Aug 29, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
For better or worse, coming up is the time of year when a lot of guns are purchased just in time for hunting season. For many, a quality used firearm makes sense. They are less expensive than new guns, and especially if you’re a beginner and not sure how much you’ll hunt or shoot, that lower investment might be enough to get you to give it a try.
If you’re in the market for a used gun, keep these things in mind:
1) Keep your options open on where you go shopping for a used gun. Big sporting “department” stores are fine and so are the smaller “mom and pop” shops. The critical thing is that you find a salesperson to work with who really knows his or her stuff and isn’t pressuring you into buying something. A knowledgeable salesperson will know the store’s used gun inventory well, and will admit that they don’t have what you’re looking for if they don’t have it, rather than steering you into something you don’t want.
2) Before you go, know the basics. If you don’t have the benefit of a seasoned hunting/shooting friend or family member, then research on line. Know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun and which is appropriate to the kind of hunting you’ll be doing.
3) Ask questions about the history and condition of the guns you’re considering. How old are they? Is the model still made? What kind of ammo selection is available for that particular caliber/gauge?
4) If possible, take a knowledgeable friend or family member with you. If you’ll be hunting with them, they’ll know what’s required of the hunts you’ll be doing the most.
5) Ask the salesperson to disassemble the firearm as much as possible and show you how to do it. Inspect the disassembled gun for wear and hidden rust or accumulated crud.
6) Always, always, always look down the barrel. I’ve spied on folks in gun stores (just for fun) and can’t tell you how many purchases I’ve seen made in which the buyer never inspected the bore of the gun. In rifles, it’s the condition of the bore that makes or breaks the accuracy. At the very least, if you find a dirty bore on a gun that you want to buy, you should be able to negotiate for the seller to thoroughly clean it for free before you buy it.
7) Look for the potential in guns that aren’t set up exactly like you want. For example, you may find just the rifle you want in the rack, but it’s wearing a poor quality scope or no scope at all. You may be able to use these as negotiating tools to have the rifle set up just the way you want it by the seller at a reduced rate. Maybe you pay full asking price for the rifle, but they give you a break on a new scope.
8) While you’re looking for value, remember that good guns are not cheap these days and there is very little margin in firearms for the stores. Don’t be surprised if they don’t come much off the marked price, and don’t act insulted if they won’t.
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