Sunday, March 20, 2011

FFL Finder - A Review Of the iPhone App

FFL Finder is an iPhone app that lets you find gun dealers, gunsmiths, firearms manufacturers, Class III dealers and manufacturers, importers, and pawnbrokers that deal in firearms. It was developed by Warsaw, Illinois-based Hunt Geek, Inc. who says they make "techie tools for the outdoors".   I can't speak to their other apps but I did like FFL Finder.

I have used FFL Finder for the last week. It allows you to filter by up to nine FFL categories, find dealers within a specified radius of your current position, or find dealers across the United States by going to that location on the map. You can select from standard map, satellite view, or a combo of the two.

If you are looking for a certain dealer in a city, you can put part or all of their name in the search field. If you just want to know the name of all dealers within a 20-mile radius of either your current location or a spot on the map, you leave that field blank and go from there. FFL Finder does require an internet or WiFi connection to retrieve current data for display or mapping.

FFL Finder uses push-pins to indicate the location of all the hits it finds within the radius specified. You just tap on the pin and it will then list the dealer at that location. I had GPS enabled while I was doing the search above.

Tapping of the label will bring up complete information about the FFL. It also allows you to dial directly from the app by tapping on the phone number. One of my favorite local dealers, Carolina Mountain Tactical, is shown above. (All the screen shots were generated directly on my iPhone)

The info screen gives you the street address, phone number, and type of FFL. If you have GPS enabled, it will also tell you have far your current location is from the dealer's store.

The are two things I really like about FFL Finder. First is its ease of use. Like all good apps, it is intuitive. No special knowledge or instructions are needed to use this app. Second, even though I was familiar with the larger dealers in my area, I found a lot of smaller dealers, gunsmiths, and others that I had no clue were located near me. For example, I had read a good review of Galloway Precision's parts for the Ruger SR9 in The Truth About Guns. I just didn't realize that they were in the Asheville area until I used this app.

While FFL Finder does include a filter for collectors of curious and relics, no C&R FFL's are currently included in the database. I tested this by searching for myself. Jeff Hughes, co-founder of Hunt Geek and self-described Lead Dorkitecht, said this was a known problem and it was due to ATF not providing them with that information. However, the rest of the database is accurate and is normally updated on a quarterly basis.

This app does not search on a zip code. I think that would be a useful way to search as opposed to having to center the map on a city or town. When I asked Jeff Hughes about it, he said, zip code searches were "more data intensive - and due to the broad nature of zip codes, it would be less accurate." However, he said that they may add this feature later if there is enough user demand for this feature.

The app is $1.99 in the iTunes Store. It is a fair price for a really useful app especially if you are like me and check out gun stores when you travel on business or on vacation. The other apps from Hunt Geek are Rangefinder - a shot drop calculator, Knot Wars which illustrates 40 knots, and Shooting Hours which calculates sunrise, sunset, and shooting hours for your location.

In the interest of full disclosure and to keep the Federal Trade Commission happy, Hunt Geek provided me this app for free. That said, I would have happily paid for it.

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