Used Firearms?

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Thread: Used Firearms?

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    Member Array Benthic's Avatar
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    Question Used Firearms?

    All,

    What are your thoughts on purchasing secondhand or used firearms? I'm thinking specifically of handguns from pawnshops and/or gun shows? Is there such a thing as getting a 'lemon'? If so, is there anything I can be on the lookout for and thus avoid? I've currently got a Glock and I'm looking to add a couple more to the collection. I've got no problem with paying full price for a new weapon if necessary, but I wouldn't mind being on the look out for a deal either.

    I did a little searching of the archives for some info on this, but didn't come up with much, so I hope you'll all indulge me here.

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benthic View Post
    All,

    What are your thoughts on purchasing secondhand or used firearms? I'm thinking specifically of handguns from pawnshops and/or gun shows? Is there such a thing as getting a 'lemon'? If so, is there anything I can be on the lookout for and thus avoid? I've currently got a Glock and I'm looking to add a couple more to the collection. I've got no problem with paying full price for a new weapon if necessary, but I wouldn't mind being on the look out for a deal either.

    I did a little searching of the archives for some info on this, but didn't come up with much, so I hope you'll all indulge me here.

    Brian
    At the top of the concealed carry guns section above has a pistol
    check.
    Try coolgunsite.com
    Or http://www.gunshopfinder.com/article...rcheckout.html

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    I hesitate to buy another person's used tool, but that's just me.

    I'm curious to hear what others think.
    It's not about the caliber you carry, it's about how you USE it.

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    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Dont bother me at all but i do a very through check out before i buy

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    I have no problem purchasing used handguns, shotguns, and some rifles.

    I won’t purchase a precision rifle used, because I don’t know how well the barrel has been taken care of, and little things can make a big difference.
    Blessed be the Lord my rock who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1

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    Member Array Benthic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud White View Post
    Dont bother me at all but i do a very through check out before i buy
    So, what kind of things are you looking for? Is this something you can do at the store/show or does it require a trip to a firing range?

    Brian

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    Find out all you can about the specific gun if possible.all guns have certian wear/weak points to check for when purchasing used. I will buy, if the gun is lightly used only.
    Some common things are loose fit, pitted bore, rounded contact points(slide release, ect) . Alot depends on what gun you are looking at.
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson


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    Rocky speaks well - indeed research your proposed purchase first. Know the beast beforehand.

    Out of all my collection - at a random guess I'd say more than 50% were bought used and only one out of all those was ever anything other first rate - some were sight unseen too.

    The only one that had prob's was a Para that actually only needed a new extractor! Easy.

    Bottom line - Caveat Emptor .. buyer beware. Always some risk but maybe I have been lucky with dozens of used guns!
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    Member Array Benthic's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice guys! I'm looking for Glock 23s and/or Glock 27s. I've already got one Glock 23 so I know where they typically wear. I would guess that most Glock models have similar wear points.

    Thanks again.

    Brian

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    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benthic View Post
    So, what kind of things are you looking for? Is this something you can do at the store/show or does it require a trip to a firing range?

    Brian

    Both would be best but depends on gun QK posted a very good check out for 1911's not sure if anyone posted jim marches wheelies check out we need to have a sticky for these

    Credit to Jim March for this one

    Revolver checkout:
    How to tell if a particular specimen is any good


    So you're buying a revolver. New, used, doesn't matter, you want a good one, right?

    How do check one over without firing it, right at the dealer's counter or gun show table?

    This is how. All of this works with DA or SA wheelguns..."close the action" on most DAs means swing the cylinder in, on SA types, close the loading gate, on breakopens, close 'em. UNLOADED.

    WARNING: Most of these tests require violation of the "finger off trigger" rule. Therefore, be extremely careful about safe muzzle direction and making sure the gun is unloaded ahead of time, PERSONALLY, as you begin handling it.

    Note: Bring a small flashlight, something small and concentrated. A Photon or similar high-powered LED light is perfect. You also want feeler gauges if you're not used to eyeballing cylinder gaps; at a minimum, bring a .002", .004" and .006".

    Note2: No dry firing is required or desired at any point. It just pisses off the gun's current owner.


    Cylinder play

    1) With the gun UNLOADED (check for yourself!), close the action.

    2) Thumb the hammer back, and while pulling the trigger, gently lower the hammer all the way down while keeping the trigger back - and KEEP holding the trigger once the hammer is down. (You've now put the gun in "full lockup" - keep it there for this and most other tests.)

    3) With the trigger still back all the way, check for cylinder wiggle. Front/back is particularly undesirable; a bit of side to side is OK but it's a bad thing if you can wiggle it one way, let go, and then spin it the other way a fraction of an inch and it stays there too. At the very least, it should "want" to stop in just one place (later, we'll see if that place is any good). The ultimate is a "welded to the frame" feeling.


    Cylinder gap

    4) Still holding the trigger at full lockup, look sideways through the barrel/cylinder gap. If you can get a credit card in there, that ain't good...velocity drops rapidly as the gap increases. Too tight isn't good either, because burnt powder crud will "fill the gap" and start making the cylinder spin funky. My personal .38snubbie is set at .002, usually considered the minimum...after about 40 shots at the range, I have to give the front of the cylinder a quick wipe so it spins free again. I consider that a reasonable tradeoff for the increased velocity because in a real fight, I ain't gonna crank 40 rounds out of a 5-shot snub .

    If you're eyeballing it, you'll have to hold it up sideways against an overhead light source.

    SAFETY WARNING: This step in particular is where you MUST watch your muzzle direction. Look, part of what's happening here is that you're convincing the seller you know your poop . It helps the haggling process. If you do anything unsafe, that impression comes completely unglued.


    Timing

    5) You really, REALLY want an unloaded gun for this one. This is where the light comes in. With the gun STILL held in full lockup, trigger back after lowering the hammer by thumb, you want to shine a light right into the area at the rear of the cylinder near the firing pin. You then look down the barrel . You're looking to make sure the cylinder bore lines up with the barrel. Check every cylinder - that means putting the gun in full lockup for each cylinder before lighting it up.

    You're looking for the cylinder and barrel holes to line up perfectly, it's easy to eyeball if there's even a faint light source at the very rear of both bores. And with no rounds present, it's generally easy to get some light in past where the rims would be.


    Bore

    (We're finally done with that "full lockup" crap, so rest your trigger finger. )

    6) Swing the cylinder open, or with most SAs pull the cylinder. Use the small flashlight to scope the bore out. This part's easy - you want to avoid pitting, worn-out rifling, bulges of any sort. You want more light on the subject than just what creeps in from the rear of the cylinder on the timing check.

    You also want to check each cylinder bore, in this case with the light coming in from the FRONT of each hole, you looking in from the back where the primers would be. You're looking for wear at the "restrictions" at the front of each cylinder bore. That's the "forcing cone" area and it can wear rapidly with some Magnum loads. (Special thanks to Salvo below for this bit!)


    Trigger

    7) To test a trigger without dry-firing it, use a plastic pen in front of the hammer to "catch" it with the off hand, especially if it's a "firing pin on the hammer" type. Or see if the seller has any snap-caps, that's the best solution. Flat-faced hammers as found in transfer-bar guns (Ruger, etc) can be caught with the off-hand without too much pain .

    SA triggers (or of course a DA with the hammer cocked) should feel "like a glass rod breaking". A tiny amount of take-up slack is tolerable, and is common on anything with a transfer bar or hammerblock safety.

    DA triggers are subjective. Some people like a dead-smooth feel from beginning of stroke to the end, with no "warning" that it's about to fire. Others (myself included) actually prefer a slight "hitch" right at the end, so we know when it's about to go. With that sort of trigger, you can actually "hold it" right at the "about to fire" point and do a short light stroke from there that rivals an SA shot for accuracy. Takes a lot of practice though. Either way, you don't want "grinding" through the length of the stroke, and the final stack-up at the end (if any) shouldn't be overly pronounced.


    Detecting Bad Gunsmithing:

    8) OK, so it's got a rock-solid cylinder, a .002" or .003" gap, and the trigger feels great. Odds are vastly in favor of it being tuned after leaving the factory.

    So was the gunsmith any good?

    First, cock it, then grab the hammer and "wiggle it around" a bit. Not too hard, don't bang on it, but give it a bit of up/down, left/right and circular action with finger off trigger and WATCH your muzzle direction.

    You don't want that hammer slipping off an overly polished sear. You REALLY don't want that . It can be fixed by installing factory parts but that'll take modest money (more for installation than hardware costs) and it'll be "bigtime" unsafe until you do.

    The other thing that commonly goes wrong is somebody will trim the spring, especially coil springs. You can spot that if you pull the grip panels, see if the spring was trimmed with wire cutters. If they get too wild with it, you'll get ignition failures on harder primers. But the good news is, replacement factory or Wolf springs are cheap both to buy and have installed.

    There's also the legal problems Ayoob frequently describes regarding light triggers. If that's a concern, you can either swap back to stock springs, or since you bought it used there's no way to prove you knew it was modified at all .


    In perspective:

    Timing (test #5) is very critical...if that's off, the gun may not even be safe to test-fire. And naturally, a crappy barrel means a relatively pricey fix.

    Cylinder gap is particularly critical on short-barreled and/or marginal caliber guns. If you need every possible ounce of energy, a tight gap helps. Some factory gaps will run as high as .006"; Taurus considers .007" "still in spec" (sigh). You'll be hard-pressed to find any new pieces under .004" - probably because the makers realize some people don't clean 'em often (or very well) and might complain about the cylinder binding up if they sell 'em at .002".

    The guns in a dealer's "used pile" are often of unknown origin, from estate sales or whatever. Dealers don't have time to check every piece, and often don't know their history. These tests, especially cylinder gap and play, can spot a gun that's been sent off for professional tuning...like my snubbie, the best $180 I ever spent .

    As long as the gun is otherwise sound (no cracks, etc) a gunsmith can fix any of this. So these tests can help you pick a particularly good new specimen, or find a good used gun, or help haggle the price down on something that'll need a bit of work.

    Hope this helps.
    Jim March

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    Distinguished Member Array BIG E's Avatar
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    I have no issue with it just check them out. I have found that pawn shops are not the best place to buy firearms. They tend to hike the prices. I would save a little more cash and get something new. At least that's the way it works around here.
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    Most used guns are used guns because someone decided they wanted a different gun , or had budget problems . Fiew are sold/traded because of any mechanical problem . With that being said keep in mind that a used gun is truely buyer beware . Take the time to know all you can about the specific model you are intrested in and check it out as best you can. Include a live fire test if possible , if not dont sweat it as long as you can field strip the gun and look it over good . If someone does not want you handling a gun, or field stripping it prior to buying , then you do not want that gun . I dont care if the gun is " cherry " that is not a person you want to support with your money . I trade guns a lot , and have in fact sent guns several hundred miles with folks so they can check stuff out on the gun . Its a recommendation for all our " gun culture " that i have never been screwed , nor have i had to go chase a bad check .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
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    Some stores will preform test fires of used handguns when they get them in so that they know they aren't purchasing and potentially selling a bad gun.

    In our shop, someone fires five rounds through the gun at a target, they write the yardage, number of rounds fired and their initials on the target and put it in the box the gun came in so that the next buyer can see for themselves the gun's capacities.

    We also note on the target whether there were any jams or problems. Usually we get in guns that work just fine. Like Redneck said, either people want to get something new or they are hurting financially and need some extra cash, or a family member died and they inherited the guns and they have no desire to keep them.

    If we get in a 1911 myself or my manager does a full check on it. If we get in a revolver our revolver guy checks it out. If it's a Glock, our Glock guy checks it out.

    A reputable gun seller is not going to take a bad gun. That bad gun will get sold to an unhappy customer and the word will spread to not go to X gun shop because they sell bad guns. It's bad for business and so a good gun shop will ensure that any gun they get in is in perfect working order before they put it on the shelf.

    I've seen at least three handguns turned down just last week alone because they were not in good condition to resell.

    I wouldn't buy a gun at a pawn shop because most pawn shops really don't care whether their merchandise is good or not. They are just trying to make a buck.

    If you are potentially going to buy a used gun, go to an actually gun shop and look and ask around for a shop known for its integrity, honesty, good dealings and good products. I would almost guarantee that any gun you purchase from them, used or new, is going to work just fine.

    Ask the seller if the gun has been test fired and if there is any evidence of the test fire. Ask the seller if the gun has at least been looked over by someone who knows what to look for on that model. If the person is there ask to talk to them.

    Also, ask if they have a policy about faulty guns. Some stores have a policy that within X amount of days if there is something mechanically wrong with the weapon they will pay to ship it back to the manufacturer for repairs and service. It's part of good customer relations and keeping a good name.

    Like I said, if you are buying from a reputable source you shouldn't have a problem, if you are buying from some guy in a back ally who can't tell a .32 from a .50 or a Hi-Power from a 1911 then you need to go somewhere else.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benthic View Post
    What are your thoughts on purchasing secondhand or used firearms? I'm thinking specifically of handguns from pawnshops and/or gun shows? Is there such a thing as getting a 'lemon'?
    If you know what to look for, or if you have a gunsmith buddy who can clue you in, then used buys can be better, IMO, 'cause the problems will have been worked out. The trick is, like with a car that has all the maintenance records and a track record at the local quality mechanic's shop, if the issues have been addressed properly. So long as a gun's issues have been resolved correctly, then you're getting a gun that's already been through the break-in period, already shoots everything well, etc.

    Data point: From a sheer reliability standpoint, the best gun I've owned was, interestingly, a Browning BDM 9mm pistol. After about 25K rounds, the thing just kept on ticking. No problems whatsoever. Not a single jam or feeding problem. It would work with any ammo from any mfr. Haven't found anything as reliable as that.

    A good WW2 vintage to early-1960's 1911 can be much the same. If purchased from someone who cared about it, it can the a truly great find. Reliable, no more issues. Properly broken in (if the seller can show that).

    The risk is: there are a lot of duds. I believe some refer to a gun as having been "Bubba'ed" if it has issues that have been poorly resolved by a non-gunsmith. These are definitely some of the lemons out there.
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    I have no problems carrying a pre-owned firearm as long as I had a chance to wring it out at a range with my carry load of choice (and other rounds), do a recoil (and maybe mainspring) spring swap (on guns of which the round count in unknown or over a couple of thousand), and do a general check of the gun.

    Several guns I've carried that were pre-owned and have proven winners were my Star PD .45 ACP, Beretta 92 FC Type M 9mm, and SIGARMS SP2340 sig pro .357 SIG.
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