What to be on the lookout when buying a used gun

This is a discussion on What to be on the lookout when buying a used gun within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I've never bought a used gun before, so I'm wondering what are the things y'all look for and pay attention to when buying a used ...

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Thread: What to be on the lookout when buying a used gun

  1. #1
    Member Array greenLED's Avatar
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    What to be on the lookout when buying a used gun

    I've never bought a used gun before, so I'm wondering what are the things y'all look for and pay attention to when buying a used gun?

    I found a used Kel-Tec P11 at a local gun shop the other day. It fills a niche I've been looking to fill, but before dishing out my money, I'd like to be sure I get a working gun.

    How do I test for wear?
    Estimating how bad potential rust is (or may be)?
    etc.

    Whatever you can share will be appreciated.
    If handguns cause crime, mine are deffective - Ted Nugent

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    Member Array CPO 15's Avatar
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    I've never bought a used gun, but I always buy used cars.

    Saw a guy with a Wilson .45 trying to make a trade/sale at a LGS that didn't work out. I spoke to him in the parking lot and looked at this gun: beautiful, looked new, had the box, manual etc.. He said the shop offered him $300, I said they're trying to steal it and sent him to the shop/range I use because they've treated me well on trade-ins. Went there the next day and asked if the fellow came in with his gun. He did but the shop wouldn't take it. They broke it down and found a mangled trigger job and a disconnected grip safety plus bent mag lips: stuff I wouldn't have found just by handling it. Buyer beware; I'm glad I had enough .45s that I didn't make him an offer.

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    Member Array phair12's Avatar
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    the p11 will breakdown with a bullet for a takedown tool so that wont be a big deal. on a kel-tec i have no fear of buying one used. They have a dont ask dont tell policy. check for rust and look at the finish. that will be your biggest indication of care. pull the slide back and see if it gets cleaned. i bough a p3at that had 200 rounds through it and didnt get cleaned.

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    Member Array Biggie313's Avatar
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    Just field strip it. Look down barrel and check the rails where the slide moves. Checked make sure it looks cleaned regularly, no major pitting, and gunk inside

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    Member Array greenLED's Avatar
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    Thank you, gentlemen.

    Biggie, what would be considered "major pitting" - to the point where the surface starts feeling rough? IIRC, the portion of the barrel that sticks out through the ejection port had some faint stain marks, I'd have to look closer, but they may be rust spots?

    How do I test for wear and tear of the firing mechanism on a P11?
    If handguns cause crime, mine are deffective - Ted Nugent

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    I'd say that if you see any rust or pitting at all it's probably not the gun you are looking for. It should look new. If it has a little holster or slide wear it's no big deal, but it should look like a new gun inside and out. Some wear marks where the gun parts move is no big deal but I won't buy a gun with rust, dings or deep scratches. That is a sign of a neglectful owner.
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    This is a pretty good guide for NRA condition standards for rating firearms. If you are looking on-line at auction sites this may come in handy.

    http://www.armchairgunshow.com/Condition-NRA-Guns.htm
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atctimmy View Post
    I'd say that if you see any rust or pitting at all it's probably not the gun you are looking for. It should look new. If it has a little holster or slide wear it's no big deal, but it should look like a new gun inside and out. Some wear marks where the gun parts move is no big deal but I won't buy a gun with rust, dings or deep scratches. That is a sign of a neglectful owner.
    Exactly. The first good find you come cross may not always be the best even though it may seem rather attractive at the time. What you're willing to work with and what they are willing to sell for may be some factors as well. Thing is....one that have visible sings of neglect on the outside generally says the same thing for the insides. Your estimated cost of fixing issues is what should come off the selling price. You decide if it's all going to come out in the wash. Rust is an element and not a stain. Rust can actually be polished off the surface temporarily....kind of like buying a used car with brand new tires....if the engine won't run, what's the selling point of new tires? Defects can be hidden and waxed over if you get my meaning. Not to say a gun shop would do this to make a sale.....could be the one who traded it in to the gun shop.....it's just buyer beware with just about anything you contemplate on buying used. Next up......know what you're looking at and have a general idea of how to manually operate it and get to the parts you should inspect. Pistols are rather easy compared to long guns (especially some rifles). Most important inspection points will be out in the open instead of your need for a bore light to inspect a chamber for erosion.
    Buying used firearms is sort of a stand alone market that the buyer is in control of, but the buyer needs to be knowledgeable. Questions never hurt anybody, and there's no such thing as a stupid question (even if they snicker about it). The selling party should also be knowledgeable and honest in what they sell. The price should at least reflect the obvious condition and the going market. Speak your mind when looking over a used piece. That lets the seller know you're scrutinizing it's condition for the asking price. If they are not willing to make allowances.....simply put it down.....walk away....and forget about it. Having a fist full of money should never cause anyone to pay full asking price on anything used IMO. Trades are a bit different. Gun shops will likely always sell guns new or used....I'm not quite sure where 'Beaver Nation' is located...but it's the usual status quo no doubt. How much competition your gun shop has...and the supply and demand in that neck of the woods. Pawn shops are a good game as well. Sometimes they simply have the FFL and pawn license.......not necessarily any knowledgeable staff on firearms. Usually they just dust them off from time to time. If it's on their shelf or in the case, you can almost bet they paid 25% or less of it's worth to get it there. Gun shows? In Beaver Nation? Don't know.....but lots of times the gun show vendors want the asking price no matter what on the first day of the show. They gauge the local market on that day...or sell what they came to sell. If it's used...the second day may be worth going back to see if it's still there. If it is, you'll likely get a last day buyer's discount with a simple "what's your bottom dollar?"
    Over my many years of buying, selling, and trading firearms......I have never come out on the short end of the stick. Not once. I've seen the seller smile once in a while, but when I did, I was still sure I came out on the better end of the deal since I knew something he didn't or I had something he wanted more than what I was getting in return. Always go into the market with an edge. Decide what's acceptable, your maximum bid, and what's open for discussion. Simple economics......you...the buyer needs to come away from a deal with the best for your money spent. Lifetime warranties won't always cover third party buyers, and they won't always cover everything even if they do extend to subsequent owners.
    I've always come out on top with my deals on used firearms no matter what. Trades, trades with cash out, trades with accessories or freebies taken, trades with cash in, buying new, buying used...etc.
    When you're looking for something, there's more of what you're looking for than you know. Granted......the internet is shortening the search over the local gun shop. I like handling what I buy for sure, but a price you can get it for elsewhere can also be a bargaining tool when you can hold it and bring it home the same day and be able to inspect it first hand. Consider shipping and transfer costs with remote buys. All in all, buying used is good. Just use your tools wisely, and be willing to continue your search to something more acceptable to your criteria, and...start searching in more places. Best of luck.

  10. #9
    Member Array greenLED's Avatar
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    Great advise, thank you again!

    I'll let my "want" feeling for this gun fade a little and then I'll go back to the store and ask them to disassemble it so I can take a look at the internals. I'll take a price chart for replacement parts available with me too.
    If handguns cause crime, mine are deffective - Ted Nugent

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