A police chief friend sent this along from the UK.

What evoked horror in the Brits who published that, evoked nostalgia in me…and, undoubtedly, in many of the men and women of the well-established English shooting community.  I don’t just remember those old ads…I remember opening guns under the Christmas tree.  I think the coolest Christmas present I ever received was my first Colt .45 automatic pistol, at age twelve.  (Yeah, I know, but even Colt called it “automatic” instead of “semi-automatic.”)  The same was true for my kids’ generation, at least in my family and my circles.

Buying guns for Christmas presents is not as casual as it once was.  There is a fear of being accused of a “straw man” purchase. That is, buying a gun for someone else but signing on that ominous Form 4473 that you are buying it for yourself.  While you can still give a gun (under Federal law, anyway; check the local law where you are) many find it easier to simply get a gift certificate at the gun shop to put under the tree.  Not quite the same, but reassuring to some.

Ain’t much time left to buy one, and none at all in which to take possession of it and wrap it up in states with waiting periods.  But in those places, there is still time to lay the money down, take title if not physical possession, and put the receipt in a gift card for the recipient.

I discussed this with my buddy Steve Denney, general manager of the gun shop where I most often hang out, ProArms. Steve had this to add: “Aside from the time convenience of a gift certificate, it also gives a person the chance to choose a different gun than the giver may have imagined the person would like, or even change their mind if the gun they thought they wanted wasn’t the one they actually liked after getting their hands on a particular model.  That may be more detail than you want to get into, but you know the ‘If I like it the little woman must like it’ syndrome.  I guess it depends on how much pre-planning has gone into the decision.  Also, with gun availability as spotty as it is right now, a gift cert. would allow for time to find the make and model gun that a person really wants.  Finally, if you want to give a gun to someone who doesn’t live in the same state, a gift certificate can still cross state lines without the need for, or encumbrance by, Federal regulations.”

To give a firearm is to give the gift of responsibility.  It sends a message of trust.

If the gift is going to a first time shooter/gun owner, the gun itself should be only part of the present. Give it with the understanding that the recipient will go to the range with you and learn safe handling.  Otherwise, it’s like giving a chain saw to someone who has no idea how to run it.  If you going to the range with them isn’t in the cards, a gift certificate for a local firearms safety class would be an excellent accompaniment.

Finally, the Christmas or birthday gun can become the gift of survival.  I rather like this commercial from Glock:

You’re invited to share memories of guns of Christmases past, here.


  1. Thanks for the post and the good memories it brings. My first .22 rifle was a Springfield bolt-action single shot my mother bought me for Christmas at a brand new store in town called Wal-Mart for the special sale price of $25 in the early 1970s. In my stocking was a box of 100 Remington Golden Bullet .22 LR ammo in a cool yellow plastic box. It was the perfect first rifle, safe to carry with a round chambered until a deliberate tug on the cocking knob cocked it for firing. I still have it. Hundreds of rats, possums, skunks, snakes, turtles and empty tuna cans wish Santa had brought me something else that year. Merry Christmas.

  2. In the 1970s, my family was poor. There simply wasn’t enough money coming in to buy expensive things, including guns, but my father owned a .357 magnum revolver that he kept in an oven mitt (when it was in the night stand or glove box of the car). He didn’t own a holster for it, he just carried it in a coat pocket or tucked into his belt at the small of his back, when he needed to carry it on his person. We were taught to never touch Dad’s gun, and we didn’t, though I secretly coveted it as most boys would. Incidentally, that gun saved his life twice in ten years, and he still owns it, though he won’t shoot it anymore, at his advanced age.

    I remember him taking me out to the city dump to shoot at tin cans, because we *could* afford a few boxes of ammo, and it was a Christmas ‘gift’ of sorts to be able to go shoot Dad’s Gun. I probably would have done better if I hadn’t kept closing my eyes (I was about ten years old). About a week later, my dad and all of his military buddies (who had retired together in Florida) had their annual get together (which included a lot of drinking and telling of stories they already knew by heart). The topic of my target practice came up and I enthusiastically told them all about it (picture a dozen grizzled veterans all smiling at a ten year old who is using sound effects to describe revolver fire…and mostly missing).

    On Christmas Day, one year later, I received my first firearm – a Ruger .22LR pistol (a Standard) and a **brick** of ammunition. It had been paid for by my dad’s friends, who had passed the hat and collected enough money so he could buy it for me. He gave it to me, told me who had helped arrange it’s purchase, and then took me down to the dump again for another day of target practice. I did much better that time, and it was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with firearms – and military service, too. They’re all gone these days, taken by age and injury over the years, but I’ll never forget that Christmas or those friends of my father.

    A few days ago, I bought my wife her ‘big’ Christmas present for this year – a Ruger LC380 – and she is happy as can be about it (I have bought her four pistols in the last seven years). Giving a firearm to someone you care about is a lasting gift, one that can change a life, maybe even save it some day. Going shooting together is another way to share that gift, and expand on it. Most other gifts pale in comparison, in our eyes.

  3. Mas the whole Christmas gun gift brings back such fond memories. It also stimulated mento think that per your prior post on books here would be two superb stocking stuffers.

    The first is the classic “Its a Daisy ” fascinating history and story of the people, marketing and selling of the iconic Daisy airgun company.


    The second would be a biography of Annie Oakley. There are dozens of books and videos on this pure American woman gun goddess. What nicer gift to a daughter or a wife! Here is one of the better bios.


  4. As a child in the ’50’s, I received toy guns and cap guns as Christmas gifts and engaged in “wars” and “gun fights” with other kids during recess at school, as teachers supervised while enjoying their cigarettes. My, how times have changed. We even played “red rover” and (shudder) “dodge ball”.

    The Christmas after I turned seven, I had asked Santa ( yes I knew it was Mom and Dad) for a set of “Fanner-Fiftie’s” ( old timer’s will remember). On Christmas Eve, I suddenly realized I was too old to be playing with toy guns,and needed a “real” B-B gun. I also knew it was too late to change my request.

    My heart was heavy as I went to bed that night knowing it would be at least another year before I could hope for a “real” gun.

    I awoke Christmas morning when it was still dark, went to the living room where our gifts magically appeared during the night, and found laying with my new socks and underwear, a brand new Daisy lever-action B-B gun.

    Don’t try to tell me there is no Santa Claus !

    Merry Christmas Everyone !

  5. Times sure are different, from wonderful Christmas presents advertised everywhere to villainous vile automatons of death and mayhem. Back in the olden days the worst you heard was “you’ll shoot your eye out”. I liked “the mood of the court” so to speak, much better then.
    Merry Christmas Mas and Gail…..And to all the good gunners everywhere.

  6. My Grandfather gave me a Daisy pump BB gun on my 10th Christmas. It would hold 50 BBs but I was only allowed to load one BB at a time at first. One certainly learns the manual of arms quickly when loading one shot’s worth at a time. Grandfather (and don’t ever try to call him anything else) preached into me the same four commandments of gun safety that we all revere today although I am certain he had never heard of Jeff Cooper or the NRA. A couple of years later I was given a single shot JC Higgins .22 rifle and what a prize it was. I all but eliminated a ground hog colony with it each Summer (the little varmints were most prolific and provided fun year after year). I do miss the great gun values once available at stores like Sears and Roebuck’s. But most of all I miss my Grandfather and his wisdom and generosity. Thanks for prodding out the fond memories Mas.

  7. My grandson is getting his first, a Daisy Red Ryder, with plenty of targets and ammo, plus eye protection and instructions from grandpa. My son-in-law had to sell his AR last year, so I bought him a new lower kit to put together. Being an FFL I’ll just have him fill out the 4473.

    Merry Christmas Mas, to you and yours.

  8. My father loved rabbit hunting but had spent most of his life shooting an old Sears single shot that had been his fathers, the forend held on with tape and the break so loose you had to hold the beavertail as you shot it. He was embarrassed to go hunting with the other uncles who all had really nice shotguns- though he always outshot them. I thought at this stage in his life he deserved something nicer, so I went out looking. It took a while, but i found a clean, well kept LeFever Nitro Special, in 20 gauge. Not an expensive gun, but a serviceable one, light and well balanced.

    I gave it to him for Christmas. Took it out to him wrapped in a blanket, and gave it to him in the garage. Away from the women, away from the family, just he and I , where the tools were. Smelling of pine shavings and dog bedding and oil and old wood fires.

    Dad unfolded the blanket and sat it on the bench. He picked it up and put it back down again. Then he picked it up, broke it open, looked down the barrel, and sat it down on the bench again. Dad was never good about showing his emotions, but tears welled up in his eyes. That is my best Christmas memory. I still have the LeFever, and one day I will give it to my daughter or her children, as the opportunity arises.

  9. Little Miss Curly Headed moppet 5 yrs old. A beautiful baby doll n baby bed
    under the tree. Big brother, 6 yrs old, a Daisy Red Rider. Big mistake by Santa … I HAD to have a BB gun too. Solution – raise enoug Holy Hell so that first thing next morning dad was there to get me that gun.
    P.S. We used the doll for a target – Mom sad to see her only little girl gone bad.
    Jo Ann

  10. In 1958 or ’59 I found a Marlin No.1 under the tree. Dad had already taught me to make diamonds* with my Daisy Red Ryder, but we went out in the desert for some more practice anyway.

    The 4X Weaver scope long since bit the dust, and today the stock is way too short for me, but with care it will still hit what I aim at. Mainly, though, it’s my go-to gun when I have rifle students who are smaller than I am.

    * Lay an empty glass Coke bottle on its side and shoot a BB down the neck. If you hit the center of the base it popped a “diamond” out.

  11. I’m jealous. I had to buy my first gun, a Sears bolt gun .22 rifle and that was purchased from the Sears catalog and shipped to my house, none of that form 4473 crap.I didn’t get a .45 Colt auto until I was in my mid 20’s and that was a Gold Cup for bullseye shooting. I do remember getting a brick of .22s from my uncle for Christmas. He understood the importance of having plenty of ammo in case the Russians invaded.

    For those who watch TV: tomorrow, Tuesday 7:00p cst TBS channel. A Christmas Story. The kid that wants a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun, I never miss it. When the dogs make off with the Christmas turkey, if you’re not laughing, then you’re not human.
    Merry Christmas to all.

  12. While I vaguely remember some of those ads, I was never given a gun for Christmas. My Dad had an old Sears bolt action 12 gauge that I was fascinated with, but I wasn’t even allowed a BB gun. To be fair, we lived on USAF bases my whole childhood, and I guess he just didn’t want to even take a chance…in the military, if your kid gets in trouble, YOU get in trouble.

    Different for my son and my grandsons though. I gave my son a single shot .22 Marlin for his 8th Christmas, and a .22 revolver (it was an inexpensive double action that looked like a single action – can’t remember the brand) a couple of years later.

    My grandsons each got a S&W M&P 15/22 for Christmas last year (after conferring with both sets of parents). And they are welcome to shoot any gun I have that I think they can reasonably handle. THAT little bundle of Christmas Joy cost me almost a grand, but was money well spent.

    My oldest grandson, now 11, is much more into guns and shooting than my youngest, now 10. No pressure on the youngest one. I don’t care if it becomes a passion for him…I just want to make sure he knows how to safely handle one.

  13. I like how in the advert the young lady is still in her undies when giving her statement to the police. 🙂

  14. Im alittle younger than most of you guy’s here. But i will say that in 1988 christmas was good to me. I was 12, and my uncle.. “santa that year” lol.. seem to have stuck a special gift under the tree for me. A ruger 10/22, sporting a nice burris scope. Well i can say that at 37 it still shoots just as good as the day i unwrapd it! In the first year i really dont remember spending my money .. birthday/money i made on odd jobs. On anything other than 22 ammo! Seems i shot around 3000 rounds in it that year alone.
    It will allways be my favorite!
    My first revolver was christmas of 93′ a S&W model 15.
    Last year my nephews got matching pairs of 10/22’s under the tree! They are 12 and 9.
    This year my stepson is going to get a Browning A-bolt 270win from santa! He is 15 yr old now!
    Ive been shooting since around 4 yrs old. And i can say that its mostly becuse of an uncle that has allways taught me, and first took me hunting at 10. Its been a life of fun and learning that nothing else can compare too!
    As for as the christmas story movie.. YOU GONA SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT KID!! NOT… Didnt happen! But i did shoot my grandad’s wine jugs to heck and back. With my first daisy!
    Merry christmas Mas, and all here!

  15. I will never forget the Daisey BB guns my brother and I got. Don’t remember how old we were but I sure remember the hours and hours we spent hunting sparrows on the farm.

  16. Christmas 1950 there was a brand new Winchester Model 12 12 Ga, under the tree for me .
    You see , My dad was a dept, Game Warden in N.J. and we were raised hunting , fishing and trapping and anything else “outdoors”
    That old Model 12 was kind of long for a 10 yrs. old when I started hunting and trap shooting , but it didn’t take long before I grew into it.
    Over the years , that old gun killed thousands of pheasents and a large pile of Venison , along with ducks , grouse , woodcock .
    The old gun was refinished some years ago and now looks as good as the day it came out of the box way back in 1950.
    Of course it will be pasted on down the family chain , when I am no longer here to use it . [ along with all my other firearms]

    Merry Christmas to you Mas and all of the people here on this list

  17. My dad bought my brother and me a Daisy BB gun in 1963, for Christmas. I learned firearms responsibility through that gun (at the ripe old age of 8), even before I knew anything about Jeff Cooper and his Rules.

    “All guns are always loaded” – the first and most important rule.

    Some 30 years later, I bought a Ruger SP101 .357 magnum and a Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum, for home defense. But I’ll never forget that Daisy BB gun, as a “first gun”.

  18. Went I was growing up My Dad died a couple week before my sixth birthday and there was still four of the seven that was still at home. I had a deep love for guns but it wasn’t until I was old enough to buy them for myself before I had one. Now I have a son who is 10 and he loves guns as much as I do. I love seeing his eyes opening presents on Christmas and especially when he gets a new gun. My son has ADD and has dyslexia and hates to read. I break out the gun magazines and he will read them longer than what is required. I explain to his teachers and they tell me it is fine because they also love guns and they are women. He has to do a little report on what he read and his favorite part. It was funny one of the articles he read was on ammo. His favorite part was learning how the Bullet mushrooms. Merry Christmas Mas to you and your Family.

  19. I fired my first gum a USMC 1911 at seven and that same Christmas there was a daisy BB gun under the tree. I still have that one as my father saved it even after I lost interest in it for a few years. Just last year I found a CVN 75 commemorative 1911 under the tree from my son-in-law and daughter what a great gift, it was like being seven all over again.