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Author Topic: Buying a Used Rifle  (Read 342 times)

Offline TalkHunting Mag

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  • Join Date: Mar 2013
  • Posts: 44
Buying a Used Rifle
« on: April 02, 2013, 05:17:08 AM »
Preface

This article has been composed for purchasing used rifles. Some topics may be applicable to other firearms. I’m not going to debate which manufacturer is best, what model is the best or even which caliber is best. I’m only interested in supplying information relevant to buying a used rifle. I’m also going to make the assumption that you know very little about rifles, used rifle in particular.

Introduction

Buying used products can be a good way to save some money. It can be an easy way to waste money too. Any time you buy something second-hand, there are many variable things to consider. Guns are machines, as with all machines they require care and upkeep. You must be certain that the one you buy is in good working order, and at the same time ensure that you don't pay more than it's worth.
Decide on an Action Type
What kind of rifle are you looking for? Bolt Action, Semi-automatic, Pump (slide-action), Single shot, or Lever action? There are many types available, and many models of those types. There's no need to narrow your choices down to one particular make and model, though there's nothing wrong with that.
Decide on a Caliber
What will you use the rifle for? Some actions lend themselves to certain calibered cartridges, so caliber choice may determine the action type, and vice versa. For hunting deer, squirrels, or varmints, there are caliber and cartridge choices specific to each type of hunting, though some can be considered multi-purpose (good for both varmints and big game, for example). Other calibers and cartridges are good for high-accuracy target shooting, but not so good for hunting. Today there are even “hybrid” calibers and cartridges that perform at long range for target shooting and game hunting.
Start Looking!
This is when it pays to be patient. If you're in a hurry, you might as well find a good new rifle and buy that, because finding a good used rifle suitable for your purposes can take some time. Learn what to look for, and if you're in doubt, seek the advice of a gunsmith or a knowledgeable friend.
Signs of Wear
Wear is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can certainly affect a gun's price and sometimes it’s functioning. Look at the bolt; is it worn on the bearing surfaces? Does the action lock up properly when closed? External wear can sometimes be discounted if the mechanism is in good shape, but signs of abuse often point to a gun that has not been properly maintained, outside or in. This type of general inspection and operation can be done on all types of actions.
The Barrel
The first thing you should look for is uneven coloration along the full run of the barrel. If there is a discernable difference from the breech to the muzzle it’s a good bet that it has been shot abused. Meaning too many rounds too fast, this caused heat damage. Excessive heat causes the steel to distort and change on a molecular level. The bore may look good but the harmonics have been compromised and may not hold accuracy. Take a look at the crown (inward taper) of the muzzle and make sure it is there. I’ve seen barrels that were shortened incorrectly simply buy cutting it off.
Take a good look at the rifle's bore. If there's fouling, it needs to be brushed or patched out (cleaned), and is a sign that the gun hasn't been properly maintained. After you have decided on a caliber, make a small investment (under $20) in a boresnake, run it through and see what comes out. Once it's clean, eyeball down the bore and make sure it's not rusty or pitted. Get as close a look at the chamber as possible, to ensure that it's not pitted. A pitted chamber can mean extraction trouble, especially in an auto or pump. Bore and chamber inspection can best be done with a borescope. They can be expensive starting at just over $100 up to $1500, most good gun dealers and gunsmiths will have one so you can defer to an expert.
Consult an Expert
If your friends can't help you out, and you're dealing with an individual, consider taking the rifle to a gun shop to have a gunsmith take a look at it. It is worth a few dollars to have it checked out, and the seller may be willing to reduce the asking price by whatever amount the gunsmith charges for his services.  Another good investment is a book on Gun Values or an online search.
Ask Questions
If you are buying it from a private owner ask questions. What was the gun used for? Why and when did you buy it? Why is he or she selling it? Has it ever malfunctioned? Is the scope staying? What other accessories (Sling, bipod, cleaning kit, extra clips, etc.)  do you have for it? Has there been customized work or reworked in some way? Customizations (trigger adjustments, action bedding, etc.) may be good or bad, depending on the quality of the work, but they usually don't add much to a gun's value, and may even detract from it. Questions like these can be very important and may raise a red flag to warn you off from buying a gun that has a history of malfunction. Some folks won't tell you about problems unless you ask. Some will not tell you anyway so know what to look for yourself.
Don't Pay Too Much
Even if you pay attention to these signs, you may end up with a lemon, or a rifle that simply doesn't suit you. In that case, you'll want to replace it and get your money back out of it by selling or trading it, which is obviously easier to do if you don't pay top dollar. Don't be afraid to offer less than the asking price, negotiating can be fun plus it never hurts to ask. Determine what you want and what you are willing to invest in it. Be diligent in your search so you know the average price and what to look for as far as the condition.
Record Keeping
Any time you purchase a gun it should be recorded and filed. The information on your records should include who you bought it from, how much you paid, what you got with it and where you store it. This will help you in the event it gets stolen or destroyed, you insurance adjuster will need proof of ownership.
Action specifics:
Bolt Action
Bolt actions are also more reliable than most other action types, because being of a more basic design there are simply fewer things that can go wrong. Another reliability advantage is that the action is cycled by the user, rather than by a mechanism. The biggest  drawback is being “hand”  specific right-handed bolt action rifle will have the bolt handle on the right side of the gun and the left handed action will have the bolt handle on the left side of the gun. Unless you are extremely ambidextrous the bolt action must be for your dominant hand.
In a loaded repeating bolt action rifle without a magazine-block device, each time you push the bolt forward (close it) you load a round of ammo into the chamber. Each time you open the bolt with a round in the chamber, the rearward stroke of the bolt removes that cartridge (or empty case, if the round was fired prior to opening the bolt).
Semi-Automatic
The semi-auto is one of the most wonderful actions in the world - when it works. Some designs function perfectly almost always (the AK-47 comes to mind). Others are more finicky and have been known to cause problems. As with any other thing, not all of them are created equal.
Accuracy with a semi-automatic rifle will vary from terrible to fantastic, depending on the rifle's condition, design, and type of ammunition used. The semi-auto may be the least consistent of all rifle actions, from one model to the other.
Pump-action
A pump-action rifle or shotgun is one in which the handgrip can be pumped back and forth in order to eject a spent round of ammunition and to chamber a fresh one. It is much faster than a bolt-action and somewhat faster than a lever-action, as it does not require the trigger hand to be removed from the trigger whilst reloading. When used in rifles, this action is also commonly called a slide action.
Lever-action
Lever-action is a type of firearm action which uses a lever located around the trigger guard area (often including the trigger guard itself) to load fresh cartridges into the chamber of the barrel when the lever is worked. One of the most famous lever-action firearm is undoubtedly the Winchester rifle, but many manufacturers–notably Marlin and Savage–also produce lever-action rifles.
Conclusion
Pick a gun that fills your requirements. Make a deal that you are comfortable with. I’d suggest learning how to “break it down”, either get this information from the manufacturer or from a gunsmith you know and trust for guidance. The most important thing you can do is use it. Get to know it and enjoy it. If you wanted something to hang on the wall and look pretty go buy a painting or something, guns are meant to be used and enjoyed.
The End
Gun Geeks Roundtable
pa: wear, any weapon showing signs of abuse rust etc should be avoided; anyone who won’t take the time to clean and maintain their weapon will usually abuse it. remember certain calibers have reputations of premature barrel wear; i buy most of my weapons used, and from a source that i know well.
GL: No suggested edits or changes other than to add some photographic examples if possible.
DH: Like many of you I buy more used rifle than new ones. I have two groups that they fall into: Good usable and Poor unusable. The Good group can be taken to the field or range after a thorough inspection and cleaning. If they are descent shooters than more in-depth work will be done. The Poor group has sub groups; the first is repairable, the second is complete rebuild and third is parts gun. Naturally the amount of money I decide to pay is governed by the condition of the gun and my need for it. My best example is the yote getter; when I got it I would have grouped it as a repairable, the barrel was shot out but the rest of the gun was in fairly good shape. I at the time was looking for a project gun. Being very familiar with the Savage 110 actions I decided to completely rebuild it. I ordered a long barrel for it, nothing very fancy. I didn’t even have it fluted. Long story short I just plain and simple got darn lucky. I wound up with a superior long range shooting rifle. The total investment: used rifle $25.00, new barrel $275.00 make action like new under $20 in parts and 4 hours in labor (over 1500 rounds, priceless). After I got it shooting and after a while shooting darn well I had to upgrade the optics twice as my competency improved and kept stretching the range beyond the optic capability.
The moral here is don’t be afraid of failure, the real failure is never attempting.

Dutch-Hunter

 

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