A couple weeks ago, Brandon asked me to kick the tires on a firearms inventory program called My Gun DB. I have not met or talked with the developers of the software because when I assess things like this, I like to do it with an open mind and not have any input on their intent or why the software was built the way it was.
After taking my time playing around with it (and going on a couple of work trips, boo), I was ready to talk about my thoughts on the product. I’m going to start out this review by first addressing an area I won’t be talking about in this article. While not on par with (9mm vs. 45 ACP) or (AK vs. AR), there is a fair amount of chatter on the interwebs regarding the subject of keeping firearms records on a computer connected to the internet and the logic of it. I’m not getting into that or the security aspects pulled into that discussion (although I will briefly cover security on the program at the database level). Everyone has an opinion and they are entitled to it, but this review will focus on the program and final thoughts.
Installation is fairly simple. My Gun DB was built on Adobe Air (which you will need to install before you can install the program) so it will run on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. That is a big plus given that most software is written for various platforms but there is a version for each one, not one program you download that covers of all the major players in the home PC arena. Basically, you download Adobe Air and once that is installed, you install My Gun DB and you’re ready to roll. The whole process only takes a couple of minutes.
My Gun DB comes with a number of features, access to which depends on the level of program (Free- $0, Basic – $24.95, and Full – $44.95). The free version limited you to entering 10 firearms, the Basic version allows you to enter an unlimited amount of firearms but disables the Ammo, Maintenance, and Holsters tabs, A&D reports, and only allows 3 images for each firearm. The full version allows complete access to all the functionality within the program with none of the limits mentioned before. There are also iPhone and Android apps available which can sync with the desktop version but I won’t be covered those in this review.
Between the 3 “versions” of the program, it pretty well covers the needs of all types of firearms owners. If you only want to track a couple of firearms, the free version hits that spot. The basic is for people who own a number of firearms, and accessories but aren’t necessarily worried about reports, multiple images and tracking the maintenance. The full is for people who want to track every aspect of their firearms and even FFL’s who want to start tracking via a database instead of the paper bound book. (This software means the ATF’s requirements for a digital bound book).
The database can be encrypted with a password and once you do that, you will be prompted for the password anytime you run the program. Many people don’t password protect their computers (or use simple ones like 123456 or password) so I strongly suggest doing this as it will help protect you from prying eyes within the house, like friends of your kids or the significant other you forgot to tell when you bought those last two rifles. You don’t put a front door on your house without a lock, so don’t put sensitive information on your computer without protecting yourself in some manner.
Within the settings, you can choose where the database will be stored on your computer, how often backups will occurs, when it checks for updates and you can even choose an option to have a backup placed automatically in a Dropbox account. You can also add personal information or license information for a dealer.
Once you get started the screen below will appear and you being entering information by hitting the edit info button at the bottom. One thing I like about the program is that it is simple to understand. Buttons, tabs, fields are clearly named, and you aren’t spending a ton of time trying to decipher what the programmer meant when they built it and you can focus on the process of getting your information entered. If you aren’t sure, just hover your cursor over the field and a pop up will appear with more information on the field (you can see an example in yellow in the screen shot below)
Once you start editing, you are presented with a number of fields where you can enter information about the firearm itself, ammo, accessories, where/when you bought it, you can add pictures, attach additional documentation about the firearm and enter information about the maintenance including setting reminders about the next time maintenance is needed.
It really does a nice job of covering the details but what I like most is that the program isn’t full of required fields. Why does that matter? Because most firearms owners aren’t studying the specifications of firearms all day long and don’t have that information just sitting in their brain ready to be called on. By giving the user the ability to enter only the information they want, it can greatly speed up the process and puts control in the hands of the end user.
To be honest, when I first installed the program my first impression was that it was very busy and would overwhelm the normal user who would install this because of the sheer amount of fields and information that can be entered. But as I used it more and more, I started to appreciate the level of detail within the program and the flexibility it allowed in terms of me controlling the amount of information I entered. It’s clear that the developer understands the firearms business and personal firearms ownership, and they have done a really nice job not only putting together a program covers all the bases, they have made it available at different price points based on your need.
One area I’d like to see expanded would be more information stored within the program on common/popular firearms. An example would be, if you enter that you have a Glock 26, or S&W M&P, it would automatically enter the barrel length, action type, twist rate, etc. within the stats tab. It would be a nice way to give users a more complete compiling of data for their firearm so that novice firearm owners could have the level of information more experienced owners would enter, but without having to look it up.
Overall, I am very pleased with the software and I look forward to continued use and seeing what new updates come down the line. If you are looking for a program to help keep track of your “firearms world”, My Gun DB is one you should definitely consider.