Should You Buy a New or Used Gun?


Guns last forever.  Almost literally.  So why not think about buying a used gun instead of paying top dollar for a new gun?

Okay, this is a bit of a trick question, and we’ve set ourselves up for the answer by the comments we opened with.

First of all, while it might seem that guns last forever, it is a bit like your grandfather’s axe – the one that he passed on to your father, and which he in turn passed on to you.  You know the one – it has had a few replacement handles over the years, and a couple of new heads, too, but it is still your grandfather’s axe.  Well, sort of!

Of course some parts of any gun will wear out.  They are subjected to extreme stressful and explosive forces.  They move back and forward very quickly.  They get hot.  They get dirty.  Springs lose their tension, and/or break.  Barrels get worn.  Maybe parts rust or corrode.  This is not a big problem – any well designed gun has all its key parts readily replaceable, so while a gun does suffer from aging, it can be maintained with parts replaced as necessary.

But are you able to tell if a used gun is in good order or not?  Is the spring past its probable lifespan and about to fail?  Is the extractor no longer functioning reliably?  Is the barrel worn so that rounds no longer fire accurately?  Is the firing pin faulty?  And so on and so on.  Sure, the seller might say ‘I’ve had the gun since new and only fired a couple of hundred rounds through it’, but can you really believe that?

Unless you’re a skilled gunsmith, and know what to look for, or unless you’re willing to then take the used pistol to a gunsmith and say ‘spend my money on replacing anything that might be wearing out’, perhaps you’re better advised to pass on the used gun.  You could end up spending hundreds of dollars on replacement parts and labor to restore the old gun to a reliable ‘like new’ condition.  Or, worse still, the gun you’re relying on to save your life in a critical situation might fail at exactly that moment.  Saving money on buying a used gun can be very short-sighted.

We also said, up above, that you can save a lot of money buying a used gun rather than a new one.  Actually, that is seldom correct.  Guns hold their value very well, and you’re not likely to save much money at all on the upfront purchase cost, and if you then have to spend money giving the gun a professional overhaul, you might end up spending more money on what is still a used gun, compared to the cost of a brand new gun, complete with factory warranty.

Most of the time, you are probably better advised to generally buy a new gun.  If you shop around carefully, you’ll find that while some gun stores proudly sell guns at full price, others will offer substantial discounts of 20% or more off list price.

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