What to Do When He’s Just Not Into You: Dealing With a Non-Female-Friendly Gun Salesman

According to a recent report published by the National Shooting Sports Federation (NSSF) the fastest-growing segment in shooting sports belongs to the ladies. If, like me, you’re a female firearms enthusiast, it’s likely that you’ve had to deal with a gun salesman or two who never read that report.


This column is sponsored by LaserMax Inc.’s Armed and In Charge.

I’ve been completely ignored while in the hunting and fishing departments of local stores. I once had a salesperson try to talk me out of the pistol I wanted to purchase because a different brand fit my husband’s hand better. I’ve had salesmen who would only speak with my husband, despite my husband’s insistence that the purchase was for me. I’ve also experienced the dreaded “Can I help you pick out something for your husband, ma’am?” question not once but twice!

Certainly trying to deal with a salesman who clearly doesn’t want any part of working with me can put me on edge; I’ve been called “defensive” before. But is getting upset, angry, defensive or just plain nasty with salespeople the best way to re-educate them? No. It just makes you look like a beyotch .

If you’re like me, when you walk into the store, you’ve done your research and at least narrowed down what you’d like to look at. Being confident, knowing what you want, and politely demanding to be treated with respect is generally all it takes. Sometimes the salesmen are great, but sometimes they still don’t believe that you do indeed know what you’re talking about, so they try to trip you up with questions. Most always they’re shocked to learn I am a certified pistol instructor. They then assume I’m “on the job.” Truth is, I’m not a law enforcement officer; I’m simply a woman shooter who knows what she wants.

Dealing with salesmen who aren’t used to selling to women isn’t just a problem for me. I recently reached out to a women’s shooting group that I belong to and asked how they dealt with non-female-friendly firearm salesman. Within 36 hours of posting the question, I had 57 responses. Here are a few:

  • Toni G.: I love it when I get a salesman who assumes I am ignorant about guns because I am a woman!! I let him talk for a while, then begin asking him technical questions. Since he is expecting my questions to be about color, or matching accessories, it usually catches him offguard. I love it when he says he has to ask his manager to get an answer to a technical question! I just tell him not to bother, and give him the answer, lol.
  • Deanna L.: I usually tell him what gun I want and blow his mind with what I know, and then they quit treating me disrespectfully.
  • Amy N.:  I try to let them know that I know my way around a gun. If they continue the bs I leave and let it be known how they acted. There is a place near my house that I actually warned the ladies in my classes not to go to because they consistently treat women badly.
  • Kathleen A.: Let’s face it, many women don’t have a clue, and salesmen act accordingly. This is frustrating to no end, but it’s the truth. There are also a lot of young men as salesmen who don’t know that much themselves (everybody has to start someplace and learn). If I act childish by trying to show them how much I know or stalking off, I undermine what I hope to achieve (to be taken seriously and have good service). Be educated on what you want, act respectful and expect respect—show them that there are mature, knowledgeable women shooters. Educate them. If you still have a problem, ask to speak with somebody else. From experience, it rarely takes long before they realize that you are a serious customer and know your stuff.

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While I couldn’t post all 57 the responses here, they all had similar situations and suggestions. Here are some tips that I have found helpful:

  • Educate yourself. Know what you’re looking for when you go in, and don’t let a salesman try to talk you into that cute pink .22 revolver when you went in to purchase something else entirely.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask any questions.
  • Be polite and professional and you will get the respect you deserve.
  • Don’t be rude and sassy—it just doesn’t help our cause.
  • You’re the customer. If after speaking with the salesman you’re not happy with the way you’re being treated, simply leave and buy elsewhere.

IMG_4479 copy 2It’s gotten to the point that when I walk into the store, I hope for the best but expect the worst. While it might be easier to just buy online and ship directly to my local FFL, I’m a proponent for shopping locally. I’ve found it helps to develop a relationship with the people you buy from. You may have to educate them once, but I guarantee that if you play nice and keep it friendly, they will remember you the next time you go in.




  • About Annette Doerr

    Annette Doerr is a freelance outdoor writer and business services consultant living in suburban New York. This married mother of two is an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor and Range Safety Officer. Annette is not only passionate about the sport of shooting, she also loves helping new shooters get involved, especially women and teens. An active equestrian, she enjoys riding her American Quarter horse, Cody. She volunteers in greyhound rescue and adoption, and shares her home with Casper, a rescued racing greyhound, along with her her cat, Tony, and her husband, Bob. Visit Annette at WeShoot2.com, her personal blog.


The Conversation

  • MrApple says: July 25, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Good article overall. Only thing that I would add is to go to a range that rents firearms and invest in seeing what works best for you. And maybe giving a try with a group like “The Well Armed Woman” wouldn’t be the worst idea.

  • Thom Ream says: July 22, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    I’ve worked in sales, I’ve worked in management, I’ve been a buyer, and a seller. I’ve owned my own businesses. And I’m an NRA member. This is a great article, but I’d like to add one point: As an owner/manager/boss I can’t fix a problem I don’t know about. May I suggest that a phone call to upper management (chain store) or owner (local gun store) to discuss the issues would go a long way to educating ‘da bosses that might not even know what idiots they have working for them. Just walking out will hit their bottom line, but fails to help the next woman walking in the door.
    Just look how the new car business has changed in the last 30 years or so. You CAN make a difference either way (walking or talking), but make it count!