Advice For Buying A Used Gun


During these times of panic, more people than (maybe) ever are looking to buy firearms for self-protection. Some are looking to buy new. Others don’t care if it’s new or used as long as it works.

The thing is, if you’ve never bought a firearm before, you need to think about what you’re going to get instead of just buying from a knee-jerk panic reaction (which, no doubt, many people are). Fortunately, there are people who can give good advice for buying a firearm. Tamara Keel, for example, gives us some good advice for when you are considering buying a used weapon. Keel writes,

First, exterior wear is just cosmetic. You don’t have to worry about it from a functional standpoint. […] Wear on the metal, unless it’s actual scratches deep enough to compromise the rust-resistant finish, is totally cosmetic. It won’t affect function, but feel free to use it as a haggling point on price. “Ew! It’s ugly! Gimme another twenty bucks off.” 

Keel notes that the best option to check out a gun is to field strip it, but most stores are unlikely to want to let you do that because it can make the gun look more worn. But you can look for two warning signs to help you determine if a specific firearm is a good purchase. Keel writes,


If you can get the clerk to let you field strip the gun or to do it for you, that’s great, but even if you can’t, two of the best wear indicators on many types of pistol are visible without field stripping. With the slide forward, look at the top forward edge of the chamber where it meets the forward edge of the ejection port. With the slide locked to the rear, look at the top of the barrel out near the muzzle end. These areas both tend to show increased finish loss with higher round counts. With, say, a classic Sig P-229, a shiny crescent shaped wear patch, sometimes called a “smiley face” will appear out near the muzzle with very little shooting. If the pistol has a few cases of ammo through it, that wear pattern can trail quite a ways back on the top of the barrel.

Again, it’s very rare that a pistol will have actually been fired enough to use up an appreciable portion of its active service life, but these can be points to haggle over.

As Keel notes, inspecting the firearm is vital. If you simply don’t know what to look for, take someone with you who does because a firearm purchase for most of us isn’t a mantle piece for show. A gun in our house was bought to be used, and so you want to make a smart purchase.



  1. I am a gun smith and armorer , I build custom AR 15`s , It is not hard to know if a Firearm has been used and has fired thousands of rounds , It is more important to know how reliable certain Firearms are , I have a Ruger Single Six which is very old and has been fired who knows how many times , But it is rock solid and as reliable and accurate as the first day it was fired

  2. Many gunships have ranges. If so, test fire the weapon. That’s the only way to judge it’s function. If buying from a private citizen, meet them at a range and do same. If not possible, take a very knowledgeable friend with you and let them examine it.

  3. Buy from private seller …. and don’t exchange names or allow the atf check…..

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