buying used , please advise ?

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by Tailypoe, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. Tailypoe

    Tailypoe New Member

    Hi. Im speaking as a newbie and someone who you could pretty handily rip off were it not for google.
    will you school me a bit here ? I want to glean you r opinion on this. on these matters, i am simply ignorant. Is the slightly dinged price indicative of an increased risk ? Is the used gun usually lacking someof the components of the new one ?
    for soemone like me moving to ecuador in a year, i don't think customer service would be a big issue.
    I would imagine that pre-broken in and already troubleshot guns would be a plus.
    again, i really don't know anything. It's in ur court.
    :D please say yes and give me the go ahead for the gun show to save a couple thou. I'm no skinflint, but i'll sacrifice anything that's nonfunctional to economize.
  2. Shihan

    Shihan Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

    Not exactly sure about your question.
    If you are considering buying used to save money, I don't think there is anything wrong with that, just make sure you know what you are buying and from who.

  3. Tailypoe

    Tailypoe New Member

    this is all in terms of hand guns, btw.
    i just want to know about the used scene. works for everythign else, in my experience.
  4. M14sRock

    M14sRock Active Member

    I buy as many used guns as I can. Most people never shoot them enough to break them in, let alone wear them out.
  5. therewolf

    therewolf New Member

    Have someone besides yourself with more experience look at the gun.

    A third party won't be emotionally or financially tied to the unit

    for sale, and will be able to make objective observations

    better than you.

    They are liable to quickly spot problems and abnormal wear

    you might never see till after the purchase, when it's

    too late for refunds, or skilled negotiation.

    It helps to do your homework, IME I've seen

    many used pistols priced higher than new

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2011
  6. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

    A good rule of thumb- if you do not know the firearm that well, you should know the seller VERY well. Not a thing wrong with a used gun- my grandkids are shooting the marlin 39 my Mom bought my Dad for an anniversary present.

    Some folks do not like the golly gee whiz key locks that have been added to some new guns. I had a load of 1950's Mossberg 22 rifles (before that HORRIBLE boating accident :rolleyes:) Take a look at all the M1 Carbines that are out there- all made during WW 2. My daily carry gun is a 40 yr old S&W Mdl 36.

    That is assuming honest use and carry, not abuse, neglect, and that it is a quality firearm to start with. If you are buying an RG-14 revolver, that is NOT a S&W Mdl 66. Prices of any make and model are based on condition, New in Box being highest. If you can live with some bluing wear, couple of briar scratches on the stock. etc, and pay 75% of the cost of a new gun- good for you.

    For those demand absolute, total perfection for a firearm- your money, your choice. Like me, most of my guns have a few bumps, scars and scrapes.
  7. Poink88

    Poink88 New Member

    All my handguns are new except for one and the used one seems to be the best overall.

    I bought it (S&W 5906 9mm) from CDNN for $300.00 and I couldn't be happier. It is a police trade-in and last I checked, they still have some.

    See the front page (lower right corner) of their catalog here Buy Gun Accessories, Hi-Capacity Mags, Scopes, Gun Parts & More at CDNN Sports, Inc.

    That said, no one can guarantee what you will get and it is best if you know what to check for and how.

    Good luck!!!
  8. stalkingbear

    stalkingbear Well-Known Member

    Let the buyer beware is a term to live by. If you don't know the seller I'd check it out thoroughly. Gun shows are a popular place to get rid of problematic guns. Yes I buy/trade for a lot of used guns but I know how to fix them in case it's necessary.
  9. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    About half or more of my firearms are used. I typically replace springs and give the firearm a very thorough cleaning to erase any old history and restore function replacing worn parts if any as i go.

    Most modern new guns are getting worse quality wise
  10. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

    If you have a buddy who knows what he's looking at then take him. If you don't, buy new.

  11. wmille01

    wmille01 New Member

    I never really buy guns from other people, the used guns I tend to buy are from a dealer who knows what there talking about and they generally don't sell crap. I would really have someone who knows what there talking about look at it before buying it.
  12. MB44

    MB44 New Member


    After spending 10 years in South America (just moved back to Scandinavia), I just got curious: what are your intentions ?

    1) Buy a gun where you are now and sell it as you go to Ecuador
    2) Buy a gun where you are now and bring it to Ecuador
    3) Buy a gun where you are now and put it on lay-away until you get back from Ecuador
    4) Buy a gun in Ecuador ?
    5) Buy a gun in Ecuador and bring it back to where you are now ?
    6) Did I miss some combination...??? :eek:

    here is my take on it.

    1) Yeah a used gun would be the solution
    2) You don't want to do that, to much papaerwork and customs in Ecuador will rip you off
    3) Also possible
    4) If you want to have a gun down there that would be the best option
    5) = 2
    6) .... :cool:
  13. Tailypoe

    Tailypoe New Member

    my aim.

    my intentions was to buy weapons for here, if i can indeed keep them in
    Canada, or perhaps in an undocumented fashion, and then import these to ecuador. You don't have to have paperwork, but you do have to deal with the thuggish commies down there in customs. . . it's a pain, yes . . . .
    but worth it, to me.
  14. Tailypoe

    Tailypoe New Member

    rip off

    guns n' ammo are ridonkulously expensive down there in
    ecuador. ...
  15. Agent_H

    Agent_H New Member

    I have had really good and really bad luck with used guns. The advice in the above posts is great. Know what you want and get a good look at it, break it down (or ask the shop keep to break it down), and inspect it. Depending on return policy, I would get out and shoot whatever you buy used right away - things get handled easier and quicker if there is little turn around time!

    Good luck on your hunt (mine never seems to end lol)
  16. therewolf

    therewolf New Member

    IME, if there were more of a price break on used guns,

    it would be much more worthwhile.

    Nothing sours a gun purchase worse than finding

    some cheesy problem which is going to run you

    100-300$ extra at a gunsmith to repair...
  17. group17

    group17 New Member

    The LGD's near me give you 30 days to bring it back should it have a problem. If they can't fix it they allow the purchase price to be used as store credit on another gun.
    I have yet to need the return policy on over 8 used weapons. I just make sure they get stripped, cleaned and taken to the range in the first week after I buy them.
    There are a lot of bargains out there that haven't been shot much.
  18. Phelenwolf

    Phelenwolf New Member

    I have been around weapons a long time and still ask others for there advice on certain used guns. Half my weapons are used.

    Like alot of people here are saying if you trust the dealer and do alot of business with him he will more then likely sell you a good firearm. Which is true. BUT if you do not know the dealer very well ask for help. Just my .02 cents.
  19. formerCav

    formerCav Well-Known Member

    This is from a gunsmith... good luck.

    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.


    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.


    (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!)


    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 cyliner gap and play, can spot a gun that's been sent off for professional 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.

    NOW... back to me the NON gunsmith.
    I have bought a few used weapons over the years. My experience has been to only buy from people you know (or you KNOW the gun). I have gotten some good deals. Other then that, I have found I can usually buy NEW from a good gundealer and have the "right of return" for warranty etc. vs buying an unknown and untested piece at a gunshow and your warranty EXPIRES when you walk away with that weapon. Every weapon I've bought that was used (and successful) I bought from someone I knew and they told me I could test fire it and if it did not work, all deals were off.
    On the occasion where I have bought used from an unknown source and unknown weapon, it turned out to be a TURD!!
    Good Luck
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  20. Phelenwolf

    Phelenwolf New Member

    That is some damn good information formerCav, a bit techincal for some of our new member, but good info never the less. I liked it so much that I saved it and sent it to some of my friends. Thanks.