min read

The Costs of Buying and Owning a Gun

Gun ownership is a wonderful thing. It can give a person a sense of responsibility over their own life in a way that people who don't own them can't fully grasp. It doesn't even have to be that expensive to become a gun owner.

Or does it? Even budget firearms involve a significant expense in just purchasing one. The price of gun ownership has more to it than just the initial handgun sale, such as ammunition and any ancillary accessories - such as a safe, ear protection and the range, a iwb gun holster if you're going to carry and so on can become significant. The true cost of gun ownership - which accounts for more than just purchase price of a gun - can be much higher indeed.

Expense Does Not Stop After Buying A Gun

Buying a gun is merely the first part of the true cost of ownership of a gun, just as the true cost of ownership is different for any item compared to merely the list price.

Take, for instance, home ownership. Imagine a hypothetical home that costs $150,000. However, you'll pay more than just the list price. Consider the following hypothetical costs of ownership over 15 years:

Housing Ownership Costs
List Price $150,000
Mortgage Interest Over 15-Year Term $30,000
Closing Costs $5,000
15 Years of Insurance and Taxes $30,000
15 Years Of Upkeep $22,500
Total $237,500

There's the purchase price, closing costs, the interest paid on the loan, taxes, insurance, maintenance and upkeep - all of which a person will pay if they buy a house. Granted, these aren't exact figures but rather illustrative examples; actual mileage, so to speak, will vary.

And so it is with the cost of gun ownership. It goes beyond much more than buying the gun itself. With that said, there are economies of scale involved that will determine exactly what your total cost of ownership will be regarding a firearm - or any good, for that matter.

Gun Ownership Adds Up Well After Purchase

The true cost of gun ownership, just like the above home-owning hypothetical, is much more than the MSRP.

In fact, the MSRP itself is misleading; besides how much a gun costs, there are other aspects involved in buying a pistol. For instance, a state may charge a general sales tax and an additional tax on firearms or ammunition. If the gun had to be shipped to the store you buy it in, there are also shipping costs and FFL transfer fees.

Gun Ownership Costs
Handgun $525
200 rounds FMJ $56
40 rounds JHP $46
Eye protection $10
Hearing protection $20
Cleaning supplies $10
Tax $47
Subtotal $714

That's for a hypothetical, garden variety, gun. That total could be less or more, depending on the exact circumstances (or economy of scale) involved in the purchase. A person could, for instance, already have eye and ear protection and cleaning supplies or pay a lower rate of sales tax.

We can alter a few of those figures. Instead of, say, a Glock 19 - which is everywhere - how about a gun that's a little rarer, such as an EAA SAR B6P? That pistol has an MSRP of $393. If I needed that pistol shipped to a gun store close to my home, that would involve shipping costs. Say shipping was $20 and an FFL fee of $50 was imposed.

I also need somewhere to store it - so I get a dresser-top safe for $45.99. To maintain a ccw you need a cleaning kit for a 9mm, which in this hypothetical store costs $17.99. At the gun store, I buy 3 boxes of Remington UMC practice rounds for $17.99 per box, and 2 boxes of Remington HTP hollowpoints as self-defense rounds, at $35.99 per box. To this subtotal is added sales tax of 8.8 percent.

Gun Ownership Costs
SAR B6P pistol $393
Shipping and FFL Transfer Fees $70
Practice ammunition $53.97
Defense ammunition $71.98
Cleaning kit $17.99
Safe $45.99
Tax $57.46
Subtotal $710.39

And that's just getting out the door. Let's go a bit further: presume I keep this pistol for 15 years. During that time, I go through 400 rounds practice ammunition per year and two boxes of defense rounds per year without purchasing any additional ammunition in the first year after buying it at the time of purchase. I go through $10 in cleaning solution, lubricant and patches every three years, and every five years I take it to a gunsmith for servicing, at a cost of $50 per trip to the gunsmith.

Gun Ownership Costs
Cost of purchase $710.39
FMJ Rounds - 14 years X 8 boxes of bullets X $17.99 per $2014.88
JHP Rounds: 2 boxes per year X $35.99 per box X 14 years $1007.72
Supplies: $10 in supplies per three years X 4 times I'll buy in 15 years $40
Gunsmithing: 3 services X $50 per $150
Tax $345.22
Subtotal $4268.21

The total cost of ammunition and supplies has to include sales tax, which at 8.8 percent totals $345.22 for those items. Add that to smithing and the initial purchase, you get: $4268.21

If I get my CPL, a sturdy gun belt and a good gun holster so I can carry it, that will add to the total as well.

Still Good Reasons For Buying A Gun

However, does this mean buying a gun is a bad move financially and thus a person shouldn't do it? Far from it. This is just a hypothetical examination of the total costs involved in buying a gun. The above examples included ancillaries at the point of purchase because it was convenient - though not necessary in the strictest sense - to buy them.

If, in my example, I had just purchased the pistol, the only costs would be the pistol, shipping and FFL transfer fee - which would work out to just $503.74 with sales tax; a $525 Glock would work out to $571.20. Say I had found the same pistol or a different one in-store with an MSRP of $400 and no need for shipping or FFL fees? A $400 gun at 8.8 percent tax is $435.20, much cheaper indeed. If I bought a Sig P226 for $1000 and then added the ancillaries...you get the idea. One can also save money by buying less ammunition or a cheaper brand.

handgun ownership costs

Besides, if just TCO was the sole factor in a purchase decision, no one in their right mind would buy houses, cars, smartphones and a host of other products. The reason a person purchases a firearm is usually because they want to or feel they have to, not because a financial advisor told them it was a good idea.

gun blog writer sam hoober

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests include camping, hunting, concealed carry, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible..