Deer Rifles: Buying Used Guns

Used guns can offer a tremendous value for hunters who are looking for a deal. However, the old adage applies: Buyer beware. Here are some tips for shopping for a used deer rifle or shotgun.

By Bryan Hendricks

Buying a used rifle carries a certain amount of risk, so inspect carefully. Pitting reflects chronic neglect. Bright spots or thin spots in the metal finish means rust has been removed.

Inspect the bore and chamber closely with a bore light. Gunk and sludge in the throat and chamber reflect sloppy maintenance. Rust in the bore is a deal breaker. It looks deceptively like powder residue. If a Bore Snake doesn’t remove it, don’t buy.

For Internet purchases, walk away if the seller is vague or evasive.


I buy used guns only if they’re 95 percent of original condition or better. Even then, you can get surprised. I bought a 1967 Grade II BAR from a reputable dealer. It was in perfect condition cosmetically, but I later learned the action wouldn’t cycle because parts in the gas system had frozen from rust. A gunsmith fixed it for about $80.

Be very careful with military surplus firearms. If possible, have a gunsmith inspect them before you buy. Definitely get a gunsmith’s approval before shooting.

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