Copyright 2014 Buffington Associates

The Gun Owner

Why Buy Guns?

By Dave Buffington

It’s a simple question:

Why would anyone buy a gun?

Wait, wait. You’ve got it all wrong. There are actually all sorts of good reasons to HAVE a gun … for competition, for protection, for your collection, whatever.

But you don’t have to BUY a gun to do any of that.

You can rent.

Huh, what?

Yes, you can rent guns. And not just the common carry pistols you might find for rent at a range. You can rent rifles and shotguns, moderns and classics. You can keep them for weeks or months or years if you like. You can take ‘em for a test drive and discover the guns you really want.

You just have to have a more creative conceptualization of the word “rent.”

For me, virtually every gun is a rental. Except for a few pieces I hope to pass along to family and friends, every gun I own – and likely, every gun you own – will eventually be resold.

Unfortunately, for most gun owners, the resale process is chaotic at best, often ending with a shady third cousin offering your bereaved spouse 30 cents on the dollar for your prized guns.

What I suggest is that you control both the buying and selling process, not necessarily to make a profit, but to reduce the cost of owning a gun to a minimal level.

For example, I bought a very nice 20-gauge Browning A5 for about $850 a few months back. I cleaned it up, shot it a bit and decided I liked it … but didn’t love it. I turned around and sold it for $1,100. When you consider the all the gas and shells and stuff that I put into buying and shooting and selling it, I probably only made a few bucks.

But I didn’t lose money.

Plus, I learned a bunch and had a lot of fun.

You can do the same.

Buy Low

Good gun shoppers already know a lot about this. You watch for sales and closeouts on new guns. You aggressively use the coupons or points or discounts the big outdoor stores offer.

But the next level of savings is in the used market, and by used, I don’t mean abused. For example, you can take advantage of the people who don’t buy smart and get good deals on “late model used” guns. (I got a virtually unused Ruger 1911 at my favorite local gun store, Lanco Tactical, for just $600. For whatever reason, the previous owner turned it in after having it for just a few weeks.)

And for me, estate and retirement auctions have been a gold mine of good gun buys. I’m not talking about the heavily advertised, gun-only auctions. They attract too many dealers and collectors. I’m talking about the small, local auctions where they might be selling 10, 20 or 30 guns. Look for these in your local newspaper, shopper’s guide or online sources like

At those, you can take advantage of the fact that few small-time auctioneers are knowledgeable about guns. I once went to an auction that listed a “Browning 20” on the sale bill. It turned out to be a 1949, 20-gauge Superposed in 95 percent condition. I got it for $800 … which includes what I paid my gunsmith to clean and tune it up.

Yes, I’d call that grand theft.

Sell High

Of course, to make the whole gun rental thing work, you have to find someone who will buy your guns for something close to their retail (aka “Blue Book”) value.

Dealers won’t do that and for good reason. They need to resell whatever they buy for a profit.

So you need to sell to individuals get retail. You could sell through your local newspaper or at your local range. But thanks to the magic of Al Gore’s Internet, you can now reach a much larger audience. Many enthusiasts sites, like and, will let you advertise your guns at no charge.

Online gun auction sites like, and others charge very reasonable fees … and will put your guns in front of hundreds of thousands of buyers.

There are a lot of keys to success in online selling. (The biggest is to post clear, sharp photos.) But the important thing to know is that you can be successful.

And that makes gun renting practical.