There is a huge market for used firearms. Thanks to the internet, you can even buy one online and have it shipped to your local FFL in a matter of days. Sure, you can save a few bucks or sometimes even a substantial amount, but are those savings worth it? Is it worth not knowing how and where the firearm was used by its prior owner(s)?

With enough firearm knowledge and experience, you should be able to spot any obvious issues with a firearm, but nobody can definitely tell how many rounds were put through it, what kind of ammo was used, or if it was used in any less-than-legal scenarios.

I’ve bought my fair share of used firearms in the past with no issues to note, but I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from others. Maybe it’s because I’ve always seen them in person first, and they’ve been from reputable gun stores.

From firearms missing internal components to the wrong gun being delivered or even no gun being delivered at all, there are plenty of ways buying used can potentially go wrong.

Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of buying a used gun so that you can decide for yourself if buying used is worth it.

gun store

Many gun stores will offer both new and used firearms. If the gun looks used at all, don’t be afraid to ask if it is. Source: cnn

Why Buying Used Makes Sense 

We’ll start with the obvious…saving money. If you do enough searching, you can oftentimes find used firearms for a fraction of their original MRSPs. I would estimate about a 20% savings possibility on average. Of course, that can vary. That money saved can go towards things like ammo, accessories, and training.

Aside from saving money, maybe you’re looking for a gun that’s no longer being produced or an antique war piece. If that’s the case, you may not have an option to buy new. For example, if you’re looking for a pre-2005 Colt Python, I highly doubt you’ll find one new.

1977 Python

If you’re looking for a 1977 Python like this one, you can bet it will be used. Source: usconcealedcarry

Lastly, certain guns surprisingly still have a “break-in” period. This is the annoying period when you experience malfunctions and issues with your new gun until you put a decent amount of rounds through it. I don’t necessarily consider it a good enough reason to buy used, but to some, it is. 

Why Buying Used Doesn’t Make Sense

By now you may be thinking, why wouldn’t I buy used? I hate to burst your bubble, but the unknown history of the gun can present some very concerning considerations. 

With a car, you can check the odometer to see how many miles it’s seen. With a gun, there is no way to truly tell how many rounds it’s seen. Sure, you can probably spot the difference between one that has seen 10 rounds and 10,000 rounds, but usually, your guess is the best you get.

Garand Thumb’s muddy pistol tests

You never know; one of those used pistols in the gun case could have been put through one of Garand Thumb’s muddy pistol tests! Source: Garand Thumb

You also don’t know how those rounds were used. Hopefully, the gun wasn’t used in any sort of crime, but you won’t have the same level of certainty as you would if it was a new gun. 

Lastly, if the price difference is marginal between a new and used version of the same gun, go with the new one. In my opinion, unless you’re strapped for cash and the price difference is large, taking any additional risk is not worth it.

Tips For Buying Used Guns

If you do decide to go the used route, do as much due diligence as you can and make sure you’re buying it from a reputable seller. Always check the seller’s reviews, whether it’s an online site or a local gun store. If others have had issues with their purchases, you very well may, too.

Inspect the gun thoroughly. If you’re in person, don’t be afraid to ask to field strip the gun and take a look at it inside and out. Buying it online? Make sure there are plenty of pictures.

The Outpost Armory’s rental fleet

Well-respected local gun stores are often a great option to browse used guns and rent some if you are trying to make a decision. This is just part of The Outpost Armory’s rental fleet.

No matter where you buy it from, make sure you understand the return policy. Not all used guns are going to come with a warranty, but some sellers will include one. I always recommend searching for a seller that will stand behind their product, showing that they inspected it and are confident in what they are selling.

Popular Used Guns

Some guns are darn near impossible to find, used or new, while others are almost always available in both conditions.

Antiques and historic guns aside, certain guns always seem to be available used thanks to police trade-ins and simply the massive amount that have been purchased over the years and are now “in the wild”.

Police departments frequently upgrade their service weapons and trade in the old ones. Those old ones then get sold and often at a great price. Best of all, you can bet the firearm was well taken care of, even if it was shot often.

Some examples of frequently found used guns:

All types of guns can be found used, so if you’re set on saving some money, just keep on looking, and you’ll probably find the one you want.

M&P9 M2.0

I have no intent on selling my M&P9 M2.0, but you can easily find them used.


So, it does seem that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to buying used guns. However, those few cons are large enough to not make it a cut-and-dry decision.

While there are plenty of situations in which it makes sense to buy used, if you’re going to use a firearm for defensive purposes and not just for some range fun, I always suggest buying it new. I want to know, without a shadow of a doubt, exactly how well the firearm that I’m staking my life on has been handled and taken care of.

As always, stay safe, train hard, and have fun.