Update: As with anything as subjective as a review, don’t take my word for gospel, it is only my opinion and only based on my limited personal experience. Please be sure to read the comments for other perspectives to make a fully informed decision. [/update]
Caleb at Call me Ahab came up with (what I think is) a great idea. He is doing a reviewing Indianapolis area gun shops and ranges.
Never being one afraid to brazenly appropriate other people’s good ideas, I decided to do the same for the Tidewater area. My reviews won’t be fast and furious, but what I’m going to do is, when I get around to it and am in the market for some range time and/or gun shop products, I’m going to consciously pick an establishment that I haven’t reviewed yet and do a post on them.
To make it easy for me…always a plus…I’m going to start out with the closer establishments (which I’ve probably patronized before) that are more convenient to me, and then fan out from there.
Bob’s is one of my “go-to” gun shops in the area and I’ve been there many times, however, I hadn’t shot in their range in quite a while so I did want to check that out.
Located in downtown Norfolk, I would normally not be thrilled with the location; however, the availability of a “back way” that is less heavily traveled than the main thoroughfares and the the presence of an adequate private parking lot negates my two major problems with the downtown Norfolk area: traffic and lack of parking.
Comfortably nestled into the corner of Granby St. and Olney Rd. just a couple of blocks from Scope (the local concert/convention center), Bob’s is housed in a strikingly ugly concrete box of a building. Fortunately for them, that’s about the only bad thing I can think of to say about them. If you are looking for beautiful architecture or a trendy facade, Bob’s is not for you…if, however, you are in the market for a friendly, knowledgeable staff, excellent selection with competitive pricing and a strong supporter of the Gun Rights community…you’ve found the right place.
The ground floor consists of the showroom and main sales area. It is very well organized and neat. One thing I despise in a retail outlet is disorganization. Every time I’ve been there, they have been adequately staffed to handle the volume of customers with little waiting. Every staff member has been friendly and helpful to me.
On this particular visit, I was perusing their selection of holsters (looking for an IWB for my CZ-82) when I overheard a conversation occurring at the counter. Three younger gentlemen came in and inquired about buying a .45 pistol. The person that this was for seemed to not be very familiar with firearms but had “been told” that a .45 was the only acceptable thing for self defense. Without going into too great a detail, the salesman did an excellent job of guiding the young man without talking down to him or making him feel stupid and ultimately, guided him to the range and offered to allow him to shoot a few of their rental guns free of charge to help him decide what would best suit his needs.
I’ve been in too many gun shops where asking a question invites the counter commando to impress you with his wisdom and expertise and only infuriated me with his attitude. I’ve NEVER had that happen at Bob’s . They accept questions at face value and don’t make assumptions about level of knowledge or try to “establish dominance” by baffling you with BS. They answer the questions…which is always a plus.
They carry a wide assortment of firearms in every genre from itty-bitty plinker to big-game hunting guns and from plane jane, no frills concealed carry pieces to full-out uber-tactical EBRs. They also stock a huge selection of reloading equipment, gun safes, and other accessories.
Moving on to the second floor, one finds a “warehouse” style ammunition sales area with probably the largest selection of ammunition in the Tidewater area. Of course, they concentrate on the more popular loadings, having several variations of each…Bob’s is the only place in this area that I can regularly find my preferred self-defense round, .45acp Federal Hydra-shok in 230 grain JHP. Most places carry only the 185 grain…but they also carry the more exotic calibers and loadings albeit with a somewhat more limited selection.
The third floor houses their pistol range. It is only (I believe) ten lanes and is limited to 11 yards, but is well maintained and well lighted, ventilation is good and, in the few times I’ve shot there, I’ve never had to wait. Customer service at the range is always great, but because of the short distance, I’d have to call it only adequate.
They also boast a good selection of rental guns and provide CHP training classes. The Range Fee is $10 (under 18 free when accompanied by a parent) with memberships for $125 per year or $75 for a half-year.
They also provide gunsmithing services but I’ve never availed myself of them so I can’t speak to that.
Overall, Bob’s is one of the best gun shop/ranges in the Tidewater area.