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buying a used ccw gun

Buying a used handgun for concealed carry?

Not everyone buys brand new ccw firearms off the rack. Used firearms – like the Glock 26 – can be picked up for hundreds of dollars less than they retailed. While gun manufacturers are always making the “latest and greatest” version of the same old gun they've made since the 80s, often times the older handgun models incorporated better metal alloys or polymer composites. Not everything that's new is better. Here are some things to be on the look out for when shopping for a used conceal carry handgun.

Private Sale vs. Gun Store

In a private firearm sale, the best possible way to go about it is do the transfer at a pistol range. Not only does this give you the option of testing the weapon out prior to firing, but it saves both of you time is the weapon turns out to not be what you're looking for.

If purchasing a handgun through a gun store, see if they have a return policy. Many won't. For used guns, they'll usually want you to sign a disclaimer stating the weapon is sold “as-is”. While few gun shops are out to give anyone a defective gun, this is truly a “buyer beware” scenario.

Mechanical Factors for Used Concealed Carry Handguns

buying a used gun for concealed carr
  • Trigger sensitivity
  • This comes up as a very sore subject for this writer. Last October I picked up a Sig Sauer P250 – thinking it was a great competitor to the Glock 26. I was so wrong and for one simple reason – the trigger. Unlike a Glock, which has a 5.5 lb responsive trigger design, the Sig's trigger needs to be pulled all the way back to fire a bullet. Can it be modified so this doesn't happen? Yes. But it was something going into the purchase of this pistol that I wasn't aware of until I took it to the range. Needless to say, it's not my concealed carry pistol.

  • Safety optional
  • The concept of a safety is great. It's the mechanical stop which keeps a firearm from going off unintentionally. You know who also has control of that? You do. You're the safety. And if you apply the four basic principles of firearm safety, you will find that a mechanical safety can be more of a snag than a help.

    If you do desire a safety – personal preference – then make sure the pistol switches seamlessly. Older pistols - or pistols which haven't been cared for properly - have the potential for a safety malfunction.

  • Sight alignment
  • Look through the sights and see if the dot assembly (if applicable) is still intact. Any bends, cants, burrs, or chips are an immediate “no go” unless you are willing to replace them yourself.

  • Weight/heft
  • A lot of pistols look cool – but are they practical? Who wouldn't want to put four rounds of .50 caliber downrange at an attacker – but who's really able to conceal carry a Desert Eagle? There's a difference between what pistol you choose for personal/home defense and the one you choose for conceal carry. And the conceal carry pistol should fit comfortably in a concealed carry holster and be easy to heft in your hands.

  • Magazine capacity
  • Single-stack, double-stack, or revolver? No matter which you choose, there will be a trade-off. Capacity versus comfort can be accommodated by simply carrying more magazines.

  • Pistrol grip
  • On older models of firearms – like the Beretta PX4 – there's an issue with a slippery pistol grip. Even older models of FNH have customizable grips that can be interchanged but always check the pistol grip to ensure it's not too smooth.

    Hands sweat and, especially in a tense situation or a hot environment, the last thing anyone needs to worry about is your firearm slipping out of your hand. Well, your intended target may be thankful – but who wants to do him any favors?

Just like judging a racehorse before buying it, a used concealed carry handgun can be a great deal or a money pit when you need to take it to a gunsmith.

Are there any specific things you look for in a used conceal carry handgun? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

James England

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.