Gun-buying tips and scam alerts
by B.B. Pelletier
There’s a new podcast up on the website.
I wrote this report because of a transaction I made this past weekend. I had traded a rifle to someone and saw it listed on an internet trading site. The description was much nicer than the gun I traded, but the seller’s email was the same as the guy I had done business with. I did want the gun back, so I asked if he had gotten it from me and I made a cash offer. It was the same gun, though from the description it was obvious that the seller had learned much more about my rifle in the six months he had it than I had in the eight years I had owned it previously. More, in fact, than could be substantiated or even was true!
First lesson. People don’t always tell the truth! No, it’s true! People will sometimes fabricate stories to get other people to act in a way contrary to their instincts. Exhibit A: politics! The state rests.
My rifle, which had been a beater-shooter when I owned it had miraculously “…been through a factory rebuild….” Hogwash! The “factory” that built the gun was the Springfield Arsenal. It was a Trapdoor Springfield. They would have covered the gun with a rash of special marks if they ever so much as saw it again. It was just a beater whose stock someone had sanded to remove the inspector’s cartouche and then sealed the wood with 147 coats of Tru Oil. End of story. I was the one who installed a period-incorrect Buffington rear sight for the extra aiming precision. So, that was the extent of the “factory rebuild”–a Bubba refinish of the wood and the wrong rear sight.
You know the same thing happens with used airguns. Here are a few common ones decoded for your amusement.
“In excellent condition for its age.” MEANING: This gun is a real dog, and I want you to overlook that, in the belief that age, alone, is harmful to wood and metal.
For a CO2 gun – “I don’t know if it holds because I don’t have a CO2 capsule.” MEANING: The gun leaks like a sieve. Or, I’m too lazy to buy a CO2 cartridge at the discount store to test it. Please believe that you have at least a chance that the gun may hold.
“…has been played with.” MEANING: This gun was dragged behind a logging truck for two days before someone doused it with gasoline and struck a match.
Has the typical damage to the breech (barrel/bluing/grips/sights/stock… or any other part they want you to believe is common for this model).” MEANING: This one ain’t perfect. I want you to accept this dog in the belief that all these guns are dogs in the same way this one is.
Lovingly restored…” MEANING: There’s nothing original left on this gun. And it was probably refinished as a summer camp project.
Finish has turned to patina.” MEANING: It’s a rust bucket.
There’s no limit to the creativity that some people will reveal in an attempt to sell or trade their goods.
“Why is the stock cracked at the stock screw holes?” you ask of a dealer at an airgun show. “I think this one came from that bad batch of wood they (whoever made the gun) got back in the ’70s (’80s, ’90s, etc.).” TRUTH: It cracked when I pulled the trigger with the barrel broken open, just to see how fast it would close. Please don’t look at the barrel!
Popular mail-order scams
The guy you contact has several email addresses. Not bad by itself, but he keeps switching them as the transaction progresses. He lives in Florida, but asks for the money order to be sent to Pennsylvania, where he’s staying for the winter. Yes, this very thing just happened on a website I frequent and the buyer was wise enough to stop the transaction in time and post a warning on the site. Oh, and the “seller” used photos borrowed from other transactions still listed on the same website.
“You send the money and I’ll send the gun at the same time.” Watch out for this one. I have done this with several people, but neither party mentioned it during the transaction. We (one of us) just did it, because we trusted the other person. When someone TELLS you they will do this, watch out. Why are they telling you that? Why are they even doing it? Are they trying to make you think they are really a good guy? It falls under the Shakespeare quote, “…the lady doth protest too much.” MEANING: If she says that, she probably feels guilty about something related to it.
“Looks just like this one taken from their website.” This is a tough call, because there are people who cannot get a digital camera to work for them, or cannot fathom how photos are posted. The best they can do is borrow the addresses of photos already posted. Of course, the danger is that the seller is simply hiding behind this excuse and doesn’t want you to see the goods before he has your money.
Worth a thousand words? Not always.
And here’s a dirty little trick that I avoid like the plague. The photos of the gun for sale are dark and taken from a distance. Any closeups are so blurry that no detail is visible. “Oh, come on,” you say. “Cut the guy some slack. Not everyone can use a camera as well as you.”
That’s true. I use a camera every day, so over time I’ve learned how to use it. So, why am I so against blurry pictures?
For starters, I have been scammed by them, and had my eyes opened. And second, because I know at least one big-time airgun dealer who uses this scam all the time. It’s his trademark. So, no blurry pictures for me!
By the way, the same dealer will have a gun that’s been put together from mismatched parts on his sales table and when asked a pointed question, such as,”Is this thing real?” he’ll answer something like, “Well, that’s the only one like it that I’ve ever seen. It could be something special.” Yeah, so if he believes that, why isn’t he putting it in his collection? Why is he selling it?
The other side of the coin…
But I must admit that there are many airgunners who go out of their way to describe each and every possible flaw their guns have. You might think they’re trying to kill the sale; but after you get to know them, you understand that it’s just their way. And THAT, my friends, is the biggest tip I can give you today. Know the seller.
I scan the Yellow Forum classified ads almost every day looking for interesting things. That was where that beautiful Hy Score 801 came from. The Yellow Forum classified ads has a database of comments about buyers and sellers that they call the Board of Inquiry, or BOI. You can go there and research any buyer or seller who has sold before. And if you cannot find a person in the BOI database, my radar starts becoming sensitive. Would a person change their name because of a poor reputation? You bet they would. They’d change their name, email address, even where they claimed to live, if it allowed them the latitude to do one more dirty deal.
Paypal–yes or no?
If you’re buying on Ebay, the seller better take Paypal. If not, be suspicious. However, on the gun auction sites or airgun classified sites, don’t expect to use Paypal. Very few do. There’s a huge grassroots movement against Paypal because of eBay’s anti-gun policies.