About the Blog

Educating fellow Jews about the sporting and defensive use of firearms. Especially Jews in North America, too many of whom are instilled with the belief that guns aren't for nice Jewish boys and girls.

If you know of notable Jewish shooters that should be documented on the blog, even if it is only at the local club level, I am happy to report and profile them. And don't be shy if that person to be documented is you! Please drop me a line at jewishmarksman at gmail dot com. Also follow me on twitter @JMarksmanship.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gun Shops, a Jewish Survival Guide

To Jews new to guns, there's a misconception that walking into a gun shop is going to feel like stepping into a Catholic Church with your yarmulke and tzitzis. That concern is misplaced. Most gun shops are very friendly and welcoming, especially to new shooters, and there is absolutely no reason to feel intimidated. Nowadays, with so many people buying their first gun lately, the salespeople are used to "first-timers."

But remember, when you buy at a gun shop, you're paying retail. Don't be a schmuck! Very often gun shops, like pawn shops, might have a good deal on a used gun. But new guns, almost never. So let me explain to you how to save hundreds of dollars. They key is you must understand the concept of an "FFL transfer".

Once you figure out which make and model of gun you want (gun shops and rental ranges are great for "test drives"), you can shop around on the Internet. I've had great success with sites like GunBroker.com, GunsAmerica.com, and GalleryOfGuns.com (try various local zip codes with their GunGenie...). These sites are basically like ebay or craigslist, but with guns!

When you find the gun you want at the best price online, the next step is to find a local FFL transfer agent. An FFL transfer agent is a federally licensed agent who can receive the firearm for you, run the necessary background checks and take care of other legal requirements, and then transfer the gun to you. The charge is usually somewhere between $25 and $50 per transfer, and most gun shops and pawn shops that sell guns will do it, shop around for the best transfer price. Your FFL will communicate with the seller and make sure all the i's are dotted and t's get crossed. Yes, very often even after you pay shipping and FFL transfer fees you will probably save significantly over the retail price.

Sometimes, just by showing you're a sophisticated buyer you can negotiate down the price more effectively with the gun shop. If you show them you know you can get the same gun for hundreds less via an FFL transfer from a wholesale Internet dealer, they are more likely to be willing to wheel and deal. Figure you're break even if you pay a local shop the Internet price plus shipping and FFL fee, plus maybe a little for their trouble.

As for advice from the gun shop sales people, its hit and miss. There are a lot of uninformed jerks who just want to make a commission. A good test is to ask if the salesman is also a certified NRA instructor. However, by and large, I think you're better off talking with experienced shooters on one of the many Internet forums, and don't rely on gun shop sales people too much. There are exceptions, and usually its the case that the owner is the guy/gal you want to deal with.

The only real gun shop "etiquette" you need to know is to always ask permission before you dry fire a gun, and ask the safe direction to point it when you do. Also, when the salesman hands you a gun for examination, insist he show you that it is unloaded. Most salesmen will do this automatically, but you'd be surprised how many idiots don't. Never, ever trust that someone is handing you an unloaded gun unless you've seen so yourself...no matter who it is.

Lastly, if you can, it always helps to bring along a knowledgeable chaver (friend)!

UPDATE: Scroll down for Stuart's comments and advice...excellent insights! As he says, the Internet is the place for accessories like magazines and holsters. Check your local laws (especially in the Peoples' Republik of Kalifornia) but usually it is perfectly legal to have any non-serialized (usually only one part on the gun bears the serial number) gun part shipped directly to you. The same goes for bulk ammunition purchases, you can save a bundle by ordering online. Several thousand rounds of your favorite ammunition will probably fit in a space no bigger than shoebox in your closet. Occasionally, you can find deals at local gun shows as well.


  1. I have bought and sold around 50 guns on Gunbroker.com and AuctionArms.com. I do so less nowadays because I prefer a face-to-face transaction without Federal paperwork, which is legal in Michigan.

    My FFL gets $15 per gun. Shop around - there are more FFLs out there than you may realize. It's really easy. I have not been burned, though I have received a few very dirty guns (they cleaned up fine). Read the user ratings of sellers to find out if they are reputable. After a while, you get to know who's good to deal with.

    Learn auction stratgies (I use ebay for many accessories), though they have banned sales of guns, essential parts, and magazines. If nothing else, use the advanced search function in Gunbroker.com to find all the guns of the make/model you are interested that have sold recently, and their selling prices. That is about what the market will bear and close to what you should expect to pay.

    Every once in a while you get a steal. I bought an Israeli IMI Jericho 9mm pistol for about $100 less than market on GB. Gave it to my son for his 21st birthday.

    Also, try some of the closeout sellers. I have bought many guns and accessories from CDNN Target Sports - do a search to find their site and download their catalog. Sometimes their gun prices are amazing. And their service is excellent.

  2. You are 100% correct. Accessories and usually ammo are almost always much cheaper on line.

  3. Thanks for the tips! This will defnitely help me in the near future when I am old enough to begin shopping for a weapon myself. Quick question, I'm mostly interested in a self-defense handgun to carry around when I become of age. Any suggestions on which one might be good for me to try out?

  4. I recommend a J-Frame Smith and Wesson revolver. There are several models that use the J-Frame, S&W's smallest revolver frame.

    Personally, I carry either the 638 (38+P) or the 649 (.357). I like these models because they have shrouded hammers, so you can cock the hammer for a single action shot while training, but there is no hook-like hammer to snag on anything in your pocket or wherever you are concealing. J-frame snub-nose revolvers are combat-proven over decades of law-enforcement use.

    These are both 5-shot revolvers. Statistics show that civilians in self defense situations almost never need more than 2 shots. Actually, the vast majority of the time a law-abiding citizen uses a gun in self-defense, the gun never needs to be fired. Consider crimson-trace or similar laser grips for any close range defense gun, the laser is also excellent for dry-fire training. I can carry the j-frame revolvers completely hidden in my front packet with a holster.

    I do not recommend any pocket-size semi-automatics. None of them are bet-your-life reliable for many, many reasons. Also, any caliber they come in smaller than 9mm is not an effective defense round. Yes, they are smaller than the j-frame revolvers, and if you absolutely can't figure out how to conceal a j-frame on your person they are an option. But think of a semi-auto mouse gun as a last resort.

    Also, keep in mind that pocket guns are usually not much fun to shoot. Due to their light weight, there is considerable recoil. I enjoy shooting my 649, because its nice & heavy and fun to shoot with light 38 special target loads.

    Another pocket gun to consider is the sp101 from ruger.

    Now, if your climate/wardrobe allows you to conceal a larger revolver, go for it. A 3" S&W 686 in .357 is an excellent choice, or the Ruger GP100 in a 3". If you have room for a 4", even better.

    If you're one of those guys who absolutely positively can't be talked out of a semi-auto, then nowadays you can't go wrong with a Glock, they come in all sizes and calibers. Especially if its your first gun, Glocks are a good place to start as a baseline for comparison later. Try to find a Glock model that can accommodate an after-market .22LR conversion kit if you plan on doing a lot of practice.

  5. Thanks for the tips! I haden't really considered a revolver, but I'll see if I can rent one at the local shooting range to test it out! I have never tried firing one (the only gun I have actually ever fired is my fathers Beretta. For some reason, many Israelis seem to like this weapon.) so it should be rather interesting. I doubt I would ever need more than six shots, I'm not in that dangerous of an area. :P I was actually looking to try out a Glock even though I don't consider my self a semi-auto only guy. I also believe my old history teahcer has a Ruger SP101 so I'll give him a call and see if he'd let me borrow it for a day. I'll give em both a try as soon as I can. Thanks again for the help!