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I’ve been to a large number of gun stores. I’ve managed not to buy something in a few. That’s because most gun store are to retail what Sunbeam bread is to the sandwich maker’s art. Most are no more appealing than a Communist-era grocery store. In Gdansk. Some are truly the pits; cramped, dank, poorly-stocked hovels inhabited by OFWGs intent on inflicting their political opinions on any who dare darken their door. This one, Simpson’s Limited of Galesburg, Illinois, has its unique charms. Especially if you’re a Luger lover. Even if you’re not, it’s one of those places that reeks of personality, passion and pistol packer’s palzogony. I wonder if customers can wander. I doubt it. But I have no doubt that our readers know of some extraordinary gun stores. Spill.

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    • I knew when it said weapons salon it was going to be fancy but damn! That has got to be where Putin buy guns right?

  1. Ron Peterson’s Firearms in Albuquerque, NM. I’ve gone to most of the gun stores in the metro area and I keep going most often to Ron’s.

    It has antique firearms, shotguns, both birding as well as the most recent semi-auto tactical. A wide selection of bolt action as well as lever action rifles. Wide selection of modern sporting rifles and a good selection of pistols, both revolver and semi-auto. Used and new with good prices.

    And the help there is all knowledgeable with minimal amount of the superior, “I’m such a gun god guru and all you customers are just dirt beneath my feet” type mentality.

    • I do too. Especially because while I’m old[er] and white, I’m in far better physical condition than most of these young twerps prattling on about their plastic wunder-guns.

      Then there’s the political issue: If “old, fat, white guys” are so bad, then let’s examine the political results of the multicultural diversity crowd, shall we? Where has anything similar to the Bill of Rights (complete with a right to keep and bear arms) been drawn up anywhere in the world by someone other than white men, hmmm?

      If there is, perhaps those who keep demeaning “old, fat white guys”‘ should hie their multicultural-obsessed selves to that spot and cease their complaining.

      • Our Constitution was influenced by the Iriquois Confederacy’s constitution, so there is that.

        I gather OFWG is meant self-chidingly here — not a slam against white men, but an easily identifiable type — the ones who sit around gun stores BS-ing about .45 knockdown power, who are also conservative, gruff and stand-offish to you until they know you, and unwaveringly patriotic. “Good ol’ boys” here in the South.

        I’m not old, fat or white, so maybe I don’t have the authority to defend the term.

      • “…these young twerps prattling on about their plastic wunder-guns…”

        Yep that’s pretty much exactly the attitude we refer to when we say OFWG’s. Gun store owners/clerks and internet hot shots would be very well served by embracing people who are getting into shooting whether they want revolvers, glock varieties, 1911 varieties , bolt actions, MSR’s, Garands, AK’s etc.

        Old salty assholes who make fun of “plastic wunderguns” or make fun of those who use comps “to tame the (puny) recoil” on our 223/6.8spc whatever, have no more right to be at the table than anyone else who claims to be People of the Gun. Its no different than hunters/FUDD’s who hate tactical shooters and concealed carriers who hate open carriers.

        I hate nothing more than walking into a gun store and feeling like the guy behind the counter thinks he is the gatekeeper and I somehow have to make him happy with my political views/ lifestyle/ or choice of guns. There is so much misinformation floating around in gun stores across the country and it is perpetuated by an overwhelming majority those we (sometimes appropriately) label as OFWG’s.

        I know several older shooters out there who I look up to and have immense respect for in terms of knowledge, experience, and ability. They all demonstrate one common characteristic, they have worked hard to keep their knowledge base fresh and keep their mind open and understand exactly what a specific shooter needs. They own or have shot at some point in their lives, every type of weapon in existence. They have hunted with every caliber made. I talk to some people and I get the impression that they stopped learning (read caring) about guns/ shooting 40 years ago and yet they will still talk as if they are some sort of expert on the topic after decades of progress and development has completely left them in the dust. Its just as bad as the kid who started shooting yesterday and treats shooting like a video game. I think young skinny people can be just as ignorant as OFWG’s for what its worth. Ignorance and bigotry knows no age, race, or weight limit.

        • This old salty asshole owns six of those plastic AR wunderguns. Built all but one of them myself.

          I even turn my own barrels for AR’s from barrel blanks.

        • That doesn’t impress me unless you also smelted the lead and copper for the bullets yourself and loaded them over gun powder you made in your garage from bat guano, ground up charcoal briquettes and sulfur that you mined out of the backyard by yourself.

          If anything all you are proving is that you have no excuse for your ignorance.

        • I don’t cast bullets for an AR. The velocities are too fast, and you can’t shoot cast bullets at .223 velocities, even with a gas check. If you knew anything about bullet casting, you’d know this.

          I am, however, in the process of starting to swage my own jackets onto lead wire cores. I got tired of waiting for swaging presses to become available, so I’ve built my own. For .224 bullets, you can use .22LR shells as jacket material, which works acceptably well for plinking bullets. As copper comes down in price, I’ll lay in a supply of copper jacket material for swaging and then I’ll crank out my own pills for plinking.

      • The funny thing is that generally, the old guys are generally my favorite employees to talk to. Most of the young (under 30) gun shop employees I talk to are the Tactical Zombie Hunter types; the old farts with thousands of hours at the range have always been more helpful to me.

        • I agree with that for sure, although I would say I generally only listen to the ones where its clear that they have made some concerted attempt to keep their knowledge of firearms relevant to current times. Some of them seem like they are stuck in time from 40 years ago or whenever it was that they started shooting. That is no better than 20 year old mr tacticool zombie hunter.

    • Yeah it’s best to not alienate your readers/customers on a regular basis. And RF is not a spritely, younger African American or Hispanic lady 😉

  2. Larry’s Pistol & Pawn in Huntsville, AL. Larry puts his money where his mouth is on the 2d Amendment. Staff is friendly, knowledgeable, patient and not pushy. Prices are excellent and sales frequent. Larry is a S&W and Ruger distributor and a board member of Charco. There’s a 12 lane indoor range, “The Ammo Dump”, with about 40 loaner/rental pistols available. Tremendous inventory and ammo galore!

  3. I live a few miles from a place called “Eds Gun Shop” in North Carolina. One of the best gun stores I’ve ever been to. I try not to go in TOO often as it tends to strip my wallet of cash…

  4. Whitaker’s guns in West Louisville, KY (not near Louisville…near Owensboro). First time I went in there I spent a legitimate 2 hours looking up and down the long gun isles. I estimate they have 2500-3500 long guns on display, with most common items having duplicates in the back. One wall is nothing but Dakota Arms and Cooper Arms. They usually have several high end AR’s…LWRC, POF, etc. Their handgun counter is awesome too, but gets overshadowed by the quantity of long guns. Completely drool worthy, the whole place. Super helpful staff, and awesome prices on pretty much everything but ammo. Worth checking out if you’re in the area.

  5. I live within (long) driving distance of J&G Sales in Prescott AZ, and they just can’t be beaten on price. But for sheer charm, it has to be Western Drug in Springerville AZ. If you imagine an 1870’s General Store transported into the 21st century, that’s Western Drug. Prescription drugs, clothing, books, maps, sundries, and of course, guns of all kinds.

  6. Champlin’s, in Enid, OK carries some very nice guns.

    Hallowell & Co in Livingston, MT has some very nice guns in a very nice location.

    There’s no shortage of gun shops in the west with interesting guns. The secret is to get away from the larger retailers and shops that deal in AR’s and modern handguns. If I poke my nose into a successful-looking gun shop and I don’t see any AR’s on the walls, then I get interested.

    • If doctors acted like that we would all be walking around with leaches stuck to our arms, avoiding drafty rooms when our hair was wet.

      • Personal taste is just that. What I consider an interesting gun store isn’t necessarily what you would consider as such. Well-built ARs appeal to me, but that doesn’t mean if someone hands me a well-kept Sharps .50-90 I’m not going to drool on it.

        • There’s a difference between personal taste and being an ignorant knowitall (not directed at you).

          Personal taste is walking into a gun store and only shopping for and buying gun X.

          Being an ignorant knowitall is projecting your personal taste as historically verified gospel and then trashing a gun store because they had the audacity to sell guns Y and Z alongside your infallible and pure gun X.

      • Wait, what? You mean I’m doing it all wrong?

        Next thing you’ll be telling me I don’t have to wait an hour after eating to swim!

      • Wow. So much sturm und drang over AR’s. And so much failure to understand that I’m a businessman in the gun trade, not merely a retail gun buyer. It’s always so disappointing to see people utterly fail to understand the gun business.

        Here’s a newsflash for you guys obsessed with your AR’s. I’m a gunsmith. Gunsmiths are, per federal law, required to have a FFL, either Type 01 or Type 07. I have a Type 01, same as most local retailers.

        Once you have a FFL, there is absolutely no point in buying anything AR related, much less completed AR’s, in any LGS/retail store. Why? Because any FFL can buy almost any AR, any AR part, any AR barrel cheaper than you can through retail. FFL’s will buy from a wholesale/distributor, not a retail store, and those distributors will not deal to you, the general public, unless you have a FFL. I get two or three brochures from large distributors a month that are sent to only FFL’s, with sales on this, that and every other little thing gun related. AR’s and parts figure prominently in every one of these distributor brochures.

        If I want anything modern made of plastic, all I have to do is wait until one of the large distributors is clearing inventory and they have a fire sale – at prices you cannot possibly approach in a retail store, short of a “going out of business” sale. I’ve seen Glocks down to $400 – brand new, in the box from the factory. I buy AR parts when they go on sale – sometimes I’ve picked up barrels, with an extension, for under $100. I swap & trade AR parts with other gunsmiths. I don’t buy completed AR’s. Why would I when I can get the parts so cheaply and crank them together in perhaps an hour, since I have all the tools necessary to do AR builds correctly?

        So when I poke my nose into a gun store and see a wall full of AR’s? The reason I don’t poke further is that I can get anything in their inventory cheaper by using my FFL. When I go shopping at gun stores, I’m looking for stuff I can’t get by dialing up a big distributor and say “send me one of those, you have my FFL on file, here’s my credit card.”

        • I agree with your common-sense approach. It doesn’t matter which kind of gun a person likes or whether they have a Type 01 FFL or not. Learning to save a few bucks on any purchase by doing a bit more work on your part is a universally applicable skill that very few people have anymore. I know far too many 20-something year old gun owners like myself who just gotta have that brand-name rifle off the shelf right now at any price, even if it’s a complete piece of crap. I swear it’s like they’re getting their crack fix while the drug dealer laughs all the way to his cash pile.
          If I liked the design of the AR and wanted to one, I’d save up my money and build my own using only the best available parts. Apply this strategy to any other model of firearm compared to the other ten guys’ generic big-box purchases. Surprise surprise, I now have a rifle that out-shoots, out-functions, and is worth more than theirs. I hold nothing against those who buy for the brand alone or the basic model because it’s cheap and goes bang, but don’t call me an a$$hole for ending up with a significantly better product because I was patient, shopped smarter, and had investment potential in mind.

    • Hallowel was originally in CT when I was just a kid. My dad worked not far from there, and every once and a while we would take a trip to visit. Wonderful place. Some of the most expensive firearms I’ve ever seen. Morris was also a very gracious host to my younger self. Mind you, I was extremely well behaved and already an experienced shooter by the age of 10, but considering the cost of his inventory, he was surprisingly at ease with me when I was tagging along with my dad.

      • Morris is now located in Livingston, MT, which is a bit due north of Yellowstone. A very nice (expensive) little down in a truly beautiful location.

        And he is still a very gracious man.

  7. GAT Guns in Dundee, Illinois. Fighting the good fight in Chicagoland.

    Plus, free range time on your birthday!

  8. The best one in my area that I am aware of is “Black Wing Shooting Center” near Delaware, Ohio.

    Friendly and knowledgeable staff that are all OCing. They hold Concealed Carry and other more advanced training classes and have a range onsite. A lot of smaller gun shops I have been in have been a bit dark and cramped, but Black Wing is a large spacious shop, well lit, and kept neat. I’ve filled out too many 4473 forms in that place.

    That said, the prices are a bit on the high end for new guns, at least for non-members.

  9. Apparently Ive never really been to a nice gun store… thats what I got from this video haha

    Forgotten Weapons ftw, one of my fav. youtube channels, some of the absolute coolest crap you may never have heard of. I saw one last week on this SS belt buckle gun which shot .22.

  10. Last year, before I moved to Arizona, the best gun store I visited in Oregon had been NW Armory. The employees/owners of nearly all other gun stores I visited in the area had attitudes, and some were downright awful. Being a likeable guy, I was quite shocked. Then, I found NW Armory. Their customer service is top notch, which had been rather refreshing. As you can imagine, I awarded them with thousands of dollars in purchases over a three year period. For Arizona, I have a bunch more stores to visit before I can pick the best, but so far, it is a gun buyers paradise.

  11. I personally like the gun shop in L.L. Bean in Maine at the original store. They have a BEAUTIFUL collection of European doubles in varying vintages and degrees of engraving. Any type of semi-auto modern rifle I could think of, plus lever actions, bolt actions, black powder, large caliber, rimfire, etc. And the staff were friendly and most helpful when I was there 2 years ago. One salesman was patiently and nicely explaining the features of a $50 pair of binoculars to a lady customer in the same manner as if she was buying the $1000 Zeis pair on display. I got help finding a semi-odd scope mount which they had in stock. Their racks of scope mounts and rings dwarfed anything I had ever sen before. The second best gun store I have ever been in was Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA. If all Cabela’s are like that one, then it is definitely worth the trip to go see one. Tha Hamburg store has the regular guns all out on display and then they have a separate room with the “good stuff”, locked behind glass. Good stuff like Colt Woodsman .22 LR pistols, cased & engraved shotguns, double rifles, etc. L.L. Bean’s is bigger and I felt it had slightly more choice, but it is also 300 plus miles further away from me.

  12. First Stop in Rapid City, South Dakota. One of the best gun stores I’ve ever seen. And the frosting on the wonderful cake is that they treat everyone the same, as valued customers. No attitude and no judgment. The first time I went in the gentleman behind the counter let me handle dozens of guns without comment, but happy to answer questions or suggest other things that might interest me. And he was smiling when I left without buying a gun, still smiling the next time I showed up. I did eventually buy one. 🙂

    And, so far, they have ALWAYS had exactly what I wanted when I went in there… even during the ammunition crunch. Prices got interesting, of course, but if you needed it, you could get at least SOME.

    Besides, they have a giant stuffed BEAR in the showroom. Really cool. 🙂

  13. Simpson’s Ltd is a great place. To my knowledge, it is the only place where it better to buy online than to buy in person in the store. For all of simpson’s swiss rifles, they mic the muzzle end, evaluate the bore, and give you a good amount of detail in the description of the rifle. An “excellent” bore at simpson’s truly is an excellent bore. An excellent stock truly is an excellent stock. When I buy from other milsurp sellers, an excellent bore to them is a hole down the length of a rod of steel that may or may not have visible rifling left. As a result, I never have a problem paying a bit more for the piece of mind I have with Simpsons. They put up a high resolution photo of every firearm in multiple views. A great site.

    • Agree. I just bought my second Swiss K31 from Simpson’s Ltd online (third total, two Walnuts and one Beech). Floyd helped me with my order both times. Excellent customer service. Fast delivery. My first rifle was wrapped very well. The bolt assembly wrapped separately in bubble wrap, then taped to the bubble-wrapped rifle. I really like that I can browse through pages and pages of rifle selections which contain descriptions of the rifle: bluing percentage, bore condition, stock condition, year of manufacture (I selected my second rifle to match my birth year), walnut or beech, sling and/or muzzle cap, muzzle measurement, other info such as cracks, repairs, serial number, and three high quality pictures (left, right and above) that can zoom in for a closer look. My first rifle from them brought no surprises as I had looked at the pics and info enough to know the rifle’s condition, and holding it upon arrival, it was exactly what I expected. They are the only online store I have visited that talked about the operating rod change in steel component for the1944 manufacture, which turned out to not be good as many rods broke at the lug and had to be replaced, making me double check the operating rod from the 1944 rifle I bought elsewhere. They also mentioned if the operating rods on their 1944 era rifles had the original part, or was replaced. I fully expect this second one will be the same. I now have a K31 for each decade of manufacture: 1935, 1944, and 1951. My collection is complete. I would have been hard pressed to do that by buying elsewhere, not knowing the manufacture year beforehand. The very first one I bought was from another online store, and I had no idea what was coming. Turned out great, but it was just a hit or miss experience and I have no idea if the operating rod is an original part or an arsenal replacement. Simpson’s Ltd online is like being at the store and handling the merchandise. Great experience so far. Thank you Floyd, and Simpson’s Ltd.

  14. Simpsons LTD sell “working guns” that break down after 6 shots. I tried to work something out and they refused to exchange a shotgun for $200 they sold as “mechanically fine” I spent hours driving down to their shop spent good money with them an they treated me like crap. Pretending to be high class gun dealers now I know they sell crap. I wonder is there any laws against that someone who sells “working” guns and they break down as you fire them. I know the first thing that will be said, will be you get what you pay for. Well if it was marked not working then I would understand. But mechanically fine should work past six shots.

  15. I called the store today to ask about the Walther GSPs they had online. The salesman knew nothing about this specific model. I asked about one gun in particular, namely why it didn’t say it was “mechanically fine”. His answer was that the new guys who graded the guns had no clue. Very reassuring!

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