Good deal or rip-off? Considerations for buying used firearms
By Edsel Cook // Jul 20, 2019

Like many things in life, a previously owned firearm has its upsides and downsides. A budget prepper or survivalist needs to be smart and careful when buying or trading for used guns.


On the upside, a used firearm costs much less than a brand new weapon. The downside is that you may end up with a useless hunk of steel instead of the old but functional gun you wanted.

People sell firearms for various reasons. A smart buyer finds out the reason for the sale. It helps if the seller is a trusted friend or a reliable supplier.

Always examine the product. Some guns are quick and easy to inspect, while others need to be taken apart.

Safety is paramount. Before inspecting a gun, make sure it is unloaded. For unfamiliar firearms, ask the seller to remove the magazine and open up the action. (Related: Ammo stockpiling: Four more reasons buying more ammo is one of the smartest things you’ll ever do before SHTF.)

Gun buyers need to know about firearms safety and the typical operation of the type of gun. But when in doubt, ask the seller. And if he cannot tell you anything, leave.

Pick a gun beforehand, always field-strip and absolutely no used .22LR semi-auto pistols

If you are planning to buy used firearms or deciding on a particular second-hand gun, you will benefit from keeping six things in mind.

First, decide on the specific firearm ahead of time. Figure out the way to use the gun, its strong and weak points, and the price range.

Visit online sources to get a good idea of the cost of a brand-new unit of the gun. See if the price of the used firearm lies within a comfortable margin of the online price.

Find out if the model of the gun ever went through a factory recall. Ask if the gun got recalled. If it did, ask for official documents that verify its recall and repair. If the seller cannot produce the papers, thank him and leave.

Next, field-strip the gun and examine its parts. See if the polymer has cracked, inspect the ejector for damage, and look for any signs of rust. Then shine a light down the barrel and look for pitting caused by poor maintenance.

If the seller doesn't allow the gun to get field-stripped, leave.

Third, steer clear of any used .22LR semi-automatic pistols. Factory-fresh units are prone to jam, but at least they enjoy a warranty. Used .22LR pistols do not have that guarantee.

Be knowledgeable about guns, test its ergonomics and take your time

Fourth, get familiar with gun-related information in general before going to buy a gun. Learn to identify the physical signs of any defect. If there is no time, bring a dependable friend who knows his way around firearms. Forewarned is forearmed.

Fifth, take hold of the gun and test its ergonomics. The firearm needs to have the right balance, length, and weight for everyone who will use it.

Last but not least, never be afraid to walk away from a deal if it doesn't feel right. Thank the seller for the time before moving elsewhere. There are used guns everywhere and no need to rush.

Buy used firearms at establishments or events with an available firing range. Always take the chance to test the gun before sealing the deal.

This tip also applies to private deals with trusted people. Arrange a meeting at a firing range, fire off several shots to make sure the gun works, and only pay if everything is in order.

Sources include:

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