7 Expert Tips for Shopping Used Rifles for Sale [What to Check]

7 Expert Tips for Shopping Used Rifles for Sale [What to Check]

Sep 5th 2022

Shopping for used rifles for sale? It can be intimidating if you’re not really familiar with the inner workings and operation of most firearms. But it shouldn’t be that intimidating, and, since we sell so many used rifles, we’re here to help.

If you’re seriously considering shopping surplus or buying a used gun, here are 7 expert tips to make sure you’re getting a quality platform that’s in good working order.

1. Inspect exterior condition

First things first, check out the condition of the rifle’s exterior. You can often do this just by looking at the rifle on the rack and don’t even need to pick it up.

Is there any rust, pitting, or excessive discoloration on the barrel, receiver, trigger guard, or trigger, or on any hardware? What is the condition of the stock? Does it appear loose? Are there any chips, gouges, or cracks? Does it show signs of dry rot?

Some of these issues are cosmetic, but in others, they underlie a more serious problem. For instance, a barrel with exterior rust, pitting, or bulging is not safe to fire. It’s often not worth the trouble or expense to buy a used gun with issues like these.

2. Look for any missing hardware

While you’re looking over the used rifle for sale, take a look to make sure that all hardware and easily removable parts are still attached.

This includes all applicable screws that are used to affix the barrel, stock, trigger guard, and other fittings to the rifle, but you should also check to make sure that iron sights are present, along with sling mounts. Check the mag, too, does it easily drop free and reseat when reinserted? The answer should, obviously, be yes.

3. Check muzzle devices

If the rifle has a muzzle device, and we realize that many will not, be certain that you can remove it if you so choose. Some muzzle devices (and choke tubes, for that matter, on shotguns) can seize when the rifle is not properly cleaned.

4. Inspect the bore

With the permission of the shop owner or attendee, ask if you can inspect the bore. Most gun shop owners will gladly submit to this request and may even give you a bore light to look through the barrel from the breech.

This is easy to accomplish for break actions, and most bolt-action rifles have easily removable bolts. Remove the bolt and shine a light down the bore. It should look clean and clear, almost as reflective as a mirror. You should see no fouling and the rifling should look fresh - not worn down.

Some wear around the front of the chamber is acceptable, especially since we are talking about a used gun, but it should not be excessive.

Two things to note: never look down the muzzle end of the barrel and never inspect the bore without first asking permission of the shop owner or the employee assisting you.

5.Test all mechanical controls

While handling the used rifle for sale, you should be diligent to check that all mechanical controls move freely and work.

Slide the safety in and out of position, and check any slide releases or action bars. Remove and reinsert the magazine to ensure it seats properly.

6. Cycle the action

Next, you’ll want to cycle the action and test all of the components for operability.

For bolt action rifles, you’ll want to ensure that the bolt engages and disengages crisply and solidly and that it cycles smoothly. You don’t want a lot of play in the bolt, even when the action is fully opened. It also shouldn’t be excessively difficult to disengage the bolt and open the action.

For lever guns, the action should be smooth and crisp. Most lever guns allow you to cock the hammer in a “half-cock” position that, in lieu of a safety (which some lever guns lack), helps prevent unintentional discharges. Test this feature.

For slide-action, or pump-action rifles, check the action bar lock to ensure it works. Then cycle the slide. It should rack and slide smoothly.

For break action and single shot rifles, just ensure that the action release/lever works and the action opens smoothly. If it has an external hammer, test this too - but ask first.

                   rifle for sale

7. Test the trigger

Finally, you’ll want to check the mount for fit and then test the trigger. Always ask the owner or attendee first and never dry fire a weapon.

Most shop owners will gladly furnish you with snap caps and rarely if ever will a gun shop owner expect you to buy a gun without testing the trigger. That’s like buying a car without going for a test drive!

Again, ask permission and then use snap caps if they are provided for you. Snap caps will give you the ability to test the trigger as well as the magazine and action - with snap caps, you can also test the functionality of the extractors and ejectors.

Not only should the magazine feed smoothly, and the extractors and ejectors work, but the trigger should be crisp and sharp, not mushy, and it shouldn’t overtravel or have excess creep.

Looking for Used Rifles for Sale?

That about covers everything you’ll want to check on a used rifle for sale before you buy one, whether you’re interested in a semi-automatic for target shooting and plinking, or a .45-70 lever action for long-range silhouette shooting.

Either way, we’ve covered most of what you’ll want to look for. If you still have questions about shopping for used rifles, either give us a call at 610-250-3960 or come visit us in our shop at 50 Hilton Street in Easton, Pennsylvania.