Southern Hospitality: Buying a First Gun in TN

Women looking for their first handgun would do well to shop in Nashville, Tennessee. Apparently, it’s the epicenter of Southern hospitality.

Women looking for their first handgun would do well to shop in Nashville, Tennessee. Apparently, it’s the epicenter of Southern hospitality. My wife, who is a complete novice when it comes to firearms, was treated to a high level of courteous, thoughtful customer service, a rare treat in this world."I think these guys really like to tell girls about their guns," my wife said with a smile as we left one of the stores. I would agree wholeheartedly.

STORE A: The Big Picture

This small mom-and-pop gun shop doubles as a hardware store, though from the outside it looks more like a liquor store. On the inside, the folks behind the counter sure were neighborly. The owner patiently answered my wife’s questions in detail and never condescended or belittled her, even though she didn’t know the difference between a magnum and a magazine. He gave her the big picture of buying a gun, and also a tutorial on safety. Generously, he even recommended she rent a few guns at a nearby store that had a range in order to see which calibers and styles she liked best.

STORE B: Take Your Time

The clerk at this destination box store asked my wife, “Do you plan on buying a gun today?” I thought, “Uh oh. Is this guy going to be pushy?” She chimed in, “No. Not today.” I was relieved when he answered, “Good. Because you need to take your time, shoot several, and then buy the one that you really like.” The clerk proceeded to take all the time in the world to tell her just how to find a gun that’s right for her. He even walked her over to the ammo aisle and showed her the different cartridge sizes. The enthusiastic young man hit on topics she didn’t think to ask about, such as why a shotgun might be a better weapon for home defense, and where she could carry a concealed weapon.

STORE C: Friendly Advice

Tucked away in an industrial area next to railroad tracks, this shop was small but packed a lot of guns inside. The clerk was as friendly as you could hope for. The owners sat nearby, listened, and occasionally offered friendly advice. The clerk gave my wife the best explanation about revolvers versus semi-autos I’ve ever heard. He let her dry-fire several to see which she liked and encouraged her to work a slide on a semi-auto. A quick seminar on ammo basics followed and was capped by a lesson on what makes a quality personal-defense bullet.

STORE D: Happy To Help

This was another small store with a large selection of handguns. The owner was happy to help and told my wife all about fit, calibers, semis versus revolvers, and other basics of buying a handgun. He mentioned that she should “borrow a friend’s gun” to try out but did not suggest going to another gun store that had a range. Not surprisingly, this store did not have its own. Otherwise, I think he would have suggested she rent a few different guns to try out.