Don’t Trust The Old Gun Guy

"Gun Shop Gary" a Meme for us all

If you clicked this article angrily with a, “Who does this young punk Millennial think he is!?”, welcome!

First, I am almost certainly not talking about you and you will read why in a moment.

Secondly, my gray hairs thank you for calling me young. Neato.

So who am I talking about?


From a gun store social media group.

All gun stores have experienced this event, repeatedly. All ranges have seen a variant of this exchange multiples upon multiples of times. Most open social media forums that deal with firearm topics have very active knownothingitalls. And unfortunately many young men and women have had their early interactions in the firearms community with the proverbial “this guy” at the helm.

There is a millennial/zoomer equivalent too, but those lads and lasses have the excuse that they are young(er) and new(er) at this. The self professed expert in all things gun who is expertly experting above [/sarc], who just wants to flex their “knowledge” that isn’t, and hold onto a relevancy they never possessed, is going to vomit up whatever garbage they can put together that a naïve audience can absorb.

If challenged in any manner, including on fact that some of their advice is genuinely dangerous, they will become hostile and defensive. Best case these people will resort back to a “Well, that’s how we did it.” in a vague attempt to close the conversation with a ‘respect your elders’ card, when it assuredly is not how they did it because it doesn’t work, is physically impossible, or is a provable lie. There comes a point in time where it isn’t worth the sales counter’s time to disabuse the fool of foolish notions.

Buy your one box of 5.56 (because you can’t shoot .223, it’ll explode!) or 30.06 and depart please.

Stop ‘helping’ when nobody asked, you don’t know, and you’re wrong. Your ego will survive.

I’ve talked and trained with Vietnam vets who did the oft claimed Vietnam vet things, they don’t talk like the above imbecile. Clint Smith is a fantastic example. Sure, he thinks the AR-15 peaked at the M16A1 (and he isn’t lacking reasons to back that opinion either) but he’s also rolling around Thunder Ranch with a modern M4E1 TR with a dot and a light on it. Clint knows, and for all his character he teaches incredibly well because he knows and can set the goal, articulate the why, and work you through the how to get there.

I have never gotten a piece of blatantly, off the wall, assbackwards gun advice from Clint. I’ve disagreed on items and preferences, but never bad advice.

I have heard form or been ‘corrected’ by plenty of people who just assumed the thing they heard, from the unverified whomever, is the absolute truth. Often without context or

In addition to genuine SME’s, like Clint, any elder who firmly know what they know and know what they don’t know is worth listening to on what they know. Plenty of guys out there who could school me up on reloads for .38/.357 and their excellent method of putting them together, but who wouldn’t try and profess to me how to put together a modernized lever gun.

A whole mess of folks who could give me tips on cleaning a deer and their favorite recipes who wouldn’t and won’t talk to me about the ballistics and terminal effects of the .308 round they use, they just know it works and they leave it at that.

But then other people don’t leave it be, and you get another wondrous story like the above.

Or one like mine where a man who was on “the teams” until 1984 (never actually said SEAL, just “the teams”) and referenced the UDT class of 1946 (UDT started in ’42 and SEAL program started in ’62 but he looked to be born in ’60 roughly) additionally stated he had ran tens of thousands of rounds through his P226 in the years prior to the pistol’s development. In a touching addition to his tall tale of being on a team he was two decades too young for and shooting a yet to be invented pistol, he added that his daughter later bought him his old P226, because Naval Special Operations just gets rid of old 226’s, used before their invention, at the local gun shows.

These people are out there “helping” new gun owners.

We need to cease their ravings by politely but firmly intervening when we can.

So the next time you get, “Okay Boomer”‘d, before getting angry, consider where the advice you just gave came from. Was the source a sketchy dude who just claimed some special forces status from back in the day? Do we remember that guys who were middle to senior military for the launch of GWOT are in their 50’s now so that 50-60 “Vietnam” or even other more plausible location ‘operator’ vet is full of shit?

I genuinely don’t know what combination of ‘I can help’, service shame, and ego combine to create these people but it’s like claiming to have the largest most awesome store of Pokémon cards and having one pack of old ones beaten to hell and back, or claiming to be a wizard on car engines when you’ve at best pulled a spark plug from a chainsaw.


Don’t just trust the old gun guy, get a second opinion from a professional source. Even if that’s just an FAQ page.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.