Best Practices for Buying a Used Gun

  • by Casy Smith
Best Practices for Buying a Used Gun

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With the price of everything going up, we're all looking for a good deal. From everyday necessities to luxury buys, it's tempting to scour the Internet, clip up the coupon books and peruse the bargain bins to find that diamond in the rough. Unfortunately, firearms are not immune to rising costs, which has encouraged budget-conscious firearm shoppers to look toward the used gun market. 

Whether you're looking to buy your first handgun or add an antique firearm to your collection, buying a used gun is a common practice among firearm owners. You can save a few bucks by purchasing a used gun, but many sought-after firearm models are no longer in production, so they can only be bought preowned.

Used firearms are commonplace in the industry, as many firearms are bought and sold numerous times over their lifetime. If you think a preowned firearm is the right route for you, it's essential to develop a critical eye out to make sure you know what you are getting. 

Don't worry; you can find a great used firearm with a little work. Keep reading to learn more about how to buy a used gun. 

How to Buy a Used Gun: Getting Started with Research

Before you decide to look at a firearm or make a purchase, you need to get a complete understanding of the gun you want. Reviews, used listings and online content about the specific firearm you want can help you note any common mechanical failures and familiarize yourself with the firearm. 

You want to stick with reputable brands from quality manufacturers. In addition to their reputation for working longer, they tend to have better service or repair offerings than lesser-known firearm brands. Also, personalization options are wider for large manufacturers. 

Reviewing a resource like the Blue Book of Gun Values is a great place to begin, as it offers relative values based on the gun's condition. A little bit of research can go a long way. Once you understand your potential firearm inside and out, you can start looking for a dealer who has one in stock. 

Buying a Used Gun: Buying from a Reputable Dealer

There are a few purchasing options you can go with whenever you want to buy a used gun, each with strengths and weaknesses in the transactional process. Let's take a look at some common vendors. 

Visiting a Gun Shop

Gun shops are great for purchasing a used gun because you can observe the firearm up close and inspect it yourself. This is their biggest selling point, as online sellers can only provide images of the firearm. Traditional firearm dealers also have staff who can answer any questions you have about the firearm. Finally, most reputable gun shops will offer a warranty or return policy to help you feel more comfortable with your purchase.

While supporting a local gun shop is a great idea when buying a used gun, the two biggest downsides of this type of merchant are that they don't have the biggest selection and most likely won't have the lowest price on your firearm of choice. 

If you don't want to walk into a brick-and-mortar store, can the Internet do enough to supplement the in-person experience of buying a used gun? 

Using the Online Marketplace

There are several online gun dealers you can explore. Some will ship firearms directly to a Federal Firearm License (FFL) holder for you, and others offer a platform to meet with sellers to complete a transaction in person. The Internet can widen your firearm purchasing horizons as you can connect with sellers across the country, increasing your odds of finding your preferred firearm at a lower cost. 

While the Internet has opened up many shopping avenues that would otherwise not exist, it has also opened up individuals to more risk than ever when shopping. Scams abound, and it's easy to get caught up in the moment looking for a great deal. There are many reputable online dealers, too, so it's important to check reviews of the store before making the purchase. If the cost seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Plus, a purchase from an online shop can add high shipping and FFL fees to the final cost, eating into your savings. Always try to get a total of all fees before deciding on an online purchase. 

Keeping It Legal 

It's essential to review your state and local laws before completing a firearm transaction. Some states require all transactions to go through an FFL. Weapon classifications are also different from state to state, so you want to see what your particular firearm is considered before the buy. 

Now that we've had a moment to discuss common places you can buy used firearms let's take a look at some flaws you should watch out for before making the final purchase. 

How to Buy a Used Gun: Flaws to Observe

While a gunsmith can offer a more in-depth inspection, you may not have that luxury when making the final purchase. It's important to look for any fatal flaws that will automatically disqualify the weapon from your consideration.

The Packaging

Before you lay your eyes on the firearm, it's important to look at all of the details of the gun's packaging. If the firearm is still in its original box with the paperwork, this is a good sign that the firearm has not been used heavily.  

On First Inspection

  • Rust, cracks and pitting. These structural deformities are difficult to repair and tend to only worsen over time. 
  • Dents and gouges to the exterior. These defects should automatically raise a red flag as they can affect the gun's performance and ability to fire safely. 
  • Damaged screw heads. A deformed fastener top is a tell-tale sign of amateur gunsmithing. You shouldn't pay a premium for someone's project. 

Looking at the Firearm In-hand

If you get an opportunity to look at the firearm up close and test some of its basic functions, here are a few items you should address:

  • The safety, magazine release and slide lock. All of the firearm's basic controls should operate smoothly and feel crisp. Mushy or overly stiff actions may be a sign of unseen wear and tear to the firearm.
  • Pitting or lack of rifling in the bore. When you can safely look inside the bore, make sure it is free of deformities like rust and pitting in the bore as well. These blemishes can affect a bullet's trajectory and your safety. 
  • Trigger pull. It's always a great idea to dry-fire the gun in question if the seller allows it. This gives you a chance to test the trigger resistance to ensure it isn't too heavy or light when firing. 

The bottom line: if the firearm looks and feels good in the hand, you are usually in good shape. 

Caring for Your Used Firearm

Once you've made your purchase, it's essential to care for your firearm to keep it in excellent condition. Remember, few people "wear out" a firearm from constant use. Rather, guns more commonly wear down due to poor storage conditions or a lack of care

You'll want to take your firearm to the range, clean it consistently and make sure it's stored in a secure, concealed spot. The concealment furniture at LHC can help you accomplish this. Check out our full product listings today. 


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