Buying used firearms comes with a unique set of challenges. Compared with new firearms, you’ve got to deal with a lack of warranty, unknown prior owner modifications or abuse, and frustrating seller ignorance of the rifle they’re trying to sell. That said, the used market can be the only way to fly if you’re looking for a cheaper rifle or if you love the wood stocks, high luster blued finishes, and character that is more and more rare on new rifles.
Online Retail Stores Selling Used Guns
I’m going to keep my list here short, as many local gun stores have stock of used firearms, but don’t focus on it a lot.
- Tradex usually has boatloads of inexpensive European hunting and used surplus rifles and shotguns. If you’re looking for an older Swiss Mauser, K31, Husqvarna in the interesting 9.3×57, or an inexpensive used side by side or over/under shotgun, Tradex is the place I’d check first. Descriptions of rifles are accurate enough, and images show what will arrive in the mail.
- P&S Guns and Militaria is pretty focused on the used rifle market and offers big, clear photos making it easy to see what you’re getting.
Online Gun Forums
Once you step away from buying retail, you run the risk of getting scammed. The better online forums reduce this risk greatly by using trader rating systems. These systems encourage people to act in a professional manner in both buying and selling, and many require that the sellers also maintain a somewhat active presence posting on the forums as well. Unfortunately, many sellers still lack detailed descriptions and good photos of their rifles, which can make buying tough.
- Canadian Gun Nutz Equipment Exchange is probably the most popular in Canada. My purchases and sales on CGN have been an absolute dream for the last 3 years or so, due to EMT payments streamlining the payment process and the trader system’s effectiveness at encouraging people to offer excellent service. When that EMT is sent, it’s very typical to have the item shipped same day, a level of service that many retail stores don’t meet. On the negative side of things, good deals are snatched up within seconds. The popularity of the forum means that you are unlikely to find a rifle at significantly less than market value and snag it before someone else has.
- Alberta Outdoorsmen forum is not as well organized as CGN, but has a pile of active users. Don’t let the Alberta part scare you if you’re out of province, many of the buyers and sellers on this forum aren’t from Alberta. If you are in Alberta, this forum could help you sell your goods without shipping costs.
- Gun Owners of Canada (GOC) is a newer forum that doesn’t have as many users as CGN or Alberta Outdoorsmen, but it may gain in popularity. Doesn’t hurt to check it for deals too.
- Local newspapers, Trader, Bargain Finder, Kijiji, etc. Without any seller feedback system, I’d consider these sources to be bottom of the barrel and only viable if you have lots of time to deal with sub-par sellers. There are excellent deals to be had since these sources are more of a pain to go through and there are fewer other rifle buyers to compete against, but the quality of the average sale is pretty bad compared with the options above.
- Auctions. I’ve never got into them, but wanted to include it for completeness. If any readers have a lot of success with auction or estate sales, I’d love to hear about it.
- Sellers should verify that you have a PAL. Expect that they’ll want to verify that you have a valid PAL.
- Read up on CGN’s Equipment Exchange stickies. All my purchases and sales have been squeaky clean, but scammers are out there. They’ve also got some good FAQ’s on what needs to happen in a transaction (PAL verification for firearms, etc.)
- Consider what you want before looking at used. If you want a cheap, accurate deer blaster, just go get a new Remington 783, Ruger American, or Savage Axis. The used rifle market in Canada hasn’t adjusted to these new value entrants, so it can be cheaper/lower risk to buy one of the new plastic fantastic rifles than it is to buy a 10 year old, value segment, wood stocked rifle. Sold on that idea? Check out my “Where to buy guns online in Canada” post.