You've just purchased a gun online, and now it's time to head to the store to get your new baby. If you've never bought a gun before, it can be a little intimidating to walk into a gun store, so we come armed with tips for making the adventure easier. Here are a handful of dos and don'ts for when it's time to sidle up to the gun counter. 

1. Do Call Ahead and Ask What You Need to Bring

Calling ahead will ensure you have all the documentation you need to properly fill out your forms and take home your gun. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Before jumping in the car, it's good practice to call ahead and verify a few things. First, you'll want to find out what the operating hours are. There's nothing more annoying than arriving at your local FFL just to discover they aren't open on Mondays. 

While you're confirming hours, also take a moment to ask about any special documents or identification you need to complete the transfer. State laws vary, and while some only need to see a state ID, others require a gun permit. Knowing what you need before you go will save you time. 

Pro tip: ask about peak hours and plan your visit around those, if possible. Visiting during non-peak times will allow you to ask questions without feeling the pressure of a bustling store. 

2. Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Gun shops are a wealth of knowledge so don't be afraid to ask about the guns you see or inquire about the gun you just bought. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

When you arrive, you might have some lingering questions about the gun you've purchased. Now is a great time to ask. Most gun shops are great resources of information and are happy to explain certain features of the gun. They're accustomed to getting all sorts of inquiries, so don't be shy. 

If shop employees don't know the answer directly, they can often point you in the direction of a YouTube tutorial, instructor, or fellow gun enthusiast who can help you out. They also tend to have the lowdown on local ranges, gun groups, and gun clubs that can also help you start your journey. 

3. Do Examine Your Gun But Keep It Pointed in a Safe Direction

Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction while examining it. (Photo: Jacki Billings/

Before toting your brand new or used gun out of the FFL, take a moment to pop the lid on the box or case, and examine the gun. Look the gun over and make sure it arrived as described, and there aren't any missing components or parts.

Remember that you should always point the gun in a safe direction anytime you handle a firearm. By safe direction, we mean the gun's muzzle -- the part where the bullet exits -- is pointed so no one, including the gun's operator, will be harmed if the gun should go off. Ideally, you want the gun pointed at something that acts as a backstop, or a spot that can stop a bullet. At a gun store, the ground is likely the safest direction.

4. Don't Forget the Extra Ammo and Accessories

Don't forget to grab some extras while you're at the store! (Photo: Jacki Billings/

While you're in the shop, don't forget to look around and peruse the other products. Now is the perfect time to grab accessories like slings, spare magazines, targets, cleaning mats, and cleaning kits. Not only is everything right there for you, but you have experts there ready to give recommendations.

Also, if you can track down ammo, stock up while you're there. Grab a box or two of ammo now, so you're ready when it's time to hit the range. 

5. Do Ask About Training Opportunities and Classes

Training is essential to become proficient so ask about classes. (Photo: Don Summers/

Finally, before leaving the store, find out about local gun classes. Shop owners and employees are usually well connected within the local gun community and can make recommendations. Want a women's only course? They can hook you up. Want a concealed carry class? They can tell you who to go to. Some FFLs are even instructors themselves and will sign you up on the spot. 

Gun shops are amazing resources, so don't be afraid to use them! 

For more tips check out this video from author Kristin Alberts that walks you through gun store etiquette


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