Here's a useful checklist

Before you go off shopping for a new gun, ask yourself the following.

  • What kind of shooting will you be doing?
  • What is your budget?
  • Is there a particular make of gun you’re keen on. Why is that?
  • How far are you prepared to travel to look at a gun?
  • Do you want to buy from a gun shop?
  • Do you want to buy from a private seller?

Don’t rush into it

Browse gun for sale listings to get a good idea of what kinds of guns are available to buy and how much they’re going for. This will tell you if your budget is sufficient for buying a gun of the type you want and need.

Do your research

Start off by reading gun reviews so that you get the full background of a particular model. Ask your shooting companions what they think and what they would choose if they were buying a gun. Browse through the guns in action on YouTube and on the manufacturers websites. You can’t be too much of an expert.

Don’t be shy about asking questions

Don’t hold back from asking the seller questions about the gun. If there is something you don’t understand about the condition or gun quality then ask. Say that you want to see photos.

Don’t buy a gun that looks tatty

If a gun looks overly scratched and worn then it probably hasn’t been looked after properly. Avoid it.

Don’t make unnecessary journeys to view the wrong guns

Make sure you know as much as possible about a gun before driving off to make a viewing. That way you avoid giving yourself a long, possibly expensive and pointless journey.

Don’t ignore your gut feeling

If you have any niggling doubts, it’s a good idea to reconsider the gun purchase. These slight doubts can be a sign that this isn’t the gun for you or there is maybe something untrustworthy about the seller. You don’t want to end up being ripped off or saddled with a gun that is wrong for you.

Don’t pay upfront for a gun without viewing it

This is crucial when you’re buying a gun from a website. Some dodgy sellers say they will organise delivery of the gun once you’ve paid – and then it never turns up.

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Don’t buy a gun without trying it

Any reputable seller will let you ‘test drive’ the gun before you part with your hard-earned cash. You need to see how it feels and test out gun fit. Some vendors will try to pressure you by saying that you need to close the sale now before trying the gun as there are “plenty of other people interested who want to buy now”. Ignore the pressure – and don’t give a deposit either until you have seen the gun for yourself.