August 12, 2013
The Perks of Buying Used Guns
By Phil Bourjaily
My Beretta 391 waterfowl gun just came back from the Beretta specialists at Cole Gunsmithing, where they fixed its balky action for about $80. Although the gun had never malfunctioned in the field with heavy loads — or even dove loads — I had to run it wet with oil to keep it functioning, and it wouldn’t cycle one-ounce target loads at all. The smiths at Cole polished the top of the locking block where it runs along the barrel extension and the bottom of the bolt slide. Now the action snaps shut at the speed of light and it cycles target loads beautifully.
I bring this up because this 391 is as close to a lemon as any used gun I have ever bought. I suspect the previous owner got rid of it because it didn’t run quite right, although I have no way of knowing as I picked it out of the used rack at my local store. At any rate, even with the money I spent having it tuned up I still got a good deal on it.
My feelings about used guns remain unchanged. As I have written before, I love them. They are a deal, they have a past, and someone else has saved you the trauma of putting the first scratch on the stock. This Beretta aside, I have had very good luck with used guns. I guess the only other “bad” used gun I had was an SKB 500 that shot very high. Theoretically, the high POI was a problem; although in the field it was no problem at all and I killed a lot of birds with that gun in the short time I had it.
Your experiences with used guns may differ. Maybe I am either a canny judge of used gunflesh or just lucky. I am ready for your stories of used guns, good and bad.