As the temperatures cool further and our stomachs settle down after a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal, many are steeling themselves for the coming holiday shopping season. Ensuring smiles on Christmas morning is no easy feat, especially for those with discerning tastes in firearms. What’s to follow are guidelines and specific gift ideas that will be a hit!
Training classes are a sure bet. Many are reticent to take a course until one is purchased for them, but from experience, there’s nothing better than those lightbulb moments of handling, shooting, or understanding that make the gift recipient more educated and empowered! Building confidence is critical if you have someone new to firearms, so with a Handgun or AR Skills course, you can’t go wrong. For someone with a bit more trigger time, the Conceal and Carry Permit class or private instruction will be a better fit. A tip to add to the overall experience, plan to spend time with the student after the class for a meal or other activity to hear about what they learned! Being a part of their excitement after is a special thing for all parties.
The past year in firearms has been tumultuous. Supply has been at a high with low market demand for at least two years. We’re also coming up on the tail end of the election cycle, which will likely impact what people will want/need going forward. One of the best guidelines to start is based on election years and what sells the best/fastest. With that in mind, ammunition is always a safe bet. You’ll want to know the caliber of the firearm(s), but typically, pistol ammunition is a safe bet, as 9mm is quite common across pistols and pistol-caliber carbines. Next up in rifle ammunition is the venerable .223/5.56 calibers. If your gift recipient owns a few rifles, it’s a safe bet that they’ll have at least one in .223/5.56. If they are modern rifles, consider the two different calibers, .223 and 5.56, interchangeable, by the way! Lastly, considering geopolitics and conflict zones, if someone has an AK pattern rifle, either in 5.45 or 7.62×39, picking up the appropriate caliber for them will likely be a big hit! Those two calibers, 5.45 in particular, are becoming harder to come by, and that’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Now that you have some ammunition in hand, extra magazines are also a safe bet. This is where asking your local S&B staff can be helpful, as there is a wide range of magazines out there, and not all of them are compatible or will work well with your loved one’s firearm of choice. One quick tip: AR15 pattern such as the Magpul PMAGs, are pretty common and inexpensive. However, it’s common for someone with an AR pattern rifle to already have many rifle magazines. If they have a pistol, you’ll have better luck as a gift-giver with pistol magazines.
Your hands are probably full at this point, but here are a few other ideas! Cleaning supplies are an ordinary gift, but if you really want to be a hit with them, focus on the “consumable” cleaning supplies. For example, a borebrush can be used many times and even for years in some cases, so they’re not the best choice. Instead, q-tips specifically for cleaning firearms, cloth patches, and small wire brushes are wise selections. Avoid purchasing solvents/lubricants unless you know exactly what the person utilizes. There is a broad selection of them, and a user often chooses brands for specific reasons. Lastly, avoid “cleaning kits” for an experienced owner. These tend to be generic, and for the discerning user, there’s not much they don’t already own/use. If this is a first firearm purchase, however, a cleaning kit to go with it is a great idea!
Stock and Barrel is a fantastic facility if you’re looking at range memberships or range time for someone, that’s always a solid option. One of the best ways to enhance that gift is to purchase the membership and schedule time to go with them to the range! Simply giving someone tickets to a concert isn’t nearly as impactful as wanting to attend the event with them. Think of range time or a membership the same way. Shooting is a social sport, and it’s likely the person you’re purchasing for would love to have you come with them. A way to further enhance that membership or range time is to have all the supplies ready for the trip, just like with a concert or road trip. Ammo, protective gear such as eye and ear protection, and targets are the perfect addons. If you want to go the extra mile, look at restaurants near Stock and Barrel to plan a meal afterward! If the person you’d like to introduce to shooting is new to it, schedule some time for that person with an onsite instructor. From experience, having a skilled teacher there for the first time goes a long way. And if this is a close loved one, not being their teacher initially can reduce friction for all parties in the future.
Firearms themselves as gifts are last on this list for a reason. That’s not to say they’re a terrible choice as a gift, but they are often a significant investment, and owners can be pretty picky. Unless they’ve expressed a specific model and caliber, it’s hard to discern the right choice. Due to their regulatory nature, return policies on firearms are also troublesome. It’s common after the holiday season to have people attempting to return/exchange firearms who are hugely disappointed in the process. If you’re unsure which model/caliber will be a hit, this is precisely what gift cards are made for! That way, even if the person doesn’t need/want a firearm, you can’t miss.
Holiday gift-giving doesn’t have to be complicated or painful. It just takes a little extra thought to really dial it in. What you see above is after years of observing selected gifts be massive hits and seeing the recipients come to the range showing off their present and enjoying it on the range. It’s also having seen gifts flop because the right questions weren’t asked before purchasing. Take to heart what you see above; as long as the gift comes from the heart with some thought, you can’t go wrong.