If you are a survival or military enthusiast looking to turn your hobby into a career and know your stuff, you may consider starting a military surplus store to service current and ex-servicemen and women, law enforcement officials, hunters, backpackers, survival and outdoor enthusiasts, and federal and state agencies. Generally, you will need to outfit your customers with tactical gear and clothing, weapons, ammunition and military memorabilia. Supplement your income by providing weapons or survival training.

Things You Will Need
  • Liability insurance

  • Business permits

  • Supplies and equipment

  • Range

  • Classes

  • Instructors

Step 1.

Determine if offering gun or survival classes is a worthwhile endeavor. If your town lacks a suitable indoor or outdoor range, but has plenty of gun enthusiasts, consider building one. If so, start with your local town hall. Present your idea to local residents to garner feedback. Contact your zoning authority to confirm the viability of opening an indoor or outdoor gun range. Learn what steps you need to take to secure a permit.

Step 2.

Secure a high-visibility, easily accessible location suitable for the services you will offer. For example, if you will offer self-defense or gun classes, you will need a suitable facility to hold classes. In addition to the storefront, look for a storage room to contain any excess inventory. If possible, place the business near a military installation, which will likely be a large portion of your customer base.

Step 3.

Become or hire an National Rifle Association-certified instructor, if you will offer classes. Ensure your instructors are insured. Offer basic and advanced weapons training, conceal-and-carry training, survival training and self-defense classes. Consider targeting certain demographics, such as self defense for women or gun safety for youths. Have your facilities and curriculum inspected, as necessary, by your state’s department of safety.

Additionally, if you'll sell firearms, apply for your Class III license. Visit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Online to download the applicable firearms form and packet information.

Step 4.

Visit government auction websites, such as govsales.gov and govliquidation.com, to buy wholesale military equipment and surplus gear, as well as find auctions in your region. Though these companies typically offer shipping, it may be cheaper to pick up the equipment and supplies yourself, if you own a truck and trailer and live close enough.

Step 5.

Supplement your inventory by buying wholesale survivor gear and equipment from online wholesale suppliers.


Visit the Small Business Administration’s website for information on developing a business plan. Whether you intend to procure financing or finance your business, a solid business plan will help ensure that you address all potential liabilities and expenses, and help you stick to your budget.

Get involved in the community, particularly if offering class instruction. Join your chamber of commerce and work with your local police department to help promote self-defense and gun safety.