3 Signs You're in the Wrong Gun Shop

Posted by Kris Vermillion on November 1, 2018

3 Signs You're in the Wrong Gun Shop

My oldest child is a boy. When he was born my wife was nice enough to agree to let me buy a high-end 1911 that I could have fun with now and then pass on to him later. Six years later my gun collection (and my family) have grown, and while the 1911 still hangs in the safe, I've acquired some nice pieces that my two boys may prefer more than the 1911. But that 1911 will always be special to me because I remember why I bought it. Even if my boys grow up to say they'd rather have something different, I'll still cherish that 1911. On the other hand, my daughter may think the 1911 is nice enough and take it along with the body armor, suppressed 300AAC, SCAR17 and the RPG I've 3D printed for her to take when she moves out or starts dating...but I digress.

The point is, I love that 1911, and I learned a valuable lesson while shopping for it. I'm going to share that lesson with you, and by sharing I hope you learn how to spot a bad gun shop quicker than I did.

When it came time to shop for my 1911, I took enough cash out of the bank to cover the transaction. With the cash in my pocket I walked into a gun store "a stone's throw" from my house. I found the 1911 I wanted and asked to see it. I held it, asked a few questions and handed it back. The guy behind the counter could not have cared less if I bought the gun or not. In fact, when I asked to see it again he declined and said, "I mean, you're not really here to buy it, so there's no need to keep getting it out." I laughed and left the store but that turned out to be a good thing. With a little patience and after some consultation with trusted "gun guys" more knowledgeable than myself, I bought a better 1911 at a better price.

I've now spent many years working in the gun industry. I love the nature of the work, and I try to apply what I felt that day to how people get treated when I deal with them now, these six years later. I've had people in suits take hours deciding on a $300 Taurus, and I've had people in dirt-covered jeans walk up, point at a $1,000 Springfield 1911 and say, "I'll take it." It's not for me to decide how much money you are willing to spend on a gun. My only obligation is to get you the gun you want and do my best to answer any questions you may have. Everything else is one hundred percent inconsequential.

Finding the right gun store can be a challenge. Let's face it, this is an industry full of Alpha Males who are not accustomed to being wrong. Sometimes those personality-types end up behind the gun counter and get straight to work making the rest of us look like idiots. So here is my list of things to run from in a gun store. If anyone does any of these things to you while you're shopping for a gun, leave immediately and find somewhere else to shop.

1. Blind Loyalty to Brand or Caliber


It's easy for anyone to believe their way of doing any particular thing is the only way it should be done. That's why some people easily led to believing whatever gun they carry and whatever way they carry is the only gun and the only way anyone should carry. If someone tells you that Gun Brand A is the only brand worth owning and no other brand performs as well as it does, thank them kindly and then walk away. The truth is that most modern handguns are built to be dependable and durable, and that means there is a lot of healthy competition for your money. More competition means more pressure on the gun companies to build quality products that last. There are $3,000 1911's that I would love to own one day, but the gun I carry every single day costs about $500 brand new. The point here is that if a gun is built with quality materials and at a price that makes you comfortable, then don't let brand affinity or brand 'snobbery' get in the way of your decision. However, this is a tool that may potentially be asked to save your life. Don't skimp on a gun that will potentially be used to save a life. At the end of the day, if it's a matter of buying a $200 gun that fits your budget or no gun at all, I suggest you buy the $200 gun.

2. Plays the Gender Card

girl shooting

Believe it or not, one of the most irritating exchanges that takes place is when a shooter's gender becomes a determining factor in the gun shopping process. If every man had the same exact hand size and every single woman had the exact same hand size, this rationale for which gun to buy based on size may make sense. Thankfully, we are all uniquely and wonderfully made. No one gun fits a specific gender. If you disagree, take a look at Gabby Franco, Jessie Harrison, Lena Miculeck, Bailey Gallagher, Mia Faranelli or any other of the scores of pro-level female shooters who handle the same guns and gear as men do, and often finish in the top rankings! DO NOT let someone tell you that a woman needs a particular gun just because she's a woman. That's bad advice. Run from it.

Quick side note: Men, quit saying you only need something cheap because it's for your wife and she'll probably never use it. That's more insulting to her than you know, and it makes you look silly.

3. Offers You a Revolver Because You're a New Shooter

revolver handgun

This is not to say revolvers do not fill a need. Or that a revolver is not the right gun for you. Revolvers are made for up-close and deadly encounters. They pack a powerful punch and will deliver when called upon. However, they may not be the best idea for a new shooter. And that's the entire point. Buying a gun is a personal decision. Maybe a revolver is the right choice for you. That's great! But it's not the right choice for you because you're a new shooter, it's the right choice for you because the design suits the specific need you have. Right above the "Gender Card" on the list of annoying things in gun stores is the notion that a revolver is the best option for a new shooter. This poor advice is usually based on one of two misconceptions: new shooters don't know how to load a gun and revolvers are easy to shoot. No and no. It's not quantum physics to learn to load a magazine, insert it and rack the slide, but there are some people working gun counters today who would have you believe the average person has no idea how to do it. Also, revolvers are a pain to shoot. They kick hard and high and they tend to be super loud. You know, everything that would poorly impact the senses of a new shooter. Put a revolver in a new shooter's hands and see how quick that shooter is to want to come try again. Do the same thing with an FN 509, Glock 17, Springfield XDM etc. and measure the difference. Full size firearms are more pleasurable to shoot, easier to use and have a larger capacity which means less work for the shooter during the practice sessions. And by the way, it will take half the strength to pull the trigger on any of the aforementioned guns than on a revolver.

Any other advice to add for how to spot a bad gun store? Let us know in the comments below.

About Kris Vermillion

About Kris Vermillion

Kris Vermillion is a lifelong shooter who focuses his training on defensive shooting techniques and the shooter's mindset. Kris works for Palmetto State Armory, contributing to both Ecommerce and Marketing.

Chris Collins
2 years ago at 12:49 PM
Spot on. As I am known as the gun guru in my small circle (for no other reason than my inventory) I'm always asked the best gun for... my standard reply is the one that you like, operate and feels best to you. If that is a 22lr, 22mag, 38, 380, 9mm up to a 44mag. Not for me to tell them. I just give pros and cons on all. I stick with this, 5 well placed 22's is better than any missed round.
Donald Wright
2 years ago at 8:12 PM
I like your logical approach.
2 years ago at 3:11 AM
Guns in the display cabinet say if you ask how much for any gun, you can't afford it.!
Mark macko
2 years ago at 3:57 AM
When you do not see the gun you are looking for, and they proceed to tell you to buy this gun instead rather than getting info on the gun you are asking for. Or worse they say something like. We had one last week, you snooze you loose.
Jesse R
2 years ago at 12:35 PM
They lost for not having more inventory. They have a reverse logic most of the time.
Daniel Leverette
2 years ago at 12:11 PM
Any douche canoe behind a counter that refers to their carry weapon as a \"gatt\" you should immediately walk away and encourage other to do so as well.
Tom Jerbic
2 years ago at 8:59 PM
Your right there! This industry doesn't need any more bad PR by wanna-be gangster types being representative of the industry & culture of legal & ethical gun owners. Great point.
Steven Nihipali
2 years ago at 9:13 PM
Colion Noir did a video on this exact subject. I think that's worse is the age differences that shops have to deal with. The brand's, styles, numbers, etc of choices. There shouldn't be a gun chosen without it being fired. I love how some shops have you try out the gun first. You cannot have done first timer grandma walk out with a S&W 500 and think she's ever going to shoot it on her own, unless that's exactly what she says. No punk 21 yr old veteran gonna go buy an AR from academy without wanting to strip it down and check it out.
David C. Jones
2 years ago at 7:33 PM
Stopped by one of the better known gun stores in the area (Belmont, NC) the other day. The 20+ year employee I usually deal with was busy with another customer. The chubby twenty something male who looks like he lives in his mom's basement asked what I needed.\" I'm looking for 9mm \"honeybadger\", I said. \"We don't have that\", he replied. I asked, \"Do you EVEN know what I'm talking about?\" \"Not really.\", he said,\"I just know we don't have it.\" I won't be shopping there anymore!
John D.
2 years ago at 3:14 AM
This attitude is so common in all markets. True customer service is getting to be a thing of the past. All!! of my purchases are very thoroughly researched or are driven by actual experience. SO when looking for the deal the last thing I want to hear is attitude from either punk or snob reps from a gun shop who either tell you you should blindly follow their advice or they turn their royal noses in the air and prance away further ignoring your request. (so common in the snobbery of Salisbury NC . Still a few good shops here though.)
2 years ago at 1:28 AM
Excellent points all. Also a beginner doesn't know where it will all lead. My first two guns were a Kimber 1911 and a Marlin 30-30. Now I spend all my time shooting 20\" AR's in the 1-600 yard areas.
Tom Jerbic
2 years ago at 7:26 AM
I always loved the guys that love to correct (in a demeaning way) the improper use of the work \"clip\" for magazine. These guys make me think it's time to leave before I let myself get into any discussion with \"Mr. Know-it-all\"
2 years ago at 9:14 PM
You are in the wrong gun shop if it is a business that takes full advantage of political panic to rip off their customers. I understand supply and demand, however, there are some places that have taken advantage of customers to the point of raping their wallets to serve their own greed. A good gun shop is fully invested in the shooting sports, and in the shooters themselves. They are actually partners with the customers. I know places that have intentionally put the dollar first, customers second. I saw some go out of business because of it, and I was happy to see them go!
Jordan S Flagstad
2 years ago at 3:31 PM
Had a similar experience in a gun store several years back. I went in specifically looking for a decent quality 1911 pistol in 1911. This was back when they weren't all that common, at least in my area. I really liked to shoot a lot, had a range at my home so I was wanting a good full-size handgun in a low cost to shoot caliber to hone my skills. I had come across a NICE Springfield 1911 in 9mm a few years prior and always kicked myself for not buying it. Anyways, when I asked this guy if he had a 1911 in 9mm he laughed and said \"what the hell do you want that for? Ream men shoot 45 ACP, I shoot a 45 ACP.\" He proceeded to tell me how cool he was and was still telling me as I walked out the door...haven't been back since and I now own multiple non-45 ACP 1911's (Not that there is anything wrong with 45 ACP). I guess in closing, I wish every gun counter attendant could lose the Alpha male attitude and maybe just offer suggestions when appropriate. That sure would be nice...
Patrick Yamada
2 years ago at 6:47 PM
I completely agree! How do these guys think they're going to sell a pistol when they chime in with a derisive laugh and some snide comment like, \"Of course, I prefer a caliber like .45 ACP or 10 mm made for people who don't need to sit down to pee.\" Great job there, buddy. You just cost the owner the sale of a Sig P226 or HK VP9.
Ted Oiler
2 years ago at 6:36 PM
Nice article, I agree with you statement about don't say or buy a woman a cheap gun because she will likely never use it! Buy her a great gun, because if she needs it was her last line of defense against the unthinkable and she has to know how to use it and it has to work work well.
Kris Vermillion
2 years ago at 7:13 PM
Ronald Hunter
2 years ago at 12:05 AM
I too have worked in the gun industry. I disagree with your idea of a revolver not being practice for a new female shooter. In my experience I have seen scores of women who can NOT rack a slide on any automatic. I have tried to steer them to a Sig 238 or 938 because they are easier than most to operate. I have also seen women who don't have the strength to pull the trigger on a double action revolver. I've run into a few older men that because if arthritis or other malidys cannot operate a slide or pull a double action trigger. Point is some people don't need a gun. They would be a danger to themselves since the gun potentially would be taken away from them by an attacker. A responsible gun salesmen would cull the potential accidents before they happen
Tom Jerbic
2 years ago at 6:01 AM
You, Mr. Hunter are a very ethical gun dealer. I wish there were more like you. We really need to clean up the industry. The bad apples just supply talking points for our opposition, who already have a \"stacked deck\". Glad to hear someone else say that making the sale isn't everything. Not when what we are selling holds sway over life & death anyway!
bob schwartz
2 years ago at 9:04 PM
Exactly Right on Point. I helped by father-in-law, an avid sportsman his whole life, with the purchase of a Sig P220 because he couldn't pull the slide(s) on his 1911's due to age related physical impairment. The double action Sig made his day and was exactly what he wanted.
Kris Vermillion
2 years ago at 7:09 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Ronald. I completely understand your reasoning, and I agree 100%! As I said in the article, \"Maybe a revolver is the right choice for you. That's great! But it's not the right choice for you because you're a new shooter, it's the right choice for you because the design suits the specific need you have.\" You and I agree on this: No ONE gun fits EVERY shooter. If a female shooter chooses a revolver for all the right reasons, fantastic. But if a gun shop's staff believes ALL women should ALL have a revolver because they're new to shooting, that's bad logic. Thanks agin for the feedback! - Kris V.
Don Bailey
2 years ago at 6:50 PM
Good comments Mr. Hunter. One thing that novice shooters and gun owners should also look into is education and instruction. Further experience shooting of various types, brands, and calibers of handguns can make shooting more fun, and hopefully, lead to a new hobby as well as having the ability to defend oneself.
Tom Jerbic
2 years ago at 6:12 AM
Encourage the positive & shun the negative. This has to be our mantra. If we don't self police the industry our government will. When I first started in the gun business, (1981) ATF were helpful to dealers & our annual inspections went smoothly. (Was a class III, 09 & import/export 09 and Mfg.)Those days are long gone. Now any screw-up could cost your licenses. In some cases it is warranted.
Kevin Galloway
2 years ago at 6:51 PM
Great article!
richard sisson
2 years ago at 1:28 AM
I disagree with #3.I have taught many women to shoot,and I have noted several things that many have in common 1. Their hands are not often strong enough to load the magazines 2.They are often not strong enough or forget to cycle the slide.3.They never seat the magazine,and it falls on the ground when they level the gun. 4.The first shot they ever fire scares them and they drop or toss the gun out in front of them (bad enough with a revolver, but worse with a semi auto) 5.If they are not at least a monthly shooter, and they need the gun RIGHT NOW, they will confuse the mag release with the safety or the de-cocker or the slide lock,which results in a failure to get the gun up and running,that is catastrophic in a home invasion scenario. Now I'm not saying women are inferior to men,some police women can out shoot the men. But if you want a fail safe method for a inexperienced or an occasional shooter, use the KIS system (keep it simple).And nothing is more simple than a revolver, you point and pull the trigger.
Kris Vermillion
2 years ago at 7:12 PM
Thanks for the comment, Richard. I have seen every one of those scenarios play out with men as well. The point I hope to make clear is that gun shopping is specific to the individual and should always be regarded as such. The shooter must decide was is best for his or her self, not the employee behind the counter.
Calvin Logsdon
2 years ago at 12:23 PM
All are good points. However, I have to disagree with the statement regarding revolvers. I have taught and instructed a lot of new and older female shooters. Some have been over 65 and simply cannot work a slide on a semiautomatic. Some get confused loading a magazine. I have a Taurus 606 that I have had for 15 years and always bring it to my classes. It has been a huge morale booster for almost every single one of those ladies. And some of those women actually are incredibly accurate with it. I load it with standard .38 Specials and work up until wr find their threshold and back down one load so they are comfortable and confident. Yeah, it's a .357 snub but they acclimate so quickly and love shooting it. The little extra weight helps with the recoil just enough for them and that is what matters. They are confident, comfortable and are not scared of the recoil. Most have had shoulder and wrist surgeries and have lost some feeling in their fingers and hands. The revolver may not be what most would choose but in a life-or-death situation the revolver still is a very viable platform for those who cannot \"run\" a semiauto.
Jesse R
2 years ago at 12:32 PM
You are so right. A Keltec 380 is so easy to shoot compared to most snub nose revolvers. Most gun counter snobs berate the quality of a Keltec. If so why do so many in blue carry it as a last chance back up? I had my daughter shoot a 1911 Colt 45 ACP loaded with 1 round in the chamber only, and none in the mag. In addition to eye and ear protection, she had gloves on. She hit the target melon at 15ft. I wanted her to see the destruction a 1911 delivers and why she should not pick up a gun or be around anyone not of adult age with a gun. That any adult had to be properly trained and in the presence of one of her parents if she was going to be around a firearm. That it wasn't like TV or a video game. That no one was ever going to put the melon back together. That it was the reason I kept our guns locked up for safety. Shooting that 1911 did not scare her away from guns. Instead, she wanted a BB gun that she knew I was going to keep secured after use. At 16 she wanted to learn how to shoot a 22lr about 10 years ago she trained with a 9mm as an adult. My point is knowledge and training are paramount to responsible gun ownership and use. I too have walked away from someone telling me I needed X brand and caliber. The gun snob failed to ask about my familiarity with guns. For years I was I was shooting 200 rounds every other week.
2 years ago at 6:16 PM
I've been a \"Gun Nut\" all of my life and in retail for 35 years. All of these points are endemic in retail in general. Sales clerks (I refuse to call the \"associates\") generally fall into two categories. The guy who's marking time until he can find a better job and the self proclaimed \"expert\", often found pontificating with a group of his loyal \"no nothing\" in attendance. Most stores will have one guy that all the other clerks go to when they need the real answer to a question, and that's the guy you want to seek out. I know this, because I was that guy in every store I worked at. Spend some time in any given shop and you'll eventually find the right guy for you.
Richard G.
2 years ago at 12:54 AM
I was looking for an Accu Wedge or similar device to take the slop out of my upper and lower receivers. The guy at the \"tactical store\" promptly let me know he's never heard of such a device. I was explaining what its function was and he cut me off to tell me he's served in the military for xx amount years and since he's never heard of it they simply don't exist. I thanked him for his service to our country but not his service to his customer.
Patrick Yamada
2 years ago at 6:52 PM
The store to avoid has salesmen who don't ask any pertinent questions. \"What are you using it for?\" is oftentimes a good place to start. A guy who offers a Desert Eagle to someone looking for a practical carry gun based strictly on what he himself thinks is cool is not a good salesman. The salesman who asks the right questions and suggests a few helpful options is the one I'm looking for.
2 years ago at 2:16 AM
Thanks Kris for the information you shared. I don't know when you wrote it but it will always be valuable to who ever reads it.