Thinking about purchasing a used AR, but you’re not sure where to start? We have some tips on what to look for as you pick out your new – but used – gun. Buying a used AR has many benefits on top of generally costing less than a new AR. But you do have to be careful, especially if you’re not buying it from a reputable dealer. Obviously, we highly recommend browsing our selection of in-stock used ARs.

First, Why Buy Used?


New ARs are great, but used ARs often come with extra goodies like extra mags, an optic, or even a custom Cerakote job like this one. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

New ARs are great, but here are five awesome benefits to buying a used AR:

  1. Already Broken In: That’s right, someone took the time to break that AR in already. So, you can spare yourself the ammo and get right to shooting it. Think of the ammo you’ll save not having to go through the break-in cycle of the rifle. 
  2. Great Deals: Just like buying a car, ARs depreciate the second you walk out of the gun shop doors. Sure, collector ARs keep their value better, but a good used AR is generally a bargain.
  3. Accessories: If the used AR was decked out by the original owner, you reap the benefits of their handiwork. There’s nothing quite like getting a bargain on optics, compensators, charging handles, and spare mags.
  4. Free Upgrades: If you know which AR you’re looking to purchase anyway, and you’ve done some research ahead of time, you can be sure you’re paying a fair price for your used AR. That’s especially true if it has been upgraded by its former owner. 
  5. History: Many used ARs come with some great backstories that add a little flavor and personality to your purchase. Prior service LEO rifles are some of our favorites because they are the types of guns that people trusted their safety to in a previous life. 

Considerations Before Purchasing

Whether you’re buying through a private transaction or through a reputable gun shop or dealer (like, there are a few things to check before you leave with that new – to you – AR. By all means, if you’re unfamiliar or new to the AR platform, take a friend who knows what they’re looking at with you. Here is some hard-earned advice that has served us well over the years.

This Ruger AR is chambered in .350 Legend, which might not be the ideal defensive or training round, but makes for a great hunting companion. With so many options available, you're bound to find the combo you'll love. (Photo: Jeff Wood/


  1. Caliber: Make sure it’s the caliber you want. Most people think of an AR-15 chambered in .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO when you say AR, but there are AR-style rifles chambered in .308 or 7.62x51mm NATO that are called AR-10s. Make sure you’re getting what you wanted. 
  2. Cleaning: Check to see if it’s clean. A quick swab will help determine if the AR has been well cleaned. If the swab comes out dirty, there may be trouble inside. It may also just need a good bath. An unmaintained gun may be prone to jamming, and rusty parts never bode well for accuracy or reliability. 
  3. Maintenance: Does it seem well maintained? Don’t be afraid to strip it down and check everything. Bringing a small flashlight or borescope can help you see inside the barrel. Make sure you check the barrel crown for damage or irregularities. These will impact accuracy. It’s not unusual for ARs to get dirty, but a reputable shop should have no issue letting you take a very close look at a used AR before you commit to purchasing. 
  4. Functionality: Make sure that the charging handle and bolt cycle smoothly. Does the magazine insert easily? Does it drop free without getting hung up when you hit the magazine release? Is there a safety, and does it function properly?
  5. Dry Fire: Test the trigger. Does it feel smooth and not gritty? Triggers can easily be replaced on an AR, but it’s better to know ahead of time that your AR needs a trigger job. If there are trigger issues, there may be other issues as well.
  6. Sights: Does it have sights installed? Are they secure? Many ARs do not come with stock sights, so keep that in mind before you buy.
  7. Rails: Does it have a Picatinny rail that’s in good condition? A worn or twisted rail will make it difficult to attach accessories. It can also speak to the overall condition of the AR.
  8. Warranty: Is there a warranty? If possible, ask to shoot the AR before you buy it. While not always possible to do so ahead of time, make sure you ask what the return policy is if you get to the range after purchasing your gun.

Know Your Seller

Buying a Certified Used gun from is enough to make anyone smile. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

At, we often sell “Certified Used” AR rifles. Buying a Certified Used AR is a great option to ensure you’re getting exactly what you expect in a used rifle. We have an inspection process that each rifle goes through before being certified. Our experts carefully inspect each AR – or any gun we’re selling as a Certified Used firearm – to ensure there are no mechanical defects and the gun works properly. We grade the rifles based on their condition, so you know exactly what you’re buying based on our Certified Used Checklist.


Bottom line, don’t be afraid of buying a used AR. There are many reasons people decide to sell them. Sometimes they get bored. Sometimes they have more than one AR in the safe and want something else. Sometimes they may just be into something new. People often trade in perfectly good rifles to jump-start their next purchase. But it also benefits you. It’s a great way for you to get the quality rifle you want and keep some cash in your pocket to spend on ammunition. 

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