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How Guns.com Made My Last Gun Purchase Easy

I bought a gun … another one and I'm pretty stoked about the experience.

I remember the first gun I ever bought. I was 22 years old and the gun salesman was a grumpy old man with strong opinions who thought someone as young as I may not be qualified to even own a handgun (and maybe I wasn't).

My most recent experience was very different. If you can bear with me, I'm going to take you on a visual journey of how gun buying has changed, some of the pros and cons, and using my most recent experience as an example so you can see just how easy your next purchase could be.

Legal Disclaimer / Clarity For Those Concerned

For any anti-gun folk or anyone else concerned about legal stuff, details will follow but when one buys a gun online one still has to undergo a background check.

So, it all started at this moment for me when I publicly declared my next gun purchase:

From a live video interview in Pittsburgh at the 2019 USCCA Expo in which I was interviewing FN's pistol product manager about the 509 product line.

I have a high opinion of FN firearms and really was considering an FN 509 but the original release didn't offer a lot of options. Over the last few years that has changed and now there is a strong FN 509 product line.

So I did what most of us do. Over the ensuing months, I checked the gun's price at a few local gun shops and big-box retailers to see how much they were going for.

At some point last year, Guns.com changed its business model from purely a blog/news site to an online retailer of firearms. I hadn't yet purchased a gun on Guns.com and I thought their prices looked competitive so why not give them a shot.

The site is easy to browse and when I was on there I found 3,485 new semi-auto handguns and 1,361 used handguns for sale.

Me navigating to the FN New Handguns for sale.

If you are like me you will waste some time looking at all the awesome collectible firearms as well. At the time the most expensive option I found was this 4 gun set of limited production Colt 1911s for the low sum of $34,995.00

On the bright side that is only $8,748.75 per gun.

So I added the FN to cart and went to checkout and was wondering how Guns.com handles the FFL situation.

As you probably know if you are reading this; an online gun seller can't legally ship a new gun to your front door. The ATF doesn't like that … and arrests people. So naturally, Guns.com like other retailers and dealers has to ship the firearm to a local dealer (FFL) who receives the firearm for you.

This is where the rubber meets the road for a lot of these firearm retail websites. I've seen a fair number that take your money and charge your card and THEN ask you to do the leg work in finding a local FFL who is willing to receive your firearm.

These situations are less than pleasant because you end up doing all the leg work in making the arrangements and having the proper paperwork sent from your local dealer to the seller.

If you have done it a few times you probably have a relationship with a local FFL or 2 or 3 and know the drill. So when I hit checkout I was impressed with Guns.com

Before I hit the payment screen I clicked a button and it loaded FFL dealers near me… how is that for fancy?

First, Guns.com makes it easy once you put in your address to quickly peruse the dealers near you. They already have the FFL information on file and saved me all the leg work of making the arrangements. Ah, the wonderful world of 2020 when technology solves problems!

Second, I had to choose my delivery location BEFORE I hit the credit card form ensuring that I wouldn't have some weird surprise after I already paid for the firearm. I wish that was true of all online firearm sellers.

I paid for the gun late on a Wednesday and was notified by email it had shipped on the following Monday.

I was impressed with my “Order Shipped” email which contained the contact info and hours for the local dealer as well as the UPS tracking number

When the gun arrived at the local dealer they gave me a phone call. I went in late one Saturday morning and waited patiently for the state background check before I paid the local dealer and left with the gun.

Yes, I paid the dealer. When you buy a gun online and have it shipped to a local dealer (as previously mentioned this is your only legal choice), the dealer generally charges a “transfer fee” for their time in transferring the firearm to you.

These transfer fees tied to the legal requirements ensure that no matter how commonplace online purchases of firearms become the local dealers still must remain in business.

Ironically, the local dealer I did the deal with made a greater profit from that transfer fee than his average profit on the sale of a new gun. Think about that for a minute. He makes more money when I buy a gun online and have it shipped to him than he does when I buy one from him directly.

The day after the pickup I received this email from Guns.com:

This email was one of the more impressive elements of my Guns.com experience. The survey you take dives deep on the quality of the local dealer's store and your experience in picking up the gun there. It seems clear to me that Guns.com doesn't want to work with local dealers who don't take care of their customers. Pretty cool.

So here I am admiring my new gun and ready to go to the range and put some lead in the backstop … but that story is for another day.

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6 Responses to How Guns.com Made My Last Gun Purchase Easy

  1. Rick Wixom March 11, 2020 at 9:40 am #

    I have made a number of gun purchases from online vendors over the years. I do so when what I want cant be found (or at a reasonable price) at a local shop. I generally try to support my small local shops since they are the ones who also spend their dollars in my community AND who fights along with/for me against the overreach of my WA State government heads.

    But, when it comes to online purchases, Guns.Com is the bomb. From their wide selection, competitive prices, clean and functional buyer system, as well as vetting of sellers are all top notch. I spoke with a person there who helped me set filters so that when a specific model came available within a set price range, I was notified so I could take action.

    While there are other sites, this is one of the best. Just get ready to be spammed. They sell their mailing list to other vendors who then BLOW UP your inbox–until you unsubscribe.

  2. Guy March 11, 2020 at 4:10 pm #

    You lost me somewhere, you paid for the gun on wednesday and you paid the dealer when you picked it up. Give me a little more detail, inless youre talking about paying the ffl the transfer fee

    • Jacob Paulsen March 11, 2020 at 4:13 pm #

      Correct. The transfer fee. Sorry I didn’t make that more clear

  3. Doc March 11, 2020 at 6:25 pm #

    What cost range of transfer fees should we expect to pay?

  4. Phil March 17, 2020 at 11:07 am #

    I received a gun as part of a promotion from the training facility where I train, and my local FFL charged me $40. I don’t know what others are charging, but I hope that helps.

  5. N. Buford March 17, 2020 at 7:42 pm #

    I know in my area, if you shop around the FFL fees are around $25 & can be found as low as $15.

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