View Full Version : Storefront or Online for your AR buy

July 17, 2012, 10:51 AM
I'd like to hear some give and take on which route people have employed to purchase their ARs. I have visited a few local stores and looked at their merchandise. All were very comparable. Turning to the online vendors I see lower but less consistent pricing. Some vendors do free shipping. Some vendors have the best pricing. Some charge tax and some don't. Just wondering if folks would just jot down Pros and Cons of the different methods of making a purchase.

Crow Hunter
July 17, 2012, 11:29 AM
You can buy an assembled lower at a local dealer. (You have to transfer the lower anyway)

Then pick out the upper that you want from online vendors and order it. You will avoid sales tax and the 11% excise tax on the cost of the upper.


You can also buy a stripped lower and build the whole thing yourself, but you wind up putting nearly as much or more into tools as you save. If you are planning on doing more rifles in the future it might not be a bad investment, but for a single rifle, it usually doesn't pay off.


Just find a rifle locally that you like and a dealer that will give you a decent deal. You will have to pay the 11% excise tax (built into the price) and sales tax, but you will have a factory built rifle with a warranty and you help keep your local gun shop in business.

I bought 3 of mine locally, my brother is good friends with the owner and the other 2 I ordered online and had them transferred to a local dealer. I have never built one.

July 17, 2012, 11:44 AM
I've purchased AR uppers both online and from brick-and mortar stores before. Obviously, the online retailers have less overhead, and ordering online is a good way to avoid sales tax in many cases.

Provided you know what you are ordering, and are dealing with a reputable company, I think ARs are the firearm type I would feel most comfortable with ordering online, due to their general standardization, easy availability of parts, and ease to work with.

All my ARs have been built on stripped lowers. I've always bought those locally, just becasue they are so easy to find (PSA is located located locally to me), but all other parts I have bought either in town or online - whichever is most convenient or economical.

July 17, 2012, 01:48 PM
I buy online. I'd prefer to buy local but all the shops in the area are over 30% higher than online.

July 17, 2012, 03:02 PM
Online. Last two guns I bought were online, one from New Mexico off of GunsAmerica and one from FL from GunBuyer. No sales tax and both were low to no shipping, and I only had to add $20 for the FFL transfer. Two stores near me did not have the guns in stock and were priced above my total expenditure by quite a bit.

chris in va
July 17, 2012, 03:02 PM
My local store is actually a distributor to a few other stores in the area and have very reasonable pricing. My AR was on layaway for a month.

July 17, 2012, 03:31 PM
First one was storefront the next three were builds from the Internet.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

July 17, 2012, 04:56 PM
Probably 90% of my AR parts, pieces and builds have been bought online. I haven't found a local store that can even match the prices. I haven't kept track of any cost differences though. I just shop around online until I find the best deal and consider tax and shipping rates of course to in the total cost.

oneshot onekill
July 17, 2012, 05:15 PM
I'm lucky, I'm close friends with a Manufacturer so all of my AR's come from them. But they don't give the stuff away. Especially now because many parts are hard to get and they're back-ordered on everything.
That said... If you can find a decent deal online you'll usually save money. The problem with online guns is that sometimes sub-standard parts are exchanged for the factory original parts, and not everyone is good at putting an AR together from parts so you may end up with someone else's problem. Just because the receiver has "Colt" or some other manufacturer name on it there are no guarantees that all of that AR is a "Colt" or whatever... And usually once you have possession of the rifle you'll be hard-pressed to be able to return it if it isn't what you expected.

Brick and Mortar shops do usually charge more... But in the case of an AR it might be worth it. FWIW...

July 17, 2012, 05:59 PM
I hardly ever buy firearms locally anymore. I don't know if it's just the area I'm in, but pretty much every dealer I have come across has prices that I just can't stomach paying.

I looked around when I was trying to purchase my AR, a Colt 6940. I went to a few gunshows, and found a local dealer with one for sale with a price tag of $1800. I ended up buying the gun online from GrabAGun for a little over $1300. Add in $35 for my local FFL (sadly, he's the cheapest), and it can't be beat.

July 17, 2012, 07:22 PM
I just purchased my first AR (S&W M&P15 Vtac) online for $1299, $10 shipping, $65 transfer. My local gun shop wouldn't go below $1700 not including tax, so it was a no brainer.

July 17, 2012, 07:34 PM
I too am looking for my first AR. I'm not new to them, I've shot them for years, but personally never owned one. I would recommend BudsGunShop.com. My local Academy has the cheapest prices I've ever seen when it comes to AR's, but when I went to BudsGunShop.com, I saw that they were almost $100 cheaper than what they go for at my Academy:eek:. I recommend that website. Good luck finding them this cheap at a store.:D
I also forgot to mention that on Buds, all guns except pistols have free shipping.

July 17, 2012, 07:40 PM
If I anticipate needing some type of expertise or service, then I'll look for the best price at a LGS.

If it's a straight buy, low price wins, be it online or local.

July 18, 2012, 11:25 PM
Depending on your area, your local gun store may have decent prices on complete AR's. My local stores recently have decent prices on complete AR's ranging in the $750 for a decent brand; that is pretty hard to beat.

July 19, 2012, 07:57 AM
Here in Maryland gun prices are usually a little higher than normal; many of the local shops have pricing that is spot on or pretty close to the cost of buying a gun online, shipping it, and transferring it.

Also, the state has an "approved" list of handguns. Buying something interesting online or NEW to the market could put you in the position of purchasing a gun that they can't transfer to you. In which case you have the option of having the dealer sell it for you to an out of state buyer OR submitting it to the State Police Handgun Review Board which is a lengthy process that involves them fondling, shooting, and later discussing your gun at a monthly meeting. :rolleyes:

I've lucked out, in my tiny town there is a wholesale dealer who buys police trade ins in bulk and resells them to other brokers. He always sells some of the best stuff locally at a small store front a few nights a week. A while back I picked up a Glock 22 for $329; it looked unused and the case had a piece of tape on it that read "Spare".

July 19, 2012, 08:23 AM
Online a little over half the time. I live in a little more "free" state. :p

I would buy local more often but the cost of sales tax, fuel to get there and the mark up make it prohibitive a little over half the time. If it is close monetarily then the local store gets my business. I am lucky that I have great pricing at my local shop. Take a gander at the flyer:


Compared to what I hear/see other shops charging I feel lucky. If it is a standard production gun then I usually get it from them. Another negative I forgot is that when I arrive I take a number and it is usually an hour before it is my turn. They are cleaning up right now...

July 19, 2012, 12:00 PM
I have not bought a lower in years, but the one I bought came from a store.

I buy uppers, barrels or parts online, and go from there. It is simply easier and faster to get exactly what I want online. Prices are lower too.

July 19, 2012, 12:38 PM
Won my M&P 15 Sport off of Gunbroker for 150.00 cheaper than I could have bought it locally.

July 19, 2012, 01:42 PM
I would love to buy locally but the three gun stores in my area apparently have all the business they want or need. I've been ignored in one for nearly 45 minutes but I still bought from them once, trying to support local small business. In another, I've purchased three handguns and a rifle but when I asked them to call me when a specific model came in I never heard back from them. I stopped in three times to check and called two other time during a five week period, all after they had told me that they would be in "next Wednesday". I finally purchased the gun I wanted out of state, transferred it to another local gun shop and picked it up. I never have heard from gun store #2. The last gun shop, where I picked up the FFL transfer, also had me on a "Call When In" list for that weapon but they never even ordered it. They were a little butt-hurt when they did the FFL paperwork, wondering why I didn't buy it from them. They were just slack-jawed when I told them I had given them five weeks to get the gun and they never did and that I had driven 80 miles to find it.

Ok, rant over. The answer to the question is simple, since customer service no longer exists, I'll go the internet route and get the cheapest price possible.

July 19, 2012, 03:08 PM
I don't buy complete ARs locally because it's rare to be able to select the right brand and configuration off the rack. If you do buy locally you almost always must settle for a lesser brand, wrong configuration or a much higher price. Custom orders through a local shop can give you the right brand/configuration but at a higher price.

Instead, I tend to buy stripped lowers locally or have one sent to my FFL - and buy a quality upper receiver group including BCG online. The smaller parts I tend to spread out locally and online. I'm very careful to get the parts I really want initially instead of pulling off parts and replacing them.

Of the ARs I've put together probably 75% is purchased online because of the price advantage and convenience of having it shipped to your front door.

July 20, 2012, 05:30 AM
I'm lucky to have a AR only gunshop a few miles away. He gets some of my money and some is spent on-line.

July 20, 2012, 11:32 AM
I normaly try to buy in a local shop. But I only have a couple times, plus once at wal-mart. I usually go with online vendors or gunbroker. It is nice to walk into a shop and walkout with the gun instead of bidding....waiting........winning....sending money....waiting on ffl....waiting on shipping....waiting for the FFL to get of their but and do the paperwork.... Even thought I hate waiting I usually go that route. With ARs in my area I would DEFINATLY guy online. Or I've noticed Wal-Mart sells ARs now, that's awesome. Some hate Wal-Mart, but like I said, money talks. I would support my local gun shop if they even remotly appreciated it. Now that I think about it the only two times I bought from a local shop is when I couldn't find what I was looking for online and they happend to have it. That's just my 2ยข

July 21, 2012, 01:34 AM
Although I try to support local economy whenever I can, no LGS carried the rifle I wanted... so I had to buy online.

Ralph Allen
July 22, 2012, 07:23 PM
My 11 cents, inflation, you know. All though the internet is nice, fun, a wealth of information, etc. I buy all my firearms from local gun shops. Just like groceries, insurance, cars, building materials, etc. if something is wrong or I need an answer to a question, I want a face to speak with and a neck to choke should the need arrise. Try sending an e-mail telling your online grocer that your milk was spoiled. Or the car you bought wasn't what you thought it was. Or you have a problem with the insurance policy on your house, car, etc. Or the flooring you ordered looks different than the pictures you saw online because your local lumber yard was just too expensive. Just my beliefs. What if all of a sudden you find you're out of ammo and you MUST have it right now! Maybe your local gun shop who pays taxes in your town just like you do is finally fed up with with all this " I can get it cheaper on the internet", REFUSES to sell you any and tells you to "go get it on the internet". Service trumps price in my book.
Now before I get internet Rambo'd, if your local dealer is a chump, and the next town over is his brother in law or cousin who is an even bigger jerk, as long as you tried to do your business local, that's what matters.

July 22, 2012, 08:11 PM
suport your local gunshop. If it's not in stock have them order it.

July 23, 2012, 02:40 PM
If it's an AR, I will buy the lower at the LGS and order the upper online. I know the system, and I have my go-to manufacturers for the upper so I have a great chance of putting together something good.

Any other type of firearm I try to buy from the LGS. That way I have an actual person to talk to if I have any questions. If it turns out that what I bought doesn't meet up with the intended usage, I can return it/trade it in and the staff can help me pick out something that fits better.

Coltman 77
July 23, 2012, 03:41 PM
I buy from the LGS I've been doing business with for 30 yrs. They aren't always the absolute cheapest but stand behind their sales and have most items in stock, so there's no waiting period.

If there's a problem, they'll handle it immediately.

I also like to closely examine the firearms I purchase before I put them in my car and head home.