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How To Buy From An Online Gun Store

online gun store

Buying a firearm from an online gun store is becoming more popular with each passing day but is still something that is highly misunderstood by many people. There are those out there who think that anyone can purchase a gun online without having to go through the right channels to complete the process, but anyone who has actually gone through the steps can tell you that it really is no different than buying a gun from your local FFL, with a few changes.

And, to be honest, you'll still have to go down to your local FFL for the background check. In other words, if you were to buy a gun from an online gun store, you wouldn't just be able to have them ship it to your front door. It just doesn't work like that.

This short guide is meant to help you navigate some of the trickier things concerning buying a gun online, and help your process out a bit.

Why buy a gun online?

Well, there are a couple of reasons why someone may choose to buy a gun from an online gun store. First, it is usually cheaper to buy from the internet because that particular dealer moves so many guns each month that they get a great deal and can offer you a lower price. We'll get to more on this in a minute, but the second reason people usually cite for buying a gun online, is because that gun store actually has the gun you're looking for. There are other reasons as well, but these are the more popular ones.

Now, I wanted to take a moment to get back to the “cheaper gun” reason. I've gone into almost every local FFL to see if they'd help me out with the transfer from an internet gun purchase. They would, of course, but some of them also decided to jack the price up on any background checks where a gun was purchased online. My home state charges for background checks, and dealers can generally charge whatever they want.

The key here, is to ask around before you decide on a gun store to have it shipped to. Not everyone inflates their prices, and you should be able to find a decent dealer to help you out.

Know what you want before you buy:

I hope this would seem obvious, but many folks don't know which gun is best for what they need. Are you looking for a sub-compact gun for your every day carry (EDC)? A rifle to reach out and touch some targets at 600 yards? A .22 rifle to teach a child? This leads me into my next point …

Get a feel for your gun:

This one kinda goes with the previous one, but I figured it's important and needs its own section. It's never a good idea to buy anything important without looking at it first. I always recommend buying a gun that you've actually held in your hand, and hopefully even had the chance to shoot, before you actually decide to buy. This means going down to a local gun store or five and actually getting guns in your hands to feel them.

If you can go rent some guns at a local range to send some bullets downrange, even better. It's well worth the price to do so, to make sure you don't end up with a gun that you'll lose money on trying to sell.

Is it legal in your area:

Ideally, you already know the gun laws in your state. We have a YUGE population of readers behind enemy lines in California so this section is really for you folks, and those of you in other, less than friendly to guns, states. You really need to know what you can and cannot have beforehand. If you take my advice and go to the local store, first, you shouldn't have this problem. But, the last thing you want is to decide on a gun and have it be illegal in your area.

Know how to buy a gun:

Some states require a gun owner to have a firearms owner ID card (FOID), while others just require a background check. You should always strive to be on the up and up with the gun laws in your state, to make sure you don't make yourself an accidental criminal.

Inspect your gun:

At this point, you've already purchased your new gun, ensured that the online gun store you purchased from ships to your local FFL dealer, and everything else was fine. Now you need to make sure your new gun is good to go, before you go through the background check.

Go ahead and inspect the firearm to make sure it's in the shape it's supposed to be in, that all of the things that were supposed to be included with it, are, in fact, there … etc. I've had an instance in the past where I had a new gun coming from a major gun maker and there weren't any magazines. My FFL and I were both stumped, but somebody dropped the ball at some point. The company fixed the issue quick and sent me a magazine, but it was still a pain.

That's just one of the things that could happen to your gun, but it could also get damaged in transit. Always check.


Buying a firearm from an online gun store is an easy thing to do, though it can be intimidating if you've never done it before. If you take the steps outlined in this brief guide, you should be able to get exactly what you need, for a price you're willing to pay. Do you have any experiences buying a gun online? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 Responses to How To Buy From An Online Gun Store

  1. Jeff Coyle February 2, 2018 at 8:29 pm #

    Since most of the steps above require multiple trips to the local gun shop and advice from the local shop personnel, why not just show them the online price and give them a chance to match it. Even if they are a few dollars higher it would be worth the local purchase in case anything happens to the gun in shipment or parts/accessories are missing they can handle it with their suppliers. Don’t forget to add the shipping and paperwork fees you described, often that will be lower if you let the local order for you.

    I’ve never understood the rush to buy something as big a purchase as a gun from some faceless online shop – just to save a few bucks. Shop local, shop small business – they probably even sponsor some local events or a kids ball team or something.

    • Beverly February 3, 2019 at 5:44 pm #

      Agreed with all points. I’d rather pay a little more and buy local. I’ve been burned on internet purchases before, so I hesitate to get a gun online. Also, I much prefer supporting small local businesses, so there’s that, too.

  2. Gary Ramey May 15, 2018 at 8:33 am #

    Not a fan of buying online, unless it’s a unique firearm not available locally.

    Sure, you save a few bucks, but you don’t save any time.
    You still need to go the FFL to pick it up (just buy it there).

    After shipping, transfer fees, etc, you have not saved much.
    And you lose the relationship or help on that firearm from you retailer.

    • Joshua Gillem May 15, 2018 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks for the comment Gary, all good points. I meant to stop by your booth at NRA, sorry I didn’t get a chance to come say hi.

      Thanks again,


  3. Lew November 24, 2018 at 10:21 am #

    Good article. I’ve made several online firearm purchases and am very pleased with the experience. I live in a small town and have a good relationship with both firearms dealers here. Time is rarely an issue with me as I am retired, and I love shopping around online for good deals.

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