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What to AVOID when buying a gun (and what to look out for)

Here's an important checklist every purchase should review beforehand to avoid disappointment later on

Gun buying guide

Being fully aware of the don’ts of buying a gun is just as important as being fully versed about finding the right gun for you and your purpose, whether you’re buying a new or a second-hand gun.

So if your money is burning a hole in your pocket and you’re raring to go, stop and think about the following. Taking a few minutes now to consider your reasons mean that you’re more likely to end up pleased with your purchase than feel you have wasted your money.

What you need to be thinking about

  • What kind of shooting will you be doing? Walked-up, driven? Clays? Game? A mixture of both? 
  • What is your budget? Are you going to have to stick to a gun under £1000 or can you go up higher?
  • Is there a particular make of gun you’re keen on. Why is that? Do you like the finish? What you’re heard about the make? Has the manufacturer been recommended by a shooting friend?
  • How far are you prepared to travel to look at a gun?
  • Do you want to buy from a gun shop?
  • Are you happy to buy from a private seller? Are you thinking about buying a gun from a shooting colleague?

Eight don’ts of buying a gun

second-hand guns

Don’t rush into decisions when buying a gun

1. Don’t rush

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.

2. 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 manufacturer’s websites. You can’t be too much of an expert.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Don’t ignore your gut feeling

Another of the don’ts of buying a gun – 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

Finally, if you’re buying a gun at auction remember to take a case or slip to carry your new firearm home in. There may not be any spares available at the auction and this is something auction buyers forget with surprising frequency. (Of course, you’ll also need to have your firearms certificate with you.)