Hook & Barrel
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A Guide to buying and selling used guns

This content is sponsored by Guns.com

10 Tips & Other Expert Advice on Getting the Best Bangs for Your Bucks

Buying or selling a used gun doesn’t have to be a gamble if you follow a few basic guidelines. If you’re in the market for a used gun, some of the following pointers may help steer you toward a safe, functional gun and save you a few hard-earned dollars along the way.

Expert Gunsmith Advice

While on a spring hunt at Turkey Trot Acres a few years ago in western New York, I got a chance to visit with Mark Bansner, a custom gunmaker, and offeror of sage used-gun-buying advice. 

Mossberg 940 Shotgun, expert Mark Bansner Custom Rifle gunsmith
Mark Bansner knows his way around all manner of firearms, but he specializes in high-end custom hunting rifles.

“The exterior condition is a good indicator of how well a gun was maintained,” the Adamstown, Pennsylvania, gunsmith said. “Look down into the trigger mechanism to see if it’s all crudded up. That’s a good indication of how the gun was treated.”

Making quite a few gunsmithing friends over the last 36 years in the gun industry, and even spending quite a bit of time myself working in a gun shop, I’ve learned a few things to look out for in a used-gun trade.

10 Tips for Buying Used Handguns, Rifles & Shotguns

No. 1—ACTION: Check to see if the action cycles freely. Usually, dirt is the culprit, but it can be an indicator of worn or broken parts.

No. 2—STOCK CHECK: Check the stocks for cracks. Over the years wood stocks on rifles, shotguns, and even handguns can soak up oil and weaken. This leads to cracks and questionable stock integrity.

No. 3—STOCK-TO-ACTION FIT: If you grab a shotgun or rifle around the wrist of the stock and flex or make the joint between the wood and metal flex, it’s got a problem. Oil is often the culprit in weakening wood, but years of recoil can have the same effect. Oftentimes, long guns get cleaned and stored butt down, which causes excess oil to flow down into the stock. The photo below shows a good example of this problem.

firearm wood furniture
The devil is in the details. Mistreated wood furniture, thankfully, can be replaced with aftermarket products.

No. 4—INSPECT THE BARREL: Check for rust or pitting inside and out. What you can see without looking down the bore is cosmetic, but can retard values. Internally, look for the same rust and pits and also check the muzzle crown. Damage inside of a barrel robs accuracy in any rifled arm.

No. 5—DON’T GET SCREWED: Check screw heads for damage. This is the best sign that an amateur has been inside of a rifle, shotgun, or handgun.

No. 6—AVOID THE HACKS: Don’t buy it if it’s been modified by someone who obviously wasn’t a professional gunsmith. This tip and the rest come from the legendary Bill Wilson, owner of Wilson Combat. These are useful when evaluating a 1911 Colt pistol, but apply to other weapon types, too.

bill wilson custom gun shop
Founded in the back of his family’s jewelry store in 1977 to help support his competition pistol habit, Bill Wilson’s little custom gun shop has grown to become a household name and employs hundreds. 

No. 7—FEED RAMP: Make sure the barrel/feed ramp hasn’t been messed up. A proper “throating” job only entails light polishing of the frame feed ramp (no real material removal), light polishing of the barrel ramp, and radiusing the edge of the ramp/chamber edge. The 3/32″ step from frame to barrel in a 1911 MUST be maintained. We’ve seen lots of ruined frames due to the frame feed ramp being cut forward to match the barrel.

No. 8—LEAVE IT TO BEAVERTAIL: Poor beavertail installation. Like No. 2 above it’s hard to fix this mess.

No. 9—SAFETIES CHECK: Make sure the grip and/or thumb safeties function properly.

No. 10—OUTTA SIGHT?: If the sights have been changed make sure the slide dovetail hasn’t been cut too large or the angles changed.

used guns for sale

Armed with the tips above, you are ready to go bargain hunting. The three best places to find a good used gun bargain are gun shows, gun and pawn shops, individuals and lately, at online retailer Guns.com.

Top 5 Sales on Guns.com

Although Guns.com primarily sells handguns, it does offer a wide variety of guns sold. Some of them have commanded some steep prices, too. The Top 5 rings of the cash register might surprise you.

A Pair of Colt Snake Eyes Revolvers Sold for $29,999

The highly coveted Colt Snake Eyes Collectible Set is a treasure for firearm enthusiasts and history collectors alike. This meticulously crafted set celebrates the iconic Colt Python revolver, a legendary firearm renowned for its exceptional performance and exquisite design.

Colt Snake Eyes

Limited to only 500 sets worldwide, it includes a breathtaking pair of Colt Snake Eyes revolvers, showcasing a striking stainless-steel and Colt’s Royal blue finish, plus custom grips.

The Colt Snake Eyes Collectible Set transcends its function as a mere firearm. It is a gateway to a bygone era; an embodiment of Colt’s unparalleled legacy and enduring reputation for exceptional craftsmanship.

Ohio Ordnance M2, or “Ma Deuce,” Sold for $18,275

In service in its full-auto version since 1933, Ohio Ordnance Works builds a semi-auto M2 50 BMG that gets you around the need for a tax stamp. It sports a 20-inch barrel, black phosphate, and a list of accessories, which include 200 .50 Cal belt links, cleaning kit, headspace gauge set, ruptured case extractor, wrench, custom fitted hard case, wire carry handle, and flash hider.

Ohio Ordnance M2-SLR Belt

Beretta O/U Express Rifle (.458 Win Mag) Sold for $17,100

Built individually to the customer’s specifications from 1990 to 2014, Beretta offered one of the best bespoke rifles built. Blued barrels in .458 Winchester, this rifle is signed “P. Beretta” and “Express” on the left side of the upper barrel, gold inlaid “1” on the solid rib at the breech, automatic ejectors, beaded blade front sight and a matted two-leaf rear sight. Highly figured walnut pistol grip stock with fine checkering adorns this safari-ready rifle. The forearm hardware is also engraved to match and gold inlaid “1.” An engraved trapdoor grip cap containing an extra front sight, raised cheek piece, engraved cartridge door, and solid Old English Pachmayr recoil pad round out its trim.

Beretta Over/Under O/U Express Rifle

Barrett M107A1 Sold for $16,496

The .50 BMG caliber seems to be a theme among top-flight sales on Guns.com Barrett’s M107A1 is a beast. While it may share the same iconic look and legendary reliability of legacy Barrett firearms, that is where the similarities end.

Barrett M107A1

Utilizing state-of-the-art design, manufacturing, and materials, every component of the rifle has been engineered to be lighter and stronger than its predecessors. In addition to a 4-pound weight reduction, the M107A1 is optimized for use with a sound suppressor, providing a much-needed signature reduction capability to the warfighter. Lighter, stronger, more accurate, and more capable; the M107A1 has truly been engineered for action.

Colt Kodiak .44 Magnum Revolver Sold for $15,301

Colt’s “snake guns” include the iconic Anaconda .44 Magnum, and the Kodiak version attracts an even loftier premium when it shows up for sale. This one was an unfired, in-the-box version.

colt kodiak

We Buy Guns @ Guns.com

Guns.com is a great place to sell your gun online. Their innovative service was created to help you sell your gun the easy way. They are a fully licensed FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) and offer the safest, most convenient way to sell your gun hassle-free. Fill out an online form describing your gun. Then have a chat with the buyers at Guns.com, and then just box it up and get paid fast. They’ll even cover shipping.

Their appraisal team has years of experience buying, selling, and trading firearms. They have a deep understanding of gun performance and condition assessment, as well as the most up-to-date market values. Once Guns.com receives your firearm, their appraisal team will conduct an inspection within 24 hours of receiving it and send payment via direct deposit for the agreed-upon price, as long as the firearm is in working order and stated condition.


Get To Know Guns.com

Guns.com has emerged as a prominent online platform catering to firearm enthusiasts, collectors, and those interested in the shooting sports. The website has a rich history and has undergone significant evolution since its inception, shaping the way firearms are bought, sold, and discussed online.

Guns.com’s Origin Story

Founded in 2011, Guns.com was established as a premiere online news media company for gun enthusiasts and later transitioned into a full-blown e-commerce company. Their goal was to help local FFL dealers sell firearms online while still providing top-notch news for the 2A community.

The platform offers a wide selection of firearms from various manufacturers, as well as informative articles, reviews and videos covering topics ranging from firearm safety and maintenance to shooting techniques and industry news. This multifaceted approach not only attracted firearm enthusiasts but also appealed to beginners seeking reliable information and guidance.

Over the years, Guns.com has evolved to meet the changing needs and expectations of its user base. Features such as advanced search filters, user reviews, and expert commentary were introduced to streamline the browsing and purchasing process for customers while providing valuable insights and recommendations.


Guns.com Launches E-Commerce

In October 2018, Guns.com launched its e-commerce store. In addition to its online marketplace, Guns.com expanded its offerings to include educational resources, training courses, and community forums where users could engage in discussions, seek advice, and share their experiences with firearms.

The platform also collaborated with industry experts, manufacturers, and influencers to produce exclusive content and promotional campaigns, further solidifying its position as a leading authority in the firearms community. Since their first full year in 2019, sales have grown exponentially and continue to grow to this day.

“We have about 2,000 store-front FFLs that we help sell firearms,” said Will Altherr, Guns.com’s Senior Marketing Manager. “We branched into ammo, range gear, apparel and really expanded our product line. Our mission was to help local storefront gun stores sell more firearms online and provide them a better solution to sell nationwide.” Presently, Guns.com gets about 5 million visitors per month.

Overall, Guns.com has evolved from a simple online marketplace to a dynamic and influential platform that serves as a hub for firearm enthusiasts worldwide. With its dedication to user satisfaction, safety, and community engagement, Guns.com continues to shape the way firearms are bought, sold, and discussed in the digital age, leaving a lasting impact on the industry and its passionate followers.

Five Iconic Wild West Guns
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