Skip to Content

What Is the Cheapest Way to Buy a Gun? | 5 Vendors Compared

Let’s face it. We all want the best deal we can find when it comes to purchasing a firearm. But how do you ensure that you’re really getting a deal that isn’t going to bite you later? I looked into the most popular locations, and this is what I learned.

Usually, the cheapest way to buy a gun is at a pawn shop or a gun show. At these locations, you can often use haggling skills to obtain the best price possible. Big box department or sporting goods stores usually have the highest prices, while online stores offer the best convenience and sales offers.

I recommend buying firearms, ammo, and accessories at a reputable online dealer, like my top pick, Palmetto State Armory. They are well-respected in the community and provide a 100% lifetime warranty on every weapon they sell. Just click here to see their latest inventory.

As you can see, there are several different sources of good deals on firearms, both physical and online, as long as you know the pros and cons of each. So, let’s explore the various places you can obtain a new firearm.

Pawn Shops

Guns and Accessories sign in the window of a local pawnshop

Many people are reluctant to purchase firearms at a pawn shop, but if you’re willing to consider used guns, they’re worth visiting.

While many view a pawn shop as a potentially shady place to score their next pistol, any that sell firearms must comply with the same licensing requirements as any other firearms dealer.

While you may deal with a limited selection, many of the most popular models, like Glocks and S&W, can be found in your local pawn shop. If you happen to find a shop that doesn’t deal primarily in guns, they may not have experience valuing them, leading to some significant savings.

  • PROS: May underprice stock, availability of popular models
  • CONS: Limited stock, unknown history

Online Firearms Stores

The Internet is, of course, one of the most popular sources of firearms these days. New and used, long guns, pistols, or revolvers – all can be found online in abundance.

Some stores offer great promotions if you sign up for their mailing lists; others offer bundles that can save you a ton on accessories to go with your new purchase. There are even outlet stores offering deep discounts occasionally as a promotion. I’ve noticed many deals like this at my recommended online firearm store. They have a warehouse clearance section on their site that offers deals across many different models.

Important: Keep in mind that, if you buy online, you’ll need to pay a shipping fee to your local FFL, and the FFL’s transfer fee. Make sure you factor all of that in when you price out that deal you’ve been eyeing. You’ll also want to read reviews and do your research on any retailer you’re looking to do business with.

  • PROS: Large selection, many options for where to buy
  • CONS: Transfer and shipping fees, buyer onus to determine the reliability of the seller, can be more difficult/costly to resolve an issue

Related How Much Does an AR 15 Cost (And Where to Buy One).

Big Box Department Stores

Firearms gun case in the sporting goods department at a Walmart

Unfortunately, anti-gun activism has resulted in dwindling availability at this type of outlet in some areas. For example, Walmart now only sells firearms at about half of its stores and will not sell a gun to anyone under 21. ““Assault-style” rifles have not been available at Walmart since 2015.

In the wake of recent protests, many stores pulled firearms and ammo from display floors. Target does not sell guns or ammunition.

  • PROS: Convenient hours and locations, something to occupy other family members who may not want to look at guns
  • CONS: Lack of knowledge by staff, limited selection, specific restrictions at some retailers

Big Box Sporting Goods Stores

Hunting rifles stand on a shelf in a Dick's Sporting Goods store

A distinct step above the general department store, big chain sporting retailers, can be a source of some very appealing offers. With convenient hours for most shoppers and extensive selections of firearms, these retailers are popular with a wide variety of shooting enthusiasts.

Holiday sales present an opportunity for additional savings. Staff are typically more knowledgeable than at your general department store, and shoppers can take advantage of favorable pricing due to a large sales volume.

Also, some offer refreshment stands and other items that can occupy family members who aren’t as jazzed about the firearms department as you are.

  • PROS: Large selection, convenient hours and locations, frequency of promotions/sales
  • CONS: Sometimes more knowledgeable (particularly than department stores), longer waits for service and checkout

Gun Shows

Gun Show Overhead View of Entire Room

Contrary to popular belief, gun shows aren’t always the best place to score a deal. While they usually do offer better bargains that you’ll find at a major retailer, that’s not always the case when compared to the wealth of shopping opportunities online.

When it comes to ammo, you often score better deals when buying larger amounts. It’s tempting to think you’re always getting a great deal at an event like a gun show. To make sure, do some research and comparative shopping first, and know what you should be paying for the model you’re looking for. That helps keep you from falling for a deal that looks great, but maybe it isn’t what it seems.

Tip: Bring cash to help bring prices down and be ready to use your haggling skills. Look for vendors offering free magazines, cases, etc. to sweeten a deal, and make sure to not leap at the first good-looking bargain you see. Go on the last day of the show, and you may find extra deals from vendors who don’t want to cart all their stock back home.

  • PROS: Large selection, ability to negotiate pricing
  • CONS: Age restrictions, varying requirements state-to-state, potentially costly/difficult to resolve an issue

Related Article: Can You Buy a Gun Online in California? | What to Know

Final Thoughts

Whichever option you choose, be sure to do your research first. Narrowing your shopping to a particular brand, caliber, material, or style will make it easier to research options so you can find a retailer that offers the best deal for you. Knowing what something should cost, and what the other guy is offering for a deal, allows you to negotiate. It also helps you know when a deal is too good to be true.

So, do your research and make sure you are intimately familiar with the firearm you are looking to purchase. Then, shop around and take your time doing so, and you can often save yourself a lot of money.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

For more, don’t miss How To Choose the Best Gun To Buy (Based on Your Needs).