sport and a Ruger Mini 14. I went into my local gun shop to feel them both in the hand.

    Now get this… they didn’t have the Sport in stock, but they did have the 14 right there behind the counter… available for me to pay for and walk out with it if I so decided…. and the guy tells me… in a chuckling tone.

    “Yeah… Ruger guarantees 6″ MOA at 100 yards”

    Apparently.. he doesn’t work on commission.

  36. I was in a big box sporting good store once, looking at .380 pistols. I asked to see the Ruger LCP and the Taurus TCP. I had done my homework, really just wanted to see how each felt in my hand.
    The clerk laid them out and began telling me about each gun. Said the Ruger was a better option because it had a slide release whereas the TCP did not. I pointed to the lever on the side of the TCP and asked what it was. I was told it was a take down lever. Then he locked back the slide on an empty magazine, pushed the lever, and the slide released and went forward. He gave me some lame excuse about handling too many guns that day. I said thank you and walked away.

    A little later, same night, same clerk was showing a guy some .22 rifles for his kid. The clerk said the best option was a 10/22 over a Model 60 or a 597 because the 10/22 was really the only reliable .22 rifle. I almost talked to his customer afterwards and told him my experience with my Model 60, but I kept my mouth shut.

    Of course both the LCP and the 10/22 he was pushing were more expensive in both cases.

  37. I agree that sometimes people in gun stores can and do give out bad info. A lot of times they mistake their opinions for facts. I work in a gun store and am also a handgun carry permit instructor. I take pride in keeping up with the latest trends, product info, etc, etc, and make sure that I keep my opinions to myself unless directly asked.

    Every customer is different and has different needs What I try to do is find out what their needs are and base my suggestions on those needs and their level of experience, situation, etc. If a customer wants a gun that I may personally dislike I’ll still sell it to them. They like it, I don’t have to. I feel that by listening instead of talking you do the customer a better service.

    That being said it’s not just stupid gun sales staff in gun shops. Store guys get a lot of (deserved) bad press sometimes but it would floor you to see what we have to deal with most days. You have your run of the mill felon types asking about the “special no papers needed” guns. People looking for stuff they “seen in Modern Warfare2”, twitchy looking shady types looking for “dem full autos, yo” and my personal favorite; the multitudes that are looking for a mega-caliber, mega capacity, mega-light carry gun…..oh yeah and it needs to be under $300.

    I’m not condoning stupid sales folks or the chuckleheads that know nothing but next time you deal with a less than stellar sales person realize that they may have just in fact been dealing with a less than stellar customer. A lot of people don’t realize that their preconceptions and their attitudes influence the way sales staff responds.

  38. I don’t get the whole, “racking the shotgun as deterrence” thing. So, either you’re 1) entering into a potentially dangerous situation without a round in the chamber, or 2) burning off one of your precious few shells in the hope that it will scare off an assailant? Both options sound bad to me.

  39. Went into one big box sports store, they had run adds on shotgun ammo on sale, went to gun rack, about 10 min.s later no one around , so walk around store and found a clerk, asked who mans the gun counter , he says I do.. than I says can i get some ammo , he just looks , so i repeat it, can i get some ammo, he says all —Right ,, like why are you so set on this… get to counter ,,, no prices on any thing , ammo , guns , nothing, asked about the Winchester 12 Ga. ammo on sale, he says that’s not on sale , so I ask what is … He says golf balls are on sale.. now i see a Double gun set , rifle/shotgun , ask how much ,, he says I got go ask the manger, he left and I left that store to never return again ,,, 45 min. to buy or see nothing ??

  40. I’ve enjoyed reading all these accounts so much, I have to relate one of my own. In this case, the sales staff were not only NOT pushing premium brands, they were so misinformed they were pushing the cheap ones as the best. This was a major gun store – not a big-box retailer… I was there buying a .45-60 lever gun they had on consignment.

    They had quite a few AR/M4 rifles on the rack and I’d been looking for a Colt LE6920, so I asked the salesman if they had any Colts in stock. He told me “No, we don’t carry those. We only carry the major name brands.” I managed to recover from my drop-jawed expression enough to say “What are you talking about?” He continued “Oh, Colt isn’t really known for making AR15s… our customers want major name brands like DPMS and Olympia.” I managed to get out the door before I broke down laughing…

  41. I don’t think gun salesman are much different from any other kind of salesman. There are a few who are competent and take the time to learn their product and some are gun enthusiasts but the majority probably just took a job. Doesn’t matter much to them what the product is.

    The difference is in the customer. A lot of us are die hard gun enthusiasts who read every scrap of info we can get are hands on. We have model numbers, specs, and prices committed to memory and are walking encyclopedias of gun info. Problem is some info is just BS, writers run out of things to write about, companies release info too early, someone just wants to smear a competitor and so on. The internet could have make this better but with youtube we are lucky if 50 % of the info is correct.

    After reading all the gun rags for 5 decades and then being in a position to meet many of the best known writers I was let down by several of them to say the least. Regardless of the information we have because we are so immersed in the gun culture we tend to expect the guy working in the gun store will be at least up to our level. The guy working for a wage in the gun store my just not care as much about guns as we do, there might be that rare occasion where he has better info than you. Add egos and it can add up to an unhappy visit to the gunshop.

  42. I have plenty of LGS stories, so many I can’t remember them all anymore. One time I went into a shop and was browsing when another patron struck up a convo with me about an CZ75 clone target pistol. He was talking with me about the cost, and I told him he could probably build one for around a grand or so. The lady at the counter was listening in, and she laughed loudly and rudely proclaimed that I needed to “think again”…. Jeeze, my bad for making a WAG…. The same lady once told me that they had AR LPKs without triggers for $35. I was astounded and happy, so I rode the 45 mins it takes to get to the damn place, only to be given a AR lower spring kit… Nothing but springs. I asked the guy at the counter if they had LPKs, and he said “Yeah, that is one”. Uh uh… Sure. I started asking about where the detents were, and the selector, and the bolt catch, etc. He then was like “ok yeah, well we don’t have those.” What a fucking jackass.. Nobody there knows what the fuck they are talking about, which is why I never shop there anymore.

    Another funny thing to listen to, is a salesmen trying to sell people AR or AK pistols. It’s usually something to do with zombies

  43. Went to a full on “mil-surp” store not too long ago. Store is owned by a full on “mil-vet.” Great store, loads of goodies, however when I asked the owner if he had any ak-74 bayo I’m stock, his response was “you mean ak-47?” I said no for an ak-74. His response made me laugh and walk out. He said, “boy you got it backwards there IS NO SUCH THING as an ak74.” I then said yes it fires the 5.45×39 not 7.62. He then “corrected” me by saying I’m confusing the nonexistent ak with an AR. And this is coming from a battle proven “war veteran”

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