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How do you purchase older revolvers?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by BluesDancer, Feb 4, 2017.

  1. BluesDancer

    BluesDancer Member

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    Hi THR,
    I wanted to gauge opinions as I've taken more of an interest in revolvers lately. I understand that when one is looking to buy an older revolver, it is advisable to inspect for issues (such as checking cylinder play, gap, timing, etc).

    Meanwhile, I see that that there are various places to look at used revolvers ONLINE. One example I see is used Model 10 revolvers for sale at J&G sales. Another is shopping for various used revolvers on Gunbroker.

    My concern is that in order to buy online, you can't really inspect a used revolver for yourself before purchase. Sure, gunbroker sellers may say that the revolver play/gaps/timing is good but at the end of the day you can't really check for yourself before you buy the revolver and it is sent to your FFL.

    I wanted to ask: when you look for older revolvers, do you have any personal rules for buying - such as only buying in person at a physical store location. Does anyone buy used revolvers online? If so, do you have personal guidelines to how you do this?

    I'm asking because I wonder if buying used revolvers online is too much of a risk - and I'd sure love to hear folks' opinions on it.

    Thanks!
     
  2. unclenunzie

    unclenunzie Member

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    I have not done online-buying of a used revolver. But I would if the seller has a solid reputation and allows for inspection and refusal at the FFL before the transfer takes place.
     
  3. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    When I visit any gun shop the first place I go is to the used gun display case. I'm definitely a hands-on inspector, especially when it comes to older revolvers. Also like to make the rounds of the local gun shows for the same reason and for a wider selection to look at.
     
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  4. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    I have bought lots and lots of used revolvers. I always inspect them personally. This requires more legwork than searching online, but that is the way I have always done it. I have never bought a firearm online and never will.
     
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  5. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Most of the online sales include an inspection period after your receive the gun. Of course if you choose to send it back, it is on your tab. There is also the money issue as well in terms of getting a refund. I would personally inspect at the FFL dealer an online purchase. If there is a problem, he can more easily ship it back to the seller.
     
  6. Coyote3855

    Coyote3855 Member

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    I've bought a number of firearms online. I collect (more accurately acquire) military surplus guns, older revolvers - primarily S&W), and about anything else that catches my attention. I live in a small market area so the firearms I'm interested in just don't show up in local gun stores or even area gun shows. When it comes to online shopping, there are several options. Used revolvers frequently are available through online dealers as security or LE trade ins. I've purchased several from an outfit I probably shouldn't name, but their descriptions and pictures are very accurate. They also allow an inspection period and return privileges. I've purchased firearms from the classified section of this forum and others. I look for the number of posts (only a few posts make me suspicious) and whether or not the seller has feedback on that forum. Good descriptions, multiple high-definition pictures are essential.

    I have also purchased handguns through auction sites, following the above guidelines: multiple sales, positive feedback, accurate descriptions. I broke my own rule once, rolled the dice, and scored a very nice Smith and Wesson Combat Masterpiece from GunBroker. One fuzzy picture, limited sale numbers, limited feedback. The seller claimed 99%, box/papers, and possibly unfired after the factory. The buy it now price was significantly below the market for the revolver in question. The gun was exactly as represented in the description and is now a jewel of my collection.

    I was disappointed only once with an online deal. The pistol, an FEG Browning Hi Power clone, was represented as "excellent." More like good, but I kept it anyway.

    Do I prefer personal inspection? Of course, but as noted this would limit the scope of firearms available to me.
     
  7. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    When gramps dies, the kids send our guns to auction. Inspection is before bidding. http://www.horstauction.com/guns.html

    Other wise, buy from a dealer or seller with a return policy. But expect paying shipping both ways, plus dealer fees at your end.
     
  8. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    I carry a wad of cash at all times and wait on a deal to pop up.
     
  9. Middletown

    Middletown Member

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    I am also "The search is where the fun is at" kinda guy when it comes to firearms and like to inspect myself and get a feel for how it feels in my hands before deciding. Several times I have looked at a gun and say to myself "What is my fun doing in his display case" and I still own all of those with no regrets. The Security Six in my avatar is one of those. I do live in a large market area in Texas so lots of choices to be had here.
     
  10. BluesDancer

    BluesDancer Member

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    Thanks a bunch for all of your opinions; much appreciated. I do live in a large market area (general area around Chicago, IL) and so I'll definitely not rush into anything and try to prioritize checking revolvers in person or possibly ordering from someone with a concrete inspection/return policy if need be.

    In general, I have absolutely no problems buying autoloading pistols online, even older ones as I figure that parts could usually be replaced if need be. But for revolvers I subscribe to the "older is better" philosophy. Not saying that that philosophy isn't debatable, but it is my philosophy.

    I'm sticking to older S&W's although I certainly wouldn't mind something in the security/speed six realm. In my area I had noticed a larger focus on older revolvers as recent as 5-7 years ago, whereas nowadays I don't see too much in terms of older revolvers unfortunately. At the time I had bought an S&W M65-3 4" (.357) and an S&W M18-3 4" (.22LR). They lockup real nice and I wouldn't trade them for the world. Also around that timeframe at my local FFL I remember seeing both a beautiful Brazilian contract M1917 (.45 ACP) as well as a short-barreled Ruger six series revolver and wish that I had inspected (and possibly bought) them at the time.

    I'm still in my twenties and while I do appreciate the wonder 9's there is something about a nicely crafted revolver. Less capacity but no less deadly. A snubby is my daily carry. There is something to be said for simplicity.

    Thanks again for all your helpful comments, folks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2017
  11. Alte Schule

    Alte Schule Member

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    When it comes to used revolvers, or any firearm really, I'm also a hands on guy. Like Middletown above I live in Texas where the opportunity to find a decent used revolver is pretty fair if you look hard enough and I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I always have a small flashlight in my pocket to give the barrel and internals a once over. Scored a pristine nickel plated square butt pinned barrel early 70's Model 36 awhile back for more than a decent price. The guys at my local gun shop knew I would be interested and held on to it for a couple weeks until I came in. Bought it on the spot. Never bought anything but ammo & accessories on line.
     
  12. Twiki357

    Twiki357 Member

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    I have purchased 5 or 6 revolvers over the internet (Gunborker only) in the last few years. I will only buy from an FFL, not individuals and not from a sellers that only accepts money orders. I will only pay by credit card and only from FFLs with at least 100 sales and positive feedback. I’ve never had a problem or been disappointed.


    The main thing for buying a used revolver is to do your homework and know what the gun is worth. Also consider what the shipping and transfer fees will do to your final cost.
     
  13. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Lots of options with most online sellers. Inspection periods, OEM warranties, return policies, resell for same price you have in it, etc...
     
  14. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    I've never bought a used revolver on line. The only revolver I ever bought without inspecting it was from a friend in another state. I trust his judgement amd evaluation. The revolver was in better shape than I expected.

    Most used revolvers I buy are FTF transactions. Usually older revolvers. I pay less than from a dealer (no offense to dealers, they have to eat), the seller gets more than a dealer will give them.
     
  15. Clark

    Clark Member

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    Hy six shooter 22 2-3-2017.jpg

    I bought this old revolver yesterday at a pawn shop with a half dozen other cheap old guns. It shoots great, I need to make some new grips. These ones fit some other revolver, but not this one.
     
  16. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I prefer to see the gun in the "metal" before shelling out cash for it so that kind of disqualifies on line purchases. Regardless of the guarantees, inspection periods and the likes, I'd rather not have to work at getting my money back if I do not like the gun.

    My choice and I won't judge folks that have success with on line purchases. I have done fine buying new guns on line through FFL dealers.

    Even so, I've missed some problems with used guns that I have inspected and then purchased. Nothing disastrous but problems that I only found after shooting the gun. It reinforces my desire to fondle the gun first before shelling out the cash. My knowledge of what issues to look for is increasing indicating what indicators that I need to pass on.

    Mostly an experience thing.
     
  17. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    I frequent pawn-shops and smaller local (not chain) gun-shops that historically have decent used revolver selections ... No way would I buy one on-line, ever. I want to inspect and thoroughly check out any used revolver I'm putting money toward. You'll see guys saying stuff like, "Gunbroker is your friend" and just know that that's someone who has more money than sense when it comes to buying used guns.

    Sometimes estate sales and private-seller ads yield treasures, depending on your area and your state's gunlaws. With the advent of UBCs, my state suffered a major decline in the availability of old classic revolvers for decent prices.
     
  18. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    I won't buy a gun online. What's the fun in that?

    Having said that, I pretty much deal with one large, locally owned dealer. They get the guns. They buy entire collections and do it quite often. And they don't put everything out at one time, so it pays to check back often. They also don't put "junk" out for sale. I assume when they get something not up to their standards, like a new car dealer, they wholesale it off to other dealers. I don't hesitate to buy from them. I still do my own inspections, but that's more a formality than anything else.

    I stop by two or three times a week to check up on what's there. I watch the prices. I talk to the employee's. When I see something I really want, I know I have to make a decision right NOW. If I don't, it most likely will not be there when I come back. And that means if I have to go to the men's room on a busy day, I better speak up..."hold that until I get back." If it's something I would like to have...maybe...but not so hot on, I can let it ride. Maybe in a few weeks if it's still around, the price will drop...but something like a pristine Model 19, they just got in...don't expect them to drop the price much. If I was selling it, I wouldn't either. My motto...buy high, sell low...or it seems to work out that way. :rofl:

    Thank goodness they have a very good layaway plan.
     
  19. jmace57

    jmace57 Member

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    I agree with unclenunzie and coyote. I have bought close to 100 S&W revolvers at online auctions - not GunBroker - Proxybid Auctions. In almost every case, the condition has been better than described and better than the pictures look. I have gotten two that have had serious, undisclosed problems.
    The reputation of the auction house is the key.
     
  20. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    I have bought dozens of revolvers and semi-automatic pistols from Gunbroker. Only a few have given me problems. The problems were with sellers who had very few sales. I prefer the sellers who have a whole lot of sales. My particular favorites are the large outfits that put up a whole lot of stuff starting at one penny and they sell for whatever they sell for. Some employee looks it over and types what they see. I have gotten some good deals on some nice handguns from outfits like that. My most recent was a good-shooting Colt Army Special from 1922 that I got for $306.
     
  21. Clark

    Clark Member

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    Is it just me? Those old Army specials can be a joy to handle. I like them more than my Python.
     
  22. bikemutt

    bikemutt Member

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    Not that I've purchased very many revolvers (that's what I tell my wife) but I do prefer the personal, hands-on experience over buying online.

    Within the hands-on arena, ever since WA passed the law which requires private sales to be handled through a dealer, I haven't bought a single revolver from a private party. So, that leaves me with gun shops and pawn shops. I always check out the basics like lockup, timing etc, and I'll go over the gun with a loupe looking for signs of forced entry, bad 'smithing and the like. If I have any doubt I'll ask the shop to hold the gun while I consult team-THR.

    There are certain more rare revolvers that just don't seem to show up around here (or some well known THR pawn shoppers have beat me to them), then I'll go online. I always try to establish voice communication with the seller if they're willing to do that, I feel I can tell a lot about a person by talking to them. I try to have a specific list of questions out of respect for the sellers time. If I can't speak with them, I may be satisfied with email correspondence.

    Good luck in your endeavor OP.
     
  23. Lone Star

    Lone Star Member

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    I don't buy either new or used guns that I haven't personally inspected. I have a pal who buys through ads and Gunbroker, etc. About 40% of the time, he's been disappointed. I'm more critical than he is, and would probably reject as many as 70% of the guns he's bought.

    There's a reason why people sell Online, and it usually isn't because the gun is in really nice condition. They also try to get higher prices that way, and this has driven up all gun prices.
     
  24. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Learning how to buy a used revolver (or any used gun) is an art in and of itself. You learn what to look for, what to look at and why. I've bought quite a few guns online and have no fear of doing so. With enough good pictures, you can make a pretty good assessment of the gun's condition.

    What I look for?
    Start with overall finish condition. Is it the correct finish? Is there wear? Where is it? Is it from carrying or from doing something weird? Does it look like it's refinished? Are there signs of buffing? Is there anything odd about the finish, such as polished sides on a S&W's hammer/trigger when they should be case colored? What's the condition of the bore? Is it ringed? Is it pitted? How do the chambers look? Many used guns will be dismissed during this first impression.

    How is it mechanically? The lockwork feel tight or is it loose? How does it feel to draw back the hammer? How is the trigger? Does it feel like it's been reworked? Is there rotational slack in the cylinder? If so, where is it coming from? Is there endshake? Check the timing. Cock the hammer slowly, does the cylinder lock before the hammer reaches full cock or is it late? Does the bolt rise when it's supposed to? On a traditional single action, it should rise into the leede? Same for an older S&W? A Ruger New Model or newer S&W will rise much sooner. How is the sear engagement? Can you push the hammer off the full cock notch?

    Are there any modifications to the sights? Are they banged up? If so, what will have to be done to repair/replace?
     
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