Time to Change the Culture at the Gun Counter

Its Time to Change the Culture at the Gun Counter
By: Eric at the Gunmart Blog

Obama Throws the Trigger Finger
Take a Tip from the Greatest Gun Salesman Ever - Time to for Hope n Change at the Gun Counter
Eric at the Gunmart Blog
Eric at the Gunmart Blog

United States –-(Ammoland.com)- I have touched on this subject several times in the past on my blog, and now its time to take it head on.

First off, I need to clarify things a little bit… by “at the gun counter” I really mean “behind the gun counter“.

The cultural shift that we need to see is one that moves away from the loud mouthed and condescending know-it-alls who have become the gun shop cliche, and towards people who are friendly, knowledgeable, and who are not there to stroke their own ego.

As gun ownership becomes the norm again in this country and shooting once again moves back into the mainstream, more and more non-gunnies are walking into the local gun shops. These are people who may never have stepped foot into a traditional gun shop before. They may be first time gun buyers or they may have already bought a gun or two at a big-box chain store. No matter what their background or how they got there, they are customers. They have money in their pocket and they are looking to make a buying decision. These are people who are not used to the traditional “charm” of a local gun shop. They are not going to simply laugh off the rude people behind the counter who would rather look down their noses at them than get off their stool and help them buy a box of ammo.

The “new gun culture” is not going to tolerate anything less than the level of customer service that they would receive in any other traditional retail environment.

Anything less then a typical retail buying experience and they will simply take their business elsewhere. They will also tell their friends to do the same. Any retailer who finds themselves getting hit with bad word-of-mouth about their customer service is soon going to see a sharp decline in their sales, and the same is true for a shooting retail shop.

Many times, this subject is only addressed with regard to the treatment of women gun buyers… and rightfully so. Its incredibly important, first and foremost, that sales associates in gun shops drop their preconceived notions of women customers. The “can I show the little lady a pink snubbie” routine is not doing anything to help the person on the other side of the counter to make an informed buying decision. Women gun owners/buyers are now very common in the industry, and they need to be viewed as just a serious of a customer as any man. Drop the prejudgements, answer her questions in an open and friendly manor, and try to close a sale.

If the woman on the other side of the counter wants to look at an AK, a Glock, an AR or whatever then help her do so.

Grizzled & Old Need Not Apply
As a man, I would just like to add that this shift in culture is equally as important because of the men that walk up to the gun counter and start asking questions – first time gun buyer or not. I personally am sick and tired of the grizzled old sales associates that populate most gun shops. I’m completely over it. When I walk into a gun shop I expect to be greeted warmly and gladly helped with whatever questions I may have. I dont want some yahoo to treat me like my being there is an inconvenience or like the conversation he was having with the other “mall ninja” who works there is more important than I am.

I see it all the time, and there is always at least one in every shop. The last several times that I personally have walked into local gun shops I was “assisted” by know-it-alls who were only there to feed their egos and someone who I am pretty sure thought he just got back from Afghanistan. They were snide, condescending, and were more interested in posturing than in assisting me with the guns I was interested in.

This kind of behavior is bad for business, and its bad for the culture of gun ownership in America. If we are going to keep this “new breed of gun owner” in the fold, then we have to be open and welcoming…. and it starts at the gun shop counter. We have to evolve. We cant expect them to just put up with it. If local gun shop owners don’t quickly come to the realization that things need to change, then they are going to be left in the dust.

The quicker that you guys can either weed out the “gun shop commandos” or retrain them… the quicker your sales are gonna go through the roof.


Eric at the Gunmart Blog – Eric is a gun blogger, firearms enthusiast, and sorry excuse for a hunter. He is also an AmmoLand Shoting Sports News Columnist. Leave him some comments on this article before you go. You can also follow Eric on Facebook, Twitter and at his blog, Gunmart. Visit: gunmart.blogspot.com

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Good article. I once went to Dick's Sporting Goods to purchase .45ACP for target shooting and was greeted by the store clerk with that condescension you write about. When I asked to see their "ball" ammo, he gave me a confused look and I sensed he was starting to get irritated so I just said "full metal jacket". Without looking at me or saying anything more, he pointed to where it was located on the shelf. I checked the price and it was too high – probably wouldn't have bought it anyway. Went to another gun store and I overheard… Read more »

Pistol Pete

Nice article, but I would have enjoyed seeing something about the treatment of Black customers. We aren't all (or even most of us) gang members who are buying Glocks to look like 50 Cent. I don't even listen to rap. Most of us are regular people; professionals who have graduated college and go to work every day. This seems to be a real problem in my area…

Bob Easton

Send a copy of this to the Gander Mountain store in Lakeville, Mn. We tried shopping for a Trap shotgun there recently … for my wife. The counter guy kept telling her that she wouldn't like a 12 ga because of its heavier recoil, even complaining that he didn't like them either. Despite repeated requests to see long barrel 12 firearms (longer barrels being preferred for Trap), he kept handing her 20 ga "youth" models with 20-22 inch barrels. An older and more "grizzled" colleague joined the discussion, but it didn't improve. We and a couple of other customers who… Read more »


Seems to me the problem is self-correcting as you describe it. Crappy shops will lose business and good ones will gain it. My shop is very old school but they're also really helpful.


I agree completely with your story Eric, and with the comments too. The biggest thing that the "gun experts" at the counter need to realize is that we do not need a closed culture that shuns anyone just getting started. The person that they piss off by being a gun snob may just be their next big sale or next lifetime customer that has just got to have almost every new gun that comes out. Who do think they are going to buy from, your average gun store or gun range snob, or someone like David E, who commented above?


I agree with the other comments, the people behind the counter over rate their abilities and need to learn the art of salesmanship. However 40 years ago the attitude behind the counter was different. What happened? I believe it was the passage of the 1968 GCA. Guns could be bought seemingly everywhere. Most Hardware stores sold guns. So the guy you bought pipe fittings from could also sell you a gun. Locally we had a Western Auto Store that sold guns, Friendly service was common place. When the NRA supported an end of mail order sales this nations culture changed… Read more »

Bubba Jensen

Agree too. The growing gun shops know it's past time to put away that "we only deal with the trades" attitude often seen at plumbing or electrical supply houses and adopt a more of a Ace Hardware "helping your neighbor" attitude. And, it pays!


All of the above comments are so true. I recall doing the same as Erick X did, I educate a potential customer. It was not on firearms but in my profession. It happened at a electronic BOX store. The salesperson was so un-knowledgeable that all he care was making the sale. Bottom line 99% of all vendors have lost that personal touch. Have I paid more for a item that the vendor provided the service and attention to details? YES I have and walked happy from the store knowing that the vendor stood behind its product. As the saying goes… Read more »

E Zach Lee-Wright

I agree with the article too. But I would like to make a slight change in the subject. Gun Ranges. I was a member at a local outdoor range where I paid a lot up front for membership so I could take my clients for the opportunity to shoot without the worry we would get turned in by someone at a questionable site. I am a real estate broker and I have a long list of former clients I need to keep in touch with. I host picnics and other special events to keep up with my people. Several times… Read more »


A-F*#%ng-MEN!!! Ok, me… extensive background in weapons from 6yrs Special Operations (where among Ranger Q I earned an EIB and was a MTU & SOTIC trained sniper) to 6yrs reserve where among those duties I was an armorer (@USASOC)… then there’s the 6yrs or so as a security contractor where I would have to operate with a variety of weapons in various conditions from pristine to rusted, shot-out piece of crap… owned a rifle since I was 15 and a pistol since I was 18, self trained mostly but took more classes as a soldier than most competitive shooters)… did… Read more »

David Eckhardt

Very good and timely. I agree whole heartily.


I don't think any AmmoLand reader is going to offer any argument that the premise of the "It's time to change the culture at the gun counter" blog item. I have very recently returned to shooting as a personal favorite pastime at the ripening age of 64. I have had multiple gun counter contacts in my efforts to bring my knowledge up to speed. Here in Loveland, Colorado I have had zero bad feeling about the attitude of the gun counter personnel. My latest experience was just today when I visited a small gun smith shop to have them the… Read more »


I 100% agree with this article. I can’t even count the number of times I have approached a gun counter for information only to be treated like some nuisance from some condescending jacka$$! Gun store definitely need to take a hard look at customer service in their stores when the doors are open. This new breed of gun owners will not put up with lousy customer service. These types of articles need to be published in all of the gun store owner trade journals so they get the message.


I agree! It took me forever to find a gun shop that had personnel that would actually help me find the right gun for me. All the others would only show me what I asked for and only answered questions I asked. They had nothing else to offer. They were less than helpful. It would be great to get actual sales people in a retail shop!


I will say I have had both good and bad experiences at the gun counter. I am female and disabled so for me a gun has to have certain features for me to be able to use. I want a semi-automatic but it has to be able for me to pull back the slide easily and have an ambidextrous safety. I would like an ambidextrous mag release but I can deal with it on the left side even though I am a left handed shooter. I have had one clerk REFUSE to even help me because of my disability then… Read more »

Charlotte Exterminat

I strongly agree with this post, this is getting worse and worse!

Mrs. Flem

Amen! As a woman and a novice at guns, I can't stand the snobs at gun shops. I usually end up buying online because of it.