Retail stores on military bases have possibly the best retail pricing anywhere when you consider that there is no sales tax on Federal installations. This can mean $40 on your average $500.00 pistol. While few Army and Air force (AAFES) chain stores carry guns, the MCX (Marine Corps stores) make a point to carry a respectable stock of handguns at the larger bases. While it is unlawful in most circumstances for military personnel to carry handguns unless in a specific combat type duty assignment or on guard duty, officers and senior NCOs frequently enjoy the privilege of breaking such rules. This is in part due to certain obscure federal and state laws granting officers the right to always be armed. Certain members of elite units also frequently carry weapons on or off duty. Interestingly, this privilege is not usually extended to military police. Selective enforcement of gun laws on military bases is the norm and increases risk to some buyers. It is common for race, rank, age, and unit affiliation to play roles in this selective enforcement of restrictive base regulations.
The military PX will not sell to everyone. You must show a military ID card in order to buy anything there. You can be either active duty (green card) or reserve (red card) retired military or a dependent. No card, no purchase. While these rules may be overlooked for a tennis racket, they will not be overlooked for a pistol. Base authorities are also constantly on the lookout for "straw buyers" who will use their base privileges to buy firearms for someone else. Expect to be watched and followed by undercover personnel who have the right to search, seize and question you with no warrant and the slightest suspicion. The flip side is that the PX managers are usually eager to make a sale. They will usually be helpful in explaining the rules governing your purchase and any procedures necessary to facilitate the purchase. Rules governing your possession as soon as you leave the store are another matter. While most traditional gun shops are run by whites, many MCX stores are run by blacks. Black customers will probably find better treatment at the military PX than other firearms retailers.
Special orders are usually possible but difficult on military bases. You may have to be firm about getting something better than retail pricing since many of the order catalogs will only list retail prices. They may even mess up and charge you 10% over retail instead of 10% over wholesale. Keep your eye on things. They do not mean to gouge you, but they are not the most kind and competent folks around. The wholesalers are usually eager to oblige the orders since most military personnel who buy guns buy frequently and then get their friends to buy. It is smart marketing to cater to the military customer. Because of this, newer handguns that may not be readily available on the open market can commonly be found on the shelf at the base sporting goods store.
Military bases will often demand a certain redundancy of paperwork and regulations with the state that they are located in and sometimes the state in which the purchaser legally resides. If there is an inconsistency between the state and federal law, the base will favor whichever is more restrictive. They do not regularly respect restrictive city or county laws. Lower ranking enlisted personnel may need permission from their commanding officer in order to purchase firearms and are usually required to turn them in to their unit armory when not in use. Enlisted personnel are not privileged with the right to keep personal firearms in the barracks, but may register them and keep them in base family housing. Expect your purchase to also be registered with the Military Police.
For those buyers who wish to have a maximum of legal and verifiable protection for their purchases, it is hard to beat the PX. Since the military will retain records of the purchase independent of the state, it is virtually impossible for someone to come along later and make false accusations about your gun being illegally procured. Such false accusations become common when corrupt law enforcement officials or military authorities falsify a theft report on a gun owned by a innocent person in order to have something legal against them. This is usually facilitated by the fact that the original dealer may be out of business or simply bullied into "losing" or altering the record of the original legitimate purchase.