New or Used Guns: Which Should I Buy?

September 1, 2023

Whether it’s your first time gun shopping or you’re thinking of adding to your collection, you have two choices: getting a shiny new piece or going for a seasoned used one. Knowing the ins and outs of new and used guns, what each brings to the table, and when one might be a better fit will guide you to the perfect pick for your needs.

Advantages of Buying a New Gun

Thinking of getting a new firearm? Well, there’s a whole lot to love about going the brand-new route. Not only do you get that fresh-out-of-the-box experience, but there are a bunch of other cool perks too. Discover why snagging a new gun might just be the way to go!

Freedom of Choice

With brand-new pistols, rifles, and shotguns, you get an array of options straight from the factory, letting you pick the specs you’re after.

Based on the brand and type of gun, you usually have a pick of caliber, barrel length, sights, grips, stocks, and even colors, among other custom touches. And if your neighborhood gun shop doesn’t have that exact mix you’re dreaming of, they’ll special-order it just for you, ensuring you are satisfied with your purchase.

With used guns, what you see is usually what you get—there’s not much wiggle room for personal tweaks. Fancy an upgrade or a few tweaks on a pre-owned piece? You’ll likely have to roll up your sleeves and DIY or seek a gunsmith’s expertise.

New and Used Guns

You Are the First Owner

Getting a new gun straight from the factory feels a lot like buying a brand-new car from the dealership. Be it a pistol, revolver, shotgun, or rifle, there’s that sweet assurance that it’s all yours and nobody else’s. It’s pristine, free from wear or tear, and set up just as the maker intended.

They’ve either never been fired or only had a few test rounds at the factory. Think of it as having a car with a zeroed odometer; every shot from this point is your own adventure.

You Get More Than a Gun

Many of the latest firearms sold in the U.S. come in a new box packed with various extras and accessories. Depending on who made it, here’s what you might find tagging along with your new gun:

  • Spare magazines: Did you snag a magazine-fed firearm? Many manufacturers throw in one, two, or even more bonus mags, gearing you up for the range, competitions, or self-defense right out of the box.
  • Operator’s manual: Sure, you can find many firearm manuals online nowadays, but there’s something reassuring about getting a physical copy with a brand-new purchase. This guarantees that every first-time owner has the hands-on information they need to use and care for their weapon correctly.
  • Disassembly tools: Got a firearm that needs special tools for a breakdown or field strip? Many manufacturers have got your back by tossing them right in the box. You might find goodies like Allen keys (a favorite for many guns), bushing wrenches if you bought a 1911, or castle nut wrench for those with an AR-15.
  • Warranty registration cards: While the digital age has seen many gunmakers shift their warranty registrations online, a good chunk still uses traditional paper registration cards. This lets you link up with the manufacturer and activate the warranty as soon as you unwrap your new purchase.
  • Trigger lock or safety device: Got yourself a brand-new handgun, like a semi-auto pistol or a revolver? You’ll often find a safety goodie like a trigger lock right in the box. While it’s no substitute for a gun safe, it’s a handy starter safety feature, especially if you’re a newbie gun owner still scouting out your perfect safe.
  • Stickers and merch: Loads of gunmakers toss in fun swag like stickers and other promotional items when you get a new firearm. These little extras are perfect for jazzing up your gun safe or shooting gear, letting you flaunt that brand-new firearm pride in style!
  • Carrying case: Instead of the usual cardboard or plastic, many firearms arrive in transport cases. This isn’t just fancy packaging—it’s a reusable case, perfect for stowing your new firearm or its add-ons. Talk about a handy ride for your prized possession to the range!

Backed by a Warranty

Another benefit of buying a brand-new, never-fired gun is the possibility of tapping into the manufacturer’s warranty. Big names like Glock, SIG Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Smith & Wesson, Mossberg, Beretta, and Ruger usually cover material or manufacturing defects, ensuring you can get repairs or a replacement gun at no cost.

Many manufacturer warranties come with a two-fold catch: they’re meant for the first owner and have a time cap. Take Glock, for instance. To activate its warranty, the initial buyer must do so within 30 days of purchasing that new pistol, and the warranty lasts only a year from the purchase date. So, going for a brand-new piece ups your chances of being wrapped in that warranty blanket compared to opting for a pre-owned one.

Contact your gun manufacturer or visit its website for more information.

Drawbacks of Buying New Guns

While the allure of a brand-new firearm is undeniable, there are a few disadvantages to bear in mind. Some of the main snags you might encounter when you’re in the market for a fresh piece include:

Higher Cost

The price tag on a new gun isn’t just about the weapon itself. You’re paying for that assurance of a pristine, untouched piece, the safety net of the manufacturer’s warranty, the chosen accessories and specs, and the quality assurance from the maker.

Every so often, if there’s an update with the latest tech or groundbreaking features, the manufacturer might nudge the starting price of the newest model a bit higher.

Take Glock’s rollout of their Generation 5 models as a case in point. These new versions came with a heftier price tag than the Gen 4 lineup. Most of that extra cost? It was thanks to the Gen 5’s upgraded features, like the Glock Marksman Barrel, revamped frames, and those flared magazine wells.


A brand-new gun’s value tends to dip by about 15% to 25% right after you buy it. If it’s a popular firearm or model, its value might decrease even more since parts are easily accessible. However, if you’ve got your hands on a rare gem or a collector’s delight, there’s a shot it could climb back up in value or even surpass its original price.

After that initial dip in value from being the first owner, your gun’s worth largely hangs on how you treat it. Keeping it in tip-top shape and resisting the urge for hefty modifications will help it hold its value. Remember, wear, damage and significant tweaks can push its resale price down. If you’ve got an eye on future resale, it’s best to keep it original and shower it with some TLC.

Benefits of Buying Used Firearms

Savvy gun shoppers can find excellent opportunities by shopping for used guns instead of brand-new models. Here are the main benefits of buying used guns:

Getting a Good Deal

The used gun market is a hot spot for those hunting for a bargain on a firearm. Remember, guns are sturdy pieces of kit, and with care and upkeep, they can serve you faithfully for many years.

Leveraging depreciation can work in your favor, helping you nab a fully functional firearm at a fraction of its debut price. If you’ve got your eyes on a piece that’s either popular or had a hefty production run, the odds are even better for snagging a sweet deal.

The bucks you save from pre-owned can be funneled into other nifty buys. With the extra cash, you can stock up on ammo, get a sleek holster, pick up a sturdy sling, or even splash out on cool accessories to jazz up your firearm.

Buying Used Firearms

Finding an Older or Unique Firearm

Hunting for a classic gun that’s no longer in production? Then, the used gun market is your treasure trove. A whole bunch of firearms have retired from the production line. And sometimes, the companies that made them have vanished too. Yet, these old-timers can still be found alive and kicking in the pre-owned scene, ensuring they’re still part of the gun-lovers world.

Among the sought-after elder statesmen of firearms are the military surplus rifles and pistols. Classics like the M1 Garand, Mosin-Nagant, Simonov SKS, wartime M1911 or M1911A1 pistols, and various flavors of the Makarov pistol are either no longer being made, have strayed from their original designs or hail from countries with import restrictions in place, like Russia or China.

Many of these guns are sought after by enthusiasts due to their vintage, historical connections, or iconic status in pop culture. And then some stand out because they’re the rare gems or quirky – giving them an edge of uniqueness that’s hard to match with a brand-new model.

Buying a Proven Design

Many guns in the pre-owned scene are up for grabs because they’ve stood the test of time. Picking up a used firearm carries with it the reassurance that it’s been in good hands, maybe for a few months, several years, or perhaps even a lifetime.

On the flip side, while a brand-new gun has its appeal, if it’s a fresh model straight off the assembly line, it might come with some uncertainties or not live up to expectations.

Buying used is also a way to give an older gun a new lease on life it might not otherwise receive. For instance, a typical new purpose for a former military rifle is to turn it into a hunting piece. Although it might not have been designed with hunting in mind, it may shoot a sufficiently potent cartridge or use a reliable design not found elsewhere.

Disadvantages of Used Guns

While budget-conscious or astute firearm enthusiasts might lean toward used guns for various reasons, there are also some cautionary flags to keep in mind. Here are some of the most common drawbacks of used firearms:

Lack of Past Usage Information

Purchasing a pre-owned firearm often leaves you in the dark about its history. How many times has it been fired? Was it treated well by its previous owners? This uncertainty is a major downside of the used market. Hidden wear and tear or mechanical issues might lurk beneath the surface, like parts nearing their end.

Although a handful of sellers might provide comprehensive maintenance logs or detailed records of rounds fired, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Typically, pre-owned firearms come without a clear window into their backstory or information about their previous custodians.

Warranty Limitations

Manufacturer warranties are usually reserved for the original firearm owner. When you opt for a pre-owned gun, you’re not the first owner, which often places constraints on or even excludes you from many warranty benefits.

Few firearm manufacturers provide warranty programs that outlive the first purchase or extend to subsequent owners. Hi-Point’s lifetime warranty program is a notable exception. If the company behind your pre-owned firearm is still operational, it’s worth reaching out to them or browsing their website to understand the specifics of their warranty offerings.

Used vs. New Guns for Hunting

How to Choose Whether to Buy Used Guns vs. New Guns

When deciding between a new versus a used firearm, determine the purpose behind your purchase. Understanding your specific shooting requirements will guide you in deciding whether a new gun or a seasoned pre-owned one is the better match for your needs.

New vs. Used Guns for Plinking and Recreational Shooting

If your main goal is to enjoy some casual plinking or just have a blast shooting, both new and used guns can serve you well. Factors like cost, magazine availability, ammo compatibility, and your own tastes should guide your decision.

Used Guns vs. New Guns for Collecting

Although new firearms might occasionally boast unique or collectible attributes, the real treasures are often unearthed in the used gun market. Firearms that resonate historically have pop culture significance, or pique collector interest tend to be older, more elusive, and no longer in production.

Therefore, many aficionados gravitate toward pre-owned selections when looking to enrich their collections.

New vs. Used Guns for Self-Defense

Reliability is critical when it comes to firearms meant for self-defense or concealed carry. They must perform consistently and with minimal risk of malfunction. So if you’re seeking a trustworthy firearm for protection and don’t already have one, a brand-new option is typically advised.

Opting for a new firearm eliminates concerns about potential wear and tear that a pre-owned gun might have endured.

Buying Used vs. New Guns for Hunting, Sport, or Competition Shooting

Reliability is always crucial, whether using a firearm for hunting, sport, or competition. But beyond that, it’s essential to ensure that the gun adheres to relevant laws or guidelines.

Compliance is key, whether it’s abiding by hunting regulations or adhering to competition standards. Depending on these specifications, new and pre-owned firearms can serve you well. It all boils down to the specific requirements your chosen activity demands.

Find Dependable Guns at IFA Tactical

IFA Tactical provides high-quality new and used guns, ammunition, and equipment to Michigan gun owners. We also offer a wide range of complementary services for all your firearm and shooting needs, including gunsmithing, Michigan CPL classes, and informative articles to educate gun owners of all backgrounds.

Contact us if you have questions about new or used firearms or want to know more about safe and responsible gun ownership.

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