Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world where millions descend annually in search of riches, fun, and pleasure. There are many options available for those interested in shooting firearms in a safe and controlled environment. I visited the top 10 shooting ranges in the area to determine which offered the best bang for one's dollar. For each range, I attempted to maintain a $250 budget.

The criteria were overall cost, time to complete shooting, staff friendliness, professionalism, how I felt after shooting, unique features, and most importantly - safety.

1. Shoot Las Vegas

"Shoot Las Vegas" stands alone as the king of the mountain. While not the largest company they provide the best experience by every metric. Free transportation is offered to pick up customers from nearly anywhere around the Las Vegas Strip in a limousine. I availed myself of this service, as who turns down a free limo ride?

I was driven 30 minutes outside of Las Vegas to a private outdoor Shooting Range in a private box canyon surrounded by mountains cut off from the rest of the world. In addition to a big fire pit, picnic tables, and lounge chairs, "Shoot Las Vegas" has numerous custom-built climate-controlled firing lines which are trailers where giant windows open, revealing a shooting range littered with targets up to 500 yards away.

Before shooting a range safety officer detailed safety protocols and offered to answer any questions.

For $250 I bought a package with six guns and three exploding targets. Part of the theme of "Shoot Las Vegas" is all their guns are featured in movies or video games, and are tied to posters showing the gun in the movie. This is a great help for unseasoned shooters to choose from the "Shoot Las Vegas" arsenal that has more than 70 different guns.

"Shoot Las Vegas" has the largest collection available, second only to "Battlefield Vegas."

“Shoot Las Vegas” has a shooting structure which is unique. Rather than pairing with a single safety officer who is with you until completion, "Shoot Las Vegas" has a "Disneyesque" feel. After "walking through the gates”, so to speak, you choose the gun you would like to shoot and walk up to the station.

I was allowed to shoot at my own pace rather than being rushed or waiting hours to shoot, which happened at other ranges. One exclusive aspect of "Shoot Las Vegas" is they offer pictures and videos of your experience via mounted cameras which capture you shooting. They then make them available to you for free. I found this highly desirable.

I first shot a fully automatic Beretta handgun with 15 9mm rounds. Next, I fired a SCAR-H (heavy) with 20 .308 rounds. This gun packs a kick and is the preferred choice of Navy SEALS. Third I fired 25 9mm rounds with a UZI which was great fun. The guns I chose had 20 and 25 rounds as that was their maximum amount of rounds. "Shoot Las Vegas" offers 30 rounds for all of their fully automatic guns if the magazine is large enough.

The same cannot be said for other ranges which is one of the reasons why "Shoot Las Vegas" won.

Wanting to slow down my tempo and not lose firepower I selected the S&W 500 MAGNUM which is the world's largest production handgun. It came with three .50 caliber rounds. This massive gun could stop a wild bull with a single shot. To give the shooter the full effect of what power the S&W 500 MAGNUM is capable of producing they use three different round grains. A 300 grain round is used initially. Then the ante is upped to a 440 grain round and the fun was completed with a 575 grain round that fires with such force one might imagine a bomb shot out of the barrel.

For my last selection, I shot the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare sniper rifle twice, with five .308 rounds each.

The sniper station at "Shoot Las Vegas" was my favorite. Exploding targets were spread across the range at varying distances and the explosions were greatly satisfying. With my package finished, I opted to shoot more and added on a Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle with five rounds for an extra $100. This weapon was worth every penny and I fired at targets from up to 500 yards away.

The “Shoot Las Vegas” box canyon houses two airport-style fire trucks that extinguish possible fires caused in the aftermath of blowing up a car. I did not test this out, but I would've liked to. They also own the longest Monster Truck in the world appropriately named “Big Guns” which will soon be available for customers to ride around the box canyon making for a great photo opportunity.

When finished I was given a bottle opener made from a round fired by the Barrett. "Shoot Las Vegas" promptly drove me back to Las Vegas. In total, the experience lasted about three hours. I recommend "Shoot Las Vegas" to those of any skill level as the premier location for recreational shooting.

2. Battlefield Vegas

"Battlefield Vegas" is the largest shooting range by volume, and offer the most guns out of any other range. Their location is minutes from the Las Vegas Strip making it great for those seeking a quick shooting experience.

I was picked up at the MGM Grand in a camouflage Hummer, free of charge, by an on-time friendly driver. I was zipped off to the location where the parking lot is stocked with many decommissioned tanks and military vehicles.

The outside of the facilities are not particularly impressive as they appear to be warehouses. If the military vehicles were not there, you would not notice a difference in any of the other neighboring buildings.

Once inside I was greeted by cheerful staff. I selected the $210 "Saving Private Ryan" package which included six guns. All of the shooting was completed indoors in a large and clean shooting range. Before I was allowed to start firing I was given safety instructions by a range safety officer, which was completely painless.

My shooting experience began by firing a Colt 1911 pistol that came with 15 .45 rounds. This gun is a classic and has been a standard in firearms for decades. Next, I fired 25 .45 rounds with the Thompson M1A1 machine gun.

All individuals should enjoy using the iconic "tommy gun" at least once. The M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle was next with eight .30 rounds. I found it to be less than spectacular. For sniping purposes, I shot the M-1903A3 that gave a five .30 magazine. Next, I shot the M1 Carbine with 25 .30 rounds. For being an older weapon, it delivered and was enjoyable. To finish the experience I saved the biggest for last in the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle that rattled off 20 .30 rounds in seconds.

I finished in a little under an hour and was back at the MGM Grand 90 minutes after I left. "Battlefield Vegas" is a fine choice for both individuals who seek to test the waters of firearms and greatly experienced shooters as well due to their vast selection of historical weapons.

They offer a variety of other services, including crushing a vehicle with a tank. While I only spent a couple of hundred dollars I could have easily spent thousands that afternoon.

3. Discount Firearms / The Vegas Machine Gun Experience

"Discount Firearms" is the parent company of "The Vegas Machine Gun Experience." They are two miles from the Las Vegas strip and their building leaves much to be desired, but they have colorful banners. One cannot help to notice the shabby surrounding buildings. They are in direct competition with "Battlefield Vegas." The clear winner of the two is Battlefield. However, "Discount Firearms" has redeeming qualities.

The offer free transportation from Las Vegas strip casinos.

I was picked up at the MGM Grand in a Mercedes van with several other shooters. None seemed to speak English as a first language. It was nice to see tourists taking part in America's national heritage of recreational gun use.

"Discount Firearms" is a full-service gun store, but I was only interested in purchasing time on the range. I chose the six gun $250 "Bachelor Party" package. There was little wait between arriving and shooting, which is a large plus. The staff I interacted with were sullen, but one can't expect every person they encounter to be in a chipper mood. After receiving standard safety instructions, I was ready to shoot.

I first shot 40 5.56 cal rounds with an M249 SAW machine gun.

This was used in every U.S. conflict since the 1980s. Next, I shot a Glock 17 with 20 9mm rounds. My third gun was an M4 carbine with 25 5.56 cal rounds, which is favored by the U.S. Army and Marines. Fourth I shot 25 5.7×28mm rounds with the FN-P90. It has a unique magazine-style where rounds are loaded horizontally on the top of the gun. The AK-47 was next and I fired 25 rounds. Finishing my experience I shot 5 slugs with a 12 gauge pump action shotgun.

After finishing I was given a t-shirt and they took me to the MGM Grand. In total, I finished in about 90 minutes. I have no criticism beyond the location. The value is fair with a professional experience and staff. I am happy to recommend their range.

4. Strip Gun Club

"Strip Gun Club" is on Las Vegas Boulevard a few blocks from the Las Vegas strip. They offer complimentary transportation, but I drove myself. Their building is ominous with red and black paint and a monolithic sign above the door. A drawback is their neighbors are a seedy motel/wedding chapel.

The facilities are complete with red carpet and leather furniture. Due to the location of "Strip Gun Club" they were busy with customers. The staff was friendly and willing to answer any questions. After 10 minutes I filled out paperwork and was taken to the indoor shooting range. For $260 I purchased five guns. With many customers on site and a limited amount of lanes on their firing line, I waited 20 minutes before I fired my first round. I came to shoot, not stand around. However, what can one do?

When my turn arrived I shot 10 5.7x28 rounds with the FN Five-seven which it is favored by Secret Service agents. I could see why. It was smooth and easy to handle. Next, I shot 25 .45 rounds with the Thompson 1928, which is a different type of the fabled "tommy gun." It was capable of holding a 100 round barrel, but I didn't want to get carried away. I played the waiting game again for 15 minutes. Breaks interrupt the flow and adrenaline rush. Third, I shot 25 .556 cal rounds with a Steyr AUG and its precision targeting scope. The Keltec pump action shotgun was fourth. I blasted away with 10 shells. Finally, I shot the Faxon ARAK sniper rifle, which is deceiving as it's semi-automatic with a 20 round magazine. It functions as a sniper rifle, but sniping in an indoor range with extremely limited space is not the same as shooting targets outdoors hundreds of yards away.

The fun experience lasted an excessive 2.5 hours. The long wait times must be balanced by the location which invites foot traffic. Recommended for tourists.

5. The Range 702

"The Range 702" is three miles from the strip. I was picked up 20 minutes late by a friendly driver. Their building is blue with green trim. The color scheme matches their neighbors, the world famous Larry Flynt's Hustler Club. I planned my shoot around the Hustler Club's free cocktails during happy hour. Some guns, and then alcohol. What's not to like?

I bought the "Terminator Judgement Day" shooting package tor $220 which gave four guns out of nine choices. After some paperwork, I was whisked away to the indoor shooting range. Luckily I was nearly alone and shot immediately after receiving safety instructions from a range officer. First I shot a Governor handgun with five .45 rounds. Next, I fired a 1911 Colt handgun with seven .45 rounds. After the handguns, I shot 25 9mm rounds in the MP5. This weapon is a favorite amongst S.W.A.T. teams for its light weight and versatility. I finished with a Heckler & Koch G36 which was accompanied by 25 .556 cal rounds, of which I was not as satisfied would have liked to have tried something else.

My time at "The Range 702" was quick and pleasant. I finished the process in one hour. The prices are a higher than elsewhere, but they offer an experience for all skill levels.

To continue reading the final five shooting range reviews please click here.