Freedom Munitions Brass Refund

FM AmmoFreedom Munitions has good prices on ammunition. They run flat rate shipping specials and on major holidays they often offer free shipping.  I don’t reload at this time so I’m always shopping for bargains.

They offer a brass refund program that works like this: place an order, mail them brass, and they will credit up to the total cost of the order at the current rate they are paying for brass. Full details are here.

I placed an order for ammunition in February and had been collecting brass with every range trip so decided to give it a try. I saved $28.60 on my order.

  • I mailed a USPS medium sized flat rate box of brass for $13.45. Based on the weight, the Post Office person said the cost to mail in a regular box would have been just over $80, so a Flat Rate box is the only way to make this cost effective.
  • I received a refund for $42.05
  • The net credit was $28.60.
  • The brass was mailed 2/25/16.
  • I received the credit on 3/9/16

I might have been able to fit a bit more brass in the medium box, but it was essentially full. It was very heavy. I’m not sure I could lift a large flat rate box if it was full of brass. It’s a hassle to pack the brass and haul it to the Post Office but for just over $25 I’d do it again.


Using Armslist to sell used guns

Armslist SearchAs a follow up to my previous post with guns I have for sale, I wanted to describe the process used to post guns for sale on the internet via Armslist.

The process is very straight forward. First you have to prove you are human by entering text from an image. Next you enter a title, descriptive text and choose categories that describe the item for sale: manufacturer, caliber, action type, etc.. The next page lets you upload 3 photos. The final page asks you to agree to the terms of Armslist. All done.

The ads are free and will stay posted for 100 days.

Lessons Learned:

  • You do not need to include contact info in the text of the ad. The “Contact Seller” button will supply your email address to interested buyers.
  • Unless you are paying for the ad, no HTML markup is allowed. My first attempt was rejected as the Armslist software tagged the description as having HTML. I was a bit confused as there was no HTML markup. I removed the semicolons from the ad and was able to proceed.
  • The first photo uploaded is displayed with the ad in the search results. For the XD9, I had a photo that was taller than it was wide. It was a photo of the open gun case with accessories at the top and the gun and magazines at the bottom. Armslist cropped the photo to just show the top part so only the accessories were displayed. I made some adjustments to the first image then replaced it to show the gun with the search results.

What about the legalities of selling a gun?

I’m not a lawyer, I’m not in the business of selling guns for profit. However, after President Obama’s recent press conference about his actions to address gun violence, I’ve had several people ask me whether buying and selling guns on the internet is legal.

Private party sales incorporate background checks by requiring the same paperwork required for a retail sale. In North Carolina that is either a Pistol Purchase Permit (PPP) OR a Conceal Handgun Permit (CHP). The seller is required to collect the PPP or the CHP number and retain this with the record of the sale. To obtain either a PPP or a CHP, the purchaser went through a background check.

Is is possible to find sellers that do not require this paperwork? It might be but it seems unwise of the seller. If the gun is later used in a crime and you have no proof of a legal sale, you would be putting yourself in a bad situation. So most sellers will absolutely require the accepted permits.




For Sale: S&W 22A and XD9

After buying the M&P Pro and deciding I really like the way it fits my hand, I’ve decided to sell two of my guns then purchase replacements from the M&P line. I’d also consider a trade. I posted free ads on Armslist today and started spreading the word. Both guns are in good working order.

Details are on Armslist:

When I find a buyer and actually sell these, I may have an additional story to tell.


Buying a Gun from a Stranger on the Internet

Armslist Ad for M&P Pro

Armslist Ad for M&P Pro

For several reasons, I became interested in purchasing an M&P Pro in 9mm. The short version is that it is fairly narrow on the grip up near the tang and I’ve been struggling with keeping my grip consistent when I shoot. I loved my 1911 when I could get it to run. It was very narrow with super slim grips, but I’ve given up that battle. I wanted to find a gun with a narrow grip that has a reputation for being reliable. The M&P Pro fits those requirements.

I have a friend that bought the M&P CORE. It’s almost the same gun except for the option to swap optical site on/off the slide. The fixed sites are higher to ensure they will co-witness if the optic is installed (ie: you can use the fixed sights along with the optical sight), but the frame, trigger, and magazines are identical. He’s been making some upgrades and I really like how the gun handles. So I started doing some research to determine cost and purchase options.

I started with This site will give you a quick overview of current new prices, auction prices and classified prices. In this case the lowest new price was $551. Assume you’d also pay shipping and FFL fees. I found a used pistol in the “Classified” section that pointed to The pistol was in a city about 2.5 hours away from me. The price was $475. The seller did mention the gun had a scratch and showed that in a photo. The price was good but not good enough to schedule 5 hours of driving.

A week or two passed. I planned a trip to a beach in South Carolina to visit family. I checked the ad again and the price had been dropped to $425. I checked the map and a detour through Wilmington added no significant driving time to return home. Although I was somewhat hesitant to make the purchase, because I always think twice before spending, this looked like a good opportunity and good timing. I contacted the seller by email.

First I asked for the production date on the gun. I wanted to upgrade the trigger using an Apex trigger kit. After some google-fu I determined that, most likely, pre-September 2010 guns had the older 1/16th inch sear plunger and sear spring in the sear housing block. After that date, they changed the size to 1/8 inch. I needed to buy the newer model to avoid even more cost in upgrading the trigger. The seller said the production date was December 2013.

I emailed back and said, “I’m interested. I have a NC concealed carry permit. I’m in Myrtle Beach today and will be driving back to Raleigh tomorrow. I can route through Wilmington but I’d want to shoot the pistol. I have factory ammo in 115gr. 10 rounds through each magazine is sufficient. Are you available tomorrow and is there a range where we could meet?” I included my cell number.

Part of me was hoping the seller would refuse to let me shoot the gun. Then I could walk away from the deal and still have my cash. I wouldn’t buy a used car without driving it and I didn’t want to buy a used gun without shooting it. He was very reasonable. He offered two options: a local indoor range or his parent’s house. I let him pick. The fact that he offered to meet me at an indoor range made me feel safer, but I didn’t want the additional cost and potential wait time if we met at the indoor range. I agreed to meet him on Sunday afternoon at his parent’s house.

I emailed my friend with the M&P CORE and let him know all the details: the seller’s name, cell #, email address and where we were planning to meet. When I left the beach I told my mom I was stopping on the way home to “see a man about a gun”. I was excited and scared.

I had packed: eyes & ears, my uplula loader, a box of Remington factory ammo, some IPDA targets, and an envelope with $425 in cash. I was wearing a high necked shirt. I punched the address into the GPS and hit the road.

Around 2pm, I turned off the highway at the address listed. It was a dirt road. I figured that might be the case if I was going to shoot. I drove past a building that looked abandoned. It had a sign that said “Upholstery” on it. The dirt road kept going around a corner and into a pine forest. I briefly thought this might not be a good idea, but if it went wrong, at least someone new the details.

I finally came around a corner and saw a house. Unlike the shop I passed, it was in good repair. A tall, lean man was walking through the yard holding a toddler. This was isolated but didn’t look threatening. I got out of the car. I told him who I was looking for and he told me that was his brother. He’d been delayed and was on the way. After a 15 minute wait and some laughs at the antics of the toddler, the seller came driving up the driveway.

Things went very smoothly.

  • I asked if he minded putting on the small backstrap. He did that for me.
  • I asked if he was OK letting me field strip the pistol. He looked a bit surprised but said he was fine with that. I could tell the pistol had been shot but the feed ramp had some shine to it. It came apart and went back together with no issues.
  • I asked where I could shoot the pistol and he pointed me to a huge pile of wood chips. He asked if I wanted to judge the accuracy and I said yes. He said he’d go look for some cardboard but I pulled out an IDPA target. He propped it up in the wood chip pile while I loaded magazines.
  • My friend happened to call to check on me and the seller heard me say, I”m getting ready to shoot the gun now. I’ll call you when I’m done.” I did want him to know I was checking in with someone.
  • The pistol shot flawlessly. I collected the target.
  • I told him I was happy with what I saw and wanted to buy it. He pulled out a form he’d downloaded from the internet. I found it here. He filled out two copies. We each kept one.
  • He asked to see my driver’s license and CCW. I asked to see his and asked to take a photo of each with my cell phone. He wrote in the DL # for the buyer and the seller. I read through the form and signed. He said he never put names on the form. I verified the DL # he listed for himself matched what was on his DL.
  • I gave him the envelop with the cash.

We chatted a bit about IDPA, concealed carry (he showed me his), and what he was now shooting (a Glock). I got in my car and headed home.

I called my friend to let him know I was safe, I’d was on the road driving and that I’d bought the pistol!. We talked about upgrades after I got home.

I called my gunsmith on Monday and told him I’d bought a gun. He replied, “Uh oh, what did you buy?” followed by “How much did you pay?” He told me I’d gotten a really good deal assuming it was in good shape. Time will tell, but I wanted to document the experience. I’m pretty excited about the new gun.

I found magazines under $25 apiece, with free shipping, at Arms Unlimited.I placed the order Monday night and they arrive Thursday evening. They were S&W magazines, not aftermarket knock offs.

Next is a holster and magazine pouches.Then the Apex Trigger Kit. And possibly an extended magazine release. And, of course, much, much more practice.

Buying the Springfield XDS (in 9mm)

Brand new Springfield XDS in 9mm -- still in the "box"

Brand new Springfield XDS in 9mm — still in the “box”

The evolution of buying a gun:

  • I saw this post Tuesday morning,
  • exchanged a few emails with Luke in which he said “a little bird told him they would have another XDS in 9mm on Thursday,
  • called Carolina Gunrunners Tuesday afternoon and asked about availability,
  • drove over after work and paid for the gun with a credit card (note that they do not take credit cards over the phone for liability reasons but they charge the same price for cash or credit)
  • got a call Thursday morning to let me know the gun was in and would be ready for pick up at my convenience, and
  • drove back to Carolina Gunrunners last night after work, filled out the paperwork and brought home my purchase.

Luke at Triangle Tactical has also written a review of his first experience shooting the gun. Read that here.

I’m excited about this purchase and will have much more to say about it. I have plans to shoot it tomorrow. But for now this odd tidbit: it’s the smallest gun I’ve purchased to date and it came in the biggest box. I like that it’s rugged but it’s going to take up lots of space to store it.

In the photo above, you’ll see the gun comes with: a paddle holster, a smaller backstrap, a double mag pouch, a gun lock, the XDS, two 7 round magazines, and replacement red dot and green dot site rods.

The red dot/green dot rods are completely new to me so I asked about them. The fellow at Carolina Gunrunners told me that if the existing red dot site broke, I could slide a replacement rod into the site, cut it then take a cigarette lighter and melt the ends. This gun will clearly jump start me into learning new things.

If you want to purchase the XDS in 9mm, Carolina Gunrunners in north Raleigh will have more being shipped to the store. I found them very easy to work with and would not hesitate to do business with them again in the future.

I also got a call from Rachel at 9Forward on Wednesday. She remembered that I had asked about the XDS when I was in the store for their opening and she called to let me know they had started receiving shipments. So if you are closer to Oxford and Raleigh is a long drive for you, this is another place locally that you can buy this gun now.



9Forward – Opening Day!

9Foward storefront on Hillsborough St. in Oxford, NC

9Foward storefront on Hillsborough St. in Oxford, NC

I received a heads up through the Ladies Handgun League mailing list that a new gun store, 9Forward Firearms & Ammunition, was opening in Oxford, NC this past Saturday, May 4th 2013. Here’s the website with key details:

  • From the website: 9 Forward sells firearms, ammunition and firearms accessories.
  • They are 10 minutes from The Range in Oxford, which hosts IDPA matches as well as other shooting events.
  • They are closed on Sunday and Monday. So the doors will not be open again till Tuesday.

The key phrase in the email announcement that got my attention was “healthy ammo inventory”. I called  Rachel, one of the owners, on Friday to check prices and limits on ammunition. The prices were very good and the limit was 5 boxes. I shared the information with my shooting partner and planned an early morning road trip to Oxford on Saturday morning. A friend and I arrived at 8:45am and were on hand for the opening at 9am. My shooting partner was already there, drinking coffee and chatting with Rachel out on the sidewalk.

Eager customers waiting as Rachel turns the sign to "Open" for the very first time.

Eager customers waiting as Rachel turns the sign to “Open” for the very first time.

My sister lives walking distance from the store and agreed to meet us over there to do a bit of ammo shopping with me. We all picked up 9mm rounds and I was very pleased with the prices. The store wasn’t crowded, but there was a steady stream of customers, most looking for ammo.

Rachel hugged the first customer after he paid – the store opening was the culmination of a business plan that started prior to the last election and was in doubt at a few points along the way. Flipping the sign on the front door to “Open” and ringing up that first sale was was clearly exciting, memorable, and significant to her. The enthusiasm she shared was contagious. I wanted to talk with her more but we had what we came for and she had other customers waiting.

I headed over to my sister’s house for a cup of coffee by 9:30 and did some catching up. I was ready to head back to Raleigh by 11:30 and since it was on the way, a stopped back in the store. I wanted to see if they were sold out of ammo yet. I ran into Frank from The Range as I walked back in the door and gave him a hug. My gun friends are starting to feel like family.

I noticed they had plenty of staff on hand and were clearly service oriented. Rachel laughed when I asked her if they were out of ammo and said they were not. I took the time to chat with her since she was taking a break from the register.  When I asked why they are closed on Sunday, Rachel said that was their day to go shooting. Fair enough.When I asked why they chose Oxford, she said the space used to be a gun store. The previous owner closed up shop and they found Granville county to be very gun friendly. When I asked how they were able to stock ammunition when others stores couldn’t seem to get it in stock, she said they had been working on opening the store for quite some time and lining that up was something that had been in the works well before they opened. She and her husband have an interest in defensive shooting and I’ll be back to talk with her about that.

I noticed they carry Flashbang holsters for women and spoke to her about carry holsters, then the biometric safes they had in stock. I found her to be knowledgeable without being pushy or overly opinionated. She’s willing to share what she knows and let the customer decide what’s best for their situation.

I noticed that they still had space for additional inventory and I expect they will start to fill the shelves with much more inventory over time.

It was fun to be part of such a significant event and I’ll be back. I’m particularly interested in checking back for ammo. Since I don’t reload at this point, finding reasonably priced ammo in stock is a huge challenge. This may be part of my solution.


Tagged for Sale using a recycled target for the tag. This is not the gun I sold, because I didn’t think to grab a picture until it was already gone.

Yet another of my gun mentors offered to walk the Dixie Gun and Knife Show with me this past weekend (November 17, 18 2012). He explained that to sell a gun you basically tagged it with a “For Sale” sign and walked the show. He said people would just walk up to you and make offers.You could also ask dealers for bids. I had a Marlin 336 in 35 Remington that I’d decided to sell. I was in no rush but this might be my opportunity to make that happen. If not it would help me to understand what it was worth.

The last time I walked a gun show alone I was pretty overwhelmed. This friend was ex-military and had been around guns most of his life. This was an environment and culture he knew well. I made a list of things I was interested in looking at and I looked up prices online so I would know a good price when I was shopping. What I neglected to do was look up a price for the gun I wanted to sell.

We headed over Saturday around 9am when the show was supposed to open. We drove through the fairgrounds and aborted the trip. The line to get into the gun show was at least a 1/4 mile long and 3 abreast. My best guess was a 1-2 hour wait to get in the door and neither of us needed anything that bad.

Plan B was to try Sunday morning around 10:30am. That worked out much better! The line to buy tickets was about a 20 person wait. There was no line to get the rifle declared unloaded and zip tied shut for entry into the show. I didn’t even get in the building before I got my first offer: $175. I told the fellow that I had no clue what it was worth and I was going to check in with a few dealers before deciding to sell. I’m really glad I did.

Having a rifle propped up on your shoulder with a “For Sale” tag dangling from it meant stopping a lot to talk to people. My escort is very personable and engaged prospective buyers. Most conversations went like this, “My Dad gave me the gun but I had no idea what it’s worth and I’m going to find a dealer with a book to check the value. How much would you offer?” Bids seemed to rise as we got closer to the dealer tables: $200, $225, $275… This is not a good approach for the introverted, as we got plenty of interaction with strangers.

My friend guided me to a dealer table run by an business acquaintance and asked if they could check the “book”. He pointed out the entry, let me read it, and gave me a bit of feedback on the condition. Now I knew what was reasonable. I didn’t need to get top dollar but I also didn’t want to give it away.

I went back to the dealer who’d offered $300 and asked if he’d also make me an offer on the partial box of ammo I had. He did. I took a walk back to the car to retrieve the ammo while the dealer filled out a receipt. I unloaded the rifle and picked up $315.

I was very happy with how simple this was but learned to do my homework before  starting this process. Although I know it’s a good strategy to have the buyer open with a price that does me no good if I don’t have a feel for the value of the item.

I also picked up two boxes of .223 Remington at the show. I have plans for more long rifle range time in the near future and the fellow I’ll be shooting with this time is bringing an AR-15. I want to arrive with my own ammunition if he’s generous enough to let me shoot it.

Other observations:
This gun show was the first after Obama’s election for his second term in office. I thought the long line the day before was folks looking to buy magazines they feel will soon become illegal. We asked several vendors if sales were up. The response: “Most people are just looking, sales are not really up. The thing that is different about this show is that fewer people are selling.”


35 what?

When I’d been shooting for 6 months or so my father told me he had 3 rifles in a gun cabinet that hadn’t been touched in 20+ years. Since I was the only one in the family that was shooting, they were mine. So I found myself with a Browning .22, a Winchester .22 and a Marlin 336 in 35 Remington. I read that again… 35 ??? Never heard of that.

I made plans to meet a friend who would walk me though loading and firing each rifle at the county range on a very hot day last August (2012). I hauled them in one at a time. The range has a rule against “naked” guns, so one was in a very old case that I found in the bottom of the gun cabinet. I think it was “pleather” or PVC. The next was in a case that was too short for the rifle but the trigger was covered, so it looked odd but was considered safe. The 3rd I hauled in wrapped in an old Army blanket after checking to be sure they were ok with that. Covered is covered, and thought not elegant, it was acceptable.

I wanted someone to take a look and tell me if they were safe to shoot, try them out, them decide whether to keep them or sell them. The range is indoors but has no heat or A/C so at noon in August, it was over 90 degrees and it was pretty deserted. That was good for me as the Range Safety Officers (RSOs) were not very busy. One of the gentlemen used a metal rod down each gun to check for any blockage and declared each safe to shoot. Then I had them look at the 35 Remington ammo and decide if that was safe to shoot. I had one box with 19 shells. That was given the thumbs up too. Worst case, it just wouldn’t fire.

My friend met me there and brought his Marlin chambered in .38 Special. I brought my 3 gifts and we skipped shooting pistols that afternoon. The Marlin in .38 Special was a joy to shoot. Virtually no kick compared to my snub nosed pistol chambered in the same caliber. I liked the lever action and (of course) it was much more accurate than my pistol.

I got a few tips on shooting rifles: “bring the gun up to your eye, don’t bring your eye down to the gun.” And we shot about a 100 rounds through each of the .22 rifles. One looked too scary to shoot, but once loaded, performed just fine. I’ll define scary: a dented stock that had turned mostly black and had a bit of mildew with a barrel that was rusted and pitted.

From the Marlin website: Marlin 336 in 35 Remington

The beast of the group was the 35 Remington. One of the regular shooters told me it was for elephant hunting (it’s not…) and would knock me flat. I, of course, responded, “Load her up.”

The fellow that tossed out the challenge, Bill, actually volunteered to take the first shot. I was willing to let him if his wife consented. She’s a deadly shot, she’s at the range every day it’s open, and she lent me several .22s when I was picking my first pistol to purchase. I really did not want her mad at me if something went wrong. And nothing did.

We only put 3 shots through her. Bill took one, I took one, and my friend with the Marlin .38 took one. Oddly I was closest to the center of the target we used. That made me smile.

Soon after I checked out the price of ammunition and found it ran about $1.25 a round. In contrast I can find 9mm Luger for 25 cents a round. The place I usually buy ammo didn’t  carry 35 Remington but you could order it online. I asked my Dad what he used the gun for and he said “bear hunting”. I really don’t remember my dad doing much hunting when I was little so my best guess is that this gun saw the woods once or twice. More digging turned up [this video] and other digging said this gun was good for hunting anything in the lower 48 states. I has a lot of knock down power.

But: I don’t hunt, at least not yet. And it’s in an odd caliber that is hard to find and is expensive. So, I decided to sell it and use the cash toward my pistol purchases. That was about 3 months ago.

Next post: Sold!