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FFL...would you do it again?

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by j7794led, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. j7794led

    j7794led Arlington Member

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    I've been seriously considering getting my FFL and running part time out of my home. I do quite a bit of trading, buying, selling, etc. I was thinking maybe I could do a little more, buy wholesale, and get a little more spending money. Question to those of you who currently have, or used to have, an FFL: would you do it again, and why or why not? Recommendations of things I should consider that maybe I have not thought about yet? I run a business already for my real job so I know about back end costs, taxes, etc. How about pros and cons of smithing along with it? Not major stuff, cerakote, bluing, minor repairs, but the ATF looks at those all the same I know...
     
  2. Colt Carbine

    Colt Carbine Oregon Gears-N-Guns

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    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the ATF quit allowing people to have home based FFL's.

    Doesn't a person have to be a store front anymore to get FFL?
     
  3. TOVO

    TOVO SW WA. Active Member

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    Home based FFLs are still aloud but, much harder to get. If you have a separate building you can conduct business in its a big plus. Zoning is also very important as the ATF will look into this.
     
    Colt Carbine likes this.
  4. semperfi68to70

    semperfi68to70 South Salem, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    No, I would never do it again, but that might not apply to you. I started out with the same idea you have, working out of my home and just making a few extra dollars. Eventually I let my desire to actually own a gun shop get the best of me and so I opened a legit store and had one for about five years. Competing with the big stores in Southern California is absolutely impossible and I am guessing the same thing is true here. B&B could sell just about any gun I could get at my cost and still make money on it.

    Most of the guys that hung around my shop were complete douchebags and I grew tired of them quickly. Lot's of BS and very little buying.

    The ATF was very intrusive and would show up without cause or warning to examine everything but my colon. I was cited one time for putting "tick marks" you know; " " to denote that I had purchased twelve guns from the same supplier instead of writing the suppliers name out long hand each time in the column by each weapon. Everything else was there and complete such as serial numbers, make, model etc. but they wanted me to write out the suppliers name each time. The suppliers name on line one and then again on line 12 with the ticks wasn't good enough.

    I think the one place you can make money if you are any good is gunsmithing. There are never enough competent gunsmiths around no matter where you are and there is good money in it. At least half of the money I did make came from that and we didn't even do it on site for the most part.
     
    mattleegee likes this.
  5. PDXoriginal

    PDXoriginal PNW Well-Known Member

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    If you are doing it as a hobby.... sure.

    If you are doing it to make actual money.... NO.

    To make money selling guns, you need lots of inventory. There is a reason why small shops never last, they don't have capital to move volume. You're not going to make any money if you never have anything any one wants and have to always order stuff.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2014
  6. 40calruler

    40calruler Lake Oswego Well-Known Member

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    Just keep doing what you are doing. Find a gun you like at a decent price, sell, trade, sometimes you find a great deal and make some spending money.
     
  7. Redtazdog

    Redtazdog Washington in the sticks Active Member

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    Yes I will do it again but this time with the sot 07,02
    so I can make em and sell em
     
  8. NWCustomFirearms

    NWCustomFirearms Vancouver, WA Bronze Vendor Bronze Vendor

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    I got my FFL last year and according to the ATF investigator home FFL's are real hard to get. They all but stopped issuing them because guys were getting them as a way to grow their own collection and bypass taxes and whatnot. If I use my FFL to buy a gun for myself I cannot sell it for at least one year. That being said, first thing they're gonna look at is zoning of your place and why you want the license. If you want to do smithing then credentials are a must, I would want to know my gunsmith didn't just watch a you tube video and called it good, liability insurance, you'll figure out real quick there's no money in New guns. Bi Mart sells 10/22's cheaper then my wholesale price.There's money in used guns but you'll need $ upfront to get that going. You can also "flip" guns, buy old broken used and refinish and fix to make look good again but once again, need the $ and skills to do that upfront. Hope that helps, good luck.
     
  9. Redtazdog

    Redtazdog Washington in the sticks Active Member

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    The only way you can make a living selling new guns is to buy bulk to get the better pricing like the big stores do and that is just one cost of the entire package to get started.
    I have mills, lathes, welding equip ect ect for custom barrels, cans and other parts that keep me busy,
    not much want or need to sell guns unless they are custom.
     
  10. 40calruler

    40calruler Lake Oswego Well-Known Member

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    The big stores do not make much on each sale so I agree. People assume they make 1-200 a gun but its more like 40 or less a lot of the time. As you said you have to sell a lot to be profitable or stick to used, or in need of minor repair and turn them for profit. If I was to open a shop a lot of my inventory would be used guns.
     
  11. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Posts 2 and 5 nailed it.
    I tried to make a license pay for itself till Clinton became President.
    Renewal went from $30 to $300.
    I was aiming for gunsmith but a reputation and word of mouth is essential.
    An acquaintance was doing good volume by selling at the gun show.
    Overhead costs need to be factored-in too.
     
  12. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    Weird when I was interviewed by the ATF prior to my license they didn't ask to see any certificate for gunsmithing or anything.. But did want to know where I was getting business from etc..

    I am glade I didn't have to show them the YouTube vids in my fav list ... o_O
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
    fredball likes this.
  13. 40calruler

    40calruler Lake Oswego Well-Known Member

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    30 to 300 us painful. My buddy that owns a shop often says it would not be worth it if he did not love guns since it is so much work and time to make a profit and cover overhead.
    If I had good gunsmith skills I would love that but all I can do is basic work to my own guns that nobody can be angry with if it takes me some time to tinker with them.
     
  14. python287

    python287 Neskowin,OR Active Member

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    You are better off with a C&R License - $ 30 for 3 years - very easy to get - only for the collector tho - you cannot be in the business of selling guns.
     
  15. TOVO

    TOVO SW WA. Active Member

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    Good point and you can get dealer discounts on everything but firearms.
     
  16. j7794led

    j7794led Arlington Member

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    Thanks to all the input, it will give me some arguing for my left brain vs right brain to spend some time on ;)
     
    MTpockets likes this.
  17. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    First time you get your type 01 ffl it's. Either $200 or $300 for the first three years.. They charge extra for all the paperwork they say. Then renewal for the next three years is $90 ... So $30 per year...
    Very worth it!

    Oh and yep the ATF can get you on their radar... Don't dot your i's and cross all your t's and guess what... They will check up on you...their rules are pretty clear on how to do all the paperwork. No shortcuts! That's what causes allot of problems..

    But really the paperwork is so simple..do it right and you can make allot of money!!
     
  18. ubu

    ubu Paducah Kentucky New Member

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    Move to Kentucky. We would love to have ya'll here. You can buy sell trade all you like no FFL. If you like collector guns and old guns get a FFL C&R. I have one now for 6 years and LOVE it. As to an o1 FFL? Do you like a lot of paper work and the BATF knocking at your door ANYTIME they want to? Do you like being inspected and held accountable for anything you may have made an honest mistake on? Wanna take a chance to talk guns to a friend in the federal penitentiary? Either make it a full time serious business or make that extra money doing yard sales. Or you can always move to a state that invokes the 2nd right amendment. An FFL 01 is not a hobby, it's a full time business.
     
  19. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    Paperwork is simple! Part of having an ffl is being accountable for your inventory and paperwork..

    Batf makes appointments with you if they have any questions, they just don't stop by at 2am unless you have been up to something...
     
    j7794led likes this.
  20. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    Several things to consider before getting your 01 FFL. First, if it's a home based business, then the ATF can show up and inspect not only your work area, but also the rest of the address as well. Most of us aren't hiding anything, but don't really want to stand around while our homes are gone through. Just feels violating. Next, keep in mind that the majority of distributors won't sell to you unless you have a store front, set hours, and some even require a certain inventory level. The two I found that would sell without a storefront were RSR and Lipseys.
    You aren't going to get rich selling guns or gunsmithing. The best gunsmith's I know, the ones who have extremely long back logs and even more people waiting to get on the backlog list make a living, but they aren't getting rich. I have heard some stories about gunsmiths selling blood and plasma while they got their shops up and running (back in the 60's and 70's I believe).
    If you want to get into, cool. But make sure you do it for the passion. I don't regret getting my FFL. I feel much better with the store front I have now than when I had it in my house. I don't know that I would have an FFL at my house again. Good luck!