Thursday, June 9, 2011

Emails I Get - Political / Obama Lawn Sign, well sort of an Obama sign...

A friend of mine sent me a copy of the below pic in an email this evening. I am not going to tell you for whom I think you should vote in 2012. By law, while I can voice my opinion on candidates and tell you for whom I will vote, I cannot campaign for a candidate and I do not want to come even close to that line. The reason is because I am working in the executive branch of the federal government and laws prohibit me from such activity. 

Yet, I can share things like this with you. I am merely reporting on something someone sent me in an email. I will also tell you this, I think it is, as my friend told me, the greatest lawn sign ever!


Now, after I retire at the end of this year, you very likely will see what may amount to some campaigning here on this blog.

All the best,
Glenn B


Ballseye's Gun Shots 139: Trying to Choose A Favorite Ammo Dealer - It's Not That Easy

I don't remember if I ever mentioned it in any of my blog posts but I used to have a definite favorite ammo dealer. That was SportsmansGuide.com (SG). They are, in my estimation, still a great source for ammo but I am not so sure they are my favorite. Granted, they offer a lot of ammo brands in almost every imaginable modern caliber but things have changed with their standing somewhat. First and foremost, their prices do not seem to me as competitive as they were as recently as about 6 months to a year ago. As of late, it seems to me that their prices for some ammo, mind you not all of it, are what I consider to be pretty darned high when comparing them to those of other online dealers.


It used to be that their prices were quite competitive and usually beat other ammo sellers such as CheaperThanDirt.com. Then I started to find better prices, on ammo I needed or wanted to buy, at Cheaper Than Dirt. They were not only beating SG's regular prices but also SG's Buyer's Club prices. (The SG Buyer's Club is basically a fee for price reduction deal. You pay a yearly fee, then they sell you most items at a 10% discount and ammo at a 5% discount on virtually every sale.) CTD had about the same availability of brands and calibers as did SG or so it seemed. The thing where there seemed a really big departure was that they usually did not offer ammo in bulk as often as does SG. As I said though, their prices appeared to be better. Well, I was about to proclaim them as top dog and start buying most of my ammo from them until I realized hey wait a minute, their prices were again being beat by SG in many instances depending on what ammo I was looking at. This had me flummoxed. I guess it is just the nature of competition on the free market, each company always trying to outdo the other whenever they can. I am okay with that but bear in mind - I am also better than okay with me getting the best prices. So I started shopping around more.


As you can see by the link list on the right side of my blog page, I list several ammo dealers in the Blue Zone section headed: BUY FIREARMS, AMMO, ACCESSORIES & PARTS. With the possible exception of one or two at most (an I don't really think there are any exceptions), I have made purchases at one time or another from all of them. I don't get any sort of pay, fees, discounts, or kickbacks from any of them for giving them a link on my blog page.  do it not so much to help them out but to help out folks who may be looking for a decent place to make a firearm's related purchase. Since i have had decent results when buying from them, I give them the courtesy of a link here. I used to have some others listed but removed the links when they, in my opinion, turned out to be less than reputable or had piss poor customer service or sold crap.


Yes, every now and then I shop around for new dealers I have not tried before. If I find one that has a betterprice (including shipping) on something most of them have in stock, then may try the new place just because of price. Other times, I may be looking for something that no one seems to have, then I find one place that does and I go with them. Each time I try a new place, I am looking for the one that may become my favorite. As you can see from above, I have been sort of see-sawing between two of the bigger companies that deal in ammo online. Most of the time, the best deals I have found have been with the bigger dealers like CTD and SG. Big companies though do not always offer the best deals and I sometimes found better deals, now and again, at smaller companies - sort of mom & pop online dealers. That has usually been the exception though, the big guys almost always beat the small guy's prices. The big guys usually also offer a much wider selection of ammo.


Still though, I have found a small company or two that, over the past several months, have consistently beat out those two giants, well I think they are small companies anyhow, when it comes to certain types of ammo I buy and one of those smaller companies virtually always has the best price for those ammo types whenever I have looked to them for it. That company is MilitaryShooters.com. They have had the best prices I could find on Fiocchi 9mm, Russian Surplus 7.62x54R, and on Silver Bear 7.62x39 ammo and they have had it available when I wanted it. My hat goes off to them as my favorite small ammo dealer, mostly due to price, availability and customer service relative to the types of ammo I have purchased from them. Albeit, they are a dealer that does not usually stock every brand, caliber or type of ammo I want but when they have what I want it has been at the best prices I have found. They, as do SG and CTD also offer a bunch of products other than Ammo, I think all of them related to outdoors pursuits (yes, I know shooting can be an indoor thing).


You may have noticed that I did not just call Military Shooters (MS) my favorite ammo dealer; I said they are now my favorite small ammo dealer and there is a big difference in that little distinction between my favorite ammo dealer and my favorite small ammo dealer. As you can tell from above, one of the main things I take into consideration when choosing my favorite ammo dealer is price but that surely is not the only thing nor necessarily the most important thing. While I like a good deal price wise, a deal can often be made sweeter or soured due to other considerations. Things like poor customer service, lack of availability, bait and switch, taking forever to mail out an order - can make price one of the least of my considerations - well,  within reason anyway. For a company to become one of my favorites I expect them to have products I am seeking available on a regular basis (if possible, it is just not possible sometimes), to have what they advertise for sale as actually in stock or otherwise prominently note it is not in stock, to have an easy to navigate website, to take credit cards, to get my orders right, to send out my orders within a reasonable amount of time, to give me a way to track my order, to have respectful customer service reps if something went wrong or I simply make an inquiry, to promptly correct anything they got wrong at no additional expense to me and have no doubt - to have good competitive prices. There are a couple of other things that go a long way toward making a favorite and those are the little personal touches such as an email from the company reps saying how they appreciate my business, or they apologize for something that went wrong, or that let me know they actually read and appreciated an email I sent to them complimenting them on their good business practices. Sometimes, I have even gotten service like that from the big companies, well one of them.


So, I guess if I had to pick my favorite larger online ammo dealer, out of the ones I have over in the links on the right side of the blog, I would still have to stick with the Sportsman'sGuide. They routinely have the ammo I want, often have it in bulk, usually have competitive prices at least on hunting ammo and rimfire ammo, they - if not always - sometimes have very competive prices on things like self defense ammo, they have a good return policy (most dealers will not accept returns on ammo but SG has done it when they really messed up an order), have customer service that may sometimes screw-up but always makes better and does so cheerfully, and has at least 2 customer service reps of whom I can think that went out of their way to assure I was satisfied with how foul ups got resolved. I would rather a company did not screw up in the first place but let's be realistic - doody happens. When it does they have always made it right for me at SG.


Still though, I have not nailed down who is my all time favorite online ammo dealer among both the big and little guys. Man, that is a tough decision and one I do not think  am going to decide upon for awhile. It is just too tough choosing between Sportsman's Guide and Military Shooters and who knows, tomorrow there could be Brand X that just knocks both of them out of contention. For now, let me just say, these two online ammo dealers (and as I said above, they also offer lots of other stuff) are hard to beat. Places like Cheaper Than Dirt, Ammunition To Go, SG Ammo, Natchez Shooters' Supplies and Midway USA are giving them a run for the money but for now those two are at the top of my list. Oh, if you are wondering why I give them the links and why I give them a write-up like this, when I don't get anything from them in return, it is just very old fashioned common courtesy based upon mutual respect and it is also so my readers can readily find recommended dealers of shooting supplies. (Again a common courtesy since you are nice enough to read my blog.)


All the best,
Glenn B
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