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RETALES: That’s not how any of this works

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At some point in their lives, everyone has darkened the door of a retail firearms establishment, whether it’s to buy the latest new thing, shoot at a range, or just pick up a firearm they bought off Grabagun for 10% less than wholesale; we’ve all been there.

After having every other job in the firearms industry including media, sponsored shooter, and a whole bunch of other things I’m now running one of the largest brick and mortar gun stores in South Florida. I didn’t believe a lot of the stories I’d heard from my friends who worked retail until I decided to do it myself, and as it turns out they’re all true.


“Caleb to the range, Caleb to the range” – I probably winced a little harder than I should have when they paged me to the range, but inevitably that means one of three things: there’s an angry customer, someone’s gun is broken, or something on the range is broken. Sometimes I get all three at once, which we call the Trifecta and usually charge extra for.

This time none of my range equipment is in ruins, and the customer is relatively calm, but in possession of an AR which he has fired one round through and now cannot clear out. After a successful application of the PLECM (Percussive Lower Extremity Clearing Method, aka stomp on the charging handle) we managed to extract the case you see above. Flipping the customer’s gun over on its side, the upper receiver of the AR was marked in bright green letters: 7.62×39. In this case, it wasn’t even the customer’s fault, as he told me his tale of woe, you see he had bought the gun from his friend, who is a “gun expert.” His friend sold him a 7.62×39 AR15, one oddly shaped magazine, and 100 rounds of 5.56 ammo, because “The 7.62 means you can fire both, dog.”

That’s not how this works

Welcome to silly things you see on a gun range! The good news is that in the example above, no one was hurt, and we sold him some proper ammo for his gun, and he left a happy customer, although I suspect he was going to have some choice words with his homeboy. You see stuff like this all the time, and it can border on the absurd, like when people need ammo for their Glock 40, which is a 10mm, or need ammo for their 22 Glock, which is actually a .40 S&W. Side note, Glock really missed the boat on messing with people when they launched the Glock 40, because they should have chambered it in .22LR. Imagine the Who’s On First recreation you could have done!

The best though was once upon a time not too long ago – a gentleman, we’ll call him Steve (he was not Steve) comes in with a 9mm pistol from a major manufacturer with a good reputation. The gun REFUSES to work. Every shot he’s getting failures to extract. He can’t figure it out, my staff can’t figure it out, I arrive on the range as he’s telling my staff that we sold him a broken gun!

“This stupid 9mm you sold me doesn’t work! You guys sold me a broken gun” was the first thing I heard as I came around the corner, and I emotionally braced myself to get shouted at some more. Asking the customer to explain the problem, which he did at about an 11/10 volume, we stepped into the range to test fire his gun. I’m not going to lie, usually when someone thinks their gun doesn’t work it’s because they’re limp-wristing it. Out on the range we go, and the customer hands me a loaded magazine and the gun, I get set up and fire my first shot. “Pop.” Not the bang I was expecting, but a rather muted pop. I think the customer had a squib, so I clear the gun and rod the bore, nothing.

“Hey dude, where did you get this ammo?” Turns out he bought it at the gun show, so now I’m thinking it’s cheap reloads. I fire again and…”pop.” Another light pop, another failure to extract. This goes on for about half a magazine until I get a lightbulb and ask if he has the ammo box. He digs into his range bag and produces a box that says right on the side in big letters: “9mm………Browning.”

Pic unrelated

Pic unrelated

As it turns out, handguns chambered in 9mm Luger don’t run well when you’re trying to feed them with a .380 ACP. I clear the gun out and explain the difference between 9mm Browning and 9mm Luger. The customer thanks me, and says “They should really put that they’re different on the box!”

Yes. Yes, they should. Which is why we only order .380 ACP ammo that says .380 on the box these days.

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1 Comment

  • Rooftop Voter says:

    I feel your pain, not so much in the firearms field but in the auto parts sales and auto repair endeavor. Some people should not own items that have more than two moving parts. The horror stories I could tell you.

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  • I feel your pain, not so much in the firearms field but in the auto parts sales and auto repair endeavor. Some people should not own items that have more than two moving parts. The horror stories I could tell you.

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