In my circle, guns and related gear are high on the holiday gift lists.  My lovely bride is a self-styled “shooter-chick” and it’s a rare year when a firearm isn’t under the Christmas tree for one or the other or both of us.

Buying a gun for someone else always involves the specter of an illegal “straw man purchase,” which is a Federal crime that can ban those involved from ever owning guns again.  Reams have been written about how to get around this. The simplest solution, between adult gift-giver and recipient: A GIFT CERTIFICATE FROM THE GUN SHOP which lets them buy their own.

Alternative: a card that promises a trip to the gun shop with you, complete with lunch, in which you buy them the gun at the gun shop and THEY fill out the Form 4473 as original purchaser.

Guns are expensive.  Ammo less so, even though it costs more now than in the past. My friend Jeff Chudwin, one of the world’s master Officer Survival instructors, recently sent out a newsletter reminding us all that the price-gouging and unavailability of ammo has left a lot of people, including even some cops, carrying old chewed-up ammunition that’s not in optimum condition for saving people’s lives.  Some people on the internet are carrying sub-optimal ammo – read “full metal jacket ball”—because they can’t get the good stuff or can’t afford it.

Dunno how the situation is in California right now, but most anyplace else, it’s legal for you to give ammunition to anyone of legal age whom you know isn’t a convicted felon or under a restraining order or bail requirement which forbids them to possess it.  A box of ammo is pretty easy to wrap, too.

Many a person’s most memorable present was their first firearm. Mine, more than sixty years ago now, was a military surplus Colt 1911 .45 pistol, which I still own and shoot every now and then.  The gift of a gun is a gift of empowerment…and a gift of trust and respect for the recipient’s judgment and maturity.

If you have an experience along those lines that you’d care to share here, you are invited to do so.  Think of it as Christmas Spirit.


  1. Business advice in the 1800s: “Go West, young man!”
    Business advice in the 1960s: “Plastics”
    Business advice in the 1970s and 1980s: “Computers!”
    Business advice in the 2020s: “Ammunition!!!”

    • Don’t forget bacon and toilet paper for the 2020’s too.

      As with last year, I’m giving ammo to friends with guns for Christmas and cookies to those who aren’t properly armed and prepared.

    • @ Roger Willco – “Business advice in the 2020s:’Ammunition!!!’ ”

      A few visionaries were giving this advice long before our current Left-Wing-manufactured crisis. Jeff Cooper wrote a chapter, in his book Fireworks, entitled “Ballistic Wampum”. This chapter is amazingly prescient with regard to the inflationary economic situation that the American Left is creating in America today. If you have a copy of fireworks on-hand, I recommend going back and reading this chapter. If you don’t have this book, it is available from Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Like everything that Cooper wrote, it is worth reading.

      In this chapter, Cooper writes “You can’t drink paper, and you can’t eat gold…, but ammunition you can shoot, and by shooting you can both stock your larder and keep the ill-disposed off your back. Additionally and importantly, ammunition is neatly negotiable, being compact, accurately divisible, almost non-degenerative, and not as specialized as one might at first assume….Now, therefore, whenever I buy ammunition I buy two portions-‘one for me and one for my friend.’ My friend, in this case, is a storage locker…”

      Cooper wrote this advice decades ago. Happily, I have followed this advice for years. Therefore, I can face our current ammo shortage / price-gouging event with calmness. I was not caught off-guard.

      • TN_MAN,

        Yes, love Cooper. I remember the first ammo shortage I experienced in 2009 just after Obama became President. Jeff Cooper remarked that people were going out and buying arms and ammo. He remarked that he already had enough of both. Good planning, and seeing, ahead. That’s being prepared.

        Also, I feel great filling up my milk crates with all kinds of supplies, but mostly canned food. I know that everything I buy now will go up in price soon. So, I am kind of getting a bargain. I definitely use everything I buy, watching the expiration dates and devouring the food before that date. I know those expiration dates are conservative. I have enough supplies, but I wish I had a larger budget. Trying to remedy that now.

    • If you are carrying “chewed-up” ammo, you might want to be very careful of the magazine position of the nicks so as not to engage the extractor of a pistol upon firing. A sorry state of affairs to be using ammo that should be consigned to a burn barrel. Dents in cartridge cases might be more dangerous than nicks in cartridge bases. My gobs of quality garage-sale-bought .38 Special lead wadcutters loaded by a late shooter are looking more and more choice for target ammo these days. I have a good feeling about this batch being consistently safe. Hopefully not famous last words. Just .38 loads in a super-strong .357. I will report any fails that I survive! Glad I have plenty of Hoppe’s No. 9 and Gun Scrubber.

  2. When I got married 23 years ago, my wife did not like guns. Our second Christmas together I bought her a Walther P22. She took some convincing that the gun was for her and not for me. Well I took her out a couple of days later and taught her how to shoot. Within a half hour she was ringing plates and was hooked. She was a natural. To this day, she loves that gun and always shoots it when we go to the range. She owns 4 guns of her own now and also carries.


      Thanks for sharing that happy story. I’m so used to hearing unhappy stories of all kinds.

  3. On the buying a gun as a gift, if the gun shop in question does not have a gift certificate/card program, then a Visa or M.C. gift card will do the job also.

  4. You have a great gal there Mas, and vice-versa.
    Continued thanks for all your efforts in helping everyone navigate these unusual times!

  5. My first “real” gun (it replaced a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, which replaced a collection of toy firearms) was a Marlin No. 1. It’s a single-shot, bolt-action .22LR which was under the Christmas tree in 1958. I still have it. It’s way short for me now, but it’s still my go-to “first shots” gun for a small youngster learning rifle.

  6. I suppose a corollary to ammo, applicable to those who reload, could be “components.” Also, a few of the most useful and appreciated (unsolicited) gifts I’ve gotten were a Leupold spotting scope, a Hart Varmint Rest and a humble bottle of Hoppes No. 9. Its the thought that counts.

  7. “The gift of a gun is a gift of empowerment…and a gift of trust and respect for the recipient’s judgment and maturity.” Mas, your prose is always worthy and enjoyable. This sentence stands out.

  8. I always tell my wife and son, when they ask what I want….. ammo, ammo, and ammo, she already bought me a gun….

  9. silencerco has a pretty good deal going on now, for a limited time. buy one, get one free. still gotta pay the tax stamp and submit ink cards, but it’s an otherwise free can.

    you and the princess have a merry christmas. maybe see ya in harrisburg, pa or springfield , va this year?

  10. Your second sentence in the second last paragraph is spot on. Good judgement and maturity are high priority in gifting a gun. Well said, thanks for the good post.

  11. It amazes me how many people don’t know the law. Admittedly, the law is confusing and perhaps unconstitutionally vague but most people don’t get that far before they violate it.

  12. My most memorable gift giving was my son’s first firearm, a Marlin single-shot .22 rifle. Then it was his first deer rifle, then second & third. Much like shoes, he kept outgrowing them.

    Good JHP defensive ammo is becoming somewhat more available than last year, especially in 9mm, less so in .45 & .38 Special. Keep checking ammunition search sites & you can find 50 round boxes of Remington, Speer, & Federal.

    • My local Academy Sports has a good selection of 9mm HP ammo in decent quantities and reasonable prices, roughly $1/round. That’s for standard HP ammo in 20 round boxes. Stuff like Hornady Critical Defense/Duty and Winchester bonded stuff runs $1.50/round. 9mm practice ammo by CCI, Federal, Norma, Remington, and Winchester are $.40-$.45/shot.

  13. Mas,
    As always, great words of wisdom and help for the shooting folks among us. May you and yours have the Merriest of Christmases and a joyful and productive new year! I still carry on a daily basis my Glock, sub-compact, model 23, 40 caliber, Gen 4 loaded with Hornady Critical Defense rounds. Got it in 2013 a couple years after retirement.

  14. Many years ago, as Christmastime came around, I approached my mom with the idea of getting my stepdad a .22 rifle of some sort for Christmas as he didn’t have one and well, shouldn’t every man have at least one .22? We agreed to split the cost and I now had a mission. I then approached my stepdad and mentioned that my mom didn’t have a deer rifle, and wouldn’t it be nice for her to have her very own .30-30 for our annual hunting trips? He agreed and we also split the cost. On Christmas morning, he got a Mossberg Model 46M and she got a scoped Marlin Model 336.

  15. Sadly, I have no stories to share regarding finding guns or ammo (gift-wrapped) under a Christmas Tree. In my entire life, no one has ever given me so much as a single round of .22 LR for Christmas much less a nice Colt 1911. All I ever got for Christmas is socks, shirts, underwear, aftershave or some such stuff. I feel soooo deprived! 🙁

    However, I did give a couple of guns, as gifts for Christmas, to my father. My father liked to go squirrel hunting so, back when he was still young enough to still do it, I gave my father a Marlin Model 39A .22 rifle as a Christmas present. He hunted with it for several years before he became too old to do it anymore. At that point, the rifle was sold to a family friend so that it could continue to be enjoyed. It was (and still is) an excellent .22 rifle.

    Later, I became concerned that my father was becoming bored, during the winter months, by just sitting around the house. He was retired at that point. I thought that I would give him a project that he could work on during the winter. So, one Christmas, I gave him a muzzle-loading rifle kit. The kit contained all the parts for a .50 caliber, muzzle-loading rifle but the metal parts needed to be blued and finished, the stock needed to be sanded and finished, and the gun assembled.

    My idea worked! My father spent many days, during that winter, finishing the rifle and putting it together. Later, when the weather warmed up, we took the gun out and shot it. My father was too old for deer hunting (at that point) but we could still shoot targets with it.

    My father is gone now. However, I still have the muzzle-loading rifle that he finished and assembled. It brings back memories whenever I handle it.

    Truly, it is better to GIVE than to RECEIVE!

    • Those were great things you did for your father. I’m sure he’s busy stalking those squirrels now in the Happy Hunting Grounds, maybe with a .22 LR version of the AR-15, which probably hasn’t been banned up there yet since many post 1950’s Democrat politicians are not allowed in that place.

  16. Visited the major LGS today and was shocked at the amount of ammo available. Oddly, didn’t find any .38/.357, but the semi-auto stuff was readily available. Even picked up a couple of boxes of stuff. Prices were up a bit, but not outrageous.

    New production Remington standard pressure 9 mm was plentiful in both RNFMJ and JHP. If that’s the same bullet Remington used to make, the +P version was a favorite. Maybe supply is starting to catch up to demand.

    Not a primer in sight and the available powders weren’t anything I’ve ever used.

    Merry Christmas to alll.

  17. I always understood that military ball ammo was better for winter self defense for penetration of heavy clothing? Is this not still true?

  18. Sad to hear you’re seeing people stuck with crummy ammo. Seeing alot of it here. Our state police issue the sig p227 with 3 10rd magazines, for ammo they issue Speer gold dot 45acp 230gr jhp, but they literally hand out 31 loose rounds only ONCE per year. But I did buy as much ammo as I could in 2018-2019 so I gave one box each to all the cops i know for Christmas and everyone thinks I’m awesome now. I’m sure they’ll be looking to write me up by late February though.

    • Not unless you’re planning bad things for late February. Thanks for thinking of them,Louie.

      (Sounds like you’re in Pennsylvania or Indiana…)

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