The Ultimate “Try Before You Buy” Experience

I’m a big proponent of trying before buying a firearm as it tends to eliminate the chance of buying a gun that is just going to end collecting dust. Trust me, it does happen. I have at least three firearms that I would be happy to get rid off sitting in my safe right now that rarely get any use. So yeah… if one can rent or borrow a gun and try it before buying it, one should do so.

Not long ago, I mentioned my wife had expressed interest in going hunting in another blog post and leaving the store empty handed after I suggested a cartridge I assumed would be suitable for her. I neglected to mention that my well intentioned suggestions were based on internet research and word of mouth, not on cartridges I had experience with. Yeah, I know… my bad. I also neglected to mention that my youngest daughter had also expressed interest in hunting to me and my buddy’s girlfriend expressed the same interest to him. Well, my buddy and I got to talking and decided we should organize a little outing to let the ladies in our lives try several different cartridges so they could make an informed decision about what they want their hunting rifle to be.

We ended up heading out to another friend’s farm that happens to have a nice private outdoor shooting range. We also reached out to other friends and managed to source a nice selection of rifles in different cartridges where all parties present were welcome to try. It was kind of like a potluck, only everyone brought rifles and ammo instead of food.

On hand, we tried:

  • a Sig Sauer M400 chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO (we used .223 Remington in it),
  • a Ruger American rifle chambered for .243 Winchester,
  • a Fierce Firearms Fury LR rifle chambered for 6.5mm Creedmoor,
  • a bolt-action rifle (I failed to take note of the make and model) chambered for .270 Winchester,
  • a Savage Arms 111 Trophy Hunter XP rifle chambered for .308 Winchester,
  • and a Savage Arms 110 FCP HS Precision rifle chambered for .338 Lapua Magnum.

Granted all the rifles were different makes and models and were chambered for different cartridges so there were no apples to apples comparisons. However, the event provided everyone with a chance to experience different rifles and cartridges. Not everyone tried every rifle, but everyone had the opportunity.

Of the three ladies who expressed interest in hunting, one walked away with a clear picture of what she wanted in a hunting rifle. Another walked away wanting to spend more range time shooting rifles to learn how to better manage recoil before making a decision on a rifle and trying hunting. Another walked away knowing she didn’t care for any of the rifles or cartridges she tried.

Everyone learned something. The fun factor varied from person to person as the day got unbearably hot and some dealt with the heat better than others.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attend a few other “gun potluck” events in the past, and I do think these are perhaps the ultimate form of “try before you buy” experiences. Even if one isn’t looking to buy something new, it can be a lot of fun to just experience different firearms. If you have the opportunity to attend something like this, then I suggest you go and capitalize on it.


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