Q&A 59: Questions for a Gun Shop Owner w/ Kurt Stancl

Today we have a bunch of questions about gun shops, and I am joined by Kurt Stancl, of Bear Arms in Scottsdale AZ.

0:00:00 – Introduction
0:02:02 – How have online sales impacted the business?
0:03:55 – Profit margins on guns vs accessories
0:05:08 – How do you choose what brands and models to stock?
0:07:36 – And brands you don’t stock because of poor quality?
0:10:17 – Most popular rifle, pistol and shotgun in the middle price range?
0:12:38 – One thing you wish customers would stop doing in the store?
0:15:16 – Considerations for someone considering opening a gun store?
0:18:45 – Advice for someone getting a CCW / first gun?
0:22:59 – Trends in demand based on social media, video games, or current events?
0:26:57 – Most rare or obscure things to walk through the door?
0:29:34 – Does ATF behavior change or time, especially between different administrations?
0:32:13 – And really outrageous special orders?
0:34:03 – Do you cross-post inventory to GunBroker?
0:35:51 – Is the ban on Russian ammo impacting supply?
0:37:16 – Why do some shops charge so much for transfers?
0:40:06 – Biggest positive and negative changes in the business since you started?
0:43:10 – Most returned gun?
0:44:58 – What are some under appreciated brands?
0:46:36 – Are some distributors better than others to work with?
0:48:36 – Some shops are going out of business because of supply chain issues – is this a problem for you?
0:51:33 – Shops accepting (or not) C&R licenses
0:54:44 – Red flags for a customer in a new gun shop?
0:57:00 – Why do shops talk down to female customers?
1:01:20 – What do you enjoy selling the most?
1:02:32 – Qualifications you look for in new employees?


  1. Excellent idea / approach! I really enjoyed it – thanks!

    Interesting comment about G19 sales. I’m inclined to agree with MAC that the G48, which does the exact same thing (but slimmer and lighter), should / will replace it as the sales leader. I wonder whether availability is holding it back.

    I understand the rationale against “paralysis by analysis”, but I think the comments / examples assume too much. In at least one instance, Mr. Stancl argues against himself a bit when you put his remarks into context: if you buy one pistol and find “I’d like something a little smaller, a little more svelte for me to carry” it’s probably because it’s uncomfortable and/or unconcealable in the clothes you typically wear. If that’s supposed to be your EDC, and you don’t have disposable income coming out your ears, you’re going to wish you’d done more research first.

    Transfer Fees: If your margins aren’t high (and I’m not claiming they are) getting $30-50 for opening your mail and doing a transfer (no ordering, prepping, stocking, advertising, explaining / demonstrating, competition for shelf space, minimal duration for securing, no warranty or service concerns down the road, etc.) seems like a pretty good deal.

    • Mike, the 30-50 dollars sounds like a good deal, except the FFL has to keep track of those records forever. At any time, ATF calls and wants the paperwork or information off of the paperwork for a gun trace, you have to provide it to them. If you don’t then you become liable. There is alot more to it than just opening your mail and doing the transfer.

  2. This was an excellent video Ian!! I am a gunsmith, and since I have to have the same FFL as a gun store, I do transfers for my customers as an additional service. I am so glad you talked about margins, and the customers who swear I can order them a gun for some magical great deal. I always tell them that they can use google just like I can, order what they want and I’ll do the transfer for them. It is surprising how many people get really upset and think I am lying when I tell them just how low the margins on firearms are. It is why I do not carry an inventory, I prefer to concentrate and repairing and restoring firearms. LuderCo Arms, LLC

  3. This video sounds interesting, but I won’t be watching it, as long as it is only available on youtube.

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