We are in the age of technology where almost everything is being done by computer. We communicate, we socialize, and we shop online. For the most part, my wife doesn’t even need to leave the house in order to do her Christmas shopping. Many things have changed today, to include how we look for deals on guns. Really good deals on guns are very rare, to the point that people leave themselves open to being victims of a scam. We have a great many sites where people can buy, sell, and trade guns in a manner that suits them. The problem with this is probably very obvious by the title…you can get scammed if your not careful.
When looking for a value on a gun, we look for what we would consider to be a terrific value. Maybe you find a new $1000 pistol going for $700 and is still new in box but is just old stock. Or you will find a lightly used rifle with 10 magazines and a sling for the same price you could get it for new, but without the added goodies. These are good deals that I have taken advantage of in the past, but only after checking for sources of authenticity. Without asking the right questions, you could end up sending a check or money order to someone who doesn’t even have the gun you crave. They may just be listing a $1000 pistol for $400 and justify the sale as being in imminent need for cash. Don’t be too hasty on any good deal without being completely sure that the sale is genuine.
First things first, you should realize that the only safe way to buy, sell, or trade a gun, relatively, is at your local GUN store or big box store, like Cabelas for example. You don’t always have to look online and take risks in order to acquire a good deal on a gun. I have seen plenty of new old stock guns going way under normal pricing. An example would be the latest generation of the Walther PPS that came out. This caused all the old generation PPS pistols to drop in price up to $200 in some places. And this is for a new pistol under warranty and all. But there are many people who would rather shave off a hundred dollars from their purchase and waive the warranty, since they have no issue with owning a used gun. This is all up to the buyer, but I like my warranties since I have had pistols with bad parts out of the box.
When looking online for a deal, the private sale of used guns just might be the riskiest route for you. Typically I look for the guns being sold by a business such as a pawn shop or gun store that is just running a local consignment ad. Usually you will be able to tell this by there being contact information for their store somewhere in the description. Sometimes this is just them linking to their store website so that you can look at what else they have in stock. This is a safe way to do business from my experience. Of course you need to check out their site and still give them a call or email and ask about the gun. I typically have a general set of questions about any gun that I would buy used. These are questions that I use whether I’m buying a gun from a business online, or from another person. These can also be good for verification of authenticity in some cases.
I typically try to start out by asking about how many rounds it has had through it. Next question would be the age and if any maintenance has been done on it. Usually this is not really an issue for me but it is a good thing to know. If you feel it is necessary, you should ask if they can send more pictures of the friction areas. I like to see areas like the breechface, the firing control group, and the barrel.
If the people are really looking to sell the pistol you’re interested in, they most likely will be willing to help you and send you pictures like this. You may also want more thorough pictures so that you can see if there are cracks, chips or unusual wear on the pistol so you can gauge its true value. In my experience, the sellers do a pretty good job overall of taking detailed inside and out pictures that show all the key wear points. People who post vague pictures and get upset for you asking for more detailed pictures are not worth your time and I wouldn’t even bother with them.
If the sellers are vague with some of their answers to your questions or just seem to try to dodge your questions and tell you to just TRUST them, I would steer clear. I wouldn’t ignore people who don’t know as much as I do about guns, but I would be wary of them if they cant even tell me how many rounds the gun holds or what kind of rifling or finish it has. For this reason, I typically work through businesses, which usually will have people that know their gun stuff for the most part. This is also good because they usually check out the guns condition to begin with and make sure it is in good working order for the most part. If they didn’t check it, they typically wouldn’t be able to price the gun to sell without risking being found out. Most of the time, no business is going to risk such a situation if they are a trustworthy one. But nonetheless, I still recommend field stripping the gun and inspecting the parts for any unlisted damage that would compromise the guns sale price. From here you can either haggle or drop the deal completely depending on how bad the damage is. Sometimes businesses may try to rip you off online or in person, so be cautious. They may have received a gun and found out after buying the used gun that it was damaged, or knew about it all along. Either way, they may try to sell the gun for a price of an undamaged one and you will be the one to get the raw end of the deal. This is why details are important and can make people who are trying to scam you nervous. Not even businesses should be exempt of your scrutiny in the quality of the pricing for the gun you intend to buy.
If you are going to be meeting someone face to face, I have a few things that I like to do to set myself up with maximum security of my purchase. First, I would recommend meeting in a public setting like at the front of a store that you know has cameras and would be a good place for witnesses. Public settings may make the seller uncomfortable, and if that is the case, bail immediately. You don’t need any of that business and risk, and this may be the first sign of it being a scam. When you meet to buy the gun, I recommend field stripping the gun and taking an in person look at the gun to ensure that the pictures are valid and that there is no hidden damage that could impede function. Also inspect all items promised to come with the gun. Upon satisfactory confirmation of the guns condition and worth, as well as the items with it, you should feel comfortable to pay for the new acquisition.
When you are dealing with people or businesses that have guns for sale, it helps if you know what to look for and how to protect yourself from getting led into a scam. The process is simple and it is very easy to follow. Just ask detailed questions and ask for more detailed pictures of the gun and the parts or items it comes with. Talk to them on the phone and over email. If you are dealing with a business, you should have less issues with being worried about safety, and should only have to worry about if they are trying to scam you into paying more than the gun is worth. Either way, get information and consider the decision a few times before pulling the trigger, pun intended. You’re the only one at risk in these situations.
David served in the USMC, deployed twice and got wounded. He retired and moved to Alaska. Has a passion for reviewing and testing guns and gear of all kinds. Enjoys working to dispel myths and show that you can train and practice in a realistic, safe, and practical way.