How to be a better gun store clerk


When you are working at a gun shop , there are a few things you should do to improve the customer‘s experience (and make more sales). I learned these through trial and error while working at NOVA Firearms in Falls Church, VA.

  1. You can’t win over everyone
    • If a store you are working for has an unpopular policy (such as a 3.75% charge/fee for using credit cards and price gouging after Sandy Hook) there is little you can do to eliminate the customer’s dissatisfaction
  2. DON’T BE A GROUCH!
    • I cannot stand going into a gun store with a clerk who treats customers like they are idiots because they are total newbies or they don’t know the inner workings of some old timey Browning vest pistol with silver engraving.
    • Smile at and greet everyone who comes into the store WITHOUT FAIL.
    • If the store is busy, just say “We’ll be right with you.”
  3. Phone Skills
    • Politely greet the customer
    • If you are dealing with someone who want to just compulsively check prices, just ask them to come into the store as we are really busy.
  4. Know your material.
    • Know the differences between common pistol and rifle cartridges.
    • Know how hollowpoint bullets work
    • Know how the AR-15 gas system works
    • Know how the AK-47 gas system works
    • Know the differences between a DA/SA Pistol, a single-action pistol, a double-action only pistol, and a striker-fired pistol.
    • Be able to explain why you carry your gun a particular way
      • If you are going to carry your gun in a Sonny Crockett style shoulder rig, be sure the damn thing is anchored to your belt and not just draped over your shoulders.
        • Better yet, ditch the shoulder rig.
  5. Sell what you like
    • Ask the customer what they are buying the gun for.
      • Most will say for personal security.
      • Ask if it will be for home defense or concealed carry.
    • When making a recommendation, be forthright and bold in what you recommend because it is what you would use to defend yourself.
    • If you are trying to talk up something that you wouldn’t carry for yourself, then it will show through to the customer.
  6. Knock off the Walter Mitty BS.
    • Don’t spout junk about the sound of a shotgun racking scaring the bad guy off or “they all fall to .45 hardball”.
    • It turns off new customers and makes you look like an idiot
    • DO NOT LIE about military service.
  7. DON’T SMELL LIKE S**T!
    • Wear a good quality cologne, especially if you are a smoker
    • Wear a clean shirt.
    • Be clean-shaven or have a well groomed beard.
    • Chew any sort of gum.
  8. You are not a lawyer and do not play one on TV
    • Advise customers to check their state’s self-defense laws.
    • Rule of thumb is that lethal force may be merited if you are in a situation in which you are in fear of being murdered or raped not to defend property.
  9. It is not about making the sale.
    • There is a certain “Zen” to this.
    • The moment all that you think about is “making the sale” or “pushing” a gun is when sales will be much harder to make.
    • The guns will sell themselves, your job is to guide the customer to the right gun.
    • Your goal is to determine what is right for the customer, here is how to do it.
      1. Ask if the gun is for home defense or concealed carry.
      2. If it is for concealed carry, ask how they plan on carrying it and then make your recommendations for carrying it.
      3. If the method of carry they propose is something really stupid, then be able to politely articulate “you might want to consider this way instead”.
  10. If the customer doesn’t have all the IDs needed…
    • If a customer gets grouchy over not having the right IDs on hand, you need to politely emphasize that you do not make the rules, the state/feds make the rules.
    • Offer to have the customer put the gun on account, they pay now, then come back with their IDs to fill out the paperwork.
  11. Dealing with a prohibited person
    • During the course of conversation with a customer, the customer mentions something about going to jail, smacking his girlfriend around, or getting arrested for dope or  smoking weed, then you need to immediately and politely state “I’m sorry sir, because of what you just told me, I’m not allowed to sell you a gun or ammo and it would be best if you leave.”
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Firearms Instructor in the DC Metro Area

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Posted in Humor, Just for fun
8 comments on “How to be a better gun store clerk
  1. RDoug says:

    After almost a dozen handguns (some purchased for their collectability), I finally invested in a carbine for home defense — Cx4 Storm in 9mm. Also have some (okay, okay . . . make that three) .45 ACPs for home defense.

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  2. You hit the nail on the head with Number 1: Unfortunately the gun business is full of know-nothing, know-it-alls who seem to think that talking down to newbies builds them up. They even do it on the telephone.

    You can usually (but not always) tell the owner from the employee by their manner. But, on the other hand, it is the owner’s responsibility to see to it that such employees find other places to be rude.

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  3. No. 1 is nail on the head. The business seems to be full of rude people that hurt our cause more than they help it.

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  4. Brilliant blog, I write about that in Selling the Second Amendment. If you go to Victorias Secret, the Gap, Target, are they friendly? Usually they are. Gun dealers also need to be friendly, specially since some people are just discovering guns, don’t know what they want, and feel a little intimidated. A friendly smile, a warm greeting, that can make a huge difference.

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  5. libertytrail says:

    I’m happy to report that I have not yet had such a lousy experience. I’m still learning and I find most people behind the counter are ready to share their knowledge willingly when asked. I’ve learned so much from simply shopping.

    Perhaps some of the burden lies with the customer? Don’t walk in pretending you know something that you actually know nothing about. (This may be easier for a woman.)

    -Kathy

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    • It usually is easier for female customers to admit they know nothing.

      When I worked at NOVA Firearms as a clerk, I could spot the guys who didn’t know their tail end from a hole in the ground just by what guns they asked to see and what guns they were dead set on buying for home defense.

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