Blannelberry Gets His Concealed Carry Permit: EP. 3: Buying The Gun On GunsAmerica


My Colt Detective Special, chambered in .38 Special.

So, awhile back I started a series called “Blannelberry Gets His Concealed Carry Permit.” If you haven’t read the first two articles in the series, you can click on the links below to catch up. For those that just want a quick recap, after leaving the anti-gun states of California and New York and moving to the pro-gun state of Kentucky, I finally had the opportunity to obtain a concealed carry permit. So, that’s what this series is. A soup-to-nuts chronicling of my quest to get a permit to carry in the beautiful Bluegrass State.

I took a bit of a hiatus from writing the series because we were updating the GunsAmerica user experience and I wanted to wait until the new features were implemented before I wrote this particular article, which as the title implies, discusses buying a new carry gun on GunsAmerica. Since I want this to be a reference for anyone else out there looking to obtain a permit, I wanted to make sure that the information I was providing about GunsAmerica was as current and as accurate as possible.

Well, a few weeks back, the revamped version rolled out and I took to the boards to buy my concealed carry firearm. I had done a lot of research into revolvers and settled on one particular model. It then became a game of watching and waiting for the right deal to come along. Eventually, it did. I scored my dream concealed carry gun, and I couldn’t be more excited.


When buying this Detective Special, one thing I was concerned with was the ejector well, which has a tendency to patina quickly if it's not cleaned carefully after each use.

When buying this Detective Special, one thing I was concerned with was the ejector well, which has a tendency to patina quickly if it’s not cleaned carefully after each use. You can also see the serial number, aka the year of its birth.

Ep. 1: Introduction Why Carry — Introspection on why I want to join the 12 million Americans who have taken the plunge and obtained a license to carry concealed.

Ep. 2: What Gun to Carry — A look at various options for concealed carry. What handguns I’m leaning toward, pricing, cost/benefit of each platform.

Ep. 3: Buying the Gun on GunsAmerica — Sure, a shameless plug for the GunsAmerica retail site. But I’m going to go step-by-step to show how easy it is to purchase a gun through our website.

Ep. 4: Accessorizing — Options for holsters, belts, magazines, etc., and a discussion of what type of carry works for me, e.g. appendix, behind the hip, shoulder holster.

Ep. 5: Kentucky State Law — What are the gun laws here in Kentucky. What are my rights as a concealed carry permit holder? What are the self-defense laws in the state, e.g. Stand Your Ground.

Ep. 6: Application Process — The paperwork, the background check, the fee, etc., all the stuff you need to get together in order to get the permit.

Ep. 7: Training Class — What does a concealed carry class in Kentucky entail? What are the shooting requirements? How many hours of training? How much does it cost? My experiences going through the class.

Ep. 8: Final Thoughts — After filling out the paperwork, completing the training and submitting the application, what are my final thoughts about the process. How does it compare with other states?


I really like this gun. Really like it. Except for the grips. I'm going to have to change those out at some point.

I really like this gun. Really like it. Except for the grips. I’m going to have to change those out at some point.

Okay, is the suspense killing you? Are you dying to know what revolver I opted to buy (even though the pictures indubitably gave it away)?

I bought a nickel-plated third generation Colt Detective Special, chambered for .38 Special. For those of you not familiar with this six-shot snubbie, it has a rich history of being a go-to gun for the higher ranks of law enforcement — hence the name ‘Detective Special’ — as well as serving as a backup gun for beat cops.

I don’t plan on getting into too much of the history of this gun as I’ll eventually do a review that covers all of that stuff. In case you’re curious there were several versions of the Detective Special made over the years. The first generation,which ran from 1927 until 1946, the second generation, which ran from 1947 to 1972, the third generation, which ran from 1973 to 1986, and the fourth generation which started in 1993 and ran only until 1995 when Colt released a stainless steel version called the SF-VI.

The gun I bought was made in 1975. Now, I was born in 1982. This gun is older than me! Why did I purchase a revolver that was made seven years before I arrived on this planet? Well, for several reasons:

My first trip to the range. I went through a box of American Eagle.

My first trip to the range with my new Detective Special. I went through a box of American Eagle. It’s a bit ironic that it’s sitting on a Smith&Wesson mat.

Shooting Is A Dream

If you haven’t shot a Detective Special, you should. I think shooting one is a dream. Although I didn’t mention it specifically in my previous article on finding the right gun, I sorta fell in love with it by happenstance.  When trying out various wheel guns, a friend said I should definitely try a Detective Special, especially since I’m a bit of a Colt fanboy.

So I did.  I loved it.

There is very little recoil, the action and timing are on point, the trigger pull is smooth and clean in both double action and single action. The gun is a bit heavier than some of its competitors, but I also found it to be more accurate. It’s just a joy to shoot and it was by far and away the gun I was most comfortable using. To me, this reason and this reason alone was enough for me to go out and purchase one.


I paid a premium for this gun. Maybe even a bit too much. And carrying it daily and using it to practice at the range is certainly going to bring down the value of the gun, there are no two ways about it. But the reality is, with a little TLC this revolver should last me the next 20 years or more. If I take care of it properly, there’s no reason it shouldn’t hold some of its value. It’s a classic. And it will always be a classic. So, even though I’ve invested a good deal of money into it, I believe I’ll more than get my money’s worth while also owning piece of history to show for my investment.

A look at the pony on the gun. What a beautiful pony.

A look at the dancing pony on the gun. What a beautiful pony. So happy.  So free.

The Gun You’ll Carry

My boss Paul Helinksi — you may know him as the author of the Prepping 101 series — is filled with good advice on just about everything, from gas masks to rocket stoves to sewing machines to canning equipment to gold and silver to guitars to, well, you name it — and of course, he knows a thing or two about firearms. One piece of advice that he mentioned in one of his articles on concealed carry really rang true to me, which was buy the gun that you’ll actually carry. It’s a simple piece of advice but one that often gets overlooked in the hunt for “the best carry gun.” You have to buy a gun that you’ll carry. Otherwise, what’s the point? A gun sitting in a drawer will do you no good should you encounter a situation where you need one on your person.

Six rounds of .38 Special ought to be enough, right?

Six rounds of .38 Special ought to be enough, right?


Let me start by saying, I typically don’t get hung up on the capacity debate. Sure, more is always merrier, but capacity isn’t the end all be all. The way I see it, five rounds in the hands of Jerry Miculek is better than 10 rounds in the hands of an average shooter or 20 rounds in the hands of an inexperienced shooter. At the end of the day, it’s the skill and training of the workman that matters — not so much the tool. That said, a lot of revolvers in this smaller-framed class have a five-round cylinder. With the Detective Special, I get an extra round. I like that. Again, it’s not a huge deal in my mind but, hey, six is better than five.


Revolvers are renowned for being reliable. You pull the trigger and they go bang. Autoloaders or semi-autos have all sorts of issues that one doesn’t encounter with a wheel gun. You can’t limp wrist a revolver, or get a failure to feed or a stovepipe or a wonky magazine that won’t work. And from a functionality standpoint, you don’t have to rack the slide to chamber a round. Though, like the capacity debate, I don’t spend too much time jumping into the reliability fray — a subcategory of the pistol versus revolver debate — but I do like knowing that I have a gun that will perform consistently, especially during exigent circumstances when fine motor movement may be compromised.

Yikes. I'm a horrible shot. I'm right handed but left-eye dominant. It's going to take me awhile to break in this wheel gun, as it does with every other gun I've shot.

Yikes. I’m a horrible shot. I’m right handed but left-eye dominant. It’s going to take me awhile to break in this wheel gun, as it does with every other gun I’ve shot. Those wayward headshots were a result of trying to shoot left-handed.  I could see better, but had difficulty stabalizing the gun.

.38 Special

The one knock I’ll probably get from you guys is buying a gun chambered in .38 Special. I get it. .38 Special is not 9mm nor is it 45 ACP, the preferred rounds for most concealed carriers. Heck, one can even throw .40 S&W in there as well and say they’re all superior ballistically (in terms of energy and energy transference) to the .38 Special. Agreed. However, when one considers the option of overpressure ammunition then the supremacy of the other rounds isn’t quite so distinctive. Although the Detective Special isn’t made to handle the hotter +P round for the lifespan of the gun, Colt has authorized limited use of it.


Now that I’ve walked you through why I bought the gun that I bought, let me go over how I bought my Detective Special. But first, allow me to just say that some folks get bothered by the fact that I shill for GunsAmerica. As the news and political editor, they argue I should stay in my lane and focus on news and politics and leave the gun buying and selling component of the website alone.

But I’m proud of what we do. I’m proud of the services we provide to users. It’s my considered opinion that not only do we offer the best news and reviews in the gun industry but we also have the best platform for buying and selling guns. And I’m not afraid to brag about it.

How Does One Buy A Gun on GunsAmerica?

It’s easy. I broke it down into these steps, which are more theoretical than technical: Create an account. Start shopping. Find the gun. Contact the seller. Agree to terms. Wait for the gun to arrive.

I don’t want to over-complicate the process. It is that easy. The essential service that GunsAmerica provides is that it brings verified buyers and sellers together to conduct safe, legal transfers. While no system is 100 foolproof, we do our best to weed out the bad apples and ensure that one’s experience on the sales boards is intuitive. You should have no problems navigating the site or finding the right gun for your needs.

Create an Account

Creating an account is easy. As a buyer, you don’t have to create an account to browse. But when it comes time to pull the trigger (pun intended), you’ll need to set one up. I recommend signing up from the get go; it doesn’t take long, maybe five minutes. You can click here to set up your account if you haven’t already.

Here's a screenshot of what the account setup looks like. It's pretty straightforward. You can go to the homepage and just click on "Register" or "Quick Register" to get setup.

Here’s a screenshot of what the account setup looks like. It’s pretty straightforward. You can go to the homepage and just click on “Register” or “Quick Register” to get setup.

To verify yourself as a seller, you need to enter your credit card information. We ask that you do this because it helps to eliminate the grifters that are out there. Most swindlers, con artists, and Internet cheats don’t have legitimate credit card information to enter. So, again, this is a way to help filter out the cheats.

Start Shopping

Shopping for me is basically searching. There are several ways to search on GunsAmerica. You can do it by category, by FFL, by FREE LOCAL, by recent listings or more simply by typing in keywords. For me, I just typed in “Detective Special” in the search box, which yielded not only all the revolvers but accessories for them as well, mainly grips.

Here is part of my wishlist. I get this sent to me daily via emali. It lets me know what new colts have come up for sale. Once you set up your account, you can set up your wishlist very easily by clicking on the "Wishlist" button in the buyer's menu.

Here is part of my wishlist. I get this sent to me daily via emali. It lets me know what new colts have come up for sale. Once you set up your account, you can set up your wishlist very easily by clicking on the “Wishlist” button in the buyer’s menu.

What I’d also recommend doing is setting up a wishlist. It’s a real easy way to have new listing come to you. That’s right: instead of you having to search each day, perhaps multiple times a day, you can set up your wishlist and have the new listings emailed directly to you. It’s a great way to see what’s out there and stay ahead of the other shoppers to score the best deal possible.

Find the Gun

If you’re looking for a rare gun or a gun that isn’t all that popular, finding the gun can be a time-consuming process. It may take days or weeks before the gun you want pops up for sale. Be patient. It’ll happen. It took me at least two weeks before I found the right deal for me.

This is what I see when I long in from 72901.

FREE LOCAL in 72901.

One thing I want to mention is that we now have FREE LOCAL on GunsAmerica, which means that all gun listings within a 50-mile radius of your address are free — no listing fee for the seller, no after sale fee for the buyer. If you’re not in a hurry, this is the optimal way to buy a gun on GunsAmerica. Why? Because it’s free! Plus, there are a whole bunch of other advantages to shopping local. Click here for details.

Contact the Seller

When you're logged in, and viewing a specific listing, you'll see this little box. You type in your message to the seller, and hit send. This should get the ball rolling.

When you’re logged in, and viewing a specific listing, you’ll see this little box. You type in your message to the seller, and click “Contact Seller.” This should get the ball rolling.

As the old saying goes, buyer beware. I don’t trust anyone, especially when money is involved. Buying a gun online is a big deal for me. I get nervous. When I contacted the seller of Detective Special, I didn’t just do it over email. I texted him. And called him several times. I actually made him send me photos of the gun in front of a TV showing a live NCAA basketball game just to prove to me that the gun was in his possession and that he wasn’t a scammer. He obliged, though he probably thought I was nuts.

Bottom line, I don’t think you can do too much due diligence on the seller. Protect your wallet. Go the extra mile. For more on how to do this, check out this article: DON’T GET SCAMMED: FIVE TIPS FOR ONLINE GUN BUYING, SELLING

Agree to Terms

On the main page you'll see this dropdown. It gives you a quick orientation as to how to get started.

On the main page you’ll see this dropdown. It gives you a quick orientation as to how to get started.  Guns Near Me is FREE LOCAL.  Advanced Search is a more exact way to find a specific gun.  Browse Categories is searching by Category.  New Today is guns that were recently posted.  Auctions Ending Soon is a direct link to various auctions.  And FFL Search is a way to find specific FFLs.  Pretty self-explanatory.

Negotiate! Just because the sale price of a firearm is listed as “x” doesn’t mean the seller has to sell it for “x.” And if you don’t ask for a lower price, the chances of you getting a better deal is zero. So, always ask. Because if you don’t ask, you don’t know.

I put out a few offers on a several different Detective Specials. I try to be respectful with my offers. No lowballs. Lowballing is a waste of time for you and him (or her), plus it rubs some people the wrong way. Make a reasonable offer and see what happens.

With my Detective Special, I got a pretty good deal. Not great but good. I was happy. He was too. Probably the best way to pay for the gun is by money order. What we agreed to do was for me to send the money order to his local FFL who would hold the gun until the check was received. I also spoke to his FFL on the phone, he verified both the condition of the gun and that it was in his brick-and-mortar storefront.

The next thing we had to do was to figure out how to ship the gun from West Virginia to Kentucky, and terms of who would pay for what part of the shipping. Being the kind gentleman that he was, he paid for the shipping on his end, and from his FFL in W. Va. to my FFL in Kentucky. All I had to do was pass a background check and pay for the transfer fee on my end. $25. Not too bad.

Wait for the Gun to Arrive

Arguably the hardest part of the process. Once you’ve purchased the gun, and money’s exchanged hands, now the wait begins. I wish I had an antidote to help with the wait but I don’t. It’s hard.


Buying a gun on GunsAmerica is easy. Chances are many of you have already done it. For those of you who are new the website or new to the gun industry, I’d suggest you start by figuring out what gun it is you want and then setting up an account and a wishlist on GunsAmerica so that you can track new listings and get a sense of what the market value is for that gun. Once the right deal comes along, you’ll be able to contact the seller and hopefully agree to terms. Again it’s easy. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Paul W. August 7, 2016, 4:31 pm

    Colt! Good choice. I bought a used Agent 20-some years ago.
    When I grab a carry gun, it is often my first choice, as opposed
    to one of my 9mm’s. Like my Korean DP 9.

  • Texan April 23, 2016, 10:12 pm

    It doesn’t matter what caliber you have. A well placed small caliber shot beat a missed large caliber shot any day. In examining your target, you could have your trigger finger too deep on the trigger. Try using the tip or “pad” of your finger rather than getting close to the knuckle crease. I think you’ll find that your shots will move closer to the bull. Congratulations on your first handgun! EVERYBODY remembers their first one and, if you are smart, you will never, ever, sell it as it quickly becomes part of who you are and your life history!

  • jim black April 22, 2016, 8:36 pm

    Iam right handed left eye dominant lefty rifle righty pistola both eyes open

  • Will Drider April 22, 2016, 1:25 pm

    As long as you like it and the bag guys don’t have time to hate it: all is good. Only time in the saddle will confirm your choice.

  • Barry D Thomas Sr April 22, 2016, 11:58 am

    I like you shoot Right Aim Left Due to a Sports Injury when I was Young, My First gun was a Charter Arms Undercover 38 Spcl
    i bought in 1975, still have it here and have always liked it. if needed it can do the job with PROPER Ammo. I live in NJ and have to use non hollow point ammo, at my fathers suggestion i use Lead semi wad cutters

    Good Luck!

  • Randy G April 22, 2016, 8:09 am

    Here in North Carolina we have “a lot” of gun shows around the state throughout the year, if there is a handgun or rifle we want to purchase we merely have to wait till it shows up at a show and .. bingo .. just buy it and take it home. I should explain that this is for a “Concealed Carry Permit” holder only. No looking for a FFL dealer, no money order or bank note and no waiting for the weapon to arrive. A note for those looking to read something into the “buy it and take it home part .. To be a CCP holder you must pass a background check by the local police/sheriff then the NCIC and then the FBI .. you must be finger printed as well .. then about 8-12 weeks later you get a call from the local police/sheriff’s department and you go pick up your license .
    Also .. a North Carolina license is somewhat a-kin to a UTAH license .. it’s good almost everywhere in the USA. There is only a handful of states that do not recognize it (MA, DC, CA, OR and a few of the New England states .. and I wouldn’t want to go there anyways.

  • Eric Haldeman April 22, 2016, 6:48 am

    I see you frequent Open Range. Have you been to the Armory (the old TG&G)? Its not as fancy but has more shooting lanes, isn’t as “gun snobbish”, and is a lot more affordable. Just a thought for you to ponder. Nice to see a fellow Louisville area resident though!!

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