While finances alone can unfortunately be a major concern when arming yourself, what often makes the process more difficult for people is that they actually have very little idea of what to even expect in terms of costs.
Some of the costs covered may seem insignificant, but it all adds up. Having a more complete view of costs allows those less fortunate to plan accordingly. Everyone entitled to legitimate self-defence should have the best possible chance at equipping themselves adequately, and I hope the following table will contribute towards that ideal.
The example we’ll use here is that of a defensive handgun for private use (non-business).
Proficiency Training – R 1500.00
Certified copy of permanent residency certificate if not a citizen – R 1.00
Cost of appeal (if needed) – Variable
Medical competency (if needed) – R 550.00
Complete the two required modules. Consider completing additional units you expect to require in future at the same time – for a cost reduction.
Check that the training provider includes firearm rental, ammunition and range fees in the course.
Save your additional colour photos for your licence application.
If you answer yes to question 14 on the SAPS517 form, you may need to get medical competency from your physician.
Dependent on needs
Cost of mandatory services for finance – Dependent on dealer
Cost of appeal (if needed) – Variable
Cost of reapplication (if needed) – See licensing
Enquire about handling fees charged should your application to license be unsuccessful. Check that the fees are reasonable.
To return a firearm less the handling fee, you’ll need to have complied with some terms from the dealer. Those usually include at least two attempts to license/appeal the decision that you cannot license it. Consider the costs.
Dealers usually include a period of free storage, but should your application not be completed in time, ask about monthly storage fees.
Some dealers offer finance options on firearms. A large deposit is usually payable, and then the balance is settled upon collection. To qualify you may need to use other services from the dealer – usually a paid motivation.
See 'continued costs' section below to assist in your purchasing decision.
License Application – R 140.00
Cost of appeal (if needed) – Variable
Cost of reapplication (if needed) – Variable
Reuse photos from your competency for cost reduction. If you didn’t save them, add the additional costs.
You can compile your own motivation (only costing your time). Consult with friends who have successfully licensed firearms in the past for advice. Keep it simple. Highlight your specific need. Do not submit someone else’s motivation.
You may also elect to have a motivation compiled for you. Several service providers can assist, at a cost. Some services offer additional benefits in reduced cost assistance should you be required to appeal a decision.
It is recommended to attach colour photos of your installed safe to the application. This means you’d need to purchase a safe before handing in your application. You may optionally elect not to attach those, but you will need to purchase a safe prior to collecting your firearm licence card from your DFO. Each person is required to have exclusive access to their firearm safe, so you’ll need to purchase one even if your family (including partners) or friend already has one. Consider future needs so that you only purchase once if possible.
4. Before you carry
Holster – R 600.00 and up, firearm dependent
Belt – R 500.00 and up
Spare magazines/ speed loaders/ speed strips – R 500.00 and up each. Firearm dependent.
Magazines / Speed loader / Speed strip holders – R 250.00 and up
We have several local manufacturers who can assist in selecting a suitable holster and carry position. Ask for assistance. Everyone ends up with a drawer of unused/unusable holsters. A rigid material is preferable.
You will need to function test the ammunition you select to carry. Opinions on sufficient testing vary, but consider that you will need to fire at least 100 rounds of your selected ammunition to make sure it works correctly in your firearm. You may need to repeat this test with a different brand of ammunition, should it fail. Premium hollow points are considered ideal for self-defence.
You will need to purchase enough ammunition to fill all the magazines you intend to carry with you. At least two magazines are recommended. More if you have a lower magazine capacity.
You will need to purchase a cleaning kit and lubricants for your firearm.
It is recommended that you purchase a belt suitable for carrying your new firearm and magazines. They can be purchased from your preferred holster manufacturer or local gun shop.
Should your firearm not come with at least two magazines included, or have limited magazine capacity and require an additional magazine, it is recommended you purchase more magazines.
Magazine/speedloader/speed strip holders are useful for quickly accessing spare ammunition. It is recommended that you invest in such holders.
5. Recommended next step
One-day training – R 750.00 and up
Eye protection – R 200.00 and up
Ear protection – R 50.00 and up
A one-day fundamentals course is of great value and would be an excellent next step in preparing yourself for self-defence carry. Training as you intend to carry is beneficial, so having your holster and ammunition holders in place is recommended.
Optional items to purchase before attending your training course are eye protection and ear protection. These are mandatory on shooting ranges, and can usually be rented. Purchasing is optional, but recommended. Ear protection starts very cheaply for disposable ear plugs, but can run in to thousands of rands for electronic units. Similarly, eye protection starts off cheaply. Make sure that eye and ear protection is rated for use with firearms.
6. Ongoing ownership costs
Routine maintenance/maintenance kits – Firearm dependent
Cleaning consumables – Varies
Short-term insurance – Varies with your risk profile
Liability and legal insurance – R 99.00 per month and up
Gun rights annual membership – R 100.00 per year and up
Firearms require routine maintenance, as do all mechanical devices. Enquire with your firearm dealer for a cost summary on maintenance and parts availability prior to selecting a firearm.
With carry ammunition, regular replacement is encouraged, especially if you frequently rechamber rounds. Bullet setback may result in catastrophic malfunctions. Full replacement is recommended every six months for maximum confidence. A small function test cycle is recommended when replacing ammunition, even if it is with the same brand/type. Allow for slight overage in the number or rounds purchased.
Cleaning consumables will need to be replenished from time to time. The cost of solvents and lubricants is low and they typically last long.
Firearm insurance deserves consideration. You have spent a significant amount of money in selecting, acquiring, and licensing your firearm. You should carry it daily. Having insurance is added peace of mind.
Liability insurance and subsidised legal assistance is also worth consideration. You will incur legal costs should you ever need to defend yourself.
You may wish to join a gun rights organisation. They represent the greater firearms community, and work towards continued rights to own and carry firearms, using collective power. You can't stand alone to keep your rights. Some offer additional benefits to their members in the form of subsidised legal assistance.
7. Ongoing Training Costs
Dry-fire – Mostly free
Dummy rounds ('snap caps') – Varies by calibre
Sport shooting – Yearly membership and ammunition cost varies by organisation, competition frequency, and calibre.
You will need to train frequently to ensure all equipment is in working order and to improve your own firearms proficiency.
There are several options available for ongoing training, and a combination of these is recommended.
Dry-fire practice. This can be done at home using an empty firearm, or one with purpose-built dummy rounds ('snap caps'). Follow proper safety procedures when doing so.
Opinions vary on live fire training requirements, but you can expect to fire at least 100 rounds per month on the range for the duration of ownership, to maintain some level of proficiency.
Instructor-based training. Attending even more advanced training courses offered by certified trainers will improve your skill set and allows for active feedback on what you are doing right, and what needs improvement.
You can also elect to participate in one of the many shooting sports in South Africa, several of which are tailored specifically to the effective usage of handguns.
8. Additional cost factors to consider
Wardrobe adjustment and slightly more frequent replacement – Possibility, varies
There are some additional cost factors involved in carrying a firearm.
Depending on your carry method, firearms can damage clothes, requiring a slightly more frequent replacement of garments.
Successfully concealing a firearm, although not a legal requirement in the strictest sense (it must be covered but not concealed), might require purchasing larger pants and shirts. Depending on your current wardrobe, this may be an immediate cost, or one that will need to be addressed eventually.
Safe storage facilities aren’t available everywhere, and you will sometimes be required to make a choice between attending an event without your firearm, or not attending at all. Please consider a vehicle-mounted firearm safe for those occasions. It must be fitted by an authorized installer.
Note that ownership costs can vary wildly depending on the calibre selected. Please take this into consideration, using the conservative round counts supplied above to estimate your costs before purchasing.
By: Corné van Driel