Buying a Handgun in the DFW Metroplex
By: David FreemanGrowing up in a small town, there were just three places we could buy a gun: the local hardware store, the "bait shop" and Sears & Roebuck. There were no age limits or forms to fill out, no background checks in those days. Anybody could buy a gun. So in many ways it was much simpler. We had a plethora of outdoor magazines and catalogs from which to do our research prior to shucking out our bucks and the guys behind the counter at the local stores knew their guns. If you ordered from Sears, you pretty much knew what you were ordering ahead of time.
Although the process is a little more complex today, the options are much more numerous, especially if you live in a city and in a gun-friendly state. I've bought enough guns here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to be familiar with quite a few options. The purpose of this article is to save you a little shoe leather and possibly some money.
Let's look at the options of where to buy, and then I'll share from my own buying experience with some, but certainly not all of these options:
Let's start with where I buy guns. My first choice is always Academy Sports. If they have the gun I want, they consistently have the best price in town. The selection varies from store to store, so you may have to call around for visit several stores to find what you need, even if it's a gun on their stock list.
Generally speaking, Academy Sports carries a variety of Beretta, Glock, Heritage, Rossi, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Taurus and Walther handguns. They also carry a variety of rifles and shotguns. Their regular prices can't be beat and from time to time they run sales or specials.
Academy also has good prices on ammunition, holsters and other shooting gear. Once you've done the paperwork at the gun bar, someone from that department carries your firearm to the register, waits for you to complete your purchase, and then carries the gun outside before they give it to you. I always find this a little humorous since I'm wearing a loaded firearm all the while.
Cheaper Than Dirt
The next place I look is Cheaper Than Dirt on North Loop 820 in Fort Worth. This is NOT the same business as CheaperThanDirt.com, the online and mail order catalog company. They once had common ownership, but no longer. Cheaper Than Dirt's every day prices are okay, but I watch their weekly ads for some really good bargains. You can find a flyer posted on their front door and on the gun counter, or by going o line to www.cheaperthandirtretail.com and clicking on the weekly flyer. When the purchase is done at Cheaper Than Dirt, they give you your gun at the cash register.
Other Local Retailers
Military Gun Supply, off Loop 820 in southeast Fort Worth, is a place where you can buy surplus rifles, used shotguns and some interesting curios. I've bought one used handgun there at a pretty decent price. It was a simple transaction and I was out the door within just a few minutes.
Cabelas & Bass Pro
Let's talk next about Cabelas and Bass Pro. Unless you can find a particular good sale, you'll pay retail at either of these places. Not top dollar retail, but they don't discount their guns much. There are a couple of advantages to shopping at either place. They have a good selection and they have knowledgeable and helpful people behind the counter. I'm not saying the other places I've mentioned don't have knowledgeable people, but I've encountered quite a bit of opinion, not necessarily backed up by fact when shopping for guns. In fact, I'm amazed at how some of these youngsters can have amassed so much knowledge in their short years on this earth.
At Cabelas there may be a long wait between the time you pick your gun at the counter, do your paper work and actually get to pay for the purchase. After that you're walked out the door and then handed your gun. My only purchase there was a special edition Taurus revolver that I could find nowhere else. It was priced at retail, but being a Taurus it was still affordable.
By contrast, Bass Pro (or Outdoor World, I never know exactly what to call them) does the FFL paperwork at a computer terminal. Once it's printed out, signed and reviewed, you pay for your gun at the gun counter and it's handed to you with a tape seal over the case or package that indicates the firearm has been paid for. My one purchase at Bass Pro was similar to the one at Cabelas. The gun was priced at retail, but everyone else was selling it at retail, too. It was available for less money online, but by the time I paid the shipping and FFL transfer fee, I would have been out almost the same amount of money and would have had to wait for the gun and find an FFL to do the transfer, plus pay the transfer fee. For the small amount of savings on that particular purchase I decided it wasnâ€™t worth the extra hassle.
I'm not going to weigh in on the online gun store sales option because I haven't used it except to compare pricing. One option I have used however is the online trading sites. My favorite is TexasGunTader.com. This site is kind of like a Craig's List for guns. Just for the record, even though Craigâ€™s List bans guns, there are a lot of guns bought and sold on Craig's List by folks who know how to write and read ads that get past the screeners, at least for long enough to attract an interesting buyer.
The way TexasGunTrader.com works is that people post their guns for sale, or ads for guns they want to buy, along with their contact info. Basic listings are free, but you can get a premium listing by paying a little. Contact info is in the ad, so if you see something you like, email or call the seller, set up a meeting and the two of you do the deal. Unlike an auction site, the site owner does not participate in the sale. They just help put buyers and sellers together.
I've bought, sold and traded guns through this forum. In each case, we kind of sized each other up over the phone, picked a mutually convenient meeting place â€“ a gas station, parking lot, etc. and looked over each other's merchandise in the front seat of our pickups. If I liked what I saw and felt comfortable that I wasn't putting a gun in the hands of a felon, thug or gang member, I'd do the deal. Mostly, it's just good old boys buying, selling and trading guns. If you know gun values and how to recognize mechanical or wear issues, you can do fine with this type of transaction.
Wrapping it Up
Besides price and availability, the main thing that should affect how and where you buy guns is your own personal knowledge about the firearm you want to buy and firearms in general. If you've done your research and know what you want, the issues become price and availability. But what if you don't know? What if you need to get your hands around the gun, maybe shoot it some, and get some honest feedback on whether or not it's a wise purchase decision? Ideally, in that situation, get some advice from someone who is not trying to sell you the gun.
We at the Texas Gun Pros can help. You can also try a wide variety of guns at some of the local gun ranges that have guns for rent. Any of the stores will let you handle the gun before finalizing the sale. And do your research in the gun magazines such as Guns & Ammo, American Handgunner, Shooting Times and Gun Digest.
Texas Gun Pros educates and trains to promote firearm safety and proficiency in the DFW Metroplex. You can take any one of our classes at any level of gun knowledge. We welcome anyone who has never held or shot a gun. We also welcome anyone who is looking for a refresher on shooting.