How to: Buying a new Gun; Part 1

H. DeLong

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Hey y’all. A number of folks have posed the question to me: What is the best cheap gun? I have been around long enough not to step into that one. Once a writer invokes the word “best” he is proclaiming superior knowledge on that subject. The readers, many times, will disagree with the expert in whole or in part. I will, instead, address what are some “good” cheap weapons.

The first thing the prospective buyer should do is answer some basic questions: What is your budget? Who is the gun for? Are they experienced in the handling of firearms? What amount of felt recoil will they be able to tolerate? What type of game will be hunted with it? What type of sights will be necessary? There are other questions, but these are the main ones that need to be addressed. If you find a great deal on a 338 Winchester Magnum and your 14 year-old needs a deer rifle, the deal is not necessarily good because the caliber is over kill and most 14 year-olds cannot withstand the recoil of this round. A deal is not always purely about money. Many hunters get caught by this, which explains why a lot of firearms are for sale in the classifieds. There is any number of mismatch pieces available. Those are guns with too much scope or insufficient scope mounted on them, rifles with magazines missing (a magazine can run over $50 real quickly), a weapon with a “slight’ crack in the stock (unless you are competent to properly repair the crack avoid this weapon unless the price is incredibly low), the bore is dark but just needs cleaning (I would only buy it after I saw it clean) or other qualifying statements you see in an add.

So what do I feel are some “good” cheap rifles? Well, now we need to know a budget. In the $200 to $450 range, you will find many acceptable pieces. In that range I would look for a Savage or a Ruger first. The Savage has an undeniable reputation of being ugly but shooting exceptionally well. It's sort of like finding an unattractive person to date, but they cook, clean wild game and own a 4X4. Rugers are better looking but do not command the price of a used Winchester or Remington. Is that deserved? Not to me, personally, but to many it is. Next would be a top brand weapon that was mistreated, i.e., scratches, exterior rust, adjustment caps missing off the scope. These obvious indicators drive down perceived value. On the other hand, if you are handy and can clean the weapon up or resurface the stock, then you can get a real deal

It comes with a scope…man, what a piece of bait that statement is. There are a lot of very poor quality scopes on the market that do not add any value to the weapon. Dealers call them throw-aways. Their best purpose is to hold a window up. If the gun has a low end scope (if you are unsure…ask someone), bargain as if there were no scope on the gun. If it is a decent scope, ask the seller if they will warranty the scope. I always do that. If they are unwilling to warranty the scope then it is not worth what they thought it was. I hear someone saying “I’m not going to ask anyone that. They’ll think I am an idiot.” Guess what, you walk away with a gun you paid too much for and you know what the seller thinks? “Idiot” So as long as I am going to be an idiot, I might as well be an idiot with extra money in my pocket.

Buying in person is always best. That way you can check the mechanical workings of the weapon making sure that the bolt functions properly, the safety engages, the clip is there and functions properly and the scope is clear and undamaged. If you purchase online, as I often do, or are purchasing through an out-of-state ad, you must have window of opportunity to examine the gun, usually three days. If the buyer is unwilling to extend the privilege of inspecting the weapon subject to returning it, stay away from that purchase. Without a written examination clause in the purchase, you would have no legal grounds to recoup your money, should the weapon, indeed, be faulty beyond reasonable repair.

Next time I will be talking about some “good” weapons that can be purchased in the $150 or less range. I love being cheap…I mean frugal.

Hey and check out this site: It's a myspace for hunters!

Remember, when you go outdoors this summer, take a youngster with you and pass it forward. God Bless

Posted by H. DeLong under Hunting on August 19, 08 08:06 AM | Permalink

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