Cabelas Enters Online Firearms Sales Market

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For the most part, internet-based sales of firearms has been limited to a few large players and many, many small ones. With FFLs abound willing to do the transfers and options like GunBroker, the market has been democratized quickly, but there has yet to be a large player offering online sales and local-pick up across the country… until now.

Announced on Monday, Cabelas has outlined that it will begin to sell firearms online with free shipping to a store. With 82 locations nationwide, all located in or near major metropolitan areas, the chain has significant reach and when combined with their buying power, has the potential to drive down prices (though with their focus on high-margin products, I doubt they will use the opportunity).

The policy does not yet offer the ability to ship firearms to FFLs other than Cabela’s stores. While I can understand the reasoning given Cabela’s focus on in-store environments, its hard to reconcile with the increasing volume of sales made through online outletsĀ and the fact that Cabela’s will ship ammunition and other items straight to the home.

Still, its a solid start for the outdoors chain. With the aforementioned buying power, they have access to many hard-to-find or hard-to-source firearms that small dealers (such as myself) cannot buy due to demand.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Brandon

    I just bought a rifle online and it arrived in store quicker than I thought. It wasnt the best price I could have found but I had points saved up and couldn’t find it locally.

  • Nero

    You shouldn’t support cabelas. They took bailout money when they were in no need of it, but because of their use of certain banking cards they sell, they deemed themselves in need of bailout money.

    • Armand Fight

      Either you don’t understand what TALF was or you do and you are a nutter.

      • Klaus Von Schmitto

        My money is on “doesn’t” and “is anyway”.

  • Bill

    They may be “big,” but I wonder how their firearms sales compares to the larger online outfits, and how much of their business it makes up, as opposed to jerky kits, camo and spin casting reels. They are really going to have to watch their prices.

  • nova3930

    ok now sell guns at reasonable prices and we’ll talk….

    • Eric S

      What are you saying, that $350 for Mosin isn’t a good deal?

    • Old Vet

      I agree, I feel like click-bait when I see their gun ads.

  • If their prices are anything like Gunbroker/Armslist/local pawn shop typical, this is, uh… pretty big news. There are Cabela’s all over the place, and I can’t be the only one who’s haunted their website for short term sales and special offers to get free shipping to the nearest store (which may or may not have that particular item in stock or on sale).

  • Terry in Oregon

    When I was the general manager of a gun store we had accepted guns from Cabela’s for transfers. Some were gifts others were out of state handguns purchased and shipped to their home state. Also some Cabela’s will accept firearm transfers just not all of them. No idea if they publicize these services or the fees associated but they do it on ocassion.

  • Jimt

    Ship to store only is a very stupid business move. I live approx. 200 miles from the nearest Cabela’s store (northeastern Ohio). There are not a lot of these stores making them far and few between. For this reason I will never purchase a firearm from Cabela’s. There are far two many other retail outlets that will ship to your local gun dealer to be messing around with a company that has such stupid, and customer irritating policies.

    • Humpy

      I have the same problem, nearest Cabela’s is a 3 Hour drive for me

  • BG

    I work at cabelas and in the firearm sales position….at my location we had a high volume of ISPs as we call in-store pickups. And we do ship firearms to local dealers just not online… you have to call us and set it up

    • Shankbone

      ISP is my second-favorite TLA.

      • Shankbone

        TLA? Three Letter Acronym.

  • Geoff Timm

    Here in FL we have no Cabela’s, we have no Cabela’s any day! Geoff Who is old and deludes himself that he is funny, not just weird.

    • Old Vet

      We have one in the panhandle, but whatever??

  • Yelling at Trains

    Worked gun counter until recently, something that came up: Cabela’s employees don’t make commissions on sales except if there is an out of stock product and we order it for you to be shipped to the store. In that case, the employee is rewarded with a % of that product’s value.

    So say you come in to buy a Shield. We have a bunch in stock, before online sales I would happily sell it to you. After online sales I would be encourages to say “so we do have this in stock, but would you be interested in special ordering the special LE model? It’s only $50 more but comes with night sights and an extra mag. What a deal!” and then pocket the 2% commission.

    That’s cool if customer actually gets a what they want, but I know some of the dudes I used to work with will be talking lots of people into ordering Kimbers. I imagine suddenly Cabela’s will be selling more obscure variants of firearms that are in company inventory but not on hand at stores.

    • Shankbone

      Policies change, dude.

  • J.E.Walker

    1) Never buy a gun from Cabela’s that isn’t on sale (It’s too bad they don’t price match anymore).

    2) Always use a money off coupon and/or a discounted gift card.

    3) You may still pay more than your local shop’s price but what the heck.

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    I’m in the market for a new firearm (when am I not?) and while shopping online for a Magnum Research MLR22ATUT, I considered the new Cabela’s that opened a couple of miles from me. I was just wondering if they have some way to shop online and pick up the gun in the store. I just checked, and they had a decent selection but not the exact model I wanted. Two similar Magnum Research models were about 40% higher in price than their competition. That’s a LOT in the competitive firearms market.

    I like shopping online and I don’t like the retail experience… and Cabela’s is all about the retail experience. Their store is gorgeous. It’s the outdoor store equivalent of a fancy clothing store in a shopping mall. Most American consumers probably enjoy that shopping experience but I can’t help but think I’m paying for the ambiance. My initial impression was that their prices are high, but they’re not really higher than the local Sportsman’s Warehouse that looks more like the outdoor store equivalent of Big Lots by comparison, and they’re not even that much higher than buying online. I was shopping for reloading supplies, and that stuff is expensive and fairly hard to find no matter where I shop. A hundred pieces of 338 Lapua brass at Cabela’s was almost the same price I paid online. Powder was the same price as Sportsman’s Warehouse and cheaper than online after paying hazmat shipping fees. Online sellers usually had limits on powder that prevented me from spreading the hazmat fee over a larger order and stocking up.

    In the very competitive firearms market, the sales tax often discourages people from buying locally. I suspect that Cabela’s will charge sales tax on internet purchases picked up locally, which automatically makes them several percent less competitive than out of state discount sellers on GunBroker (although I spend a lot of time shopping for allocated Kel-Tec firearms so “discount” and “GunBroker” sound wrong in the same sentence). For many people, the shipping and FFL transfer fee are balanced against paying sales tax, and for the more expensive guns, buying online at the same price ends up being cheaper.

    Another advantage of buying online is that you generally get a NEW gun, as opposed to a gun that’s been on the dealer’s shelf for a year that’s been finger f###ed, scratched and dinged, and dry fired by every bubba who comes through the door. I don’t like the way Cabela’s keeps their firearms behind the counter and away from customers when I shop for a gun, but I grudgingly appreciate that policy when I decide to buy a gun.

  • tinacn

    Welll, this can’t hurt the retail firearm business as best as I can tell. It won’ t be long until the other big retailers (Bass Pro Shops/Outdoor World, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Academy Sports, Gander Mountain) will follow suit. The lamestream media will have their “shock spots”, making it sound like anyone will be able to order a firearm online without any background check or vetting whatsoever. But on the whole, this is a good development.

  • MegaGlide

    Gander Mountain has been doing this for a long time. And they ship to local FFLs.

    • Humpy

      Gander Mountain prices are sky high

      • MegaGlide

        Just replying to the statement in the article. Sometimes yes, sometimes no on Gander’s prices.

  • Robert McClary

    I live approx. 120 miles from the nearest Cabela’s store and only 5 miles to the nearest FFL dealer so until Cabela’s ships to an FFL dealer and sell guns at reasonable price I’ll continue to buy all my guns locally or online other then Cabela’s

  • BeoBear

    I have a Cabela’s about 5 minutes away but considering their ridiculous gun prices already I can’t imagine them selling enough to cover the start up costs. Doesn’t make sense at all, unless there are a lot more folks out there buying overpriced guns than I thought.

  • HAHA73

    Cabelas sells the best licorice sticks and peanut brittle!!!!

    • Al Shartpants

      Perfect!

  • karl b

    Big deal Cabela’s guns are overpriced.