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Selecting and purchasing a firearm (experiences by a newbie)

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by ATCclears, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    I am writing this posting for other newbies (or noobs) to the gun world. Some of the observations and comments may not be 100% applicable or correct since I simply haven’t experienced all aspects of the gun world. I hope this helps you make educated choices when purchasing firearms, ammunition, and other ancillary items.

    About me. I started my journey in early December, 2011. I had done some shooting in my teens in Canada, but until recently I’d never considered owning firearms. In December I began educating myself and as of late February, 2012 I own two pistols and ammo, and there is more to come.

    I started by walking into a gun shop and asking questions. They were very understanding and helpful. I was overwhelmed by the options.

    I went home, got online, and started researching pistols and rifles. I asked gun-friendly friends for input and brand names. This resulted in more research. I was interested in purpose, quality, reliability, price, and more. I quickly learned that there are varying opinions in the “community” and (just like purchasing a vehicle) I would need to determine what was best for me.

    I planned to take a one-day course to learn more and shoot multiple pistols. Many gun ranges offer education courses. It never worked out for me though due to timing and so I went with friends, learned, and got a membership at a range where I could also rent a variety of pistols. I went back multiple times to rent various pistols in various calibers (ie., size of the bullet).

    I went to my local police department and got my concealed-pistol license (CPL) for Washington State. I wanted the CPL to make the purchasing process easier and to make it legal should I ever choose to carry a concealed pistol. The CPL required a background check, fingerprints, and $59.00. I received the CPL in the mail four weeks later.

    I selected a first pistol and looked at purchase options. I could purchase the pistol through a local gun shop, purchase it online and ultimately get it transferred to me, or potentially purchase it used if I could find it. I wanted to purchase a new pistol since I was willing to pay a bit more for quality and reliability, planned to keep it for a while, and strive to take care of my things.

    I learned about the concept of a Federal Firearms License (FFL). You can read more on Wikipedia: Federal Firearms License - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . I became aware of the FFL since if you’re purchasing the firearm online then you must have it transferred to you via a FFL. The same is true when purchasing through a gun shop but the process will likely be more transparent to you. Note that the FFL does not apply when typically purchasing ammunition.

    I also learned that if you’re purchasing online then expect to typically pay a 3% surcharge for using a credit card, potentially pay for shipping, pay a fee to the FFL on your end, and pay any sales tax. I mention this since it will add to the purchase price of the firearm. The low price online may not be that low once you include these additional expenses. In addition, check the return policy since the website may not allow returns so verify when purchasing a specific make and model of a firearm. For example, perhaps you wanted the pistol with the 4.5” barrel but you selected the similar pistol with the 3.3" barrel.

    So what did I do? I found a local FFL (not part of a gun shop), asked him to give me a quote for the first pistol, and did the purchase via him since the price (including shipping and sales tax) was very competitive. I was so happy with the process that I used him again for my second pistol. I know that he won’t be able to get me everything at a competitive price. I expect to use a local gun shop when I am ready to purchase my next firearm.

    I purchased a pistol safe for under the bed. I’ve tried to avoid manufacturer names and websites in my comments, but I’ll deviate here and mention that I purchased the “Handgun Safe – Pistol Safe” from Fort Knox (Google it). I chose this safe since it had a manual lock (no key, no batteries) and I can change the combination. I have two teenagers in the house (‘nuff said). I will also purchase a larger safe.

    I purchased ammunition online since the prices were the best I could find and I was purchasing more than just a few boxes. I found a website that gave me an Amazon-like experience – FedEx shipping, email updates, and a tracking number.

    I went back to the local gun shop to purchase ancillary items. They were very nice to me in December and I wanted to give them some level of financial support. I purchased cleaning supplies, dry boxes for ammo storage, eye and ear protection (used when at the shooting range), soft-sided cases.

    Here are some random considerations once you purchase a firearm...

    Dismantle (aka “field strip”) and clean the firearm before you fire it for the first time. Look down the barrel and ensure it’s clear and clean. It shouldn’t be a problem, but trust no one. Plan to purchase cleaning supplies. Get someone to show you how to thoroughly clean a firearm. It’s a bit messy but not difficult.

    Expect to “break in” each new firearm. This may mean firing 200-300 rounds (bullets) through it. Ask or Google for what may be typical for that firearm.

    Expect to regularly field strip and clean each firearm. If you’re using the firearm for self-defense then you want it to function as expected.

    Purchase quality ammunition. Again, there are a plethora of options and opinions here. I tend to favor brand-name ammunition.

    In summary:
    - know what you want the firearm to do for you as a tool
    - get online and research
    - ask dumb questions (people are helpful if you tell them you are new)
    - take a one-day course
    - rent various firearms to see what is best for you
    - plan to purchase the firearm, ammo, cleaning equipment, and more

    I hope this helps. :)

    Peter
     
  2. zane

    zane Vancouver, WA Member

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    Great how-to for noobs!

    I would say the best thing is to get multiple opinions from different shops and various gun-saavy friends, and then do some research to draw your own conclusions. Gun people are very brand specific and openly opinionated about certain guns so what they say is best for you may not be the best for you (or good for you at all).
     
  3. High Centered

    High Centered Battle Ground WA New Member

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    Wouldn't hurt to try out a few rental handguns at some shooting ranges. What looks good with research, may not feel right. Only way to find that out is to try one!
     
    mjbskwim and (deleted member) like this.
  4. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    YOU missed a BIG THING. You do not mention the time you took with your children teaching them about the firearm you have brought into their world. There is NO SUCH thing as locking up a firearm away from a child. THE ONLY SAFE WAY to have a firearm around a child is to teach the child the responsability of that firearm and how to use it properly.

    To do otherwise is to invite curiosity and events you do not want to experiance.

    Once a Child is trained and the curiosity is satisfied even a young child can be safe around a firearm. My son was safe and trained with firearms by age 5. And I never ever had to worry about him alone in the house with a firearm.
     
    Dnaltrop and (deleted member) like this.
  5. Dnaltrop

    Dnaltrop Portland, Oregon Member

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    + 1 on educating children, (but still leaving them out of reach)

    All that padlocking and "Dire warnings" without experience... the only things I learned from that were how to pick padlocks, and how to quickly strip, clean, and reassemble a firearm before people got home from the grocery store. I was precocious little guy, thankfully well-intentioned.

    My Eldest was shooting BBs at 5/6.. 22's shortly after. My Middle child is a wild one and probably will be a bit later... the youngest is 2 and already seems calmer than my eldest, she may be shooting before her middle sister!

    The key moment is when they are old enough to INSTANTLY respond to your voiced commands, without fail. (Safety on!, guns down!)
     
  6. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    Mark, thank you and true. I've taken my son out to the range a few times now. I'm still working to get my daughter out to the range.

    Peter
     
  7. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Good I just wanted to make sure you didn't leave anything important out of what sounds like a pretty well thought out entry into the ranks of Firearms owners.