Gun Store Etiquette and Tips

I’m big on etiquette and believe it’s not taught in the home much anymore. Etiquette almost seems to have fallen by the wayside. Whether it involves dining out, visiting someone’s home or when handling a firearm, it’s something people should practice. I’ve written about etiquette on the range, while shooting clays and even while upland hunting. Now, because of some experiences over the last few years, it’s time for me to write about gun store etiquette. 

I’ve had the opportunity to spend time on both sides of the gun counter. So, most of what I’m pointing out is a direct result of my experiences, both good and bad. As I mentioned above, I think it’s important to teach etiquette since many people don’t know what they don’t know. 


Always adhere to the Four Firearms Safety Rules:

1. Treat all firearms as if they’re loaded. 

2. Never point your firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot, injure or destroy.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot your firearm. 

4. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond your target.


Gun Store Etiquette

When a sales associate brings a firearm out for you to see, he should always remove the magazine, confirm that it’s clear and lock the slide to the rear BEFORE handing it to you. Once it is in your hands, you should also confirm an empty chamber both visually and manually. 


First, ask the clerk where a safe direction is for you to point the muzzle of the gun. Then, find out the store’s policy on pressing the trigger. Make sure to abide by whatever you are told.

Here are some questions to ask yourself while handing the firearm:

  • With a proper grip, how does the gun feel in my hands? Does it feel ergonomically correct? Can I obtain a proper grip repeatedly? Are other size backstraps available for a better fit?
  • Ask if you are permitted to press the trigger (dry fire). How does it feel when doing so? Do you like the trigger’s pull weight for what you plan on using it for? Does it feel smooth or gritty? Is there a crisp break or is it “spongy?”

While aiming in the safe direction you were shown, obtain a proper grip as you look through the sights. Are they acceptable and easy to obtain? Will you want to change them as soon as you purchase the pistol? Does the store offer a selection of sights to suit this firearm?


Once you narrow it down to a few choices, consider the following:

  • What is the price of the gun?
  • How much does an extra magazines cost? 
  • Are there holsters available for what I plan on using this firearm for?
  • Can I add a red-dot, laser or light?
  • How will I store this gun safely after I purchase it? (Do I need to buy a safe, too?) 

Finally, find out if there is a range for you to test-fire a few of your choices. If there isn’t, you may want to reach out to your friends and find out if anyone owns that particular gun. Or, find a range that has firearms you can rent and get some hands-on experience with your choices.


These are just a few ideas to help both you and the person behind the counter feel comfortable while obtaining information on a new firearm. Always treat everyone with respect and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the person you are working with doesn’t have the answer, ask if someone may be able to help. Take the time to do your research and find the pistol that fits your hands and is the right size for why you want it.