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 What to expect 
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 Post subject: What to expect
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:41 pm 
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I plan on attending the gun show in downtown St Paul next week. As a first time attendee what should I expect and what a the rules on purchasing a weapon?

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 Post subject: Re: What to expect
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 2:01 pm 
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Bagman wrote:
I plan on attending the gun show in downtown St Paul next week. As a first time attendee what should I expect and what a the rules on purchasing a weapon?
At the risk of being a cynic....

Expect to find lots of over priced stuff, with an occassional gem hidden waiting to be found. Know exactly what you want and the fair going price or it is far to easy to get taken for a ride.

Gun show rules? Exactly the same as any other sale. There is NO GUNSHOW LOOPHOLE.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 4:24 pm 
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Yeah, it's always surprising that you have tp produce ID and do a background check. We're used to hearing that anyone can go and buy anything anonomously, or that there will be people selling guns far below their value.

Nope.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:27 pm 
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Simple........... ID and purchase or carry permit and $

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 10:31 pm 
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Be there on the first day and show up early. The good deals WILL be gone by sunday. Passed up on a beautiful Russian SKS for $180, wish I had more cash on me that day :cry:


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:14 am 
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Daemon688 wrote:
Be there on the first day and show up early. The good deals WILL be gone by sunday. Passed up on a beautiful Russian SKS for $180, wish I had more cash on me that day :cry:


If you're in the market for an AR15, DPMS has been known to be pretty motivated to move whatever is left on its tables on Sunday afternoon so they don't have to take it back to St. Cloud with them.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:17 am 
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Daemon688 wrote:
Be there on the first day and show up early. The good deals WILL be gone by sunday. Passed up on a beautiful Russian SKS for $180, wish I had more cash on me that day :cry:
Going early is better than going late, but I have noticed, on at least several occasions, that some dealers will end up dropping the price on some things rather than (perhaps yet again) haul it back home, as things get close to closing.

But, absolutely: any really good deals (say, a Colt Cobra for $225, to pick an example not entirely at random) will almost certainly be snapped up very early.

Advice? Go, enjoy, and bring your DL, permit, and cash, if you plan on doing any negotiating with the dealers who are interested in selling. Be prepared to say "no, thank you," a lot, if you intend to dicker. Don't fall in love; there will be other opportunities. Do remember that there are some dealers whose main interest is showing off their stuff, rather than moving it out, and that information and cash are king. (The chances of you getting ripped off -- nonfunctioning gun that's been tarted up, say -- are very, very small from any well-established dealer, but you won't know, as a newbie, who is and isn't well-established.)

If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. A once-in-lifetime opportunity will come around again and again. If you've got a knowledgeable friend to tag along with, do.

Don't bother trying to educate the cop at the door on the fundamentals of the carry law; if he wants to know, he already does. If he doesn't, and thinks you're, say, required by law to case a rifle as you bring it out to the car if you have a carryy permit, you can't fix that. Ditto for the signage requirements.

If you're at all interested in knives, be sure to check out the tables of the custom knife makers. There may or may not be wiggle room in their prices -- see above -- but there will be some wonderful stuff.

Don't be shy about asking to touch stuff; don't assume you have permission without asking. If a dealer seems to be less than attentive, it may be that he's lacking in basic chops, or he may be worried about somebody else ripping him off.

Have fun.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:43 am 
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One more thing. Just my opinion, but watch out for the dealer with the "carry badges" strewn throughout his gun inventory. It's fun to look at his wares in the same way you're looking at everyone elses', but when it comes down to plunking your hard earned cash down, I'd find another table to buy from. There are many reputable dealers there who won't treat you like a sucker even though your lack of knowledge and experience in this great hobby may unfortunately make you one.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:48 am 
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What is the prevailing recommendation for a FTF (Face to Face = non dealer) type purchase at a gun show?

1. Signed receipt
2. Description of item
3. what personal info should one share with a non-dealer?
a. DL?
b. other?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:48 am 
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onebohemian wrote:
One more thing. Just my opinion, but watch out for the dealer with the "carry badges" strewn throughout his gun inventory. It's fun to look at his wares in the same way you're looking at everyone elses', but when it comes down to plunking your hard earned cash down, I'd find another table to buy from. There are many reputable dealers there who won't treat you like a sucker even though your lack of knowledge and experience in this great hobby may unfortunately make you one.
Yup. I'll buy stuff, if it's of good quality and price, at Metro Pawn and Gun at their shop; I don't really shop at their table at the shows, just because of the whole carry badge display. They've got a right to sell the stupid things; I've got a right to move on to the next table when they push the stupid things aggressively . . . which, alas, they do. I like the guys there, really, but that whole thing is just silly -- at the very best -- and I've told them so.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:59 am 
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KonaSeven wrote:
What is the prevailing recommendation for a FTF (Face to Face = non dealer) type purchase at a gun show?

1. Signed receipt
2. Description of item
3. what personal info should one share with a non-dealer?
a. DL?
b. other?


I think these are pretty rare at gun shows. Most tables are run by dealers. Once in a while you'll see a guy walking around with a rifle over his shoulder and a "for sale" sign hanging off of it, or you'll ask about a gun at a table and some private seller sitting behind the table will tell you he's selling it FTF, but my experience has indicated to me that most of the items you'll try to buy will be from FFL dealers.

If you do happen to find an non-dealer FTF, I'd be comfortable buying within the main hall where the tables are located. That would mean the guy paid his registration fee and is more than likely legit. I'd still exchange some basic info with the guy though, such as you suggest, DL so you can see he's actually who he says he is. Avoid the guys who say they'll meet you in the alley out back. Again, though, you aren't likely to find this even though the anti-gunners have the entire non-gun poplulation thinking these gun shows are one clandestine sale after another.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 9:14 am 
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onebohemian wrote:
I think these are pretty rare at gun shows.


Rural gun shows can still have several. It certainly is not as common as it used to be. That is too bad. My last two gunshow purchases were from private vendors. Several hundred dollars cheaper than many dealers. (But that's how some shows have evolved I guess. Used guns priced higher than new version on sale.)

Met one fellow who felt it was his civic duty not to ask me any questions. "It wouldn't be right to pry into your life." he said. I got a receipt and a photocopy of his gunshow table permit for the day along with the shotgun.

Also it is getting more difficult to get your 01 FFL these days without a brick and mortar address of business. I'm starting the process.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 9:21 am 
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I haven't yet made a purchase at a gun show. The prices were high on the tables, my time was limited, and the private sellers I talked to seemed to want too much.

That said, know the price and value of the gun in question as well as the accessories offered. I had a chance at a Rock Island 1911aq at a show but he wanted $350 for it. Since Bill's had them for that and I thought it was high for NIB, I passed. I missed the fact he had some after market grips and 3-4 magazines. Still not worth the ~$100 price difference I was thinking of there but it might have convinced me to negotiate.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:13 am 
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A FIELD GUIDE TO GUN SHOWS

By The Elitist

Gun shows are an old and honored American tradition. The basic idea-putting sellers, buyers, and stock in the same room and letting Free Market Forces go to work-is as old as commerce, but the American form of gun show has evolved its own manners, vocabulary, and etiquette.

Gun shows are run by and for dreamers. Every dealer who sets up a table seems to think that the people who attend are half-wits who will happily pay 25% more than manufacturer's suggested retail price for their goods; and all the attendees hold it as an article of faith that the exhibitors are desperate men who have come in the hopes of finally disposing of their stock at 30% less than wholesale cost.

In this environment it helps to have some idea what to expect; so for the benefit of those who are so unfortunate as never to have experienced this distinctively American form of mass entertainment, I offer this guide, the summation of what I've learned from 30 years of show-going. I've included a glossary of terms you'll need to know, and an introduction to some of the people you'll meet.
GLOSSARY

The following terms apply to items offered for sale:

MINT CONDITION: In original condition as manufactured, unfired, and preferably in the original box with all manufacturer's tags, labels, and paperwork.

NEAR-MINT CONDITION: Has had no more than 5,000 rounds fired through it and it still retains at least 60% of the original finish. Surface pitting is no more than 1/8" deep, and both grip panels are in place. If it is a .22, some of the rifling is still visible.

VERY GOOD: Non-functional when you buy it, but you can probably get it to work if you replace 100% of the parts.

FAIR: Rusted into a solid mass with a shape vaguely reminiscent of a firearm.

TIGHT: In revolvers, the cylinder swings out, but you need two hands to close it again. For autoloaders, you must bang the front of the slide on a table to push it back.

REALLY TIGHT: In revolvers you cannot open the cylinder without a lever. Once it's open the extractor rod gets stuck halfway through its travel. On autoloaders, you need a hammer to close the slide.

A LITTLE LOOSE: In revolvers, the cylinder falls out and the chambers are 1/4" out of line when locked up. There is no more than 1/2" of end play. For autoloaders, the barrel falls out when the slide is retracted. If the barrel stays in place, the slide falls off.

GOOD BORE: You can tell it was once rifled and even approximately how many grooves there were.

FAIR BORE: Probably would be similar to GOOD BORE, if you could see through it.

NEEDS A LITTLE WORK: May function sometimes if you have a gunsmith replace minor parts, such as the bolt, cylinder, or barrel.

ARSENAL RECONDITIONED: I cleaned it up with a wire wheel and some stuff I bought at K-Mart.

ANTIQUE: I found it in a barn, and I think it dates from before 1960. Note that ANTIQUE guns are usually found in FAIR condition.

RARE VARIANT: No more than 500,000 of this model were ever made, not counting the ones produced before serial numbers were required. Invariably, RARE VARIANTS command a premium price of 150% of BOOK VALUE.

BOOK VALUE: An ill-defined number that dealers consider insultingly low and buyers ridiculously high. Since no one pays any attention to it, it doesn't matter who is right.

IT BELONGED TO MY GRANDFATHER: I bought it at a flea market or yard sale two weeks ago.

CIVIL WAR RELIC: The vendor's great-grandfather knew a man whose friend once said he had been in the Civil War.

SHOOTS REAL GOOD: For rifles, this means at 100 yards it will put every shot into a 14" circle if there isn't any wind and you're using a machine rest. For handguns, three out of six rounds will impact a silhouette target at seven yards. In shotguns, it means that the full choke tube throws 60% patterns with holes no larger than 8" in them.

ON CONSIGNMENT: The vendor at the show does not own the gun. It belongs to a friend, customer, or business associate, and he has been instructed to sell it, for which he will be paid a commission. He has no authority to discuss price. The price marked is 50% above BOOK VALUE. All used guns offered for sale at gun shows, without exception, are ON CONSIGNMENT, and the dealer is required by his Code of Ethics to tell you this as soon as you ask the price. (A BATF study has proven that since 1934 there has never been a single authenticated case of a used gun being offered for sale at a gun show that was actually owned by the dealer showing it.)

I'LL LET IT GO FOR WHAT I HAVE IN IT: I'll settle for what I paid for it plus a 250% profit.

MAKE ME AN OFFER: How dumb are you?

TELL ME HOW MUCH IT'S WORTH TO YOU: I'll bet you're even dumber than you look.
PEOPLE YOU WILL MEET AT THE GUN SHOW

RAMBO: He's looking for an Ingram MAC-10, and wants to have it custom chambered in .44 Magnum as a back-up gun. For primary carry he wants a Desert Eagle, provided he can get it custom chambered in .50 BMG. He derides the .50 Action Express as a wimp round designed for ladies' pocket pistols. He has already bought three years' worth of freeze-dried MRE's from MARK, as well as seven knives. He is dressed in camouflage BDU's and a black T-shirt with the 101st Airborne Division insignia, though he has never been in the Army. He works as a bag boy at Kroger's.

BUBBA: He needs some money, and has reluctantly decided to sell his Daddy's .30-30, a Marlin 336 made in 1961. He indignantly refuses all cash offers below his asking price of $475. Unable to sell it, eventually he trades it plus another $175 for a new-in-box H&R Topper in .219 Zipper. He feels pretty good about the deal.

GORDON: He is walking the aisles with a Remington Model 700 ADL in .30-06 on his shoulder. He's put an Uncle Mike's cordura sling and a Tasco 3x9 variable scope on it. A small stick protrudes from the barrel, bearing the words, "LIKE NEW ONLY THREE BOXES SHELLS FIRED $800." This is his third trip to a show with this particular rifle, which he has never actually used, since he lives in a shotgun-only area for deer.

DAWN: She is here with her boyfriend, DARRYL. At the last show, DARRYL bought her a Taurus Model 66 in .357 Magnum. She fired it twice and is afraid of it, but at DARRYL'S insistence she keeps it in a box on the top shelf of her clothes closet in case someone breaks in. She is dressed in a pair of blue jeans that came out of a spray can, a "Soldier of Fortune" T-shirt two sizes too small, and 4" high heels. DARRYL is ignoring her, but nobody else is.

DARRYL: He has been engaged to DAWN for three years. He likes shotguns for defense, and he's frustrated that he can't get a Street Sweeper anymore. So he's bought a Mossberg 500 with the 18-1/2" barrel, a perforated handguard, and a pistol grip. He plans to use it for squirrel hunting when he isn't sleeping with it. He plans to marry DAWN as soon as he gets a job which pays him enough to take over the payments on her mobile home. His parole officer has no idea where he is at the moment.

ARNOLD: He is a car salesman in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has a passion for Civil War guns, especially cap-and-ball revolvers. He has a reproduction Remington 1858, and is looking for a real one he can afford. He owns two other guns: a S&W Model 60 and a Sauer & Sohn drilling with Luftwaffe markings that his grandfather brought home in 1945. He has no idea what caliber the rifle barrel on his drilling is, and he last fired the Model 60 five years ago.

DICK: He is a gun dealer who makes his overhead selling Jennings J-25's, Lorcin .380's, and H&R top-break revolvers. He buys the J-25's in lots of 1000 direct from the factory at $28.75 each, and sells them for $68.00 to gun show customers. He buys the H&R's for $10 at estate auctions and asks $85 for them, letting you talk him down to $78 when he is feeling generous. His records are meticulously kept: he insists on proper ID and a signature on the 4473, but he doesn't mind if the ID and the signature aren't yours. Other than his stock, he owns no guns and he has no interest in them.

ARLENE: She is DICK's wife. She hates guns and gun shows more than anything in the world. Her husband insists that she accompany him to keep an eye on the table when he's dickering or has to go to the men's room. She refuses to come unless she can bring her SONY portable TV, even though she gets lousy reception in the Civic Center and there isn't any cable. When DICK is away from the table, she has no authority to negotiate, and demands full asking price for everything. She doesn't know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun, and what's more, she doesn't care.

MARK: He doesn't have an FFL. He buys a table at the show to sell nylon holsters, magazines, T-shirts, bumper stickers, fake Nazi regalia, surplus web gear, MRE's and accessories. He makes more money than anyone else in the hall.

ALAN: He's not a dealer, but he had a bunch of odds and ends to dispose of, so he bought a table. On it he displays used loading dies in 7.65 Belgian and .25-20, both in boxes from the original Herter's company. He also has a half-box of .38-55 cartridges, a Western-style gun belt he hasn't been able to wear since 1978, a used cleaning kit, and a nickel-plated Iver Johnson Premier revolver in .32 S&W. He's asking $125 for the gun and $40 for each of the die sets. He paid $35 for the table and figures he needs to get at least that much to cover his expenses and the value of his time.

GERALD: He's a physician specializing in diseases of the rich. He collects Brownings, and specializes in High-Power pistols, Superposed shotguns, and Model 1900's. He has 98% of the known variations of each of these, and now plans to branch out into the 1906 and 1910 pocket pistols. He owns no handguns made after the Germans left Liege in 1944. He regards Japanese-made "Brownings" as a personal insult and is a little contemptuous of Inglis-made High-Powers. He does not hunt or shoot. He buys all his gun accessories from Orvis and Dunn's.

KEVIN: He is 13, and this is his first gun show. His eyes are bugged out with amazement, and he wonders what his J.C. Higgins single-shot 20-gauge is worth. His father gives him an advance on his allowance so he can buy a used Remington Nylon 66. He's hooked for life and will end up on the NRA's Board of Directors.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 12:17 pm 
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Dean's post was true for the most part, although I take issue with the shot he took at gun show visitor "Mark." All I would add to the post itself is that it's a good idea not to be the one guy who Darryl catches checking out Dawn.

Here's a more serious article written by a guy named Jim March and posted over at THR (the high road) in 2001. If you're a new guy to the hobby, this is well worth the read now. I even carried an edited copy of it with me when I first started out, and still give it a brief review every now and then when I know there'll be a revolver I want to check out.


Revolver checkout: how to tell if a particular specimen is any good.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So you're buying a revolver. New, used, doesn't matter, you want a good one, right?

How do check one over without firing it, right at the dealer's counter or gun show table?

This is how. All of this works with DA or SA wheelguns..."close the action" on most DAs means swing the cylinder in, on SA types, close the loading gate, on breakopens, close 'em. UNLOADED.

WARNING: most of these tests require violation of the "finger off trigger" rule. Therefore, be extremely careful about safe muzzle direction and making sure the gun is unloaded ahead of time, PERSONALLY, as you begin handling it.

Note: bring a small flashlight, something small and concentrated. A Photon or similar high-powered LED light is perfect. You also want feeler gauges if you're not used to eyeballing cylinder gaps; at a minimum, bring a .002", .004" and .006".

Note2: no dry firing is required or desired at any point. It just pisses off the gun's current owner.

Cylinder play.

1) With the gun UNLOADED (check for yourself!), close the action.

2) Thumb the hammer back, and while pulling the trigger, gently lower the hammer all the way down while keeping the trigger back - and KEEP holding the trigger once the hammer is down. (You've now put the gun in "full lockup" - keep it there for this and most other tests.)

3) With the trigger still back all the way, check for cylinder wiggle. Front/back is particularly undesirable; a bit of side to side is OK but it's a bad thing if you can wiggle it one way, let go, and then spin it the other way a fraction of an inch and it stays there too. At the very least, it should "want" to stop in just one place (later, we'll see if that place is any good). The ultimate is a "welded to the frame" feeling.

Cylinder gap

4) Still holding the trigger at full lockup, look sideways through the barrel/cylinder gap. If you can get a credit card in there, that ain't good...velocity drops rapidly as the gap increases. Too tight isn't good either, because burnt powder crud will "fill the gap" and start making the cylinder spin funky. My personal .38snubbie is set at .002, usually considered the minimum...after about 40 shots at the range, I have to give the front of the cylinder a quick wipe so it spins free again. I consider that a reasonable tradeoff for the increased velocity because in a real fight, I ain't gonna crank 40 rounds out of a 5-shot snub .

If you're eyeballing it, you'll have to hold it up sideways against an overhead light source.

SAFETY WARNING: This step in particular is where you MUST watch your muzzle direction. Look, part of what's happening here is that you're convincing the seller you know your poop . It helps the haggling process. If you do anything unsafe, that impression comes completely unglued.

Timing

5) You really, REALLY want an unloaded gun for this one. This is where the light comes in. With the gun STILL held in full lockup, trigger back after lowering the hammer by thumb, you want to shine a light right into the area at the rear of the cylinder near the firing pin. You then look down the barrel . You're looking to make sure the cylinder bore lines up with the barrel. Check every cylinder - that means putting the gun in full lockup for each cylinder before lighting it up.

You're looking for the cylinder and barrel holes to line up perfectly, it's easy to eyeball if there's even a faint light source at the very rear of both bores. And with no rounds present, it's generally easy to get some light in past where the rims would be.

Bore

(We're finally done with that "full lockup" crap, so rest your trigger finger. )

6) Swing the cylinder open, or with most SAs pull the cylinder. Use the small flashlight to scope the bore out. This part's easy - you want to avoid pitting, worn-out rifling, bulges of any sort. You want more light on the subject than just what creeps in from the rear of the cylinder on the timing check.

You also want to check each cylinder bore, in this case with the light coming in from the FRONT of each hole, you looking in from the back where the primers would be. You're looking for wear at the "restrictions" at the front of each cylinder bore. That's the "forcing cone" area and it can wear rapidly with some Magnum loads. (Special thanks to Salvo below for this bit!)

Trigger

7) To test a trigger without dry-firing it, use a plastic pen in front of the hammer to "catch" it with the off hand, especially if it's a "firing pin on the hammer" type. Or see if the seller has any snap-caps, that's the best solution. Flat-faced hammers as found in transfer-bar guns (Ruger, etc) can be caught with the off-hand without too much pain .

SA triggers (or of course a DA with the hammer cocked) should feel "like a glass rod breaking". A tiny amount of take-up slack is tolerable, and is common on anything with a transfer bar or hammerblock safety.

DA triggers are subjective. Some people like a dead-smooth feel from beginning of stroke to the end, with no "warning" that it's about to fire. Others (myself included) actually prefer a slight "hitch" right at the end, so we know when it's about to go. With that sort of trigger, you can actually "hold it" right at the "about to fire" point and do a short light stroke from there that rivals an SA shot for accuracy. Takes a lot of practice though. Either way, you don't want "grinding" through the length of the stroke, and the final stack-up at the end (if any) shouldn't be overly pronounced.

Detecting Bad Gunsmithing:

8) OK, so it's got a rock-solid cylinder, a .002" or .003" gap, and the trigger feels great. Odds are vastly in favor of it being tuned after leaving the factory.

So was the gunsmith any good?

First, cock it, then grab the hammer and "wiggle it around" a bit. Not too hard, don't bang on it, but give it a bit of up/down, left/right and circular action with finger off trigger and WATCH your muzzle direction.

You don't want that hammer slipping off an overly polished sear. You REALLY don't want that . It can be fixed by installing factory parts but that'll take modest money (more for installation than hardware costs) and it'll be bigtime unsafe until you do.

The other thing that commonly goes wrong is somebody will trim the spring, especially coil springs. You can spot that if you pull the grip panels, see if the spring was trimmed with wire cutters. If they get too wild with it, you'll get ignition failures on harder primers. But the good news is, replacement factory or Wolf springs are cheap both to buy and have installed.

There's also the legal problems Ayoob frequently describes regarding light triggers. If that's a concern, you can either swap back to stock springs, or since you bought it used there's no way to prove you knew it was modified at all .

In perspective:

Timing (test #5) is very critical...if that's off, the gun may not even be safe to test-fire. And naturally, a crappy barrel means a relatively pricey fix.

Cylinder gap is particularly critical on short-barreled and/or marginal caliber guns. If you need every possible ounce of energy, a tight gap helps. Some factory gaps will run as high as .006"; Taurus considers .007" "still in spec" (sigh). You'll be hard-pressed to find any new pieces under .004" - probably because the makers realize some people don't clean 'em often (or very well) and might complain about the cylinder binding up if they sell 'em at .002".

The guns in a dealer's "used pile" are often of unknown origin, from estate sales or whatever. Dealers don't have time to check every piece, and often don't know their history. These tests, especially cyliner gap and play, can spot a gun that's been sent off for professional tuning...like my snubbie, the best $180 I ever spent .

As long as the gun is otherwise sound (no cracks, etc) a gunsmith can fix any of this. So these tests can help you pick a particularly good new specimen, or find a good used gun, or help haggle the price down on something that'll need a bit of work.

Hope this helps.
Jim
[Edited by Jim March on 02-18-2001 at 02:58 PM]

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