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Old September 15, 2008, 03:09 PM   #1
radshop
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Used Rifle buying tips

I could use any tips you folks care to offer on how to avoid a lemon on buying a used rifle. I will be heading to the local gun store soon to see what he's got on the rack - looking at bolt action hunting rifles .270 to 30-06. What should I look for or avoid? Thanks.
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Old September 15, 2008, 03:29 PM   #2
Smaug
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Bring a small flashlight and learn how to remove the bolt of popular makes. Look at the bore and make sure it is shiny w/o rust.

If anything appears to have been done on the barrel or between the forearm and the barrel, be suspicious.

If you have them, bring a couple of spent cases or snap caps so you can check the trigger pull without dry-firing.

I don't know how to check whether the firing pin is not hitting hard enough, but I think that's not a common problem.

Ask if there is some sort of warranty regarding a minimum accuracy. For instance: "If it shoots worse than 2 MoA, can I return it?"
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Old September 15, 2008, 03:50 PM   #3
Fremmer
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Quote:
Ask if there is some sort of warranty regarding a minimum accuracy. For instance: "If it shoots worse than 2 MoA, can I return it?"
LOL. I gotta tease you about that one. I think most sellers will laugh right in your face if you ask that. Because most buyers lack the skill to shoot 2 MOA with any rifle, new or used.

The rest of Smaug's suggestions are good. Check the bolt and bolt face for rust or pitting. Check the extractor and ejector for chips/breaks. Check the chamber and throat for rust, pitting, or erosion (watch for black streaks in the throat area). Check the muzzle (barrel crown) for dings or dents. Check the trigger housing to see if it looks like someone has unscrewed the housing and tried to do a home job on the trigger. Look at the bore/action and see if there's a ton of gunk like carbon to indicate lack of cleaning.

That's the best I can suggest. Good luck!
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Old September 15, 2008, 03:53 PM   #4
Smaug
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I guess it is different with used guns, but T/C guarantees MoA accuracy from their guns. They probably include the factory test target too.
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Old September 15, 2008, 03:56 PM   #5
Fremmer
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I know whatcha mean, Smaug. I just couldn't help but tease ya.
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Old September 16, 2008, 06:56 AM   #6
wogpotter
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Assuming the store will let you run a dry patch (or boresnake) thru the barrel & then look at the condition of the rifling. Oil hides a multitude of sins!
Check the crown with a light & magnifying glass. Even small nicks in the ends of the rifling can be a big problem for accuracy.
Look for boogered screws anywhere on the rifle. This indicates a careless prior owner & the boogering may well be in other places as well.
Check the junction of the wood & metal, specially along the barrel, look for any trace of rust (or cleaned up rust) if there is damage inside the stock this is the best place to check without dismantling the rifle.
Check the "feel" of the trigger, slow pull with an empty rifle can tell you all sorts of things about the innards of the mechanism.
Check the safety!
Is it "safe", does it engage/disengage with clean crisp stops. If the rifle is cocked, & the safety engaged, then the trigger pulled does it fire?, if you disengage the safety after pulling the trigger does it fire then?
Check & double check any scope, or mount.
I think there are more poorly mounted scopes than anything else.

I'll add this, even though it's not strictly about checking the rifle.
Don't be afraid to ask for help from the salesman. You probably aren't familiar with the rifle as it is new to you. If you discover the bolt removal isnt something you know how to do, ask the salesman to show you instead of just struggling with it.

Basically be considerate of the fact you're fiddling with someone elses gun untill you buy one.
At the same time don't be afraid to be sure you're getting the information you want before plonking down money. None of these tests are excessive, and any salesperson that wont let you do them is not acting in your best interests.

Good luck & I hope this helps.
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Old September 16, 2008, 07:13 PM   #7
King Ghidora
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Quote:
LOL. I gotta tease you about that one. I think most sellers will laugh right in your face if you ask that. Because most buyers lack the skill to shoot 2 MOA with any rifle, new or used.
I didn't ask about a 2 inch pattern or anything but I did get a warranty that covered the accuracy of my Savage that I bought recently. I got 90 days to decide if it shoots right or not. The place you buy a used gun does matter. If you buy from an individual the sale is final. If you buy from a business that sells used guns you can usually wrangle some sort of warranty including on accuracy. I just asked whether the 90 day warranty covered accuracy. They said yes. I've met the guy who owns the store, which is pretty big. I know he would make things right if push came to shove.

Other things to look for might include making sure the barrel isn't shot out. For most high power rifles this isn't a factor but it can be for some. I've seen lots of barrels where the inside was totally smooth a few inches in. It takes a lot of shooting to do that or shooting some really crappy ammo you can do it quick. Most of the really bad stuff I've seen has been in .22's or pistols and sometimes shotguns but it can happen in a hp rifle too. The first thing to do is to look down the barrel IMO. You can tell a lot about a gun by doing that.

Also you should look for wear on any moving parts like the bolt or trigger parts and also the extractor. Sometimes you can tell how much a gun has been shot by looking at the trigger itself. If it looks worn down (sometimes they do) you can bet that gun has been shot a lot. You can check the wear pattern on the stock too especially if the stock isn't high quality. If the varnish is worn down to where the stock isn't shiny where your hand grips it then the gun has been shot a lot.

You can look at the outside of the barrel and the receiver for signs of cheap cold bluing. It's obviously going to be covering up rust if it's there. That's not to say some surface rust makes a gun unworthy of being bought. Sometimes you can get a great gun that has a little rust for a lot less money than it would cost if it didn't have that rust.

Some guns will shoot forever though even if they do show signs of being shot a lot. An old 870 Wingmaster might have the bluing worn off where the pump rubs against the barrel but most likely that shotgun is going to last a long time anyway. It just isn't worth as much as a gun with no signs of wear.

I bought a used Savage 110 for $230 recently. It's about 15 years old but it it's in good shape. It has a couple of problems but nothing serious and nothing that can't be fixed. I would have put it in the very good category when I bought it. IMO I got a great deal on that gun. There are lots of good deals around. Heck where I live you can buy dozens of guns at a flea market but I tend to shy away from those deals because there's no store to give me a warranty.
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