A Rant About Firearms Salesmen

A few weeks ago, I had some remarks about the kind of nonsense that it seems so many women have to put up with when shopping for firearms. I was specifically annoyed with how so many salesmen direct women to revolvers.

It’s not just revolvers! In fact, there’s tell via The Firearm Blog of a woman’s attempt to purchase a suitably-equipped Mossberg 930 (likely similar to this) and the clerk, in my opinion, overreacted grossly and accused her of being a criminal. No doubt, the clerk assumed that because she’s a woman, she couldn’t possibly be buying it for herself.

Ignore for a moment that it would not, in fact, be the FBI who would be engaged if the clerk’s suspects the woman was straw-buying, it would be the BATFE.  It would, however, be within the jurisdiction of the FBI to investigate the clerk for gender discrimination as that would fall under a civil rights violation. But I digress.

So, this morning, we stopped by a local outdoor store to lay hands on a few Glock options. Actually, I went in for something else and figured while I was there, I’d fondle a few pistols. I had two specific models in mind, as I’m considering adding both.


“Can I help you?”

“Sure,” as I approach the 9mm section, “I’d like to have a look at a Glock 26 and a 19, please.”

Clerk opens a cabinet, finds a 26, clears it and hands it to me.

I fondle the firearm as I’d done before and ponder adding it to the safe. The price was a bit higher than just a few months ago. I make a mental note to update my compact 9mm page.

I ignore the standard “How much are you looking to spend” and “What are you going to use it for” questions.

“I do like that — grip is a touch shorter than I recall. I might be back later to fill out the 4473… Oh, do you happen to have a G19 in?”

“I think you should consider the XD… it’s a better gun.” He pulls an XD from the cabinet and starts singing the praises of it. Grip safety, extended magazine options, interchangeable backstraps and frankly unimportant things that the XD comes with.

“Well, I would like to try the 19 on for size…” I trail off as I point to the G19 in the cabinet right next to where the 26 was.

Clerk reaches into the cabinet and withdraws a G17. “I don’t think we have a 19 in at the moment, but here’s a 17 — it’s a better gun than the 19 anyway… you’d be happier with this one… it’s a full-size…”

Oh, really? Somebody who knows me better than I know myself, eh?  This is getting entertaining.

“Well, let’s have a look then,” I say. As I’m trying the fit, he reaches into the cabinet a bit further down, “No, the 17 is entirely too large for my needs. How about the 19?”

He hands me an XD. Sigh. I do show enough courtesy to at least look it over, “Yeah, don’t like that at all — the stock sites are no better than my P11 — and far worse than those on several other pistols. It’s much wider than the Glock line — even their full-size options.” I hand it to my wife, whose hands are smaller than mine and ask her what she thinks of the much wider grips*. I continue, “It’s also a few hundred more. The 19, please?”

He relents, and finally hands me the G19.

Fits like a glove. And I’ll be buying one. Elsewhere. I didn’t tell him that part.

“Thanks for your time.”

The takeaway from this morning’s interaction, which really served to reinforce what I’ve known for a long time: don’t assume that just because the guy sells firearms that he has any clue about which product is best suited to you.

He’s not an expert. He’s a salesman. It isn’t his job to educate you or train you or teach you about firearms. It’s not his job to be expert in any aspect of the products behind or over the counter.

There are racks and racks of product in the back room that they need to sell. And if a salesman can use a bit of psychology to move the undesirable products to one demographic and the more expensive products to another demographic, they will.

The salesman’s priorities are pretty much in this order:

  1. sell the product
  2. up-sell when possible
  3. clear the shelves (see #1)

That’s it. They’re just salesmen.

*I don’t think she was impressed.

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