We visited with Walther pro-shooter and Second Amendment advocate Gabby Franco at the 2023 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas recently. We asked her what you need to know to buy a firearm. Here’s what she told us. Note: Gabby is not only a former Olympic shooter, present-day firearms instructor, and formidable competitor, she also used to work in a gun shop.
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1. Know Why
The first thing buyers need to do is know why they want a firearm. What is the purpose of buying a gun? Similar to buying shoes, a woman might buy high-heels for a formal event and tennis shoes to work out. Thus, it is essential to know if you want a firearm for self-defense, home defense, or competitions, to name a few.
I tell ladies to search around. Sometimes gun shops have one firearm or style they want to push, while others are willing to order what you want if they do not have it in stock. Be informed ahead of time.
3. How Does it Fit?
How does a firearm fit when you put it in your hands? Can you conceal it well? Purpose plays a significant role in choosing the right firearm for you. For instance, sometimes, women think big handguns are intimidating and might not be a good fit for them. However, mid-size 9mm pistols, like the PDP F-series, have a high-capacity magazine, the recoil is more manageable than most compact 9mm pistols and they are great for home defense. You might want the compact PDP-F-series with a 3.5-inch barrel length or smaller, like a .380 ACP pistol.
I believe a budget is relative. If your firearm purpose is self-defense, then you must ask yourself what your life is worth. If budget is an issue, plan and save for a good-quality firearm. When I used to work in a gun shop, we offered layaways for those who needed extra time to pay for their handgun. Ultimately, buying an inexpensive gun is more expensive because soon, you will find out you need to spend more money to replace it with a better pistol.
Rent, if Possible
Rent the pistol before buying it, especially if the gun shop or range has the ability for you to rent it. If renting is impossible, ask a friend or mentor who may lend you a gun you’re interested in buying. Sometimes, what we like visually is not exactly what we need, especially for concealed carry.
What happens when you go to a gun store and you feel pressured that someone is trying to push a firearm on you that you know you won’t like, or won’t work for you (such as a small revolver for self-defense because you’re a woman with small hands)?
I enjoy talking to people and learning from their experiences. So, it is not surprising when employees at a gun store promote one gun over others. Sometimes the store benefits from selling certain firearms, but that is not always the case. Often, salespeople at gun stores have strong opinions about a “good” gun and will offer them more often than others without any ill intent. For example, I like some handguns more than others.
What I always recommend is always to be a listener and learner. That person might have a piece of information that might be valuable (e.g., target shooting or self-defense). You can always say, “Thank you very much for your advice. I’m actually looking for the _____ pistol.” In other words, do not take it personally and go beyond thinking, “ That salesperson thinks I need to shoot a revolver because I’m a woman.”
What happens if a sales associate just keeps pushing a gun on you that you know you won’t like?
Again, say “Thank you for your opinion, but I’m looking for this ____.”
If you decide to buy a gun, what do you need to think about before you purchase and take it home with you?
The first thing is safety. Even if you live alone, ensure a secure place to store your handgun, like a gun safe. Remember, only you and authorized people should have access to your weapon. You must learn all the safety rules. Better yet, sign up for their upcoming firearms course and start your journey to becoming a good and responsible gun owner. Training is not only for other people’s safety, but also, for your own. Also, ask if they have courses about gun cleaning and maintenance. Knowing your firearm inside and out is huge!
Finally, your mindset – a firearm is your tool, whether for defense or competition. Learn to use it properly and safely!
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