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What to look for in a used shotgun

1694 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  SidelockSxS
I'm looking to purchase my first shotgun on a budget like so many others. I've been looking at several new semi-auto shotguns such as the Rem 11-87 but am curious about buying used to save money or purchase higher quality.

I'm quite worried about the risk involved in buying used, but the pawn shops and regular gun dealers seem to have plenty used to choose from any I've read many people here recommend buying used to save.

When buying used, what should I look for and what steps should I take to minimize the risk of getting burned?
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TLoc - My advice - If the amount involved is significant, take the gun to be inspected to an experienced gunsmith before committing to the purchase. If the seller is not willing to accomodate you, then take a pass on the "opportunity."

The expert eye will quickly see things the rest of us would miss. I once purchased a side by side which appeared to be in mint condition, and failed to notice an incipient hair-line crack in the brazing at the muzzles. Repair would have been both expensive and significantly reduced the value of the gun. So, after having notified them of the flaw, it was sold to another dealer who had the capability of making the fix.

Needless to say, I never returned to the firm that sold me that gun.
That should then take care of a lot of issues when buying from an individual and at least reduce the risk.

How about when purchasing used through my local gun shop or pawn shop. I suppose it will vary by place as to if they have a gunsmith of their own working there. I can't see them allowing you to have it inspected elsewhere before buying.
i agree with sidelock. make sure the gun has been checked by a gunsmith. i recently purchased a 70 year old s x s and was told by the gun shop owner that it had been checked out by a gunsmith. he then test fired it and gave me a 10 day guarantee. i purchased it, took it to another gunsmith and everything checked out fine. i feel a lot better about the gun. also do some price checking. the guns i have seen in pawn shops are overpriced. i purchased a new 870 express for 268.00. our local pawn shop wanted 395.00 for a used one. i found a used 870 wingmaster in mint condition for 275.00 in the same gun shop i purchased the s x s. i would shop at gun shops because most should have a gunsmith on staff and guns are their livelihood. good luck
TLoc - A reputable dealer, even if he has a gunsmith in his employ, will understand and accomodate your seeking out independent expert opinion on any purchase of any used firearm. The person you hire to do that for you will take extra care making his inspection, and may find problems that had been over-looked by the seller.

The firm I had the problem with dealt in high-end guns. There is no proof that they intentionally sold me a flawed shotgun, but there is also no question that they should have known better. If, given the purchase price, you would be dismayed to find the gun had a problem, then have it inspected. Just good practice given the need for safety and the consequences of something gone wrong.

Stand your ground, my friend, and be prepared to walk away.
SidelockSxS: Is correct condition is everything, most dealers will allow 3 to 5 day inspection. If the gun is used some will allow you to fire the gun, but they will not allow firing of a new gun. Take the gun to a gunsmith for a good check. Their are some good buys out their though. I bought an Ithaca Model 37 R VR Deluxe 12ga 2 3/4in 27in barrel 3 choke tubes & wrench, box & manual. Not a mark on the gun metal or wood, listed as NRA 99.9% for $215.00 thru WWW.GUNSAMERICA.COM.The owner said it sat in his gun cabinet for 15 years & he did not use it any longer. Their are good buys in he used gun market. But it requires close checking & inspection. Their are some that will take your hard earned dollars for their used junk & never blink a eye. IMHO.
My gunsmith charges $25.00 to field strip and test fire a used gun. I take any questionable gun to him and he keeps it overnight, I pick it up next day. He gives me a thumbs up if it is a decent buy or frowns when it ain't. Best $25.00 you will spend. Sometimes he just takes a few minutes and gives it a good visual and a test fire if he is satisfied otherwise. For this, it is a freebie. Most times, expecially if it is an older double, he wants to give it a disassembly and a charges a bit more fee.

BTW, any dealer that doesn't want to give you a 3-5 day return policy doesn't get my business. It is a bit more paperwork but if it ain't a good buy, a good dealer will accept it back and log it back in to his inventory.
As someone who has bought a lot of used lemons without the help of a gunsmith, I would highly recommend what others here have said, get a gunsmith to look it over. Don't rule out new one. Unless you get a significant discount from new price, most used prices I've seen aren't that great a deal. Some are above new price. Someone earlier mentioned an 870 express. They're on sale in my area for $199 after rebate, regular price at this store is $238, yet I see them used for around $250 all the time.
OK - since it is Chrismas, here's a present for those who insist on buying a gun without having a gunsmith inpect it. Carefully examine the barrel for dents, and reject the gun if it has one. A dent in the barrel is an unsafe condition. Perhaps it can be repaired by a skilled gunsmith, but do not try to do this at home. Shoot Safe, SidelockSxS
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