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There are specialized POS systems built solely for firearms businesses.
Alternatively, some of the top providers of retail POS solutions offer add-ons to cover the extra functions that gun shops need.
Do you need the capacity to manage repairs, manufacture, and range operation, in addition to sales?
Which is the best way to go?
You'll find the right solution here in my guide of the 5 very best POS systems for gun stores.
Rapid Gun Systems - Best for shooting ranges
Trident 1 - Best for gunsmithing
Stratus Enterprise - Best for larger companies
Cumulus Retail - Best for compliance
Orchid Gun Show Select - Best for Mobile operations
As the name would suggest, Rapid Gun Systems is a POS solution specifically built for FFL certified gun stores.
This means you're not going to be paying for irrelevant or inappropriate features, while the main bases of gun store operations are well covered.
If your store has a range of operations beyond sales, the Rapid Gun Systems POS is especially useful for aspects such as shooting range management and gunsmithing.
The Rapid Gun Systems POS automates and simplifies most aspects of legal compliance for gun stores. Acquisitions & Dispositions reporting is handled via an e-Bound Book, while the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473 (required for all proposed purchases, whether successful or otherwise) can be completed in the system in e-format. For extra protection, the system is designed so that non-compliant information can't be submitted, being automatically rejected at the point of entry.
The one significant gap in compliance support regards the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), required for all customers seeking to purchase firearms. Unlike some of the other gun store POS systems, the Rapid Gun Systems software doesn't include a facility for completing the forms digitally, so there is a significant amount of manual paperwork to be filled out by the customer and filed by the gun store (although the system will then process the actual checking).
Shooting range operations are a real strength of the Rapid Gun Systems package, especially if you take full advantage by purchasing the EZFacility add-on. You can handle all the bookings and payments, create custom membership and course categories, process firearms rentals, and returns, and even create a priority booking system for premium members during peak times.
The system is set up to handle multiple shooting ranges and provide usage information in real-time. Overall, Rapid Gun Systems is the best of the bunch for gun stores who consider a shooting range as central to their business model.
In addition to sales and shooting range management, the Rapid Gun Systems point of sale solution covers all the main bases for stores looking to add repairs and services to their repertoire. Estimates and bookings can be entered directly into the system, with service tickets and work orders being generated accordingly. The software automatically completes the A&D book with all the relevant information to keep your service operations fully compliant.
The cloud-based Trident 1 FFL POS system is another point-of-sale package specifically designed for gun stores.
As such, it's chock full of powerful features not only to help your store remain compliant and keep track of inventory but also to actively support the growth of your gun store.
Let's jump right into a few of the specifics.
Every successful business owner is aware that providing quality goods and services isn't enough to grow in a competitive market. Knowing your customers is equally important; it makes them feel valued while letting you identify opportunities to improve your profitability by tapping into their preferences.
The Trident 1 gun store software allows you to create individual customer profiles, into which the system records purchases, subscriptions, due dates for membership fees, etc. You can then use this information to generate reminders or even alerts about the new products most likely to be of interest to specific customers.
Hand in hand with the CRM functionality, customer's eligibility data is stored alongside their purchase history. The entry system includes linking serial numbers to each transaction, whether a sale or repair, and using this information to populate your Acquisitions & Dispositions (A&D) book.
This is vital, since most spreadsheet software e.g. Microsoft Excel is not an ATF compliant equivalent of a "bound book". A digital A&D book has to include audit tracking i.e. retain a record of all corrections and changes made to the document. The Trident 1 gun store POS system is fully compliant with these regulations.
Unlike the Rapid Gun Systems POS, Trident 1 also allows for direct electronic completion of NICS background checks.
This is where the Trident 1 system really shines as an all-in-one solution. At one end, the software can be fully integrated with your existing website, taking care of range bookings, customer registration, renewals, etc.
All of this is fed back into the main system and combined with your sales data to provide deep analysis of the performance of your business. You can even choose which metrics populate the user dashboard, giving you an at-a-glance overview of the most critical areas of your business.
Of course, in this industry, it's not just in-store that you need access to your POS system. Gun shows are a great opportunity to build your customer base and, because Trident 1 is in the cloud, there's nothing to stop you from maintaining full functionality whilst out on the road.
If you wan to maintain operations at your main site at the same time as selling at gun shows, you'll need a multi-user/multi-station package, which can be discussed when seeking a quotation.
Repairs and modifications aren't handled by the core program but an optional stand alone module handles these operations with ease. There's also an app for customers where they can view job progress and even get information direct from the technician in real time including notes and images related to the job.
The Stratus enterprise POS system from Celerant isn't a gun store-specific product.
Its core functionality is as an overall point of sale solution, alongside which there are add-ons that can be used to customize the software for gun store use.
On top of the basics you'd expect from most POS systems (inventory management, payment processing, accounting software etc.), the Stratus Retail system has a really strong focus on marketing and e-Commerce. The most applicable aspects of this for most gun stores being: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and email marketing services to grow your customer base.
The email marketing aspect is particularly impressive, as it allows the creation of custom mailings based on customer preferences and previous purchasing data.
Overall, the Stratus Enterprise system has plenty of powerful features. However, there may be a lot in there most gun stores are unlikely to use. Some of the more advanced marketing, inventory management, and performance tracking features are of more use to larger businesses such as manufacturers and wholesalers, so do think about how you'll use this software before choosing it over the more straightforward Cumulus Retail package from the same company.
You might expect a general POS solution that isn't specifically setup for gun stores to be less effective for ensuring ATF compliance than a bespoke gun store POS system. You'd be exactly wrong, the gun store add-ons for the Stratus Enterprise and Cumulus Retail systems provide the best compliance assurance of all the packages under review here.
Fully integrated ATF compliant A&D books and firearms history tracking, electronically processed NICS background checking and even a driver's license scanning function (which checks ID against federal databases and automatically populates the NICS forms with that data) are all great time-saving compliance features.
However, there's one thing that really makes this software stand out and provides extra peace of mind. As you know, ATF guidelines aren't static, and keeping on top of changes is vital to avoid costly compliance issues. The Stratus Retail POS system automatically updates every time there is a change to ATF rules, so compliance is maintained with minimal user input.
Celerant do offer basic range management services through both the Stratus Enterprise and Cumulus Retail POS systems. You can make and track bookings, assign lanes and monitor usage by each registered member. The downside of this system compared to some others is these processes have to be carried out on-site. You can pay extra for Celerant to build you a custom website which will handle online bookings, but there is currently no facility to take customer deposits via this system so all payments will have to be processed at the range.
Cumulus Retail is the other Celerant Point of Sale system suitable for gun stores.
It doesn't have quite the same range of business features as the Stratus system, but the majority of those are geared towards larger companies such as wholesalers or stores with multiple outlets.
This streamlined system is more geared towards individual stores and represents great value for most gun stores.
Although Cumulus is the cheaper of the two options from Celerant, ATF compliance is an area where the company knows you can't afford to cut any corners. The same powerful features which make Celerant's higher-end POS system a top pick for compliance are present here in full.
This is one of the main aspects in which the Cumulus system is (theoretically) less comprehensive than Stratus. Although both have the option for either off-the-shelf or custom-designed e-Commerce website solutions, Stratus is designed for optimum integration with other major sales platforms such as Amazon, eBay, etc. For some businesses this is a worthwhile addition but, unless you're planning to sell a lot of merchandise, clothing, or airsoft alongside your gun sales, these features may well be less relevant to your gun store.
Although Cumulus Retail is cloud-based like most of the POS systems in my review, it has a handy "always-on" feature which protects you from any issues caused by temporary loss of internet. Any transactions or customer data run through the system when disconnected is saved into a cache and automatically uploaded to the servers once you get plugged back in.
As the name suggests, the Orchid Gun Show Select FFL POS system is designed for those who like to get out on the road and use gun shows as a key aspect of their business.
Everything is designed around switching back and forth between on-site and off-site operations as smoothly as possible. It's also one of the least costly solutions on the market, giving great value for money.
That lower price point doesn't come with added compliance risk either, the team behind Orchid GSS includes lawyers with their own FFL certification and a great deal of experience in legal compliance.
This system is very much aimed at retail gun stores, lacking the gunsmithing and range management facilities of some of the other packages reviewed here.
As a cloud-based system, you can take Orchid Gun Show Select on the road without having to drag your main in-store computer with you. More importantly, the sales and bookings you take at a show are automatically updated to your main system and can be viewed in the gun store in real-time. This prevents embarrassing situations like a show customer ordering a firearm from your shop inventory and the same piece being sold later that day.
Orchid GSS contains most of the back office support you'd expect from a more expensive package. Sales reporting and employee management can all be handled by this POS system.
The inventory management features are particularly helpful for FFL stores, allowing the creation of distinct categories for guns, accessories, ammo, special orders, and whatever else your business decides to sell. Once categorized, you can then run reports on your best sellers and best earners at category and product level.
One downside of the Orchid GSS gun store point of sale system is ATF compliance features aren't included in the core package. However, from just $19.95/month, you can purchase the Orchid Ebound add-on, which contains an electronic A&D book and ATF form 4473 service. The compliance protection isn't quite as comprehensive as for a couple of the other systems, lacking the NICS functionality of the Celerant software options, but it is a big help in covering a couple of the major bases
Choosing the best gun store POS system is a case of balancing the legal requirements with the specific needs of your business. While one is absolutely vital to avoid fines or the loss of FFL certification, the other will have a direct impact on growth and profitability.
Federal Firearms License (FFL) certified gun stores have to make ATF compliance an absolute priority. It doesn't matter how efficiently your business is running if one slip-up can cost everything you've worked for.
At the very least, that means you need systems in place for processing customer information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) — FBI, maintaining an ATF compliant A&D bound book, and the completion and submitting of ATF Form 4473 (the Federal Firearms Transaction Record). National Firearms Act (NFA) Reporting is also required for some, but not all, firearms, so a system which can identify NFA firearms will save time and hassle.
Irregularities in your paperwork discovered during a Firearms Compliance Inspection are highly problematic, but can be avoided if your choice of gun shop POS system is programmed to automatically check input data for compliance.
Business owners in the firearms industry have different areas of focus.
Hunting stores will have different needs to repair centers or shooting ranges, while many gun stores operate as a combination of all three.
On the retail POS system side, some systems are very much geared to in-store gun sales whilst others are better suited to stores who regularly frequent shows or who move a significant portion of their inventory via online sales or auctions.
Knowing your business and customer base is essential in choosing the best system available for your gun store.
Regardless of which services provide the majority of a store's income, ongoing success will rely on building strong customer relationships. Business owners and their employees will find this much easier if their POS system includes comprehensive and easy to use customer management features.
If you're just starting out, it might be hard to tell initially what your most valuable revenue streams will be and therefore which is the best gun store POS for you. If that's the case, it's worth investing in a balanced system which does a bit of everything, even if it isn't top of the class in any one category.
All of these gun store POS systems have their own strengths and weaknesses. If you do need a system that covers all areas of operations including gunsmithing and range management, I'd recommend Trident 1 slightly ahead of Rapid Gun systems, primarily for the integrated NICS background checks.
If you're strictly a retail outlet, either gun store POS system from Celerant will give you excellent business features if your budget stretches that far. Otherwise, the budget Orchid Gun Show Select software is perfectly adequate for the needs of most small gun stores.