AirGun Guru: The Experts guide to buying a second hand rifle
- Credit: Archant
Buying a second hand airgun? The Guru tells you what to look out for and what questions to ask so you can get the best bang for your bucks.
Q: A friend is planning to buy his first airgun soon and had enlisted me to accompany him and check out the guns (second-hand – he can’t afford new) for him. He knows which gun he wants, and it’s an HW97 like mine, so that’s one hurdle out of the way. My question is, how do I assess any guns that we view?
A: GURU SAYS - The HW97 is a robust and time-tested design that will perform flawlessly for many years, provided it has not been abused in use, and provided it is still standard inside. Unfortunately, the urge to tinker with spring airguns is one that few appear able to resist, and if the rifle has been taken apart by someone who wasn’t qualified or equipped, there will be evidence, so the first check is the condition of the stock screw head slots. If they are butchered, chances are the internal components will be, so the gun is best avoided.
The general external condition of the rifle can obviously tell you how well it’s been looked after, and a rifle that’s been neglected on the outside may well be in need of new seals and re-lubrication inside.
After checking that the rifle is unloaded, visually check that the barrel and underlever are straight, and the barrel isn’t pointing skyward - the result of the gun discharging with the underlever swinging freely.
I would strongly recommend testing the rifle with a chronoscope, to ensure that it’s legal and performing satisfactorily and, in fact, I would not buy unless I could test fire it legally and safely.
Ask whether the rifle still has the anti-bear trap mechanism, and if so, only try the following provided you are able to then shoot it safely; cycle the action and ask yourself if it feels smooth, and whether or not there are untoward noises, then cock the action and check that the safety catch operates. With the rifle pointing in a safe direction, give the butt a tap with the heel of your hand to ensure that the trigger unit is safe. As an experienced HW97 owner, you will know how the shot cycle should feel and sound, and if you are able to do a proper accuracy test, then so much the better.
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Finally, I would not allow your friend to be talked into paying much, if any, premium for a modified rifle.
GURU TIP: Once a month, make it a habit to check that all the bolts and screws on your rifle and scope mounts are tight, and always use drivers that fit the heads perfectly.
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