Bad Day At Allen Arms

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 10 months ago

So my second son Joseph is in town from Austin, Texas.  I took him and my daughter Devon to the shooting range at Allen Arms in Greenville, S.C. on Monday (we were in Greenville visiting other family).  I had previously purchased an M1 Carbine at Allen Arms, had free range passes and figured I would use them.  I could have gone to a new range near there named Sharpshooters, but chose instead to go back where I got the rifle.

As I thought about which of my guns to shoot, I decided to carry guns that used .38, .357 magnum, .45 and .30 Carbine.  I had left my ammunition in the truck because if you don’t purchase and use their ammunition they charge a fee.  As I walked towards the store I found myself wondering, “They won’t have .30 Carbine FMJ any more than Sharpshooters (who doesn’t charge an ammunition fee), Hyatt Gun Shop (Charlotte), Shooter’s Express (Belmont, N.C., who also doesn’t charge an ammunition fee), or Firepower (Matthews, N.C., who doesn’t charge an ammunition fee either).  Surely they won’t be so stupid as to charge me for shooting my own ammunition if they don’t have it to buy.”

I get in there and ask about .30 Carbine ammunition and they claim they have it.  They trot out .30 Carbine personal defense ammunition (you know, the $1.50 per round stuff).  I respond that I’ll use my own since no one in their right mind sends personal defense ammunition down range for target practice.

We shoot knowing that I will have an ammunition fee, and enjoyed the day, but come out to the ammunition fee times three, or $15 total.  I pay it, along with the other costs, but again I say to them that I just don’t understand why they would charge me an ammunition fee if they don’t sell range ammunition.

The guy behind the counter then began to get snarky with me and said they did have it.  I responded, “That’s like saying I want to shoot .45, and the only thing you sell is Gold Dot .45, and since I am unwilling to send Gold Dots down range you’re going to charge me an ammunition fee.”  He responded, “But that’s all we have.”  To which I pointed out that he made my point for me.  They didn’t have FMJ or MC ammunition, which is why I shot my own.  I went in prepared for an ammunition fee while they sell my spent brass (however silly I think such a rule is).  I wasn’t prepared for being told I had to send personal defense ammunition down range or be charged extra.

He said “Well, that’s the store’s policy.”  I pointed out to him that they are going to have to deal with issues like that if they want to compete with Sharpshooter’s, after which he got really testy and I figured that it made no sense to continue the idiotic conversation.

Needless to say, this was all very off-putting for Joseph, who made comparisons of Allen Arms with Red’s in Austin, Texas.  So be it.  There’s a new range starting up in Simpsonville, S.C., and Sharpshooter’s has surely taken customers away from Allen Arms.  The old guard will learn to compete or they will go out of business.  Either way, I hope Allen Arms enjoys my $15.  It’s the last of my money they will see.  They lost a valuable customer on Monday.

  • Charles Curran

    Worst of all, they insulted a customer who bought a M1 there. Talk about an idiot. Wonder how many of your readers live nearby?

  • Paul B

    If you piss on your customers long enough they will decide they do not need the abuse and you will have neither customers or a store.

    That is called bad luck.

    We have a range around here that has a similar philosophy. Since the DNR backs that one I doubt it will go away soon.

  • Pingback: Something I have been saying for a while - Charging a ammo fee at the range is gonna cost you customers... | The Gun Feed()


    Mr. Smith….your example in the shooting store is indicative of the indifferent mindset of many various businesses. Not just in the firearms realm.

    Recently my wife and I went to a bar/restaurant that we often frequented. Mind you….they’re a bar who serves food. Not a restaurant who sells beer. Long story short….a young couple was there across from us with a 2 year old child. Kid started acting up. Parents refused to silence the kid. Okay fine. I tried to endure this kid with the tantrum. But as we waited for our food to be served I looked over at the mom and she was stuffing her face while the child was wailing. No concern for others. “Hurrah for me and the hell with you”….appeared to be the parent’s mantra. I went to management, complained and they told me there was nothing they could do. So, I told them I could do something….Take my business and my good tipping elsewhere. We paid for our drinks and told the manager to take our food to the bad parents; let them pay for it. We left. After many years of patronizing this bar we won’t be back.

    So….sadly the indifference you cited at the gun shop/range is epidemic in America today.

    “Hurrah for me and the hell with you”.

  • Joe

    Well, I get what you are saying, but in their defense I went to both the Allen Arms website and the Sharp Shooters site…. Allen Arms charges $10 for the range and then $5 for the ammo fee. Sharp Shooters charges $15 for the no-ammo fee range session, so essentially all they did was just roll the $5 fee into the cost of the range. Granted, you did get hit 3x on that fee which is pretty dirty, but its still kind of a wash overall.

    I dont like it either, and truth be told I would bet that Allen Arms is doing all that just so they can sell people more of their high dollar ammo to burn up at their range. I think its dirty, and I wouldn’t go there anymore either.

  • Herschel Smith

    Joe, I didn’t complain about the ammo fee (I could write separately and comment on that). My complaint was that they charged it for shooting my own FMJ ammo when they couldn’t sell me anything but PD ammo. Only a moron shoots PD ammo down range for practice (unless you’re doing away with it because of shelf life issues – and I wasn’t).

  • PubliusII

    They obviously see the profit from selling ammo as part of their revenue stream, and that underwrites their range fees. I understand the financial thinking behind that. However, as everybody’s pointing out, it makes for lousy customer relations.

    What surprises me is that ranges don’t use a version of the punch card that even hippie coffee shops have figured out. Each trip to the range gets a punch on the card, and after some number of punches, your next visit is free.

    Perhaps they should offer memberships in a variety of prices, instead of one fat annual fee (as around here): you’d get 10 visits for the price of 8 prepaid, or something like that.

    In any case, during the current shortage it’s only natural that people want to bring their own (cheap, basic) ammo. Ranges ought to be savvy enough to alter the basic business model under the present circumstances.

  • Herschel Smith

    Yea, I’ve got the revenue stream thing, and that’s part of the reason that I chose to go back to Allen Arms. I bought my other ammo there, and had no complaints about it (except poor quality for the .38 and it tended to have tolerance problems and get stuck). My only complaint is that they thought I should send PD ammo down range, and buy it from them, no less. And then they tried to make the case that since PD ammo was all they had in .30 carbine, that’s what I should have to use. It was unthinking and totally capricious in their application of what is an otherwise unobjectionable policy.

  • Josh

    As I said elsewhere on another article, I lost three cards chock full of range passes to Allen Arms in the wash. I had earned all of the passes with three firearms purchases.

    When I asked if they could just look up my purchases to confirm and simply crosscheck my range visits to reissue the passes (I hand’t made use of any of them yet), they outright refused. Immediately. They didn’t even give it a second thought. This after around $2000 of business with them.

    Truly deplorable customer service. Sharpshooters is cleaner, bigger and the staff more friendly. The range in Pickens is free, open and not crowded by dangerous noobs. We’ll see how “The Gun Shop” in Simpsonville fairs once they open their range.

    Allen Arms. Never again…

  • FredFlintstone

    i have had hit or miss success with AA, but i find them to be monumentally better than PSA. PSA has not only the worst customer service of any firearms dealer in the upstate that i have visited, but they could have the worst customer service of ANY business i have visited in general. they’re simply awful.

  • Herschel Smith

    Really? Hmmm … I’m glad you weighed in on this. I had never visited their store but intended to this weekend (didn’t get around to it).
    You mean the PSA right on Woodruff Road, right?

  • Josh

    Details? I was thinking about heading down there at some point.

You are currently reading "Bad Day At Allen Arms", entry #11057 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Ammunition,Guns and was published July 30th, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

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