how to buy a gun for your father

How To Buy A Gun As A Gift For Father's Day


Things get complicated when buying guns — so many options for so many uses. Things get even more complicated when buying a gun as a gift for your father.


Choose the wrong one and you might just be written out of his will. We've got you covered with a few tips on determining which size, shape, caliber and form factors matter when buying a gun.


Here's a quick guide on how to begin that purchasing process for Father's Day — or his birthday, or Christmas, or just because you like the guy. There's a short quiz below to help guide you to different categories as well.


First Things First: How To Legally Buy A Gun As A Gift

how to buy a gun

Whether purchasing from a gun shop with a Federal Firearms License (FFL), which is preferable in this situation, or buying from a trustworthy private party, make sure Dad is not prohibited from owning firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1-9].


If he doesn't qualify under federal law, the gift may be seen as a straw purchase. A straw purchase is when someone who legally cannot possess or purchase firearms has someone else do it on their behalf.


Federal law requires purchasers to be 21 or older when buying firearms other than rifles and shotguns at an FFL.


Furthermore, be certain to check with state laws to make sure they have the appropriate permit and licensing and meet state criteria for purchase, possession and carrying firearms. Some states may require a license to purchase and many require a permit to carry outside property they own.


After you determine whether he qualifies to own a gun, and given that you will have figured out which to buy him, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is a good resource (and legal authority) on buying a gun as a gift.


getting a gun gift ATF Form 4473 will be required for transferees/buyers, and question 11.a. will regard the transferee/buyer.


In-state transfers between private parties can be extraordinarily simple. Some just require that the transaction be reported within 7 days, while others require background checks on both parties, both the purchaser and the person receiving the gift. Because this isn't formal legal advice, look up state requirements or just give a local sheriff or police department a call, and they'll be able to direct you to the most relevant source of information.


The ATF released a guide on transferring firearms to those who are out-of-state. The unlicensed individual may transfer a firearm out of state by sending the firearm to an FFL, who will then transfer the firearm to the resident of that state (in this case, your father). Based on state and local requirements, the gun may also need to be registered.


Form Factors Will Affect Which Handgun To Buy For Your Father

buying a gun

Consider first what the firearm will be used for prior to deciding which type of handgun to look into.


For the sake of simplicity, let's break it up into four classifications: home defense, everyday carry, range plinking and hunting.


Home defense handguns tend to be larger in size and caliber, and have a higher capacity. The larger caliber (a few of which are 9mm, .357 Mag., .380 ACP, .40 S&W and .45 ACP) paired with the right choice in ammunition, like hollow points, can have effective stopping power.


This is a phrase that shoppers will come across left and right — and unfortunately, it can get pretty vague. It translates to how effective a wound channel is at neutralizing a lethal threat. Hollow points expand on impact. Larger calibers mean a wider hole is punched through the threat.


Just something to consider.


Everyday carry handguns need to be considered for size, weight, caliber, placement and thickness. A single stack magazine is thinner, but generally will hold less ammunition than a double stack magazine, which staggers the ammunition to fit more into a given space, but makes the handgun wider.


Every aspect of a handgun has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it will result in a trade off.


The lighter a handgun is, the easier it is to carry over the course of the day. Weight and size will be noticeable for the carrier. This will also affect concealed or open carry. Heavier handguns mitigate recoil (that backward kick when a bullet is fired) by absorbing it.


There's nothing wrong with a lightweight semi-automatic chambered in .22 LR for the range. Ammo is cheap and plentiful, and recoil is minimal.


If Pop just went through some sort of hand, wrist, elbow, arm or other type of surgery not long ago, or he's got a wicked case of rheumatoid arthritis, it can be a thoughtful gesture to say, "Hey, I know you love spending time firing off a few rounds, so we got you this .22 (or .380, for more reliability) for the time being."


Love comes in many forms.

The right handgun choice takes into account bodily strengths and weaknesses. The best choice for one person isn't the right choice for another. Whether it's post-surgery or arthritis, carefully consider trigger weight, trigger type and how much trouble racking a slide might be.


There are single action semi-automatics and revolvers, which require the hammer to be pulled back before the trigger is pulled. Double action triggers are a bit more difficult to pull (longer and heavier) because the action of pulling the trigger both cocks the hammer and fires the gun.


trigger pull

Double action only triggers in revolvers rotate the cylinder, cock the hammer and fire the bullet in one long, heavier pull. There are also double action single action triggers and other variants.


Trigger type aside, handguns can be used as a backup tool while hunting. Higher calibers like .45 ACP and 10mm will carry a heavy punch.


Many folks prefer one brand over another. There are historic, aesthetic and utilitarian differences between, for example, Ruger, Beretta, Glock, H&K, Sccy, Walther, Taurus, Springfield, Sig Sauer and Smith & Wesson. Each of those links will take you to in-depth guides Alien Gear Holsters has written about each respective brand.


If it's a surprise gift and you're not sure if the handgun will suit him, make sure to ask around and get opinions about whether or not he'll enjoy and benefit from one specific handgun or another. The gun community has an infinite amount of opinions about all the options available. They're a great resource.


If it's not a surprise, talk to him about that specific handgun you want to buy him and get him some range time with it in his hands.



The previously described handgun form factors give a brief overview of what to look for, but entire articles have been written about them. Do some more research and see which semi-auto or revolver would best fit your old man. Here are a few guides to start with that we've already written, and the quick quiz below can help identify a category of handguns to look into:




gun blog writer jake smith  

About The Author


Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the pacific northwest. He graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in public relations and apparel.