View Full Version : Buying used ,Tips?

02-28-2015, 10:23 AM
From what i have seen and searched through these forums, (and google) I have not really seen many tips on what to look for when buying a used (previously enjoyed) firearm. Although i am eyeballing a couple in the marketplace, what is it we should look for? Being new to this, I don't know if there's way to tell if there is defects or abuse (I guess paint marks..etc) but still, I'm always a little concerned when buying something used. Now mainly I'm talking about handguns here, but long guns I'm sure can be put in here as well.

a few questions from the top of my head:

1) Is it possible a barrel could be bent/cracked/weathered etc? How can i tell?
2) Unless at a range, is it possible to check the action/cycle of a firearm? (semi auto?..etc)
3) Is there any way to tell approximately how many rounds might be through it?
4) Is it possible to replace a barrel on a handgun if needed? Do you have to re-register it?

I wouldn't want to make a purchase, take it to the range, and it gets destroyed in my hand or something...

Any buying tips or things to look out for to help us newbies, is very much appreciated. I'm sure there's many more ways to look at this that i can't even think of. And yes, i personally do not currently own a firearm yet, and have not had much experience around them as of this posting, but today am submitting my memberships to clubs.

02-28-2015, 01:30 PM
Well you got step 1 right. If in doubt, ask for help. It's surprising the number of people who buy a few copies of Guns & Ammo, decide they're a gun expert, and then proceed to flush shocking amounts of cash down the toilet.

Buying a used gun is alot like buying a used car or tools. The exterior cosmetics tell part of the story. Unless it's been a safe queen you should expect a reasonable amount of wear on the finish and the inevitable ding or scratch somewhere. The trick is to check the details. Grip screws are one of the best. If the slot is sharp or a bit mangled chances are the last owner had a bad habit of over tightening them and/or using what ever piece of junk was lying around to loosen them instead of getting a decent screw driver. This kind of alludes to sloppy maintenance in general and would lower the price in my eye.

Next would be the sights. If they're adjustable check to see if the screws are mangled as above. If they're fixed, do you notice any scratch marks or dents in the dovetail. This would suggest that the person might have adjusted them with a hammer and screwdriver instead of a non scratching brass punch or a proper sight adjustment tool. If you went to look at a used car and the hubcaps didn't match and there were 3 different styles of lug nuts holding the rims on, you might begin to question the owners honesty when they say every single oil change was done on time with only the highest quality products. Care and pride in ownership is a good indicator of what your buying.

If you're dealing face to face a nice test is to ask the person how to strip it. If they look at you funny or it takes them forever to do it that's a good indicator that they haven't done it often or have no clue what they're doing. If you're buying off the web you can ask what ammo they've run and which one's work best. If they stumble for an answer you might conclude that their using generic junk or they haven't shot it much. Thus the claim that it runs flawlessly is a bit hard to accept because they've barely run the gun.

Bent shotgun and rifle barrels can happen but it's pretty rare. In handguns you usually have to do something pretty stupid to pull that off so don't worry about it to much. Cracked can happen with bad reloads or really crappy quality guns, but again it's very rare. Weathered/shot out is something that you can see in military surplus guns or competition guns that have seen high millage. Stay away from both for your first couple of purchases.

You can check the action with snap caps to safely test the trigger and feeding/function.

You can only guess at how many rounds have been fired. I've heard of rental Ruger Mk2's going over 100k and Glocks doing the same with nothing more than new spring packs every 5-10k. Quality guns can easily outlast you. High mileage usually only becomes an issue with magnums running alot of full power ammo or poorly maintained guns.

Replacing barrels isn't that big a deal with some models but it can be beyond a nightmare for others. There are alot of suppliers for 1911 barrels but good luck finding HK or older S&W auto's. Unless someone is giving you the gun for free, stay away from barrel replacement guns till you need a winter project.

The web is a great tool for research. Lots of good ( and some crappy ) reviews. This forum has alot of good write ups on which gun to buy first and perhaps which one's to stay away from. Your local range is another excellent resource. Walk the line and see what other shooters are using. Ask them how they like it and how it compares to other guns they own or have shot.

hope this helps a bit.