Online Rifle Purchasing?
May 12, 2010 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Where's the best place to legally buy rifles online? Specifically, I am looking to purchase a used .22 rifle.
posted by zzazazz to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're in the US, it isn't legal at all.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:09 PM on May 12, 2010

I haven't used either but you could try GunBroker or GunsAmerica. I believe they have sales from private individuals as well as dealers.

But you cannot have a gun shipped directly to you. This means you'll have it shipped to a local dealer with an FFL, who will run the ATF background check. The dealer will charge some fee (maybe $20-50 but it's been awhile since I looked into it) since you aren't actually buying a gun from them, to make it worth their while. This is something you probably need to arrange in advance with your local dealer as well, so they don't just have some random gun show up.

You should also check to see whether you have local laws that restrict certain types of firearms or require permits.

The exception would be guns not classified as firearms, predominantly muzzleloaders and air rifles/pistols.
posted by 6550 at 4:12 PM on May 12, 2010

There is one way to purchase a .22 rifle online in the US. It's called the Civilian Marksmanship Program. It's a government program that sells surplused-out rifles to civilians for the purpose of maintaining the citizenry's marksmanship skills. The program for the most part sells American military rifles, including the '03 Springfield, the P-17 Enfield, the M1 Garand and, more recently, the M1 Carbine. However, they also sell some .22 rifles:

To make a purchase from the CMP, there are a few hoops to jump through. One, you have to be a member of an affiliated club. This usually involves little more than sending about $25 to one of the clubs and waiting for your card. You will also need a letter signed by an instructor attesting to the fact that you have had firearms training and can therefore handle a firearm safely. (The full list of requirements is here.)

Once you have these, you order from the CMP and they run the background check. Then, after a long, annoying wait, they will ship your rifle directly to your door via FedEx.

Yeah, it's a pain in the butt. But it fits your criteria.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 4:22 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Before I answer this, I want to say i don't know you and usually only give firearm buying advice to people I actually know and don't mind owning guns. They are serious, require training to use safely and effectively. They also require decent judgement to own and use responsibly. Please don't make me regret sharing this information.

Ok, this is actually a complicated question. I am going to assume you are not disqualified from owning a rifle (any firearm), there are several ways to be disqualified the most common ones are a felon or under a restraining order. You should go read the wikipedia page on Federal Firearm Licenses for more details. BTW by the law active drug use and possesion make you ineligible to own a gun and usually mean a much stiffer penalty for possesing one and/or using it in a crime.

I am also going to assume you live somewhere that don't have serious restrictions on ownership-like DC, New York, Chicago, California, Mass. etc. Try for details on individual state laws (there is also a wikipedia entry on this). Make sure you can own one before trying to purchase it, since sometimes just the act of attempting to purchase one can be counted as a criminal act. Try calling you local attorney generals office for details also.

You can only legally buy a firearm from a dealer in your state. You can purchase a firearm across state lines and have it transferred to a local dealer, usually for a fee. However for something ubiquitus as a .22 cal rimfire rifle there is no need to do this, you can buy one at any gun store. You can not get a gun shipped to your door unless you are the right kind of federal firearm licensee (in this case a class 1 dealer or class 3 collector), and I am assuming you are not or you wouldn't be asking this question. So you can't really order one online. There are few online auction sites you can bid on guns and then have them shipped to your local dealer, gunsamerican and gunbroker are the biggest. The dealer will run a background check on both the gun and you to make sure the gun isn't stolen/involved with a crime and you are eligible to possess a firearm. Most states do not have registries for guns and even fewer have registries for long guns (shotguns and rifles). Local pawnshops are also good places for picking up used guns, and they also will run a check.

It is not nearly as easy to buy a gun legally as you may be led to believe by antigun types, the newsmedia and tv shows. You could always try to buy a gun black market but this is a bad idea for anyone and the penalties are steep and usually involve federal prison if you get caught, and ATF loves running stings to get people.

If you have local walmart, big 5, dicks, or cabelas these will probably have the gun in stock. i would recommend a marlin model 60. It is cheap, reliable and easy to get parts for/work done on. It is also tolerant of poor maintenance and will require little cleaning (although any gun will require some). If you don't want a semiautomatic one then get a bolt action marlin (there are a lot of different models-get the cheapest one the store has for you first gun). A hunter safety course is a really good idea and so is a concealed carry course if your state allows for these for any new firearm owner, at the very least go to the library and check out a book on it or do a google search for firearm owning guides for your state and the type of gun you buy.
posted by bartonlong at 4:28 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you're in Canada, you can purchase a firearm on
posted by PowerCat at 5:00 PM on May 12, 2010

6550 beat me to my answer. GunBroker is probably what you want. It's like eBay, except that instead of getting the rifle shipped directly, you have to finish the sale by going through a FFL holder (dealer) in your area.

They have a directory of FFL holders who will complete transactions and even show you what they charge. Usually it's in the neighborhood of $25, although I've seen as low as $15 and as high as $50 in some areas. Be sure to call the FFL holder and ask about their policies and how to complete the transaction before you place a bid.

You pay the winning bid price to the seller via GunBroker (or some other method), they ship the gun to the FFL holder, you go to the FFL holder and complete all the paperwork and pay the FFL holder their fee, and you take home your new rifle.

If if sounds like a pain in the ass, that's because it is.

If you just want a nice little 22LR for plinking, I don't know why you'd go through GunBroker. By the time you get done with the transaction you will probably end up paying more than you would at a local gun store — and you won't have been able to pick up, handle/inspect, and generally make sure the gun you're buying is right for you.

So in short, although Gunbroker is the answer to your question, it is not what I'd recommend unless you really know what you're looking for (e.g. "I want a pre-'64 Winchester Model 70 with the cut-checkered walnut stock, NIB with papers"), and you also know it's not something that your local gun stores have in stock. Some gun stores are positively unfriendly about doing FFL transfers for GunBroker if it's an item that they have in stock. (Understandably so; most gun stores run on pretty thin margins as it is, and an FFL transfer doesn't make them much money for the amount of time that it takes. There are a fair number of people who view Gunbroker as a predatory intrusion on a friendly mom-and-pop world.)

So anyway, I'd go down and ask around a few local gun stores, see what they have. Prices on guns are typically a little negotiable (although it depends a lot on the local market, what you're buying, the relationship you have with the dealer, phases of the moon, etc.) so it doesn't hurt to ask if they can beat the price that's on the tag.

Also as a resident of NC you can legally purchase a rifle or shotgun in any contiguous state, so you don't need to restrict yourself if you live near the border. (Buying handguns is more of an issue; typically you have to do that in your state of residence unless you have an FFL.) There can be a lot of fluctuation in prices from one store to the next and one area to the next.

There are lots of different types of gun stores, and different stores cater to different kinds of people. You can generally tell most easily by looking at what else they sell besides guns. Some stores cater to hunters, others to law enforcement, and others to target and recreational shooters. (It's not always exclusively one or the other, some do both or all equally well, but some really lean one way or the other.) Find a place you're comfortable with and where you can talk to the staff. Ideally you want a store where they're willing to take some time and chat with you about what you want, and find a gun that'll meet your needs and be a good fit, within your budget. If you feel like you're being ignored, talked down to (absent anything to deserve it, i.e. acting like you might be unsafe), or given a hard sell, leave. There are a lot of places to spend your money. Just don't try to conceal the fact that you're a newbie, if in fact you are; people will pick up on it and wonder what else you're hiding. (Plus, most 'gun people,' like hobbyists of any sort, love to introduce new people to their passion. Stay away from politics and they're really a friendly bunch on the whole.)

I would avoid pawn shops that also sell guns; they are not really "gun stores" in my estimation. You can sometimes get good deals at places like that but they actually involve more ripoff risk than just about any other venue. I'm sure there are good ones out there but I've been to some sleazy/shady places.

The third option you have, and I put this out there more for the sake of completeness than as a suggestion, besides an FFL-mediated Gunbroker transaction and just going to a traditional gun store, is a private party sale. I believe this is legal in NC (it's legal in most states, although there are a few where it isn't), although you should certainly do your due diligence research. This is how sites like Carolina Gun Trader (and similar sites in other states) work. Alternately you can just look in the paper classifieds. When I used to live in Maine I got some great deals out of the "penny classified" magazine (bound classified ad that was published monthly or so and typically sold at local, mom-and-pop type stores). If there's something in your area it can be worth a glance. There are a lot of very gun-savvy but non-Internet-savvy people out there, so guns are one of those things that keep those printed classifieds going in some areas. However: unless you know quite a bit about what you want to buy, you risk getting ripped off. It's not really what I'd recommend for a first-time buyer.

tl;dr: Get thee to a good local gun store, unless you really want something weird, in which case Gunbroker is the answer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:10 PM on May 12, 2010

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