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This is a topic that I don't remember being discussed here before but it may have before my time. Anyway, what are things to look for and to look out for when purchasing a used gun from an individual or a pawn shop?

The reason I ask is because I am looking to and a gun to my collection, probably a .357 mag and I don't think I want to pay out for a new one.

ian
 

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Having no experience in this at all, this is what I look for:

Check the exterior for any rust or pitting, this may not be a bad thing depending on where it is. I don't pay attention to holster wear, unless I am looking for a show piece.

Assuming the exterior passes a visual inspection I disassemble the gun, field strip only, and check for wear spots in common areas. I usually don't find anything here, but if I do it tells me there is a major problem.
I look for rust or pitting of the internal mechanics. I don't worry too much about springs at this point because it's usually cheap to replace them.
I reassemble the gun and check the slide and trigger function thoroughly. I'll take some snap caps with me and cycle them through a few times to see how the gun operates.

If all is good I'll buy it, take it home and tear it completely apart, buy new springs ('cause I am just that way), clean it completely and reassemble it when I have the new springs. After that, it's time to take it to the range.
 

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I would also check it under some bright lights...or outside in the sunlight. Certain imperfections can only be seen in good light.

I would also take that barrel out of the slide and look at the riflings. They should stand out quite nicely and not have any noticeable nicks or rust.
 
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