How to Evaluate Antique and Surplus Rifles When Buying Online

Posted by on April 3rd, 2021

Evaluating a firearm online can be tricky. Evaluating an antique rifle online can be even harder, as there are plenty of variables to consider on top of the usual evaluation. When searching for antique guns online, whether for sale or at auction, here are some factors to consider before clicking the buy or bid button.

Does It Still Fire?

One of the first questions to ask when looking at antique guns for sale is whether the firearm in question still fires. You will not be sure of this until the firearm is in your hands and you can take it to a qualified gunsmith, but you might learn whether it is a display-only firearm due to wear and tear, meant for collectors instead of shooters. Or, the firearm might have been purposefully deactivated. If you do not intend to take the firearm to the range or hunting, this may not matter to you.

How Is the Furniture? 

Next, most antique guns, particularly rifles, used wood for furniture. How has it held up? If the firearm is a century old and has seen use through multiple wars, a scratch or ding may be acceptable. Cracks or chips out of the wood are more concerning, and cracks that go through the entire piece may mean the firearm is inoperable. While these can sometimes be fixed, it should be a factor in evaluating what you want to pay for a particular firearm.

How Is the Barrel? 

If you intend on shooting the firearm, you will want to look at the barrel. For rifles and pistols, you should check the rifling. Is it still strong and shiny? If not, can you clean it? If the rifling is worn down, the gun may not fire straight. If possible, ask the seller to post a photo of a round in the end of the barrel. If the round goes in up to the neck, where the bullet meets brass, the barrel is likely worn out.

Are the Parts Easy to Replace or Repair?

How easy is it to replace or repair parts that are damaged or missing? This is another factor to consider when determining how much you want to pay. A missing bayonet could be 0 but is an extra. Look carefully at the photos, as there may be small parts missing, such as the knob that controls the windage on the sight. Do research on the parts you will need before putting in a bid or buying the firearm.

Do Parts Match?

Finally, check with the seller to see if parts match. Antique firearms may have parts that are each stamped with a serial number, such as the barrel and bolt. Do they match? This matters more for collectors or if you want to resell the gun. If you just want to fire it and own a piece of history, this may matter less to you.


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