How to Buy a Gun Onlineeasy steps to buying a gun online
So, you’ve decided that this year is the year you’d like to buy a gun. After reading about the Best Concealed Carry Weapons for Women and New Shooters in 2022, you know exactly which gun you’d like to buy, too! In this post, we’ll help you navigate the process of how to buy a gun online so that you can enjoy it as soon as possible with as few headaches as possible.
We’ll also answer one of the most common questions asked in the gun community right off the bat (especially to those who are new to firearms): Is buying a gun online legal?
In short, the answer is yes. And, the process can be perfectly safe and legal. While there are certainly ways that dubious people can purchase guns illegally, buying online is not one of them. In fact, buying a gun online is highly regulated because of the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prevents mailing guns directly to private parties. Purchasing a gun is completely legal under federal law (there can be some extra specific state and local laws) and is a completely safe process. In this post, we’ll help you navigate the buying process and give you some tips that could save you 30-35% or more! We’ll also help you find a reputable FFL dealer to ship your new firearm. (Note: In IL, you need a FOID card to see any gun on the gun store. Be sure to check your state’s regulations.)
Steps to Buying a Gun Online
You can research online from the comforts of your home before stepping foot into a gun store! If you know the make, brand, and caliber that you are interested in, then you will be a more educated consumer, as well as save yourself some time.
Fortunately, there is a rational process that a potential new gun owner can follow to choose a handgun that fits their needs, familiarity level, and budget. NRA Family suggests the following checklist when shopping:
Determine Your Needs
First, ask yourself, why do you want your handgun? For example, if the goal of your gun is for concealed carry, then you’ll want a gun that is short, small, and light. If the gun is for home defense, they suggest a gun that is larger and heavier.
Choose Between Semi-Automatic and Revolver
There are two types of handguns that are usually purchased for self-defense: semi-automatics and revolvers. Semi-automatics are very popular because of their magazine capacity and slimmer profile which makes them ideal for concealed carry. However, they require more proficiency and practice because they are more complex to operate. Revolvers are by far considered more reliable and simpler to use. The revolver typically has only 6 rounds before you need to reload.
Selecting the Correct Caliber
This caliber is the exact cartridge a gun is designed to fire. This choice is critical, as it determines the recoil you will have to manage and the effectiveness of the handgun. Basically, this determines the stopping power; ultimately the ability to neutralize a threat.
This also determines gun size. A 9mm can be made on a smaller frame than a .45 caliber. A larger caliber on a smaller frame results in more recoil. The NRA organization states that the beginning gun owner will usually shoot faster and more accurately with one of the lower recoil cartridges suitable for self-defense.
Once you have decided on caliber, semi, or revolver, you need to test fire, if possible, to check the weight and hand feel. This is essential because not all 9 mm’s fire the same. For example, a medium frame 9mm will fire, feel handle and shoot differently than a compact in the same caliber.
We often recommend renting a gun at a gun store. For a nominal price ($12-25) you can get a real feel and fire the gun on their range, versus buying an expensive gun and having buyers remorse. I see this often and have customers and students who look to sell a nearly new gun only to get 60-70% of what they paid for it because they listened to a salesperson who may have only been trying to get a larger commission for moving certain units or brands.
Once you’ve purchased, to pick up your firearm, you will need to find a local dealer with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). After the gun arrives at the FFL, the process becomes the same as buying in person.
Before you ask, do you need a background check? Of course, you do! Your local FFL dealer will conduct a background check on you before you can complete the transaction. This is no different than if you were to walk into a store to purchase your gun in person.
PPG Recommended Online Gun Retailers
There are tons of reputable online firearm dealers that you can use to purchase your gun. Below we will review a few of our favorites.
My absolute favorite site (other than my own of course) is Palmetto State Armory. The deals are just too good to pass up. I would suggest you sign up for the weekly deals. As a firearm seller who buys at wholesale prices, I’m often blown away at the prices the folk at Palmetto State Armory can sell for.
Gun Broker is another favorite. Think of Gun Broker as the eBay of gun sales. It’s an online auction marketplace. You can really score some great buys on this platform. Here is a tip that was shared with me from an FFL Transfer customer; He’s a regular and always pays rock bottom prices. He shared these three easy steps:
– Search for what you want in the search bar.
– Go into the filter and select new and no reserve
– Wait and set notifications
This effectively means that if the gun sells for whatever the price the seller has to sell it to you, even if it’s far below its value. Brilliant!
This is another great site with really good prices. They carry a wide assortment and I’d stack their prices against any ones.
This site has really good pricing and a nice assortment. This site has some unique finds and is worth a look at.
This site is a little more of a risky platform in that the transactions are from private sellers and the transactions aren’t handled inside the platform like they are on Gun Broker. To me, this makes it inherently risky. I find sites that operate like this are a breeding ground for scammers. However, if you are lucky and use common sense you can find some great buys. As an FFL, I have handled transactions from buyers who were happy with their purchases.
This site has a lot of criticism from the gun community for drastically increasing prices during supply chain draughts and scarify periods. However, I’ve used them and been happy with the items and found the price was fair.
This shop is another favorite of mine. I’ve found hard to find items with low prices. Buds’ emails usually are very persuasive and make you move from on the fence to clicking the buy button.
This is another popular competitive site for firearm purchases.
Last but definitely not least, our site, Pew Pew Guru LLC, has competitive prices and is often able to compete with big-box stores on price. We also have a great assortment and stellar customer service. We handle FFL transfers in the Oswego, Illinois area if you choose to buy elsewhere. We sell online and don’t have the overhead of a traditional gun store, so we have some ability to sell at competitive prices.
As a side note, I’m a dealer for PSA and can give you great prices on their PSA-branded firearms. Be sure to give our shop a chance when shopping for your gun!
Finding a Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) Gun Dealer
As mentioned, it is required to have a licensed dealer when purchasing a gun – online or in person. Here are a couple of resources to find an FFL when you purchase a gun online.
The FFL Dealer Network is the best site we’ve found. From an FFL perspective, you are able to post events, articles, and ads. From a customer perspective, you are able to enter a zip code and it returns all of the FFLs close to you including contact information and other pertinent details like price, hours of operation, and the like.
Finally, use Google to read reviews on potential companies to save yourself the heartache of poor customer service.
One Final Note on Buying a Gun Online
Even though you may be so excited to bring your new gun home, be sure to fully inspect your new purchase before leaving the dealer to make sure there are not any damaged parts. If you do find damaged parts, refuse the transfer, because a good FFL will arrange for a replacement. For those of you that may not know, an FFL transfer, in a nutshell, is the physical handover of a firearm. Once you accept the transfer, the sale is final. From there, it is a good idea to research self-defense gun owner insurance coverage for your firearm.
Still looking for that perfect firearm? Check out PPG’s store and let us know how we can help!
Do you have your new gun and you’re ready to learn how to use it? Register for the next Illinois CCW class!
Any other questions? Contact us here. We’re here to help!
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