Break the gun down into component parts so you don't miss anything

Don’t be afraid to ask the seller to break the gun down into component parts, so you don’t miss anything

If you’re looking to buy a second-hand gun and want to know how to go about it, then you’re in the right place.

Our gun experts have come up with some key tips so you get the best available gun for your money and don’t make an expensive mistake. 

If there’s a particular model you have in mind, browse through our gun reviews to see what our reviewer thought of it.

Different prices, different models

We also have round-ups on the best second-hand guns in different price ranges, best second-hand all-rounders and clayshooting guns. Or how about a prestigious English gun? 

Like a used car, there are some excellent used guns out there and some that are definitely not a bargain.

Where to buy

Should you buy a gun from a friend? A registered firearms dealer? What’s best?

The important thing is to do your homework first – so browse through these articles which tell you what you need to know.

Quick checklist

  • Don’t be afraid to ask the seller to have the gun stripped and shown fully
  • Check the gun is not off the face
  • Look for pitting in the barrel
  • Make sure there are no cracks or oil soak in the stock
  • If possible, fire the gun
Break the gun down into component parts so you don't miss anything

What you need to know about buying a gun second-hand

Last year I was on the BASC stand at the Game Fair at Hatfield House. A young chap came up to me and said that he had been given my name by one of the clay coaches who thought I might be able to help him buying a gun second-hand.…

Beretta A400 28-bore semi-auto

Second-hand small-bore shotguns – what to buy?

A second-hand 28-bore or a .410? With more than £1,000 to spend on a small-bore shotgun, either a 28-bore or a .410, our reader has plenty of scope. In fact, he could buy a new gun if he so wished, particularly if he looked at the Turkish market. If he…

bargain second-hand semi-auto

The best second-hand semi-autos for under £850

“I wish to buy a semi-auto, mainly for clays but also for a little pigeon shooting. I don’t really want to spend more than £850, and I want one made by one of the major, well-established manufacturers.” Finding a bargain second-hand semi-auto Did you know up to 75 per cent…

proof marks

Proof marks and re-proofing a gun

(Q) I read that a sportsman had to have his gun re-proofed. However, I always thought that unless a gun was being repaired or was very old, this was not necessary. What are the conditions and requirements that demand a gun should be re-proofed? C. WILD By email

clayshooting grounds

Three of the best second-hand clayshooting guns for beginners

Buyer’s brief:  “I have been shooting clays for the past six months with guns hired from the shooting ground. Most of these have been various versions of Beretta Silver Pigeons, which I do like, though I have no experience of other guns. I have a budget of £1,000 to £1,500,…

Rizzini RB EM 16-bore

“I’m looking for an elegant second-hand boxlock – please help”

Buyer’s brief: “I am a clay and walked-up game shooter, and I am looking for a really elegant gun to replace my ageing Browning B125. I could spend a little more than £5,000, but I would rather pay out less and use the surplus cash on lessons with a coach…

Beretta 687 EELL

Three of the classiest boxlocks around

“I would dearly love to be able to afford a sidelock O/U from a prestigious maker, but I can’t afford one. Instead, I am going to have to settle for a side-plated boxlock. I have a budget in mind, but I will happily exceed it to get the right gun.”…

What’s a good second-hand rifle for deer stalking?

Q:  I want my son to come out stalking with me; he is keen and a good shot. Can you recommend 
a good-value second-hand rifle? Will any brand be OK providing the rifle meets the right specifications, and 
if so what specifications should I be looking for? A: It is…

Northern Shooting Show

20 popular second-hand all-rounders

If your budget is £750 and under Baikal This is one of my top 10 guns built in the last half century and it’s cheap, reliable with the Baikal reputation for toughness. On most over-and-unders the ejectors can be turned off, and firing the top barrel first is selected by…

woman with shotgun in field

A look at three second-hand, low recoil guns

It surprises me that sensitivity to recoil seems to have little to do with physical build. I’ve met guys built like Jack who find recoil painful, and also skinny guys like me who don’t seem to suffer at all. It’s not that I don’t bruise when shooting heavy loads, but…

game gun

Three popular game guns to buy second-hand

Mike George’s buying advice for game guns When people ask for multi-use, most experienced shooters recommend a sporter. Sporters are built to tackle our domestic sporting disciplines and similar targets under the international FITASC rules, all of which try to simulate targets encountered in field shooting. Most sporters weigh within…

buying a gun at auction

Tips on buying a gun at auction

Thanks to popular TV shows, most of us are familiar with what goes on at auctions. But that doesn’t mean we’d be happy with the idea of bidding at a gun auction. The fact is that, in spite of our familiarity with TV entertainment such as Antiques Road Trip, Bargain…

Man shooting with Baikal 12 bore

A closer look at a Baikal shotgun

Considering a Baikal shotgun? Mike George explains why the Russian-built shotgun is one of his top ten guns produced during the last half-century

Browning B525

Wanted – a bargain claybuster to replace old Browning B325

This reader’s Browning B325 could date back to 1995 when the model was introduced, and I am guessing it is around 25 years old. These guns keep their value, and a reasonable example is worth at least £500 on the secondhand market. However, this gun’s owner tells me it has definitely seen better days. The woodwork is scratched,…

On a budget? These guns are under £500

Guns to buy before the price goes up

If I was thinking of buying a new gun I would be tempted to do it right now, as prices could well go up quite steeply in the not-too distant future. It’s because of the decline in value of Sterling, which is bound to affect all imports soon. At the time of writing, £1 was worth only…

side-by-side hammergun

Don’t discount second-hand side-by-side shotguns

A: English boxlock shotguns represent fantastic value for money because they are rather unfashionable at the moment. The Italian over-and-under carries all before it. A boxlock made between the wars or just after World War II is a classic handmade sporting gun. So is a hammergun. Both represent very good value for money in the current market. Assessing a…

William Powell Perseus

Three second-hand game guns worth looking at

ATA Arms Lightweight Field The late and much respected shooting writer Gough Thomas expressed the opinion that the ideal weight for a game gun to shoot 1oz of shot was 6lb, while 6lb 6oz was right for 1 1/16oz loads. The book in question – Shotguns & Cartridges for game and clays – was first published…

Winchester Model 23

Second-hand guns for gamekeepers and clayshooters

Winchester Model 23 Side-by-side classes in major sporting contests don’t seem to be as popular as they were, which is a pity because they formed a friendly link between clay and gameshooting. Nevertheless, using a side-by-side for club Sporting targets can be great fun, as well as sharpening up the reflexes ready for the autumn. Of course,…

Mannlicher-Schoenauer bolt action

Mannlicher-Schoenauer

This rifle is one of those items in which classic charm marries with modern-day custom design. The Mannlicher-Schoenauer bolt action is indicative of a bygone era when German Imperial gunsmithing skills were afforded mythical status due to unrivalled levels of quality and demand. It is such that many a custom rifle maker seeks out such actions…