Expert Tips for Inspecting a Used Rifle (VIDEO)

03/18/19 6:00 AM | by

used rifle

A bright bore light will be your best friend when examining used guns. If you can’t see the guns in person, thoroughly review the photos online and never be afraid to ask questions. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

New rifles are great, but buying from the used rack often has its own advantages. In many cases, a buyer can find a used item in excellent condition but at a fraction of the price. Perhaps more importantly, buying pre-owned is the only way to get classic, collectible or otherwise out-of-production long guns.

Of course, buying used also means just that – the gun has already been used – and what kind of use may not immediately be known. To learn how to inspect wear and tear on a rifle, I turned to gun shop owner Mark Micoley who has been in the business for more than 30 years at his shop rock Ridge Shooter’s Supply. According to Micoley, looking for obvious problems is the best way to start.

He explained that you should first give the rifle a once over. “We’re going to being looking for damage. We’re going to be looking for cracks in the stock. We’re going to be looking for rust on the metal,” he said, adding that if the rifle stock has a crack and you fire it, you could have “a very bad day” as the shooting could make the damage worse.

used rifle

Racks of rifles await buyers at Rocky Ridge Shooter’s Supply. Knowing what to look for when buying a used rifle will make your next purchase a great one. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Next, Micoley advised studying the business-end of the rifle. “You’ll want to take a look at the muzzle … if this has been damaged in anyway it’s really going to affect your accuracy a lot,” he said.

After that, work the action. If you can get your paws on the rifle, don’t be afraid to cycle the bolt to ensure that it functions as it should. Micoley suggested asking: Is the bolt smooth? Does the safety engage correctly? Is the action snug in the stock or are things sloppy?

Then, the trigger is something almost every seasoned shooter wants to know about. Micoley said dry firing is the best way to inspect a trigger and test its pull, but he strongly suggests that buyers ask the sales clerk before pulling the trigger. “Don’t just grab a gun and start pulling the trigger,” he said. “You can get a lot of people excited very quickly when you do that.”

used rifle

Mark Micoley, owner of Rocky Ridge Shooters and genuine good “gun guy”, shares his tips on finding great used rifles both in stores and online. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

And, after you check the outside and test the operation, light up the bore. With the inside illuminated, you’re looking for the same issues as you did on the outside. “Look down through the barrel. You’re going to be looking to see if it’s rusty or wore out,” he said.

Buying online poses other obvious problems, but Micoley advised that you should continue to employ the same methods of inspection. But “you might have to ask a lot of these questions or get better pictures,” he said. maintains the Certified Used Gun Program in which expert inspectors certify quality used firearms that are “free from mechanical defects.”

Latest Reviews

  • Glock

    Underrated Glocks: 3 Glocks That Don't Feel the Love

    While the 9mm polymer pistols are some of my favorite Glocks, a whole bevy of models exist that sometimes take...

    Read Now
  • Rex Delta

    Gun Review: Rex Delta - a New Option for Concealed Carry

    Rex Firearms recently brought its own entry into the already crowded polymer striker-fired arena, releasing the new Rex Delta. This...

    Read Now
  • Gun Review: Sig Sauer P320 XCompact

    With the Sig P320 X-Compact handgun, the gun maker has found that magic recipe of size and capacity.

    Read Now
  • Battle of the Sub-Guns: CZ Scorpion Evo 3 v Sig Copperhead

    Outside of intended use, the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 and Sig Sauer Copperhead are very different guns, making the two...

    Read Now