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MSRP vs Reality for Guns

I spend a lot of time drooling over browsing through firearm manufacturer web sites.

And if you’ve ever been to any of the manufacturer’s pages, you might have noticed a slight difference between the prices they list on their page and what your local dealer sells them for.

This is because of a funky phenomenon called “MSRP” or “Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price.”

Let’s cover the differences!


MSRP vs Wholesale Price vs Retail Price

Every item you buy in a store has three prices associated with it:

  • MSRP – The price the manufacturer suggests a retailer sells it for.
  • Wholesale Price – The price a retailer actually pays for it
  • Retail Price – The price the retailer actually charges for it.

A long time ago, manufacturers not only dictated the wholesale price of an item, but they also told the stores what they were allowed to charge for it.

This resulted in some very underhanded business practices.

The manufacturers were smacked down by the feds and that practice was ended.  Now, they just tell the retailer “hey, you can sell it for whatever you want but we feel a fair price is $X dollars…” and that’s MSRP.

Some retailers are like “Great suggestion!  Thanks for saving me the work!” and sell at MSRP.  Then they have massive sales every now and then where they take 25%-50% off the price of items and you think you’re getting a great deal.

Smarter retailers say “yeah, that’s great and all but I want to actually sell things” so they’ll ignore the MSRP and just do a small markup over wholesale price.

Usually about 10% or less over wholesale.

This allows a store to sell at a very competitive rate and make their money off a higher quantity of sales.  Side note: much like how McDonald’s makes most of their money off their soda and fries, these heavily discounted stores tend to make their money off ammo and accessories, which have a higher margin.

Real Price of a Gun

Well, you could turn off your computer and go down to the store.

Wait…don’t do that!

I need the traffic on my site.  Never turn off the computer.

Instead, one of the best places to get an idea of the “street price” of a gun is GunBroker.com.  This is essentially the Ebay of the gun world.

Gunbroker (1)

You’ll see all kinds of prices ranging from wholesale to MSRP there.  Look for the prices in the middle of that range and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you will be paying “out the door” at your local shop.

There are some cool tips and tricks you can employ when you’re using GunBroker, also some scams to look out for…get the Full Rundown.

On average, you’re going to see at least $100-$200 difference between retail and MSRP.  If you find a super great deal online, which is entirely possible, you can buy the gun there and have it shipped to a local shop.

If the prices at your local shop are comparable, however, I would recommend buying local.  Not only do you get to handle the gun first but it helps the stores and it helps your local economy.

A great deal is a great deal, though.

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6 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeffrey Webb

    A note to the consumer... It is not okay to go into a brick and mortar store to handle the merchandise and use the store's personnel and resources to make a decision *knowing* you are going to buy online. That is stealing. You are stealing that shop's resources and time. It is not always about the $$. If you find value in the knowledge a good shop provides then you should pay for that.

    September 16, 2018 3:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Nah. It’s businees. The next customer bought from your on line after visiting his brick and mortar store.

      April 26, 2019 8:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Not a lot of money in guns, unless you have a huge bank role, and can buy wholesale in bulk. Clock wants a store front .b.s.

    October 3, 2017 9:11 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    We sell firearms on GunBroker and our website. Our markup is 5% profit, but for GunBroker we have to markup another 3% to cover auction fees. Our website also has 3% to cover credit card fees, as that's the only payment method right now. All direct sales ar 5%. We don't own a bricks-and-mortar store, but our local stores markup about 20%. Hope this helps.

    July 25, 2017 9:57 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Thanks, that's some good insight into how it all works.

      August 6, 2017 1:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      shawn hart

      Whats the mark up on ammo ? TY.

      June 21, 2018 7:28 am