A few years ago, I reviewed a program designed to help gun owners document and archive important information about their firearms, related accessories, and ammunition. While I liked the old program I was using, the developer has apparently abandoned the project. My copy of the old program had become buggy, and there’s no support for it anymore. Fortunately, I recently discovered a new gun database program that is fantastic. It’s superior in many ways. It’s called Your Second Amendment Firearms Database (or “2AFDB” as an abbreviation later in this article).
There are a number of data points about your firearms, ammo, and related accessories you might want to keep recorded or track:
- Receipts and other paper documents (scanned or photographed)
- Acquired / purchased from source
- Price paid / current value
- Serial numbers
- Round count (rounds fired through each gun – an “odometer,” so to speak)
- Maintenance and repair records
- Ammunition inventory
- Range and training log
- Disposition / location (Is it in the safe? Is it in the shop? Did you loan it to someone? Sell it?)
Why? I can think of a few reasons. Such records can help if you ever sell any of your firearms. They can help in the case of loss (fire, flood, theft) for insurance claims and police reports. They can also help diagnose issues by having a history of each gun, ammo, and your usage. Another reason is for your own personal knowledge of how your guns are being used (a logbook), their condition, and value. It increases your enjoyment of owning and using firearms.
Yeah, but do I need an app for that?
Sure, you could use a piece of paper in the old file cabinet or even a spreadsheet to do this. But, a functionally-designed relational database has so much more to offer in terms of easy and convenient access to a plethora of information. How this “relational database” works will become evident later. But, basically, it means that all the data interacts and can be cross-referenced.
Your Second Amendment Firearms Database
I will start this review by admitting that, at first glance, this program looked rather “busy.” My first impression was that it was “too much.” Too much information. Too many things to fill in. Too detailed. And, possibly not intuitive or maybe difficult to use. Nevertheless, I jumped in. And, I was wrong on all counts. This review is necessarily long to show you why. Hang in there and check it out!
This database program is extremely well thought out. And, once you’ve got it set up, it is quite intuitive to use. And, you can use as little or as much of it as you want. You don’t have to fill in every blank field or use every feature. So, whether you’re a serious gun collector, or you’ve just got a few shooters, you’ll find this software quite handy.
What I like is that it’s actually FIVE separate databases that are INTEGRATED to work seamlessly together (relational database). Those five databases come in the form of what I’ll call “modules,” each of which is easily opened by the five main buttons at the top of the user interface (as you’ll see in the screen shots). The five modules are:
- Ammo Dump
- Range Records
Of course, I like having a detailed record of each gun I own. At the very least you should have a record of the Make, Model, and serial numbers in case of loss due to theft. (Hopefully, you have your firearms locked up in a safe.) But, it’s nice to have a record of other details and an inventory… for when you discover that you “need” different guns for different purposes…. like the ladies do with shoes and purses. 😉
You can record where and how you acquired the gun, price paid, current value, and other specifications such as: caliber, capacity, dimensions, weight, barrel length, barrel twist rate, rounds fired, finish, appraisals, insurance policies, and photos. Or, maybe NOT so many details.
You may initially choose to just record the gun model, serial number, and a photo. You can fill in the other details later, if you like.
You can view all your firearms (or a filtered group) in a “list view” and scroll through them. This list view can be customized to include all the details of each firearm, or it can be condensed to a “summary view” and an even smaller “small list view.”
I also really like having an running accurate inventory of my ammunition. The saying about ammo goes, “buy it cheap and stack it deep.” After years of buying a bit here and a bit there, it starts to add up and stack up. When you’re about to go to the range, it’s nice to be able to determine if you have the ammo you need for your practice session.
- I’m going to the range and want to shoot my Glock 23. How much .40-cal FMJ do I have?
- My favorite online ammo dealer is having a sale on 9-mm. Am I running low? Is now a good time to add to my inventory? It will take me seconds to see what I have on hand.
- I’ve got a competition in two weeks. Do I have enough Federal Gold Medal Match .223 / 77-gr rounds, or do I need to order some?
It’s easy to determine when you’re running low on a particular caliber without having to dig through your physical “ammo dump,” which may be your safe or a bunch of ammo cans stacked up in your closet, to figure it out. You just set up filters to drill down the long list of ammo to the specifics you seek. So, you can filter the Ammo Dump to display only .40-cal “target” ammo. Or you can filter it to display all calibers, but just the hollow points.
You can track every box of ammo you own, down to partial boxes. Each record is detailed according to caliber, manufacturer, bullet weight, type (FMJ, HP, etc.), category (target, hunting, defense, competitive), original count, amount expended and remaining, where purchased, and price paid. Again, you can use as much or as little of these details as you desire. Don’t be overwhelmed by the level of detail, as it’s up to you how far down the rabbit hole you want to go! 😆
As I had a bunch of ammo already, I didn’t want to dig out every box and record it as the program is designed. So, I printed my ammo inventory from the other program, which only recorded each type of ammo and a running count. So, rather than manually enter each box of 9-mm ammo, I created a record for each type, such as Federal Champion FMJ and Winchester Ranger SXT HP and the total number of rounds. So each ammo record I transferred over was effectively a giant single box of each kind of ammo. I did not keep records of what I paid for all my existing ammo, so I did not enter that.
For new boxes of ammo acquired from this point forward, I am creating individual records (for each box) as the program intends. Recently, they added a feature (on my suggestion!) that makes adding new boxes to the inventory much easier. You can duplicate an existing record (if you already have the same type of ammo) and simply specify how many new boxes you’ve acquired. Boom. Done. All you have to do is use a Sharpie marker to put the assigned “Ammo ID” on each box.
When you create a record of ammo used in the Range Records module, it will automatically update the inventory in the Ammo Dump. Cool, eh? You can also update inventory manually, if needed, directly in the Ammo Dump.
Any “gun guy” or “gun gal” will eventually accumulate a number of gun-related accessories. This can come in the form of optical sights, extra magazines, flashlights, lasers, slings, extra barrels, drop-in triggers, grips, bipods, shot timers, cleaning kits, tools, speedloaders, magazine loaders, reloading equipment, and on and on.
Here, you can keep a tally on accessories you have, where you bought them, and how much you paid. You can also connect accessories to particular guns. So, for example, you can connect a collection of magazines to the corresponding gun. Then, in the gun record in the Firearms module, there is a button you can click on, which will then list only the accessories for that gun.
The Accessories module also provides a place to keep records of maintenance or repairs performed on your guns.
Another really neat feature of 2AFDB is the “Range Records” module. Here you can log your range, hunting, and training trips. You can record which gun(s) you brought with you and which ammo (and how much) was used. When you do that, the program automatically updates the appropriate sections in the “Firearms” and “Ammo Dump” records. So, when you record the ammo fired in a particular gun in the Range Records module, it will automatically update the round count for that gun in the Firearms module and update your ammo inventory in the Ammo Dump module. This is what I meant by “relational database” earlier.
You can also upload pictures of your targets and even assign specific shooters to each target.
There is plenty of space for notes about the range session, and additional space for notes with each target picture. You might write about issues with ammo, magazines, or a gun. You might also keep notes about what was working or not working with your technique (grip, trigger control, etc.).
In the PRO version of 2AFDB, you can track and compare targets side by side. So, you can filter targets by gun, dates, shooter, distance and then compare them to see how you’re doing (hopefully improving!).
I think the Range Records module is the highlight of this app. It’s the interactive part of the app that keeps you engaged with the program. Filling in the Range Record after a trip to the range is like an extension of the range experience. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the session… what went right…. what went wrong… and why. It also can serve as a reference for review at a later date. I really, really like it!
Edit to add (1/25/17): There is another feature in the Range Records module that I recently discovered and used. Last weekend, I attended my first rifle competition. The 2AFDB app has a target scoring function that is pretty slick. As you accumulate a number of scored targets in the Range Records, you can search them or compare them.
Again… you can use as little or as much of this program to suit your needs. This is just another demonstration of the depth of the 2AFDB program.
The Contacts module is a place to keep a record of your favorite gun shops, FFLs, instructors, or other firearms-related contacts. This module integrates with the Firearms and Range Records modules, as you’ll see.
When you enter the dealer / acquisition source information for a gun in the Firearms module, you have the option of automatically adding that entity to your Contacts list. Or you can add contacts directly in the Contacts module. Then, when you add new guns to the Firearms module, your dealers will appear in a drop-down list for more efficient data entry.
You can also make entries for anyone who also uses your firearms, aka “Shooters,” such as family members or range buddies. This comes into play in the target section of the Range Records module where you can assign a “shooter” (available via a drop-down list) to a particular target.
Each Contact entry has a check box that will exclude them from the drop-down list in the “Acquired From” field in the Firearms records. So, you can exclude your “Shooters” from that drop-down list and limit it to your dealers, for example.
There is also a section where you can collect information about important websites related to your guns or firearms in general.
My Strange Addiction
If you weren’t “OCD” about your guns, accessories, and ammo before, you WILL be once you start using the Second Amendment Firearms Database. There is an unexpected “addictive” quality to it! If you’re already “OCD” about your guns, ammo, and gun gear, you will LOVE the 2nd Amendment Firearms Database! Love. It.
What I Like About You…
Off the grid!
One of the nice things about 2AFDB is that it’s not installed on your computer in the same sense as normal Windows programs. It’s self-contained in its own file directory. That means the executable file (the program itself) and all the data are in the same directory. So, you can put it anywhere on your computer you want (like within your Documents folder, for example).
Or…. You can even install it on a flash or “thumb” drive and run it off of that by plugging it into the USB port. Or, you can run it off an external hard drive. So, it can be portable and “off the grid.” This program doesn’t connect to the web or the “cloud.” Those who wear aluminum foil toques can keep their ballistic proclivities safely ensconced from the prying eyes of Russian hackers, democratic operatives, or Wikileaks. 😉
Accordingly, it’s easy to back up (which you should do!). You can back it it up with any external storage device or on the “cloud” (like Dropbox or similar online service), if you prefer and aren’t concerned about the black helicopter dudes. Transferring from one device to another is as easy as copying and pasting the entire file folder into the new device.
Drill down to what you need to know.
In each module, there are various filters you can use to display only the information you need. So, for example, in the Firearms module, I can filter what is displayed by caliber, or by action type, or by style (pistol, revolver, rifle), and almost any other conceivable characteristic. In the Ammo Dump module, I can easily filter the entire list of ammo down to just 9-mm FMJ (full metal jacket), or .40-cal HP (hollow points), or a particular brand of .45-ACP. For example:
“Show me all 600-yard targets in the Range Records.”
“How many rounds (and what kind) of defensive hollow points in .40-cal do I have?”
“I want to see a list of my .22LR caliber guns.”
Each of the five modules have similar filtering capabilities.
May I help you?
Most of the buttons and fields have helpful pop-ups that tell you what they do. And, when you first start using the program other pop-ups guide you through the proper use of each module. You can turn the help pop-ups off later when you get to know the lay of the land.
Sized to fit.
The 2AFDB is available in three versions, X-LITE ($29.95), LITE ($39.95), and PRO ($69.95). You can visit their website to get the details of each version (scroll down the page to compare features). I started with the LITE version. Whichever version you get will be supported and updated for life for no additional cost. And, you can always upgrade from a more basic version to a higher version with more features (at additional cost). Do pay attention to the display resolution recommendations for each version and consider the display specs on the computer you’ll be using.
I would highly recommend you watch the instructional videos available on their website to learn how to use the program. This will help you accelerate through the learning curve.
Room for improvement?
My criticisms of Second Amendment Firearms Database are few. The first one, which is only temporary, is the “busyness” of the interface. It initially looks cluttered and can be overwhelming to a new user. At first glance, you might think, “Aaaagh! That’s a lot of STUFF!” There is a neat feature (a button that you can click) to hide the fields and buttons that are not essential to the module’s basic functions. This makes the interface simpler and easier on the eyes of a newbie. Again, watch the instructional videos and start off with just one module… recording your firearms. Then move on to the next module and work on filling in those blanks. Also, remember you don’t have to fill in every blank… just the ones that are important to you. You can always go back later and fill in additional details.
The only other nit to pick is the color scheme. I’ve never been a fan of white text and brightly-colored graphics on a black background. It would be cool if they could implement some color scheme options. That said, I’m already used to it, and it doesn’t bother me anymore.
The good news is the developer actively updates and improves the program. I have established a friendly relationship with the developer, and I can tell you he is very receptive to suggestions. Already, he has incorporated several of my ideas into the latest version of the program. 😎
I’ve looked all over the internet, and I cannot find anything even close to this program. I could find only one other program that is currently actively supported. But, it’s more rudimentary and geared towards merely documenting a gun collection. The 2AFDB goes much farther than just documenting what you have. It also tracks how you USE what you have. Think of it as a shooter’s log book. Scuba divers, pilots, and other hobbyists keep log books of their activities. I’m still a novice user of this program, and this review just scratches the surface of the depth of this program. There is a LOT of depth and many features – too numerous to describe in this already long review.
So, a casual shooter and hobbyist who may use only the basic features will find it very useful. And, it would also serve a serious enthusiast and collector very well. In any case, I feel this app enhances the experience of a firearms owner. It extends the shooting experience by documenting range trips for future reference. I actually enjoy logging my range sessions in the program. You can search targets, filtering them by shooter, caliber, score, or gun and track your progress. Or you can easily find targets to share with others on social media. Lots of possibilities!
Visit the Second Amendment Firearms Database website and check it out! The more I use it, the more I like it!