As great of a hobby and sport that shooting is, firearm lovers all know how expensive it can be. Guns themselves are expensive, then you have the ongoing costs of ammo and range time.
In this article, we’ll cover 5 tips to save money so that you can spend more time shooting!
1) Factor in All Costs Before Buying Your Firearm
Many people buying their first firearm don’t factor in all of the costs to maintain their firearm and regularly feed it with ammunition. If they have $1,000 to spend, it’s too common that they spend nearly all of this on the firearm itself. Often, they then can’t afford to actually go shoot it at the range.
Not only does this deny them the chance to enjoy a great hobby, but it also prevents them from becoming competent with their firearms. It’s all too common for people to buy firearms intended for serious use like home-defense, then not properly familiarize themselves with the gun.
In the example above where someone has $1,000 to spend, I’d instead recommend spending $500 on the firearm itself, then the rest on ammunition and supplies to maintain your gun like a good cleaning kit. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the gun, internalize proper firearm safety, and learn how to handle common firearm malfunctions.
2) Choose Your Calibers Wisely
With ammo being the biggest ongoing cost for regularly shooting your firearm, you should carefully consider the caliber your firearm is chambered in. If possible, go with an option with cheaper ammunition, so long as that caliber is sufficient for the needs of your firearm.
Here are some rough estimations of ammunition cost per round for practice ammunition by caliber:
- .22 Long Rifle (LR) – $0.05-$0.07
- .32 ACP – $0.38-$0.52
- .380 ACP – $0.29-$0.43
- 9mm – $0.19-$0.24
- .40 S&W – $0.29-$0.38
- .357 SIG – $0.42-$0.50
- .45 ACP – $0.28-$0.34
- .38 Special – $0.32-$0.40
- .357 Magnum – $0.42-$0.68
- .44 Magnum – $0.54-$1.05
If you’re looking for a handgun to used for concealed carry, choosing one chambered in 9mm is a great choice. While there’s endless debate over what is the best handgun caliber to use for self-defense, the majority of military and police forces use 9mm.
Not only is it relatively easy to handle the recoil of 9mm, but it’s also significantly cheaper than other common self-defense rounds.
If you’re determined to use a more powerful round, choosing 40 S&W or 45 ACP will save you on reoccurring ammunition costs compared to the more obscure 357 SIG.
Unfortunately the cheapest caliber ammunition, 22 LR, isn’t powerful enough for purposes of self-defense or hunting anything outside of varmints. With that said, if you’re just looking to shoot regularly as a hobby, it’s a great option.
3) Buy Ammo In Bulk
When I first got into shooting, I fell into the trap of buying ammunition at my local range or local shops. I’d buy enough for my day of shooting and occasionally have some left over for a rainy day.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it took me at least 6 months to realize how much you can save if you buy ammo online.
For example, the 9mm practice ammo I had regularly been purchasing cost me $14.03 after tax for 50 rounds. This works out to $0.28 per round.
I then found out that I could buy the same 9mm ammo in bulk quantities online at $201.92, after tax and shipping, for 1,000 rounds. This is just around $0.20 per round.
If I shoot 5,000 rounds of this ammo per year, buying it in bulk online saves me $393. As popular of a caliber as 9mm is, this is actually a rather modest example of savings. You can save even more when buying less common handgun calibers or more expensive rifle calibers.
4) Look for Deals
There’s a good number of online retailers that sell firearms and even more that sell ammunition and firearm accessories.
If you know what you want to buy, be sure to compare prices among different stores. As someone who buys a lot of firearm related products, I’m almost always able to find deals or at least better regular pricing if I do a minimal amount of digging.
The one catch is that you have to be careful to factor in any additional costs, like shipping and FFL fees.
The most popular website for finding gun deals is “Gun.Deals“, formerly known as Slickguns. I have no affiliation with the site, but find it to be helpful for finding deals submitted by other users and comparing prices for products.
The /r/gundeals subreddit is another great place for user submitted deals, though it lacks features like the ability to compare price.
5) Wait Until Holidays and Periods Known to Have Deals
Firearm and ammunition retailers have sales just like any other retailers. Over the past memorial day weekend, many online retailers had savings on some products of up to 50% or more.
If you don’t immediately need what you’re looking to purchase, consider waiting until an upcoming holiday.
Here’s a list of holidays that firearm retailers regularly run deals around:
- Jan 1st – New Years Day
- Feb 14th – Valentine’s Day
- Feb 18th – Presidents’ Days
- May 12th – Mother’s Day
- May 18th – Armed Forces Day
- May 27th – Memorial Day
- Jun 14th – Flag Day
- July 4th – Independence Day
- Sep 2nd – Labor Day
- Oct 14th – Columbus Day
- Nov 28th – Thanksgiving
- Nov 29th – Black Friday
- Dec 2nd – Cyber Monday
- Dec 25th – Christmas
While this just covers the most common holidays and events, some retailers also run deals during less celebrated holidays.
If you follow these 5 tips, you can save money and be able to enjoy your hobby more regularly. You’ll also benefit tremendously by becoming more familiar and competent with your firearms!
Have fun and always remember to stay safe!