Buying a 2nd hand rifle

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by calaper, May 6, 2008.

  1. calaper

    calaper G&G Addict

    Hi All,

    Well i'm not going to lie because i would be denying myself important and valuable knowledge which i know many of you gun holders have. I am only 21 and have only really gained an interest in shooting in the past 12 months (although i have been exposed to firearms the majority of my life). Slowly i am becoming more acquainted with rifles and i have purchased 2 new rifles, but, i am not yet confident in buying a 2nd hand firearm.

    I am not exactly in the market for another rifle just yet but i would love to know the things which should be looked at when buying a used firearm. If any of you have pictures of damage and what to look for when buying used guns could you please post them for my benefit?


  2. wily1

    wily1 G&G Addict Forum Contributor

    Hi there are so many things to look for besides surface wear and damage. One thing to look at would be the condition of the screws for the stock assembly etc, and to see what they look like. Many times (but not always) using improper screwdrivers is a sign of "amateur" gunsmithing. As I mentioned if a gun is really beat up looking it could be old, or just not properly cared for. Then there are things that only an expert may catch on to, I was a weapons tech in the reserves and don't consider myself close to being an expert, but there are many people on this site who are and I would take their advice.

    Other things to consider is, who are you buying it from. I have bought a few used rifles from .22's right up to centerfires from dealers and they have all been good guns. A dealer may at least do something for you if the rifle isn't shooting well or has other problems. They may even arrange for you to test fire the rifle to make sure it feeds well and is somewhat accurate etc. If you are buying it from an individual maybe arrange to have someone who knows a bit more to come along with you.

    Another point to consider is what caliber you are buying and how much you want to pay. Here in Canada, (I live in Manitoba) one can pick up a .22 for $20 to $50 and I have heard of Enfields going for the same. Now I'm not going to expect too much from a rifle I only have to pay a few bucks for and it would be a fixer upper. But if I was shelling out more than a $100 I would expect a bit more. Now to caliber is it a common one and easy to get ammo for, was it a very fast round that would burn the barrel out etc. (this is usually only a problem with very fast calibers your .204, 22-250 etc and it depends on ammo etc)

    I think the most important thing to look for is this gun going to be safe to shoot! Again does it look like hell, and does it show signs of improper maintenance/care.

    There are just so many things to look for and there are some really good deals out there for used rifles and shotguns. If you stick with the great sport of hunting and shooting you will get to know a good rifle after awhile and a deal when you see it.

    I have barely touched on some things with used rifles and hope others on this fine site add to it or correct me on any errors, as I said I'm no expert.

  3. rfc357

    rfc357 Guest

    I have purchased a couple of hundred used guns. I almost never buy new guns. I let someone else eat the depreciation. My general rule is: If the gun looks good, it probably is good. If it looks like junk, pass at any price.

    The advice from wily1 is very good. I would add a few things:

    1. Take along a friend who is knowledgeable about evaluating guns.

    2. Get an agreement to return your money if the gun does not operate correctly. In my burg, pawn shops gladly agree to this. New gun dealers tell you, "Send it back to the manufacturer for warranty work."

    3. I have made my best deals in pawn shops. Always bargain hard, and have cash in your hand.

    4. Don't buy any gun the first time you look at it. Do some research, sleep on it, then bargain.

    5. Private sellers often want too much for guns, and are insulted when you offer them a low, but fair, price. Tough. Don't listen to how much the owner paid for the gun. That's not your problem.

    6. Don't worry about missing a deal. Another one will come along.

    7. Scopes, slings, extra mags, cases, other accessories may make a gun easier to move, but do not add to value or price. Buy the underlying gun, not the stuff that comes with it. I have a closet full of accessories.

    8. There is more BS around guns than anywhere else on earth. Do not believe any story anyone tells you about a gun. A friend of mine recently was scammed out of a couple of thousand dollars over a "genuine WWI bring-back" that, frankly, was not.
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  4. calaper

    calaper G&G Addict

    Thanks guys, I guess it will be easier to learn from experienced people around me. That way they can atleast point out good and bad things
  5. I will +1 rfc357's comment. Buy the gun, not the story.
  6. I would have to say get yourself a good borelight. This is a penlight type flashlight with a plastic piece at the lighted end that allows you to see the bore of the barrel.

    You make sure the firearm is unloaded first. Then turn on the light and put it usually in the chamber end and look down the barrel to check the condition. If you cant get a borelight then a small penlight would work.

    Learn what a good bore looks like. On older rifles you may see the barrel shot out. This means the lands are worn down to the point the barrel is almost smooth. The bore could be pitted, or dark, rusted from corrosive ammo, or not cleaned very well. One of the best way to tell how well a firearm was maintained is check the bore and chamber.

    Also look at the muzzle end and see if the crown is damaged. If the crown is dinged or the lands at the end of the muzzle are damaged from hitting the ground or bad cleaning methods the firearm could have very bad aim.

    The best way to learn this is just go to a gun show or shop and start looking at a lot of different rifles to see how they compare.
  7. kycowboy

    kycowboy Guest

    I agree with the cap'n. Check the crown of the rifle as well for damage. Also, some folks may try to sell a used gun with bad rifling, so they oil the bore to make it look shiny. I suggest running a dry patch down the bore to wipe out oil, then check and see what the rifling looks like. If the fellow won't let you run a dry patch down the barrel, I wouldn't buy from him.
    Hope this helps!
  8. meatloaf

    meatloaf Guest

    over all look at everything. If they will let you take it apart do it. wear and tear is easy to see. If you can fire it thats even better. check the riflings, receiver, shake it does it rattle? As a rule I dont buy it if it rattles, unless its an AK.
  9. telkev

    telkev G&G Newbie

    +1 If the barrel is not clean, make them clean it. If there is any pitting in the barrel or the crown is damaged, stay away from it. However, most new guns have the dirtiest barrels you will ever see, because most do not clean them after they test fire them. And they use the cheapest and dirtiest powder they can find.