What do you look for in a used gun?

We’ve already discussed whether you would buy a used gun (Would you buy a used gun?).

Now let’s talk about what you look for when you’re purchasing a used gun. The first thing I look at is where I’m buying the gun. Do I know that the seller is reputable?

What do you look for when you’re buying a used gun?


Brand and model
Condition (Damage and Wear)
Chainsaw bayonet attachment

And I always have a knowledgeable friend look it over to make sure I’m not wearing rose colored eye protection.


If something gets my interest (which means good price also), first thing I do is checking the seller. To be honest I do not like private sells. I’m buying from guns stores only (local or internet).

What to look for? FUNCTION CHECK (manually simulate whole cycle of firing the handgun, magazine reloads; chamber plunk test and ejection test with snap-cap; firing pin test with laser cartridge).
All good if components function properly, minor flaws can be always corrected later.


Brand is where I start. Lots of gun makers have fully transferable warranties. I’ll ask if I can do a quick field strip, so I can look at the internals. If everything checks out, I’ll ask to shoot it. As for buying sight unseen(Gun Broker) 80 percent of my decision hangs on the brand, and the pictures. I will contact the seller, and ask for pictures of it stripped.


In the low price range I operate in, the cost difference used to new is insignificant, so I just buy new.


I’m with @45IPAC.


Is it either

  1. A reputable gun store with an in residence gun Smith.

  2. Will they let me take it to a reputable gun Smith.

If answer to 1 or 2 is a no. No sale.

Just like when I buy a used car, I take it to a reputable mechanic.

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A used gun is a box of mystery, what will become of it? I bought a good looking 17HMR and it had the scope and bi-pod. When I took it to shoot about the third round would not fire. I thought it was the ammo but, it was not. The firing pin was wore out. I had the same case with a Taurus .44 magnum. Now I know why it was such a deal. Pawn shops get the guns for some reason, you may or may not find a good gun. I started asking if there is a return option if it does not work. I took a rifle I bought for 150.00 from a guy who was afraid to shoot it and I took it to a gunsmith to have a good look at it. He said it was tight and in top shape.


A function check of course----bore condition, safety, head spacing etc…as well.
I’ll weight Police Dept trade- ins on the plus side if it’s from a dealer and if I get the pick of the litter.
Also see how well supported that model is in the parts department—check SARCO, Brownell’s, Numrich, etc…

I prefer it to be mechanically sound or if there is anything wrong it should be something I can fix myself or have a gunsmith easily address. But I will confess that I have bought my fair share of basked cases to bring back to life. I like learning new gunsmithing skills as I go along.


I like to add a pistol, shotgun, or rifle (.22) that I don’t have in my collection, which really isn’t all that big. The last pistol I purchased for instance, was a S&W 422. I never knew it existed until one showed up in the used case at my gun club. I looked it up that evening and bought it the next day. It looked like a S&W Mdl 41 at first sight, and then it wasn’t. It has turned out to be a very accurate pistol. And it was made on my wife’s birthday in 1996. She was made in 1946 :wink:.
Some of them have required a little work, cleaning, etc., but that is always a learning experience.