View Full Version : buying a used shotgun

September 2, 2005, 09:53 AM
My buddy the next town over tells me a pawn shop is having a sale on shotguns. Spoke with him on the phone and he said there are tons, including several 870 expresses and wingmasters (what I am looking for). $175 for a used express, $225 for a used wingmaster. I'm pretty sure these are great deals, right? I was wondering what I should inspect for to make sure the gun is in good shape. I searched the forum, couldn't find anything. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

September 2, 2005, 03:55 PM
Those are fair prices DEPENDING on actual condition.

Go for a Wingmaster, if possible.

What to look for:
First, check the gun's function.
Cock the gun, pull the trigger, the hammer should drop.

Cock the gun, pull the trigger and HOLD the trigger back, re-cock the gun, release the trigger.
When the trigger is released, it should reset, and when the trigger is pulled again, the hammer should drop.

Cock the gun, put the safety ON, pull the trigger, the hammer should not drop.

Put the safety OFF, pull the trigger, the hammer should drop.
Cock the gun, press the slide release to open the bolt, close the bolt, the release should re-lock the bolt closed.

Pull the trigger, the release should pop back up into the trigger guard sharply, with no hesitation or sluggish movement.

Inspect the gun closely for any signs of alterations, "Bubba" home gunsmithing, rust, corrosion, broken parts, cracked wood in both the stock and forearm, missing beads sights, damaged butt pads, bent trigger guards, bent or "squashed" barrels, damaged or loose ribs.

Remove the barrel (if allowed) and inspect the bore for rust, pitting, damage to screw in chokes, or damaged choke threads, if you can remove the choke.
Check for dents, bulges, rings, and for signs of a bent barrel.

Push the shell lifter up and check it's spring tension.

Push the lifter up, and use your fingers to press each shell release to check for spring tension.
Look at the front ends of the shell releases for broken tips.

Check the forearm action bars for obvious bends, or damage.
Check the small shell release activating "ramps" on both action bars for excess wear or damage.

Check the bolt to insure the extractor is present and not broken, and moves freely.

Check the ejector in the left receiver wall to insure it's present, and the long spring is present and has spring action.

Inspect the threads on the end of the magazine tube for damage.
Inspect the magazine tube for dents, bends, and for free movement of the follower.

Try to "see past" ordinary fouling, crud, and dirt, to check for wear or damage UNDER the dirt.

The barrels especially will be difficult since it's tough to tell if you're seeing a barrel that just hasn't been cleaned, or one with rust and pitting UNDER the fouling.
Pay CLOSE attention to the chamber, since they often corrode under layers of plastic.

Don't get too wrapped up in the outward appearance of the guns bluing and wood finish.
Often a gun has extensive wear to the bluing and wood finish but is almost unfired.

Other guns may look in great shape with almost all bluing and wood finish present, but have rust and pitting in the barrels and receiver.

Look for anything that just doesn't look "right".
There's a big difference between a good gun that's just been benignly neglected, and one that's been abused.