The gun will be seized by CR customs, and you will be fined. You cannot bring in a handgun without first obtaining an import permit from the Costa Rican government.
To do so, you must prove ownership of the gun in the US - in some states, handguns are registered, in others, like Arizona, they are not, so you need proof of purchase plus probably the ATF form you filled out when you purchased the gun. The ownership documents must be certified by your state's Secretary of State, and then they have to be certified by the Costa Rican consulate. You'll also need proof of residency status, and these days, you have to complete your practical, theoretical and psychological exams for the carry permit BEFORE you can import or purchase a handgun. Save yourself the hassle, bite the bullet (pun intended), get your permit first, and buy the gun in Costa Rica.
Serengeti (Trejos Montealegre, right next to the 27 freeway, opposite Walmart) is okay, I have done a bit business with them, but they can be pricey (especially for gringos ;-)). Someone mentioned that they generously handled their registration, etc., for an extra $20 - that would be very impressive, except for the fact that anyway, THEY ARE LEGALLY BOUND to handle the registration for every gun they sell. The cost of that should be factored into their already high prices, not tagged on to the customer's bill (and they have never done so with me!). Note that they are very open to cash deals for guns and ammo. They have good prices on Smith & Wesson M&P models - personally, I think the M&P is one of the best price/performance pistol purchases you can make in Costa Rica. Their full-size 9mm (which you'll like, if you like the Glock), is going for around $900 retail new, so the markup is relatively less than that on Glocks. S&W have been pushing their wares quite hard in Central America, therefore fairly decent prices... Have you noticed what the cops are carrying these days ?
You might also look at used Glocks. Serengeti doesn't usually have them, however, Armeria Rex (downtown) gets them in quite often, and you can negotiate with them. The lowest price I've seen was about $950 for a used Gen 3 G17.... Also check out Armeria Pollini, downtown as well, decent prices on various weapons. El Hispano, between Los Yoses and downtown, is an excellent shop, but not a lot of Glocks, and not a lot of used merchandise in general. The one armeria that I would never use is Trabuco in Multiplaza - $1,850 for a SIG 229 or Beretta Storm PX4 is outrageous and caters to those who just don't know any better, or don't care. Sí, los impuestos son altos, pero no tan alto como el!
There's an excellent range in Pavas, the Poligono CDC. Very knowledgable personnel, clean, safe and large facility. Most of San Jose's serious firearms enthusiasts are members there, and the bulletin board often has good deals on various weapons offered through private parties - lots of negotiating room there! The guys at CDC will also step you through the procedure of getting your portacion, they offer all the required courses and exams, and assist you with purchase/registration of the gun. They also offer some very good training beyond the minimum required for your portacion (make 7 hits on an 8" target at 7 meters - pretty easy).
Hope this helps! If you have more questions, feel free to email
oliver AT integritas DOT cr