Whether you're a newcomer to firearms or an expert, one crucial skill to learn before you choose a weapon and train with it: is how to spot high-quality guns. The ability to correctly evaluate the quality of a gun and decide if it will be a good fit for service, off-duty, or civilian use is essential. While each firearms manufacturer may have guidelines for testing a weapon before it is issued or purchased, the key to saving your life and possibly that of others is a gun that can be relied on during the vital moment you need it.
Before you trust your life to a sidearm, you'll want to know and understand what to watch for to spot an accurate, reliable, and controllable quality firearm.
Price Too Good to Be True
It's no secret that everyone loves a fantastic bargain. However, in the case of firearms, we recommend being cautious of a gun with a price that seems too good to be true—because, in most cases, it is. A reasonable price for a good quality hand gun should be anywhere from $300 to $1000, depending on the make, with $1000 and over for high-end firearms. For example, if you see a Glock advertised for sale at $199, you can expect something wrong.
Why be cautious of guns priced very low?
- One of the reasons for a firearm's low price could be that the manufacturer used fewer quality materials. Lower Quality materials are more prone to failing under the stresses of use.
- Low price could mean a low threshold for acceptable defects—meaning the firearms may have multiple issues.
- If the firearm you use will be on active duty or for self-defense or home defense—you cannot afford to settle on cheap. The expression, "you get what you pay for," is very accurate.
- Budget-friendly and affordable aren't necessarily the same as cheap. There are affordable, reliable brands that offer quality firearms without accessories.
Conversely, a common misconception that the only good gun is the most expensive one, which is not necessarily the case. For example, several firearms brands, such as Beretta, Canik, Firstline, FNH, and Glock, sell exceptionally excellent quality budget-friendly guns. It's significant when it comes to affordable firearms to pay attention to and research and dig behind the brand's reputation.
Steer Clear of Used
We might have a few gun experts and savvy collectors who disagree with this. As a collector, purchasing a used gun isn't something we have issues with. For the shooters—especially those new to firearms or those seeking one only for self and home defense, new, not used, is always the best bet.
When you're a new shooter, the learning curve is steep enough without the significant risk of firing a used and possibly abused firearm.
New vs. Used:
- A new gun's exterior, fit and finish, size, caliber, color, sites, grips, accessories, and manufacturer are all available for you to choose from. A new gun may also come with an original case or box and a manufacturer's warranty. Many brand-new guns also come with triggers or cable locks, cleaning rods, disassembly tools, spare magazines, and, most importantly, an owner's manual. There is no guarantee a used gun will come with any of these things; it is doubtful you'll get anything other than the gun. You'll also have less choice with the finish and model, with a high chance of no accessories or an owner's manual.
- While we recommend trying out a gun you're considering purchasing before buying, with a new firearm, you have a very high chance the weapon will deliver as promised by the manufacturer. There is no way to be sure a used gun will fire without testing first, and depending on the circumstances of the sale, that may not be possible.
- One problem that purchasing a used car and a used gun share is that there's usually no way to tell how many previous owners the firearm had or if any of those past owners adequately cleaned and cared for it. You can inspect the current condition of a gun in person, but there's no way to know if the reseller was the only one ever to clean it.
- The seller you're purchasing from may not be legally authorized to sell, whether from a private seller or at a gun show; how do you know you aren't buying a stolen weapon?
The quality of the material used in the construction of a weapon makes a huge difference in its quality. There is a huge range of available materials available, each with pros and cons of their own. There are weapons made of hardened plastic, high-tech ceramics, and military-grade steel.
Gun metal terms can be confusing for a beginner. If you're in the dark about what makes steel such a popular material, steel is iron with enough carbon to allow the metal to harden—but not so much as it turns brittle. Steel also lacks pores; instead, it consists of crystals. The crystals' shape, alignment, and size determine the properties of the steel in question.
Steel can be alloyed (mixed) with other metals like tungsten, chromium, or nickel, as well as non-metallic alloys of molybdenum, silicon, and sulfur. Different alloys can have various benefits, like corrosion resistance, scratch and abrasion resistance, more tensile strength without risking brittleness to steel, etc.
In many gun articles, magazines, and other writings, four numbers are used when discussing the gun's materials. The Society of Automotive Engineers created these numbers to create a simple designation system to mark how much of any ingredient is alloyed in the steel and what that ingredient may be. For example, you may see someone talk about 4140 steel in firearms.
4140 is known as ordnance steel and was one of the early high-alloy steels found in riffle barrel manufacturing. It has roughly 1% chromium, .25% molybdenum, .4% carbon, 1% manganese, and approximately .2% silicon with .035% phosphorus and .04% sulfur.
If a firearm's steel material is presented as 4150, the 4150's difference is that it uses 0.5% carbon, and that small ( just .1%!) difference makes this alloy much more challenging to work with but gives it much higher tensile strength. The U.S. Army particularly chooses this alloy for its extra ruggedness.
As a casual, beginner, or home-defense self-defense gun owner, 4140 steel is excellent for what you need. If you're an expert or professional and work in personal protection, LEO, and the military, paying the extra for a firearm using 4150 ordnance steel might be ideal for preventing wear and tear.
You've researched price points and the difference between cheap and affordable. You've spent some time looking into the most reliable, trustworthy brands with consistent quality, reading countless reviews, and watching videos of guns in action. You know what quality of steel and materials you wish for in your weapon, and you're ready to buy.
Hold on a minute. There are one last few steps to spotting a quality firearm: testing it in person. We know that it's not always easy to do so, but it is crucial to discern the quality of the gun, from how it fits in your hand to how it fires to testing its recoil. Gun ranges often work side by side with reputable gun sellers—and some sellers may have ranges attached or near their shops, where many of the firearms they sell are also available to rent for an hour or two to test.
When you include research, new instead of used, your experience level, brand history, reliable customer reviews, quality materials, and actual gun testing, you'll quickly learn how to spot a quality firearm well worth your investment.
Do you still have questions? Would you love to know more about our vast inventory of high-quality firearms? Please feel free to reach out to us today. It would be our pleasure to help.