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An Observation on Big Box Gun Stores

Here in the Triangle, we’re in the middle of an explosion of big box outdoors stores that sell guns. It started with the Gander Mountain in Morrisville, then the Bass Pro Shop in Cary, then another Gander Mountain in Raleigh, this week a Field & Stream store in Cary, and we’re waiting on a Cabela’s in Garner next year, with rumors still swirling about the possibility of an Academy sports coming to the area sometime soon as well.

All of these stores sell firearms, but I’ve noticed a difference between these stores and the actual gun stores in the area: gun store employees are armed, and big box store employees (even the ones at the gun counter) are not.

Is this because the big box stores have lawyers that don’t allow it? It seems to me that if they can trust someone enough to handle guns safely, follow the laws when selling one, and be within an arms reach of them all day long that certainly they could trust them to carry one on their hip.

It just seems odd that I can walk into a big box store with a pistol on my hip, handle and purchase a new firearm, but the guy behind the counter cannot.

About Lucas

Editor/Head Honcho at Triangle Tactical. Lucas is a life long shooter and outdoorsman, avid concealed carrier and competitive shooter, and a lover of pork fat.


  1. I would bet good money it’s the stores policy that employees not have guns. The store’s don’t want to assume any responsibility or liability if an employee had to shoot a “customer”.

    From my first experience at a big box gun store, I will never purchase a firearm at Gander Mountain again. First time purchasing a rifle from them was 3 months ago at the Greensboro store. I did the online transaction, paid by credit card, all I needed to do was the paper work and walk out with the rifle. It took them over an hour to get their act together. There were no customers in front of me, either. Filled out the forms on the computer, they print it out, I sign a bunch of forms, they copy my DL, not just look at. Then after they get all that done, the counter guy has to call a supervisor over to look at the paper work a 2nd time. What a joke…

    I will go back and purchase other items, but I will never get a firearm from a big box store.

    Go to local gun shop and it’s done and out the door in 15 minutes.

  2. I understand what you are saying and agree to a certain degree.

    I would guess it is less about lawyers and more about appealing to “the hand that rocks the cradle” and happens to be with Dad when he visits those big box stores.

    Having said that, I will say that the only time I ever walked into my local Gander Mountain open-carrying a weapon was with a 22LR rifle. It had a scope mounted on it and I needed end caps for the scope. I was required to allow them to inspect it for no loaded ammo and then they locked the chamber open with a zip tie.

    I imagine they would have probably had an involuntary bowel movement, were I to be open carrying a loaded pistol on my hip. (I do conceal carry all the time to these types of stores when permitted by law).

  3. Roger V. Tranfaglia

    If you have a group of “business” men,investors,corporate types ,who grew up in a “gun free” ( or lack therof) family/community. And later on invest in/start a company in the “big box ” catagory.
    Guess what? They are going to legally protect their investment. Now they may be politicaly for gun rights,gun control,even personally indifferent to eitheir side. They are going to protect thier investment. That probably breaks down to a layer or two of personnal and corporate protection at the store level. Weather that all makes any sense or not is up to the customer…………

  4. You don’t arm cogs in the machine. You pay them the lowest common denominator of wage because you do not inherantly trust their judgement in crucial matters. Small LGSs promote an enviroment where trust is necessary and the only security you can count on is potentially the only other employee working the store.

    That, and big box stores have insurance. They fully hope their employees run away as to not create further complications (lawsuits) because they took a stand over merchandise the company will ultimately be reimbursed for. A smaller store will have a lot less monetary endurance in that regard. As far as a large corp is concerned, arming (and training to proficiency) the low wage employee an unnecissary risk versus telling them to run.

  5. I don’t understand how there won’t be a shakeout in a year or so of these big boxes. Do any of the 4 mentioned above have any firearms that approach internet prices (besides special sales or doorbusters)? IMHO outdoor sportsmen can be pretty darn price conscious. I was in F&S today and one of my indicator items a Ruger BX-25 mag was going for $35. Uh…..No. Not when a 10 second google check on a smartphone shows plenty at <$20. Looks like F&S will just be another window shopping portal for me to handle a firearm before I buy on the internet. I don't do window shopping at a LGS because I don't think it's fair for me to waste their time if it's not likely for me to actually purchase from them. I understand that in a small business time is money.

    • The big box store can demand the higher price, because of the “I have to have it now”. I’ve run into the same thing with my other hobby, photography. If you are will to wait, the internet is always the way to go.

  6. Hmmm…deleted previous post for some reason? Comment was completely on topic and no foul language?? Maybe got all butt hurt because I happened to say that I buy most of my stuff across internet??

    • I haven’t deleted any posts, your previos post is still showing up for me.

      • Strange. The Sept5 post wasn’t showing up in either Chrome or Mozilla this morning. However of coarse now I see it. What was stranger was I saw on the Home page that my name was in the “recent comments” column. So apologies for the over-reaction this morning. Feel free to squash that “butt hurt” comment. Just writing this out in case you have some anomalous code.

      • No worries, its probably a caching issue. Sites been getting slammed with traffic so I’ve been keeping cached pages around a bit longer to save bandwidth.

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