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purchasing at gun shows

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by ProCharger, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. ProCharger

    ProCharger Well-Known Member

    This weekend is a local gun show here and I am going with a G and intent of purchasing an AR-15 if it looks like a good deal. I was wondering when you purchase at a gun show do you have to wait a day or so for the background check to clear or do they do it right there while you wait? Also is it o.k. to offer lower prices on guns that are displayed or is that in a sense an insult to the sellers? I do not really know being that it would be my first purchase from a show. What do I need to look for in a gun from a show, what do I need to walk away from? Thanks in advance.

    BTW gun will be a 16" carbine with no muzzle brake and chrome barrel. Anything else is up for discussion.

  2. Dave R

    Dave R Well-Known Member

    There are two kinds of sellers at gun shows. Most of them are licensed dealers. You have to do the background check if you purchase from them. You might get it same day, might not. Depends how NICS is doing that day.

    In Idaho, if you have a CCW permit, you don't have to do the NICS check. One good reason to have one.

    The other kind of seller is a private party seller, selling his own rifle. No paperwork required there. There are fewer of them, though.

    Most private party sellers will negotiate. Most licensed dealers will, too, but not all. Never hurts to ask, just be polite about it. "Could you take $650? Can't quite swing $750..."

    Yelling loudly "$&^%$, I could get this at Aim Surplus for $400!" will not make friends.

    As to what to look for in a used AR--that is beyond the scope of this post. ;)

    But there may be some good info that you can find with a search.
  3. HarryB

    HarryB Well-Known Member

    As a first time AR buyer I would shy away from any used rifles and put my earned money into a brand new (most likely) Bushmaster. I am not willing to take a chance on getting somebody else's problem.
  4. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    Go there with a clear idea of what you want in the gun and don't back down from it.

    Having worked both sides of the table on this type of deal, I can't tell you how many people come in knowing that they are only going to buy a Colt AR of a certain vintage; but then they see the non-name kit AR you have put together and they start to sweat.

    It doesn't look any different from the Colt and MAN! look at that price. I would still have $500 left over after I bought that. So they start asking questions of the dealer and depending on the dealer's honesty he either A) answers directly B) claims he doesn't know specific details (like chrome-lined barrel or who made certain parts) but THINKS that they are what you are looking for or C) outright lies to you (more common than you'd like to know).

    If you are serious about possibly buying it, ask if you can break open the rifle and look at it. If they say no, walk away. Likewise, don't waste their time taking things apart if you don't feel ready to plunk down the cash.

    First just take a look at the parts. Does the receiver say "Bushmaster" but the barrel has no markings at all on it? That will tell you when you are dealing with a "kit gun" that somebody has put together from various manufacturers. Kit guns can run just as well as factory guns; but usually the odds are that they don't.

    You want a chrome-lined barrel. This means one made by Colt, Bushmaster or Rock River Arms. Luckily all three manufacturers mark their barrels. Colt will be marked (C MP and the twist rate (1/9 or 1/7 usually) and caliber). Colt may also include other markings like CB or the words CHROME BORE. These are usually older 1/12 barrels though. Bushmaster barrels will be marked B MP and the twist rate and caliber. I don't recall how RRA marks their barrels; but not all of theirs are chrome-lined so look for the silver-gray ring around the muzzle and chamber. Stay away from unmarked barrels.

    Separate the upper and lower and examine the bolt and bolt carrier. Look for cracks around the cam pin hole on the bolt. Is there a lot of parkerizing gone on the bolt face or carrier rails? That indicates the gun has been shot a bit; make sure you aren't paying "new" prices. Make sure the gas key is staked on tightly.

    With the gun still open, cock the hammer back and place the gun on "Safe". Pull the trigger. Hammer should stay back. Now move the selector to forward. Pull the trigger and hold it back*. Hammer should go foward (*it is thoughtful to catch the hammer with your hand as it releases instead of letting it slam into the front of the poor guy's receiver). Still holding the trigger back, cock the hammer again - hammer will catch on disconnect notch. Now release the trigger slowly. The hammer should stay cocked and not fly forward. If it fails any of these steps, the gun is unsafe. You can probably correct the problem for less than $50-80 in parts; but it is a good place to beat down the price if you are willing to take a risk. If you don't feel confident in your ability to fix the problem or pay someone else to do it, then you need to walk away because you have an unsafe weapon and a dealer who was either A) ignorant enough or B) unscrupulous enough to try to sell it.

    If any of those parts sound unfamiliar or you aren't sure what parts I am referring to, take a good look at the sources at http://www.ar15.com/ to learn the parts and how to do the function check described above. It wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up an AR15/M16 manual at the show and just follow the function checks outlined in it either.
  5. ProCharger

    ProCharger Well-Known Member

    Bart strikes again.....LOL...I am gonna go to a few shops here in a bit and I am going to do the checks as you stated on the guns I will be looking at. Manufacturer is still up for grabs but I would like the chrome barrel.....so I will try to stick to the 3 rifle man's. listed. I have been checking out ar15.com a bit lately.....very useful info. there as well though I have not registered or post yet. I am looking to purchase new as well.

    Off to the shops.....I will let you know if anything comes home with me.

  6. Redlg155

    Redlg155 Well-Known Member

    1K budget?

    There should be no reason why you can't home with a nice Bushmaster. Here in NW FL they run $699.00 for a brand spanking new 16" Bushy at the Southern Classic Shows.

    I don't know if this is your first AR, but if so I highly reccomend you stay away from any "kit" or used guns. A new one with a warrantly can save you a lot of money and heartache. If the shows can't match a sub $800 price, then there are numerous places online where you can get the same rifle and save a bundle.

    As for gun show etiquette...ask away. He can say either yes or no. You definitely have more leverage on the last day of the show during the last few hours.

    Good Shooting
  7. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Some gun show comments:

    Always ask if you can pick up a gun and look at it. Just courtesy.

    Always ask if you can open or take down a gun or if the seller will do it for you. DON'T try to take a gun apart without asking or IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW. If you break it or if you can't put it back together, the seller will be perfectly within his rights to demand you buy it. Don't pretend to a knowledge you don't have. If you are a newbie, admit it and ask for advice.

    Try to pick a gun up by the wood stock or plastic grips, especially on a hot day when there is perspiration on your hands. Wiping the hands before handling a gun is also a good idea.

    NEVER have a round of ammunition anywhere near a gun you are looking at. I know about using a bullet to check muzzle wear, but use a bullet or a gauge, not a live round. And NEVER, EVER, try to chamber a round "just to see if it fits". You should, and probably will, be tossed out of the show.

    On price, you can probably assume the seller has some working room. An odd price, like $680, indicates that part of the $80 is negotiable. Unless a sign says "firm price", you could offer $600 and let the seller counter.

    On "junk" stuff, don't haggle. No one is going to sweat the price on clips, or some $2 cleaning rods, or $10 rusty bayonets. If you want it buy it, if not, walk away.

  8. ProCharger

    ProCharger Well-Known Member

    I ended up buying a gun tonight......It's an Eagle arms armalite m-15 carbine. The only thing I did not get that I was looking for was the chrome barrel......after talkin to the gun store owner I really dont need the chrome barrel. I probably will never shoot enough to break down the barrel and if I ever do more than likely a new barrel would not be a bad idea anyways after 20k shots. So far I am very happy with the buy, and I told the guy I was going to be going to the gun show....he said he would be there selling some AR's and after a little discussion he knocked off 75$. I am very pleased......now to look for some optics to go along with the detatchable carry handle.


    BTW I asked the guy to go over the gun as bart has said and he did even though it was a brand new gun. We tore it apart literally to the bare skeleton and went over cleaning procedures as well as handling and loading the rifle since I am relatively new to them. I was rather suprised at the simplicity the rifles have.
  9. ARperson

    ARperson Well-Known Member

    Nope, don't need that chrome barrel. But you'll sure miss it once you start cleaning that puppy. ARs have got to be the dirtiest, hardest to clean firearms I know (not including take-down and reassembly procedures). :D
  10. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    Congratulations on the new rifle! Eagle Arms makes a nice product and the dealer was likely right that you can get along just fine without a chrome-lining.
  11. Sleeping Dog

    Sleeping Dog Well-Known Member

    You're right, ARPerson, but it's not the bore that's the dirtiest, hardest job.

    My RockRiverArms gun isn't chrome-lined, and the bore is easy. It's those other miscellaneous parts that get covered with sooty oily greasy hardened stuff.

    Anyway, cleaning is just part of the fun.


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