What to Look for When Buying a Used Rifle

Remington 7400, M30 and M1 Garand rifles on a target bench

In the end, while that new rifle smell may be tempting, don’t walk away from a good deal on a great used gun if you can get it. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

There are lots of reasons why a used rifle could be just the thing to scratch a gun-buying itch, provided you avoid some common pitfalls.

Identify your needs

Reasons for rifle shopping can range from collecting to hunting and sports shooting to personal protection. Some can check several boxes, for instance with a Ruger 10/22 rimfire doubling as a small game getter and weekend plinker. Or a modern sporting rifle like the Smith & Wesson M&P15 being used in both predator control and 3-Gun Shooting. Likewise, a vintage Winchester Model 94 cowboy gun or military classic bolt-action can be both an investment and, with care, still clock in for hunts or the occasional target practice when needed. With an idea about what boxes you want to check, proceed to…

Research your decision

Once you have identified a family or type of rifle you are shopping for, spend a while doing the legwork — or these days, the point-and-click work — to find out more information. Identify specifics about the firearm such as length, weight, and caliber to make sure to find the best fit for your needs. For instance, if looking for a varmint gun you plan on hiking up (and down) a mountain ridge with, and are conscious about every ounce, you may want to look into something like the Howa 1500 KUIU, which tips the scales at just 6.5-pounds.

However, if your planned use involves resting up and reaching out to some serious distance — a scenario where weight is not such a pressing matter but a heavy bull barrel is — look to something more akin to the 9.5-pound Browning X-Bolt Max Varmint Target. While both are bolt-action hunting rifles, they are very different in scope.

In this same vein, be sure to explore in-depth reviews of various models to get a vicarious “feel” for how the gun functions.

It’s all about the condition

While a new rifle fresh from the factory should be relatively flawless, many used rifles will have a condition that will vary considerably from “like new” to unsafe to fire. When coming across potential good buys “in the wild,” here are some great pointers on how to inspect wear and tear on a rifle:

On the upside of this, many gun owners will pick up a new firearm, often without doing the proper research, and discover it doesn’t suit their needs or for one reason or another. As a result, they very rarely if ever used it. These types of guns, often still in outstanding material condition, are an ideal choice for a good used rifle.

“Think about all the guns that you’ve owned that maybe you’ve only had the opportunity to go hunt with at one time or you bought it and you stuck it in the corner to the gun safe and never touched it again,”explained Mark Sims, Guns.com’s senior buyer. “And then those guns come back around, and you decide, ‘You know what? I’m interested in something else,’ or, ‘I didn’t enjoy that gun quite as much as I expected I would.’ And then you sell those guns. Well, we are buying those guns every day, all day.”

Look for a guarantee

One thing that sets Guns.com apart from the pack when it comes to used rifles is their Certified Used Guns program, which is often more affordable by as much as 20 to 30 percent than the same gun brand new. At the same time, they’re in great condition and backed up by an inspection done by professionals– as well as a no questions asked return policy.

“Just see what’s available, compare it to what you’ve been looking at on the new gun side, and then make your own informed decision,” said Sims.

In the end, while that new rifle smell may be tempting, don’t walk away from a good deal on a great used gun if you can get it. The money you save can always be dropped on ammo!

If you’re interested in buying a rifle, check out the collection inside the Guns.com Vault and Certified Used Guns

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