These are scary times, and many prospective gun owners are using downtime during the pandemic to shop for the right firearm.
In fact, gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed since the coronavirus pandemic reached American shores.
Brick-and-mortar gun shops from California to upstate New York have seen huge traffic increases, and some sellers are reporting some of their biggest sales numbers ever.
While this rush on guns and ammo is certainly good for the industry, it has created some challenges for shoppers.
These potential gun-buying struggles are only made worse by business closures, social distancing measures, and decreased shipping options.
Despite the challenges, it's absolutely still possible to buy a gun during the pandemic.
In this guide, we'll cover the best ways to buy a gun during the pandemic, including the reasons it's a good time to buy, what challenges to expect, and how to get around them.
Why Buy a Gun During Pandemic?
With increased demand, potential supply chain delays and other pandemic-related struggles, it's easy to wonder if now is the right time to buy guns and ammo.
While there's no denying the added complications, the simple answer is yes, now is still a good time to buy.
Here are just a few of the reasons why it makes sense to stock up during the pandemic.
Shooting and Social Distancing
At this point, everybody knows that the best way to avoid spreading coronavirus is through proper hygiene and social distancing.
These guidelines have altered daily life for most Americans, but that doesn't mean gun owners can't shoot.
In fact, habitualizing staying at least six feet apart while shooting is a great way to help new shooters build good firearms safety habits.
Shooters in rural areas may also have the benefit of outdoor, public shooting ranges or parcels of private land that are large enough for a temporary shooting range.
These solitary times can offer a perfect opportunity to get that new scope zeroed in or work on your range with fewer distractions.
There's Extra Free Time
Getting to know a new gun takes time, and if there's one upside to the pandemic, it's extra free time.
Veteran gun owners know the frustration of buying a new weapon only to have it locked in the safe until there are few extra hours on the weekend.
The additional free time you may find yourself with while working from home and maintaining social distance can provide a great opportunity to explore a new gun in ways you might not be able to during normal life.
For example, taking the time to learn about the full cleaning process, studying up on any useful accessories, or even (gasp!) reading all the manuals and safety information provided by the manufacturer.
It's a Great Time to Hunt (In Some States)
Most hunters fantasize about times when work is closed, but hunting seasons are open.
It's still unclear how hunting may be affected by the pandemic long-term, but many states are moving ahead with hunting seasons.
In fact, most states that had once enacted restrictions have long since lifted them. If you've considered upgrading your turkey gun or using the Fall deer season to break in a new rifle, then this could be the perfect season to buy.
Extra Security Never Hurts
Though reported property crime is down significantly during the pandemic, resources such as law enforcement, first responders, and National Guard troops may be stretched thin in some areas, especially in those US cities that have seen elevated homicide rates.
Anxiety levels are running high, and many prospective gun owners are understandably making the choice to get armed.
While staying calm and level-headed is more important now than ever, this is also a good time to be prepared and to take responsibility for your own safety.
What's Different About Gun Shopping During the Pandemic?
Most forms of shopping have become more difficult during the pandemic, and the gun marketplace is no exception.
During normal times, law-abiding citizens in most states can walk into a gun shop and can either walk out with the new gun the same day or shortly thereafter, but things have gotten a little more complicated in the past few months.
Here are a few additional hurdles to expect while buying a gun right now.
Closed Shops and Limited Entry
One of the most common ways for new gun owners to shop is by stopping at their local gun shop, range, or sporting goods store.
This can be a great option because shoppers can check out guns in person and also get suggestions from professionals. In more than a few states, brick-and-mortar gun retailers were considered non-essential businesses and were closed.
As states have reopened, most gun shops are limiting access to just a few customers at a time in adherence with social distancing recommendations.
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are catching up with demand after the initial rush, but selections may be limited in the immediate future.
This is especially true of ammo.
Just as new gun owners have been inspired to take the plunge, veteran shooters have stocked up on plenty of rounds to keep their magazines full through the pandemic.
The good news is that the industry is responding quickly, and many shops and online sellers are restocking daily.
Fewer FFL Options
Shopping for guns and ammo online is an ideal way to avoid some of the issues arising because of the pandemic.
Buying online is usually as simple as completing the purchase and having the gun sent to a local, federally licensed dealer, or FFL.
Most gun shops and sporting goods stores are FFLs and are willing to accept your shipment and complete a legal transfer for a nominal fee.
With many shops closed or operating on limited hours, however, there may be far fewer FFL options available, especially for those living in rural and remote communities.
Shipping Delays Are Possible
Buying guns and ammo online has become a go-to option for both new and veteran shooters.
With just a few clicks, most shoppers could have a new firearm shipped directly to their local FFL within a few days.
During the pandemic, however, shipping times may be significantly longer due to diminished workforce in the shipping industry and prioritized shipping for essential items, such as medical supplies.
Overcoming Gun Buying Challenges
Even with some of the challenges facing the gun industry because of the pandemic, it's still possible to find the right gun at an affordable price.
With just a bit of extra effort and flexibility, you may be able to get a new gun to help pass the time. Here are a few suggestions to help make the gun buying process easier during the pandemic.
Do Lots (And Lots) of Homework
Gun owners can be a detail-oriented bunch, and it's for good reason.
There's a seemingly endless number of brands, styles, calibers, and applications of firearms available to consumers today, and it pays to know exactly what you need before making a purchase.
The process of narrowing down gun choices can feel overwhelming, even when businesses are operating as usual. That's why it's extra important these days to do as much research as possible.
Scour as many blogs, magazines, and forums as you can. Devote a night to watching YouTube reviews and listening to podcasts that mention your prospective gun.
Arming yourself with knowledge can help eliminate any hesitation when you find the right gun in stock.
Be a Savvy Online Shopper
If you're diligent about research, there may not be much need to handle your new gun in person before completing the purchase. By ordering from home, you can also avoid any guesswork about what's in stock at your local shop.
To help limit potential shipping delays, be sure to confirm the shipping location of your gun before buying.
Items located close to home will obviously arrive quicker, but also consider the local orders in effect at the seller's location.
Items originating in especially hard-hit areas may take longer to ship due to increased quarantine measures and business closures.
Be sure to keep an open dialogue with dealers and private sellers about any potential shipping delays throughout the buying process.
Be FFL Flexible
Don't let a reduced number of FFLs stop you from buying a gun during the pandemic.
Try searching for a complete list of FFLs in your area if your regular gun shop or sporting goods store is deemed non-essential or offering reduced service.
Many smaller businesses (such as gunsmiths and antique traders) are also FFLs and may be open since they have fewer employees.
Prices for an FFL transfer can vary from around $25 to $100 depending on the gun and the location, so call around and make sure you're getting the best price.
Finding a smaller business or licensed private citizen for FFL transfers can be a great way to help support local businesses and also skip the line at your local gun shop for future online purchases.
It may be more challenging, but buying guns and ammo during the pandemic is possible with a little bit of extra time and research.
Follow the advice in this article and you’ll be enjoying your new gun in no time.