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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 07/27/2018 in FFL Business

Offline Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan

Offline Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan

Making money is a major reason behind getting a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Here are some suggestions that won’t break the bank when it comes to marketing a firearms business and the sale of guns. 

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) offers little information or advice for an FFL business plan. Provided the FFL holder follows federal, state and local law on gun sales, firearms marketing is a wide open field. 

Part 1 of this 2-part series will cover some offline marketing and advertising opportunities.  In Part 2 we'll discuss online marketing and advertising techniques that will compliment your offline strategy.  So let's get started!


Every FFL business plan should include a sign out front saying what it sells. Gun stores are no different. Hang a sign out front, paint the windows, just do something to tell the world guns are sold at that location. Signs are permanent and should last for many years, making this a very low-cost investment. 

The only exception here is for home-based FFL. Some communities have zoning and signage restrictions for home-based businesses. Check with the local building or zoning department about what signs are allowed.

Magnetic signs for a vehicle are OK. But they blow off. Better signs are adhesive decals on the rear window. Why? 

  • How many people see the side of a vehicle on a daily basis? When parked between other cars, the vehicle side and signs are hidden. The signs are also low, below eye level most of the time. 
  • How many people see the rear window every day? In traffic and while parked, far more people will see the rear window than other parts of the vehicle. Window signs are at eye level almost always. 


Business cards are cheap. Use them almost like they are confetti. Any time guns are a topic in a live conversation, make sure everyone participating gets a card. Leave a stack at neighborhood hardware stores that sell ammo, but do not deal in guns. 


Posters, fliers and handouts are good to have at gun-related events. Follow the KISS principle when designing them – Keep It Simple, Stupid. Post the business name, location, phone number, online information and a few guns that the event participants are interested in. 

For example, at a historic reenactment event people will buy time period-appropriate weapons. At a Revolutionary War reenactment, buyers want Black Powder and BP substitutes, cotton wadding and smooth-bore rifles. Promoting the new line of Benellli M2s there is not smart firearms marketing. 


Free weekly publications, often called a shopper, have free to low-cost line advertising to draw readers in. Commercial costs for line ads are inexpensive and may be purchased with a contract for a set number of weeks. If the ads are free, the ad probably has to be renewed each week with a phone call or an email. A simple ad reads: We buy, sell and trade guns, ammo and reloading equipment. Call 123-4567. The ad can promote new inventory or sales just before father’s day, opening of hunting season and more. 


If legal in the community, raffles are a good way to make money and do some firearms marketing. BATF allows this, contingent on local and state law. 

This is how it works. 

1) Contact a local nonprofit. Local 4-H programs are a great example. 4-H is a national leader in youth development and mentoring across the U.S. Most 4-H programs are always looking for ways to raise money. Any non-profit that is at least firearms-neutral is a good opportunity for a raffle. 

2) Offer a firearm under the following conditions: 

  • The group raises at least enough money to buy the firearm. The group is not actually buying the gun. See below for details. Any money over the amount needed to buy the gun is profit for the group. 
  • The group prints the tickets. They and the FFL holder can sell tickets. 
  • The group promotes the raffle. The FFL holder can assist. Being a non-profit, the group can get free press coverage. The free coverage is what makes this idea so good
  • The group sets the ticket price. With a sufficiently high price, the number of tickets can be limited. For example, at $10 per ticket, 100 tickets generate $1,000. With a prize gun under $250, the group stands to clear as much as $750. 

3) Have the drawing at the FFL holder’s business. 

4) When the winner arrives, take a picture with the winner, someone from the group and the FFL holder in the business. The nonprofit then sends the picture to local media outlets, generating more free publicity. 

5) All FFL rules and regulations must be obeyed. The raffle winner must be eligible to buy and own the firearm. BATF paperwork must be filled out as if the winner was buying the gun outright. 


Offer to help with gun safety classes. A firearms class is a captive audience already interested in guns. It is a built-in location for firearms marketing. 

After checking with the instructor, bring a few guns to the live-fire part of the class to let the people attending see the difference in guns. Bring shotguns, rifles and handguns. This is a good place to discuss prices. For used gun dealers, this is especially effective. Bring a box of ammo for each and let people experience the difference in shooting a rifle v. a shotgun v. a revolver. 

Get enough people together for this class and become an NRA firearms instructor. Then hold classes as often as needed.

The gun training and safety classes can be pay-to-attend or free. Free means more people will participate. 

  1. How to Get an FFL
  2. FFL Application Process and Procedures
  3. Your FFL Transfer Fee
  4. Gun Wholesalers for FFL Dealers
  5. What Can You Do With an FFL?
  6. The FFL eZ Check System
  7. The NFA and Owning NFA Items
  8. Offline Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  9. Online Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  10. Pawn Shops and the Type 02 FFL
  11. FFL Responsibilities and Regulations
  12. BATF Will Approve Home Based FFLs
  13. Customer Service in Your FFL Business

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