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Buying a firearm and sticker shock - a common sense approach?

Badger Johnson

Regular Member
Jan 12, 2011
One thing I learned in buying things is that you have to look further than the sticker price.

1. Generally, to start out, look at low, medium, high prices on an item and buy the medium;
2. Look at the price of something and realize that you will spend many times the cost in supplies (bikes, cars, guns, razor/blades)
3. You get what you pay for.

If you pay $1000 for a handgun, realize what you will now spend on holsters, clothing, belts, ammo, targets, range fees, cleaning supplies, holsters (did I mention holsters?). I'd want to spend at least as much for the platform as for supplies for the first year - rough rule of thumb. You can go 'cheap' on some things, but recognize what they are.

If you buy a Tarus for $250 and then spend $3000 the next year or two in firearm supplies, you realize that you skimped on your platform and spent your money on 'doo-dads'.

I've had people ask me 'what should I spend on a bicycle'. I say, well first make sure you can develop a habit of riding, because a lot of people have $1000-1500 bikes hanging on their garage wall that they've ridden 3 times. Second, I say 'look at what a durable entry-level bike costs and buy it from a real bike store and not a 'bike-shaped object from Wallyworld'.

But what I did was the opposite. I bought a BSO from wallyworld and rode it about 3000 miles and then the chain got loose so I took it into a bike shop and he said 'look the bike has essentially cracked in half and only this piece is holding it together that's why the chain is loose'.

So I went to a Trek store and bought a Trek hybrid FX (no shocks) for $600 bucks and rode that about 8K miles and it's still going strong. Along the way I bought a $1000 bike and a $2800 bike and rode those a lot too. When I looked at my 'doo-dads' bills from the bike shop (gear, clothes, shoes, repairs, chains, tires, gloves, outerwear) it was about three times that in two years.

My first 'real' bike (as an adult) cost $600-700 bucks in 2003 and I'm riding it nearly 10 years later, so that's $60 per year. You buy a Wally world bike for $75 bucks every 1.5 years and at the end what do you have? A crappy bike which you'll be replacing next year.

A lot of people say 'I don't have a lot of money but I need a firearm, because...yadda-yadda'. As has been said many times 'you're buying a life-saving device, don't cheap out'.

It seems, though that virtually all of us who are still gun-nuts in 2-5 years have gone the same route. Basket full of holsters, three guns, a bunch of targets and belts and other stuff and about year 2-3 we 'figure it out'. Too bad there isn't a simpler formula.

From the perspective of 2 years on, I'd even say that the first thing I'd look at is 'gun storage and transportation'. I.e. gun safes and holsters. Why? Well a couple reasons is if you buy a holster that doesn't fit the gun, that makes the gun feel heavy, that don't draw right then you won't carry the gun and you might not be able to deploy it in time. For a firearm, in reality, deployment is EVERYTHING.

As far as storage, my friend said 'let's buy a black gun (AR) and a shotgun'. I said 'well where would we put it?' IOW, we have a safe or two for the handguns but a long gun and ammo is a whole new problem (with several kinds of solutions). But to buy a handgun and bring it home and discover 'hey where do I store this thing?' is kind of a 'duh' moment.

Anyway, that's good for a start. :) I don't yet know the 'final answer' but that's why we have gun forums.
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