Armory, Self Defense, And EDC > General Firearm Discussion

How to buy a used gun

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Heavy G:
I can't find a thread on this important topic so I thought I'd start one.  

A lot of preppers on a budget need a gun or two and could save a lot of money on a used one.  But there are things to be looking out for with a used gun.  Tell people what to look out for and how much money can be saved.

I'll start.

One thing I like about buying used guns is that you often get a broken-in gun.  This is especially true of handguns.  Let the other guy spend the money to put a 1000 rounds through it to smooth it out and make sure there are no malfunctions.

Opportunities present themselves with used guns.  You might have a friend who go a gun but just doesn't like it.  This is often true of handguns which really need to "fit" your hand.  Sometimes--I hate to say it--guys need the cash.  Divorces seem to trigger numerous used gun sales.  (Do not turn this thread into a discussion of your ex-wife!  :D)

Another advantage about getting guns from guys you know is that you can often test them out.  The disadvantage is that if the gun sucks you are putting a friendship at risk trying to get your money back.  I think that's pretty rare; a real friend wouldn't sell you a sucky gun.  But an aquaintance might.  Then again, you're paying less for a used gun so maybe you're paying for the risk.  

There are lots of really good used gun web sites out there. I like, which is the "eBay of guns."  There is also AuctionArms and GunsAmerica.  

There are regional ones, too, where you can drive to buy the gun face-to-face and avoid paying a FFL transfer fee.  Here in Washington state there is one for here and Oregon called  Also there's Outdoors Trader for my area.  Regional sites are more like Craigslist for guns--they have less selection and they don't have "eBay" things like a shopping cart and Paypal, but they work fine.  You can contact the guy selling the gun and take it from there.

One thing about guns is that guys are often trying things out and then selling them to get another one.  I got a great bolt-action Savage 110 in .223 with a big scope for $300 from a guy who wanted to get a better rifle.  I just needed a beater bolt gun for long-range coyote work; a knocked around Savage 110 worked just fine.  It's plenty accurate (two inches at 200 yards) for what I need it for.

I like to get used guns from a gun store I trust. I am lucky to have a great, great gun store in my town.  The place is like a barber shop where guys come in just to hang out and BS.  I know the guys who own it and they won't rip me off.  They make money on guns they sell--they should--but I know I can take it back if the thing is mechanically deficient.  You probably can't do that with a stranger.  I got a really great used Glock from those guys.  The extra cool thing about this particular shop is that they have a full gunsmithing facility so they have a test barrel you can shoot into (like the crime lab ones).  I could test the recoil of this little carry gun in .40 before I bought it.  If you have a local gun shop run by cool people, I suggest you spend some time there and get to know the guys.    

Don't forget accessories.  If a guy is selling a gun, he probably will throw in magazines, holster, etc. for next to nothing.  They have no value to him and little things are a pain to sell separately.  I got 3 extra mags for my used Glock thrown in by the gun store.  They didn't stock those particular Glock mags so it would have been a pain to inventory them.  Plus they know me and know that I'll be back for more.  (It's a sickness, really.)  I would add that sometimes a guy will get rid of all the ammo he has for the gun he's selling.  If you're selling your .380 Auto, you don't have much use for a few hundred rounds of that so you might as well throw it in.

Basically, when you buy a used gun, you often get the whole "starter kit" for it: a broken-in gun, mags, holster, ammo.  Everything you need.

Be sure and ask for the original box and manual if the guy has them.  They're not critical for prepper purposes (all manuals are on the internet; be sure and print them out and tuck them away).  But they increase the re-sale value if you want to sell the gun later.  

You can get some deals if you mind a few cosmetic flaws.  A scuffed stock on a home defense shotgun?  I could care less.  I would stay away from scratches that can rust.  If there is already rust on a gun, that's a problem.  Any rust is a problem.  You can treat mild rust with some products but I hate gun rust.  (My $300 .223 had a little but.  I treated it.  But I took this into consideration when I got it.  If that guns rusts out, I won't cry.  It's a beater.)

I think basic guns that don't need to be super accurate are great to buy used.  I would put handguns, carbines, and shotguns in this category--the kind of guns preppers typically need.  If you're a benchrest shooter and a 1/2 inch group at 100 yards is what you want, buying a used gun you can't test would be a bad idea.  But a carry pistol, AR or AK, or home defense shotgun?  No problem if it's not a "tack driver."    

Used guns can stretch your prepping dollars.

I love me some pawn shop - I know you always hear about them, but I bought the proverbial $75 H&R 12ga single. Probably had been fired 10 times or less. Guarantee the original owner bought it, loaded it with 00 and it knocked his teeth loose. I save $75 compared to new. (I added a recoil pad and shoot #4 or less in it)

Oh yeah, +1 Heavy G - nice post

I think the biggies to check are bore / barrel condition, overall tighness / lockup, condition of the crown... a real ghetto trick for when you don't have a light or bore light is to put your thumb nail on one end of the barrel - will reflect enough light to get a fair idea what the barrel looks like.

I love a barrel with unburned powder in it - that is going to drop my offer at least $25

the old flee markets in small towns are offen the un offical pawn shops, or gun guy.
cafes are the heart of a small town lissen there. and bill board i alwase check even out of state. cash is king.
truck stops ,bill bopards usualy its a call and they show up with it.


--- Quote from: joeinwv on October 22, 2010, 05:45:24 PM ---I love me some pawn shop - I know you always hear about them, but I bought the proverbial $75 H&R 12ga single. Probably had been fired 10 times or less. Guarantee the original owner bought it, loaded it with 00 and it knocked his teeth loose. I save $75 compared to new. (I added a recoil pad and shoot #4 or less in it)

--- End quote ---

I have a local gun shop/outdoors store within an hour from me.  They have 1,000's of used guns and 1000's of new guns.  

I have purchased nearly 20 "proverbial $75 H&R 12GA single" shotguns over the past few years.  I will bring them home, spend a few hours cleaning (I actually enjoy cleaning my firearms) and try them out.  After I try a few rounds, I will clean them again and put them into the locker.  I have purchase new and used after I carefully inspect them.  I suggest you bring your bore light.    In my experience, I have near seen a "used" gun go down in value (unless you dont take care of your firearms), I thing they make an excellent investment.

I have save hundreds of dollars doing this!  Good post! +1


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