Gun shopping mistakes are more common than they should be. Despite guns often costing hundreds if not a few thousand dollars, some people aren’t careful when comparing gun prices and watching for red flags.
If you’re buying guns online or at a store, here are a few common mistakes you should avoid so you don’t regret your purchase.
Mistake #1: Failing to Learn the Basics
If you intend to buy a gun, you need to learn the basics. Guns are not toys and can be dangerous in untrained, novice hands.
Put aside whatever the state requires of you and how you may or may not feel about those regulations. On a purely logical level, you owe it to yourself and anyone living nearby to know how to handle the weapon you buy.
You should know what parts make up a gun, how to fire it, how to tell if it is safe or unsafe, and how to store it in a way only those you want can access it.
If you intend to keep your gun for any length of time, you also need to learn how to maintain it. This is going to involve, at least on occasion, taking it apart, cleaning it, and oiling as necessary.
Safety and maintenance are boring sometimes. However, you’re an adult buying a powerful tool. Make sure you can treat it with the respect it requires.
Put simply, if you can’t take the small time investment to learn how to handle a gun in the right way, then you’re not ready for a gun.
Mistake #2: Buying Into the Hype
The debate about which guns are good and which are bad is one as old as firearms themselves. You can find tons of lists online of weapons experts consider overhyped and many are going to make good points.
The challenge is that some guns generate buzz for a good reason. Whether it’s a good price point, unusual reliability or accuracy, or any number of things, some guns are good.
So how do you avoid getting blinded by the hype? Whether you’re buying guns for home defense or for fun, it can be assumed you don’t want to buy a dud.
One good place to start is researching the gun and watching experts handle and fire them on video. However, be careful because some may be sponsored by certain companies, biasing them towards or against some weapons.
The good news is that there is plenty of gun reviewers who don’t really have an intentional agenda, even if they may have their preferences. Their content can help show what a gun can and cannot do.
Remember that getting a variety of opinions (from good sources) will net the best results. While one reviewer can be biased or wrong, four or five that you trust saying the same thing probably means it is true.
Mistake #3: Messing Up the Paperwork
It’s not uncommon for someone new to firearms to get excited about a gun they see for sale, try and buy it, and then have some kind of legal issue.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not find the gun laws restrictive. However, they’re binding regardless.
On the less serious end of the spectrum, failing to have the right license or not paying attention to whether a weapon breaches local law may get a sale rejected. If you can’t buy the gun, you’re not a valid customer.
In many ways, it’s worse if you somehow do buy a gun before getting your ducks in a row. Then the police may get involved and the penalties for crimes related to guns can be harsh.
Do yourself a favor and research the gun laws in your state. If you’re purchasing over state lines, you’ll also want to research how that process works, as now multiple states are involved.
Be careful transporting a gun over state lines too. While there is some leniency in the law so long as you can legally have the gun where you purchased it and where it’s going, you don’t want to push your luck.
As a rule of thumb, keep your guns registered as necessary, make sure your gun license is up to date, and don’t dally whenever you need to move a gun from one state to another.
Mistake #4: Cheaping Out
Guns can be expensive and it’s understandable that not everyone needs to buy top-of-the-line models. You can buy a good weapon without breaking the bank.
That said, there is always a reason a gun costs less than its competitors. Most of the time, a lower cost means corners when cut somewhere in terms of manufacturing tolerances and weapon specs.
The price point where you should start doing some research is going to vary by the types of guns you’re looking at. A good handgun tends to cost around 500 or so dollars but a good rifle should probably cost at least 700 or so.
That isn’t to say those numbers are hard cutoffs or that anything more expensive is good by default. It only means that prices lower than those points signal you need to do even more due diligence.
Low-quality firearms can be downright dangerous. At best, you can expect poor accuracy and a high rate of misfire. At worst, they may literally blow up in your hand (although failure that extreme is rare).
Mistake #5: Sourcing Bad Parts
If you find a gun you like, eventually you’ll find yourself buying gun parts. Whether you want a spare, need to replace something that’s broken, or even are upgrading the weapon, there will come a time to source parts.
Much of good sourcing for parts is the same as it is for guns. Do some research and don’t leap at whatever part is cheapest. You want something that lasts.
The issue many gun owners fail to grasp is that parts can often come from different manufacturers than the original weapon. However, that also means the part won’t be held to the same standards.
There are plenty of good companies that can produce various gun parts worth your time. In fact, many of these parts will work as well as the manufacturer’s and at a lower cost.
For instance, looking for an adjustable gas block for an AR-15? There are a host of good options, each with their own nuances for those who like to really get into the specifics of making their gun their own.
One thing to look out for, though, are names you haven’t heard of (or have heard bad things about). You also should be wary of parts made of weaker material than the original part was. They may break in unexpected ways.
Mistake #6: Confusing “Cool” and Effective
Guns can be cool. They can also be beautiful, with some engraved weapons working as much as art objects as weapons. However, a cool weapon is not always an effective one.
It’s more than fine to purchase a weapon because you like its look or think it has an unusual firing mechanism. However, that should be why you bought it. Don’t assume every cool gun is an effective one.
This tends to matter most for home defense and EDC weapons. These weapons need a certain amount of stopping power and reliability to be good choices.
“Effective” is a broad term and that’s because guns can serve many purposes. Effective for a target gun likely means a focus on accuracy above all else. Effective for home defense means stopping bad guys.
You can buy whatever weapon you like. It’s only a mistake if you make bad assumptions about it. Remember that life isn’t a video game; the most effective weapon is rarely the biggest or the strangest in a given shop.
Mistake #7: Overspending
While we’ve discussed how some gun buyers tend to cheap out, others can overspend. In fact, some people spend hundreds or even thousands more than necessary when they buy a gun.
As has come up quite a bit throughout this article, you’re going to want to do some research when buying a gun. Before you make a purchase, figure out how much the gun costs on average and how rare it is.
If a gun is rare, sometimes you can justify paying more than it’s worth if you’re worried the opportunity won’t come up again. Most of the time though, you shouldn’t be overpaying.
It’s also worth noting that unless you’re a collector, there may be an alternative gun at a better price if the one you intended to buy is expensive. It all depends on the situation you happen to find yourself in.
Don’t Make These Gun Shopping Mistakes
That about covers the common gun shopping mistakes newcomers and gun aficionados alike often make. A great deal of these mistakes come down to impatience.
If you want to buy a weapon, do some research so that you understand its capabilities and value. If you can manage that, you’re already further ahead than many buyers.
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