Do you have your eyes on a specific gun that you’d like to buy? Are you hoping to get a new rifle before deer season starts, or a new shotgun before turkey season?
Or maybe you just need a new gun for target shooting. Either way, finding the exact gun you want at a local store near you can be difficult. Currently, many stores simply don’t know when they are going to get more shipments of guns, along with the corresponding ammo.
That’s why it’s often easier to buy a gun online. But many people don’t realize that they can buy a gun online, since doing so requires a background check and some paperwork.
But if you are set on buying a new gun, it’s time to consider the internet as your next dealer. Keep reading to learn how to buy a new or used gun online, so that you can find the exact model you are looking for.
Is it Legal to Buy a Gun Online?
First off, let’s find out if it’s even legal to purchase a gun online. Across the US, you are legally allowed to purchase a gun online. This can be from an out-of-state seller or an in-state seller. Now, having it shipped to you is another story.
Requirements to Buy a Gun Online
Buying a gun is an in-depth process, and understandably so. The government, manufacturers, and firearms dealers want to ensure that they don’t fall into the wrong hands, which is why there are regulations around purchasing guns.
So what does it take to buy a gun online? The main requirement is that a gun purchased online needs to be shipped to an FFL dealer in your area. Guns cannot be shipped to private residences.
FFL stands for Federal Firearms License. These are generally stores that sell guns, who have a license to do so. It can also include shooting ranges and other types of businesses that choose to obtain an FFL.
These dealers are the ones who facilitate the sale and transfer of ownership of firearms. They are required to do a background check on each person who purchases a firearm.
If the individual does not pass a background check, they cannot buy the gun.
In order to buy a gun, an individual needs to be at least 21 years of age to purchase a handgun and 18 years of age to purchase a long gun.
In some states, a license or permit is required in order to purchase either a handgun, a long gun, or either type of gun. For example, California residents need to take a gun safety training course and receive a safety permit before purchasing a firearm.
Research your state’s licensing requirements before making a purchase.
The Process of Buying a Gun Online
So what does the process of purchasing a gun online look like? It’s not that difficult.
For starters, you want to find a local FFL dealer that you’d like to use. Don’t just choose the closest place to your home. First, research their fees. Some dealers won’t charge a fee, and others will charge a really high fee. You want to know what this is before you ship a gun to them.
Also, it helps to contact them ahead of time to ensure they can receive your firearm. Their website might say they are an FFL dealer, but you want to ask if they are still actively processing gun transactions.
Then you browse online retailers, looking for the gun that you’d like to buy. You can also browse classified sites that list used guns for sale.
When you find one you like, you make an online purchase, paying for the firearm. But instead of using your home address as the shipping address, you provide your local FFL dealer’s information. They should have an FFL number that you would include during the online checkout process.
In some cases, the FFL dealer won’t share their license number with the public. Rather, you’ll need to send your gun purchase invoice to the FFL dealer, and have them contact the seller in order to have the gun shipped to their location.
Then, the gun gets shipped to this location. You’ll receive a notification once it arrives.
Then, you just need to visit the FFL dealer, complete the background check, which can take as little as 10 minutes, sign some papers, and pay a small fee to the dealer. Make sure to bring your driver’s license or ID card. You’ve now purchased a gun online. Now that’s not too hard, is it?
Can You Buy Ammo Online?
So you’ve bought a gun online, but what about ammo? After all, a gun won’t do much unless you have some rounds to put through it.
In most states, you can buy ammo online and have it shipped directly to your home. This is convenient, since finding ammo in local stores has been very difficult in 2020 and 2021.
There are some limitations, though. Each state and jurisdiction can set its own ammunition purchasing laws. So while most people in most areas can buy ammo online, it’s up to you to research your local laws to find out what you can and cannot buy.
If you are in an area where limitations are in place, but you try purchasing anyway, your order will get canceled and the retailer may charge you a fee for trying.
For example, California residents need to have ammo shipped to an FFL dealer or gun range, not to their homes. The same goes for residents in New York and Massachusetts. In other areas, specific types of ammo may be restricted.
The only downside to purchasing ammo online is the shipping cost. Since ammo is quite heavy, shipping can be expensive.
Can You Buy Gun Accessories Online?
So what about gun accessories and components? These are the easiest to purchase online. Whether you are looking for a new hunting scope to start chasing deer this season, or you want to upgrade your AR-15 stock or nearly anything else, you are free to purchase gun accessories online.
You can have them shipped to your home without any issues, and you can generally purchase them directly from popular retailers like Amazon. Though for specific parts, you’ll likely need to buy from firearms retailers or sporting goods stores.
There may be some limitations in your area. For example, some states don’t allow you to ship ammunition feeding devices to your home. But for most people, any accessory they need, such as sights, scopes, magazines, barrels, triggers, and other components, can be purchased without issue.
What to Know About Purchasing Guns or Ammo
Most retailers don’t accept returns of guns or ammunition. This is why it’s always helpful to inspect a gun before purchasing it, if possible.
When you buy a gun online and have it shipped to your FFL dealer, make sure to inspect it before completing the paperwork.
Benefits of Shopping Online
Still on the fence about purchasing online? Whether you are looking for a new gun or trying to buy ammo, the internet makes it easy.
When shopping for guns, you have thousands of choices. Contrast that with your local firearms store, which may have a few dozen models in stock. And the models they do have in stock might not be available in every variation.
But manufacturers make tons of variations of each gun. They might have a different stock color or finish. Or they might take a different caliber bullet.
Basically, when you buy a gun online, you have an unlimited supply of options so you can truly find the gun you want, and not settle for what your local store has.
And with ammo, buying online can save you a ton of money. Most in-store retailers don’t sell ammo in bulk. But many online retailers do.
So if there’s a specific caliber that you use frequently, consider stocking up on a bulk box and you can save a lot of money per round. Typically, you’ll have to buy hundreds or even thousands of rounds.
So it’s a big upfront expense, but it’s cheaper in the long run. Many people buy their training ammo in bulk. For example, 22 LR ammo is used for target practice, since it’s already super cheap.
Even with shipping expenses, ammo purchased online can still provide savings.
The biggest benefit, though, is availability. The nationwide ammo shortage rages on into 2021. Local retailers never know what ammo they are getting in stock, nor how much they will get. Typically, it’s gone in a day or two.
To secure the ammo you want, buying online might be your only option unless you like driving to your local store every day.
Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Online
So should you buy a gun online? It’s just as easy as purchasing a gun in the store. The only downside is that you don’t get to pick up the gun with your own two hands before making a purchase.
But if you know you want a particular gun, you might as well buy it online, where you can find the exact model and variation you want.
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