Survivalist Tools- Firearms and Supplies @ Wholesale

Part of being a prepared survivalist is having all of the right tools. Even just doing a little bit of research into those tools will lead to the result that the best of the best is not cheap. The idea of outfitting your bug out bag is not to go broke, so it’s advantageous to discover a way to get what you need for less money.

One such way to get your gear for less is by going through a wholesaler versus a retailer. Obviously you can’t just call up a wholesaler and place an order, that’d defeat the purpose of having retail stores. One way to do this is by getting your federal firearms license (FFL). The FFL License leads to access to wholesale pricing, thus as a major perk.

Advantages of a FFL

As I stated above, the greatest advantage to having a FFL is access to purchasing from wholesalers directly. Products are marked up roughly 30% from wholesaler to retailer, so that a 30% savings you’ll be pocketing. Just for a frame of reference, if you want a Ruger 10/22 takedown to pack into your bug out bag, you could expect to pay about $420. At a wholesale price, it would cost about $295, for a savings of $125. And that’s just for one of your items!

Wholesalers for the firearms industry, who would serve FFL license holders, don’t just carry firearms. Many of them carry supplies for a wide variety of hunting, tactical and outdoors activities. This means access to supplies such as bags, knives, reloading equipment, archery supplies and more. There are thousands of wholesalers in operation, so between them, you’re about guaranteed to find the make and model of whatever product you happen to be looking for.

Another advantage is going to be your ability to purchase or transfer firearms for family and friends. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) who issues the licenses won’t issue them for 100% personal use only, so purchasing and transferring firearms to friends and family will help satisfy the feds. FFL will open wholesale access, help friends and family in the process and maybe make a little cash on the side as well. Speaking of requirements, this would probably be a good time to mention them. In a nutshell, you need to be 21 years of age or older and legally able to ship, receive, and transport firearms in the United States (i.e., your gun rights were not revoked due to a felony or other serious charge/conviction). You also cannot have willfully violated any part of the Gun Control Act (GCA). If you fit into those requirements, you’re pretty well good to go. We find if you can buy a handgun, you are eligible to obtain an FFL.

The Fine Points of the FFL

To actually get the FFL, you’ll need to go through an application process. All of the forms that you need to fill out can be retrieved from the ATF’s website. A few words of caution when it comes to the application process. You can definitely print the forms out and fill them in yourself to send off to the ATF, but if you haven’t dotted all of your i’s and crossed your t’s (I’m speaking more figuratively than literally here) it could lead to your application being denied. Once your application has been denied, it can be nearly impossible to reapply and successfully get your license. However, there is help out there in the form of a company called FFL123. The company created guides to help people obtain their FFL and/or Class 3 license. The owner, created the guide and answers all of the e-mail inquiries, has applied for and received eight different FFL licenses.

Another point to make is that there is an application fee. The cost is $150 which will cover you for three years. In that time, you’ll need to renew your license again, if you choose to do so. The renewal fee is $90 to $150, based on type of FFL you obtain, and covers you for another three years. If you break the cost down, it is only $30 to $50 per year which you can definitely make up in savings by purchasing through wholesalers and helping others. You can also sell a few guns as you’re entirely legally able to. Setting up a table at a gun show is a great way to do that.

Finally, I’ll quickly debunk a few concerns you may have about getting a FFL. The first is that the government can come into your home at any time and search your entire house after you’ve obtained a FFL. This is absolutely untrue. The ATF is allowed to do an inspection only once a year and even then it must be during the hours you’ve designated on your FFL application. Typically the inspections don’t happen even close to that often. The second is that you’ll end up on some government watch list. This is also untrue. Sure, you’re listed as holding a FFL, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have any more scrutiny on your everyday movements than any other average person. As long as you follow firearms laws, you won’t have any cause for worry.

The true survivalist will be prepared to “bug out” in a moment’s notice. To get yourself prepared in a more financially feasible way, you should definitely consider the possibility of a federal firearms license.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. In many states you must list an actual business storefront (i.e. “Bricks & Sticks”) as the location for your FFL purchases. You may NOT use your primary residence or an alias such as a P.O. Box or PMB . Their reasoning is to facilitate the inspections and inventorying provisions. Others may demand proof of business intent such as P/L statements, etc.

    This defeats the purpose of applying for an FFL for your own use in many locales.

    • Good points. Also, FFL holders are subject to inspections, including surprise. And they may check your residence for that favored item you took home. I have a friend who’s an FFL and it happens to him.

    • Sorry about the report comment. I hit the wrong button. My apology. Several manufacturers and distributors will only sell to stocking stores. I had this problem when I had my ffl. I wanted to start a gun repair shop and sell a few extras like scopes, mags, flashlights, etc. I wanted to start out small and work up to a bigger place at retirement time. But when distributors are saying you must buy $10,000 worth of merchandise at a time it’s just not worth it.

      • axelsteve says:

        Heck fender guitars want you to spend 50 grand. And they send you what to sell they do not let you specify what you want. That is why so many music stores are mostly used instruments.

  2. When I was looking into an FFL, “to support my own habit”, I found that you must sell the majority of your firearms to someone outside of your family. Now this should not be an issue, but it is something to consider. That is assuming the restriction is still on the books, but I have never known a federal agency to “drop” a restriction before.

    • JP & All,
      If you belong to a gun club, providing lower cost items to members may allow you to meet the restrictions, and provide a service to the members. My gun club has about 300 members and only 1 FFL among them. This could allow you to sell enough goods to meet the ATF requirments and not be sellling just to your family.

      • OP:

        In the late-’70’s our Rod& Gun club on post had an FFL and would order you anything from Shotgun News for cost + shipping. Got my 1st 10/22 for $78 that way.

        • I miss the Rod & Gun Clubs. Several had the hunters safety courses there and you could hunt on parts of the post. Use the range at reasonable times for free. It was great. As I understand it you need a store to get an FFL. I was thinking of putting in the application years ago and sorry I didn’t. Does anyone know if there is a requirement of a brick and mortar for all forms of FFL or just for sales?

  3. I had my FFL in the 1980’s. Back then you could be a “kitchen table” gun dealer as long as you kept the proper paperwork. ( this was before background checks were done)
    At that time they were importing Korean War surplus M-1 carbines from South Korea at the dealers price of $135.00 each. Sure they were “parts” guns, but they shot good, had clean barrels, and the stocks cleaned up nice.
    Wish that I had kept a few for myself.

  4. Like JP, I have looked into obtaining a federal firearms license. Not so much to support my habit but seriously con sidering opening a gun shop. However, the forms specifically asks if you solely intend to purchase firearms for personal use, followed by the under penalty of law you certify all information is accurate. Other thing I’ve heard (from a gunship guy) is the decent pricing comes from ordering a certain amount or more from the distributor. The distributor gives the lower prices to the folks ordering five grand worth of guns a month as opposed to the five hundred every two months a non business FFL holder would buy. Also look into the safe storage requirements. The ATF can require safes, alarms, bars on windows or roll up doors. A gunsmith I know was unable to use certain buildings in town. The ATF didn’t approve his application due to location. He was too close to schools. Go figure. The trick to getting good guns cheap is buying used. I’m confident that many people own firearms with less than one hundred rounds through them. Watch the guns coming into a pawn shop. If they give the guy two hundred dollars, you then know what they have in it. Offer them $250 when it hits the shelves despite its four hundred dollar price tag. Don’t be shy and call them out on the price gouging. Or follow the guy to his car after he rejects the pawn shops low ball offer and offer him a little more. There are deals to be found without the FFL.

    • [email protected] the guy to his car who:

      1. Is pissed off about being in a bind and looking for quick cash
      2. Is irritated at the lowball offer from the pawnbroker
      3. Is probably skittish about being in a seedy pawnshop since he wasn’t expecting a lowball offer and therefore is a pawn shop frequenter
      4. Is carrying a gun and probably doesn’t know a ton about it since he chose the worst possible venue to cash it in

      • Pawn shops tend to get pissed off when you mention that the gun sells for three times their offer used. I recall an event where one pawn shop had a Browning Buckmark listed for $350 new in box. I watched a guy come in and trade his identical never been fired Browning Buckmark for a Thompson Center .44 Mag single shot. The .44 Mag was listed for $400 and wouldn’t sell. The new in box Buckmark went into the safe, the used one went in the case Its price tag…$400. That kind of crap pisses me off. Someone will buy it though.

  5. Gunny Sgt. Ballbuster, USMC retired says:



    DISMISSED! (get a haircut!)

  6. Although I don’t recommend becoming an NRA instructor specifically for this reason, many of the firearms manufacturers offer discounts to instructors in order to get their firearms into the hands of the students in your classes. Note that becoming an instructor should be because you want to teach and spread the word, not for the discounts. I recently purchased and M&P handgun from the S&W at what is about the wholesale cost. I was able to purchase up to 5 firearms from their instructor sheet, which included nearly everything they make. There firearms are specifically to be used in your classes, and not sold; however, you may personally practice with them as much as you like.

  7. axelsteve says:

    The Pawn shop in my town has a different reality from what prices should be. My nephew paid 400 for a mossy maverik that was used. Heck for that kinda money I would have driven 50 miles to the nearest big 5 and gotten a mossy with 2 barrells and etc. This guy is also selling 22 lr for a 20 dollars for a box of 50. The problem is that idiots are buying from him so he won`t go back to real pricing.I just hope that there is no unexplained fires or anything to that guy.

  8. I operate a small gunsmith shop from my garage. ATF simply needed proof from the municipality that a home based business was allowed under city ordinances. I am still small, put in 15-20 hours a week on it with about six gun shows a year, do some OEM finishing work for some manufacturers, and do some work for a couple local storefronts (the stuff they don’t want to mess with). I do a bunch of transfers a year for coworkers (other employments) and yes I have kept a few guns for personal use. You must “be in the business of selling guns” or in my case, repairing them too. Selling only at shows is a disqualifier. Personal use only is a disqualifier. It also seems that just dealing only at home has become a disqualifier. Gunsmithing at home with an FFL is still acceptable, particularly if you are doing OEM work for local manufacturers. ATF is actually pretty lenient and tend to give you the benefit of the doubt. It’s the municipalities that usually give you the hard time. Zoning, CUPs, traffic concerns, etc.

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