Gift guide blog posts aren’t my jam. They just aren’t. This is especially true when the gift ideas are intended for a firearms aficionado. This is because firearms, generally speaking, are a very personal thing and one size most certainly doesn’t fit all. The truth is most gun nerds that I know all have one or more containers filled with gear that hasn’t quite worked for them which they accumulated over the years. Regardless, folks who have gun nerds in their life end up inevitably inquiring about gift ideas for various holidays. Christmas happens to be the most prevalent holiday season for said inquiries and thus here we are.
The last Christmas gift guide I attempted was back in 2019 and a lot of the ideas listed there are still relevant. Nevertheless, I’ll take another stab at a guide this year in the hopes that it might contain the proverbial silver bullet for a perfect gift. It’s unlikely, but not impossible.
There is an old adage I lean on when shopping for Christmas gifts. It goes something like, “one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read.” I like this approach as it serves as a good rule of thumb for a well balanced collection of gifts. I don’t always follow it verbatim, but I think this year I will use it to guide the writing of this guide. Yeah, that’s a little meta, but I like it. So I’ll go with it.
One thing they want
The “one thing they want” gift, in my opinion, is the hardest gift to get right. This is because it requires abundant reconnaissance to execute properly. That said, this gift will likely be the most appreciated gift because it will underscore the level of effort to get right. On the other hand, this gift will likely be the most expensive gift. Why is that? Well, because the one thing every gun nerd wants is… wait for it… another gun or an accessory with a hefty price tag. This isn’t always the case, but it usually is. I’m not kidding. If I was asked what my top want (or need) is at this moment, it would either be a Colt Python, a Colt Anaconda, or night vision goggles. All of these are things near the top of my list that I can’t personally afford. Even if one can’t swing the pricey perfect “one thing they want” gift, I can guarantee the time spent probing into what the gun nerd’s top wants are this year will be appreciated.
As much as I would like to list a few suggestions for this category of gift, the bottom line is I’m not a mind reader. I also doubt you are a mind reader. As such, all I can suggest is sit down with the gun nerd in your life and start probing. If the gun nerd discloses the perfect gift for this category and one can swing the price tag, then one can call this category done.
Otherwise, the next best option is a gift card or gift certificate for the favorite local gun store, favorite big box store, or favorite online retailer, and let the gun nerd do what they will with it. I know this sort of gift can seem impersonal. However, if the reconnaissance has been done and the favorite retailer has been identified, then a gift like this won’t go unappreciated. A gun nerd will understand that this type of gift can run a hefty price tag and we are all limited by the size of the wallet. I can’t emphasize this enough – do the work.
Still looking for an easy button? Pick up a gift card from Palmetto State Armory. The results might be hit or miss, but the hit to miss ratio is decent enough.
One thing they need
Most returning readers will quickly recognize that I constantly harp that “leveling up” is the one thing that just about every single gun nerd needs. The exception here might be the gun collector, but even gun collectors have needs. I’ll get to that in a second. By “leveling up”, I’m most often talking about skill and tactics improvement. Skill and tactics development comes from training, practice, and experience. The type of training and experience depends on the type of gun nerd one has in their life with the four archetypes being the collector, the competitor, the hunter, or the defender. While many gun nerds exhibit characteristics of multiple archetypes, they are usually focused on one of the four types. This yields good news and better news for the “one thing they need” gift category as they all rely heavily on one or more consumables to fuel their interest including, but not limited to, ammunition, targets, cleaning goods, and range time.
The good news is that any of those consumables, with a few caveats, will be appreciated. The better news is that if one happens to know which archetype one is dealing with and which consumables they use the most, then the gift will be even further appreciated.
I’ve yet to run into a gun nerd that says they have enough ammo. The problem with giving the gift of ammo is that it has to be a cartridge that will get used. The first step is to know what cartridges the gun nerd uses. If the gift recipient doesn’t have a gun that is chambered for the gifted cartridges, then the ammo is essentially useless. To complicate matters, some folks are very particular about the ammo that goes in their guns. This gets into specific brands, products, and projectile weights. So once again the theme of doing a bit of homework before making the purchase will go a long way. One thing working in the gift givers favor is the unfavorable state of the ammunition market over the past year and change. It’s a double edged sword. On one hand, finding well priced ammunition in general is difficult so finding the preferred ammunition will also be difficult if not impossible. On the other hand, gun folks are likely to be more appreciative and more forgiving of ammo gifts that aren’t the preferred ammunition as long as they can shoot it. The last thing I’ll add is that a box or two of ammunition to go with that wanted gun gift is likely to earn bonus points.
Targets are hard to get wrong. This is especially true if you happen to know the one the target gun nerd likes to use. Even if one misses the mark, a target is still a target and they are necessary for the practice and training that most gun nerds need. The exception here might be the collector archetype who doesn’t frequent the range very often. Brownells maintains a good inventory of different targets that will likely hit the mark. The two targets I most frequently pick up from Brownells are the Langdon Tactical Pistol Skills Targets and the Redfield Sight-in Targets.
Like ammo and targets, gun folks tend to have strong preferences about their cleaning goods. This is more prevalent with the collector and the competitor archetypes who are also likely to stack their preferred products fairly deep. However, some folks are pretty open to whatever solvent or lubricant is in stock or on sale, which are the most used consumables in this category. If the target recipient doesn’t seem to have a preference, then I’ll suggest picking up some CherryBalmz lubricants (particularly the black rifle balm) or some M-Pro 7 solvent. Why those? Simply because they are the lubricant and solvent I use the most and what I suggest folks try since I’ve had good results with them.
This brings us to range time which can be gifted in terms of passes or gift certificates to a local shooting range. Like targets, range time is difficult to get wrong. While some gun folks prefer some ranges over others, range time is shooting time and shooting time is fun time. The only time this might not be a great gift is when the gun folk is an active member of a gun club or has easy (or virtually unlimited) access to a private range.
One more thing that isn’t quite a consumable that many gun folks need, but not all have acquired is portable secure gun storage. What do I mean by “portable secure gun storage”, exactly? A mechanism to securely store a firearm outside of the home, such as in a vehicle. There are two relatively affordable suggestions I have for this. The first is the Liberty HD-90 Safe, which is a small portable handgun vault. This is a great option for folks who regularly carry a defensive handgun and find themselves in a situation where they are forced to leave it in a vehicle.
The second portable secure storage suggestion is a Pacsafe Travelsafe. This is a larger option, but an excellent choice for securing larger firearms, ammunition, and other valuable equipment.
Still not sure about what to go with in this category? Don’t overlook the power of the gift card. While it might be impersonal, it allows the picky gun nerds to apply their own preferences as they see fit.
One thing to wear
Who isn’t particular about what they wear? I mean, who hasn’t received that one sweater that only gets worn when that special person who gifted it is visiting? Once again, I’m going to harp on the value of a little information gathering in order to find a gift that will be appreciated and get used. However, I’m going to stop beating that dead horse and list a few suggestions.
An everyday carry gun belt is an important and foundational piece of equipment for folk who conceal carry regularly. At the same time, the same folks who conceal carry want to blend in to some extent or another. I’ve got a couple of suggestions here. The first is checking out the belt offerings from Kilk Belts. Klik has a good selection of belts for men and women that range from casual appearance to tactical. Another option is checking out the offerings from Nexbelt whose line up includes belts that are better suited for casual to formal occasions. Both companies offer belts that are rigid and strong enough to secure a holster to a person.
Another gift to consider is a range or rifle bag. While these aren’t exactly articles of clothing, they are in a sense an accessory that is temporarily worn. Okay, fine. You got me. It’s a stretch since they are usually carried. Whatever, I’m going with it. I’ll make two suggestions based on the two range bags that I use again and again after having gone through several. The first is the 5.11 Tactical Range Ready Bag, which is a general purpose range bag. The thing is huge with plenty of pockets and organization to lug around several pistols, magazines, ammo, safety equipment, and more to the range. I’ve found this to be an excellent choice for attending competitive pistol matches, defensive pistol training courses, and heading out to the range to practice pistol shooting skills. However, it’s not quite big enough for rifles.
That brings me to the rifle bag suggestion. The one I suggest is the Savior Equipment Double Rifle Bag which is available in several colors and sizes. I’ve found this rifle bag to be an excellent choice for lugging rifles, ammo, and safety equipment around to training courses, the shooting range, and hunting trips. The space available for additional accessories is limited compared to a general purpose range bag, but it holds enough which makes the need for an additional range bag a very rare occurrence. I suggest going with the larger bag for folks who participate in long range target shooting or hunting as the rifles used for those activities can get rather long which can render the smaller dimension bag useless. However, the smaller bags are a better option for folks who don’t hunt or participate in long distance target shooting since they are less likely to have long rifles and the smaller bag is a lot less bulk to deal with.
One thing to read
I’ll wrap up this guide with a few books which I consider to be essential reading materials for gun nerds. Nothing fancy here, just a sort list to help folks give the gift of knowledge:
- Concealed Carry Class: The ABCs of Self-Defense Tools and Tactics, by Tom Givens is an excellent book for folks new to concealed carry and armed self defense.
- Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense, by Massad Ayoob provides an in depth look at the right to self defense from a legal point of view.
- Skills and Drills Reloaded and DryFire Reloaded, by Ben Stoeger form a large library of drills that can be used to develop and hone the skills required to shoot a pistol fast and accurately.
- Long Range Shooting Handbook: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Precision Rifle Shooting, by Ryan Cleckner is an amazing place to start for folks who are interested in pushing their rifles to the limit of their effective range.
- Tactical Wisdom collection, by Joe Dolio, whom I’m proud to call a friend, is an excellent collection of emergency preparedness knowledge.
I hope this guide helps some of y’all out there find a good gift for the gun nerd in your life. Although, I suspect it’s more likely that a gun nerd is reading this post. If that’s the case and you found some of the ideas in the post to your liking, then I encourage you to share it with folks who are likely to give you a gift.
Merry Christmas to all of you.