Unless you assembled your upper and lower and plan to build your rifle from the ground up, chances are you purchased (or plan to purchase) a complete rifle, and with millions of used ARs on the market, it’s certainly reasonable to pick up a used rifle to save a few bucks. But how do you know that that new-to-you black rifle won’t fill your range sessions with woe?
Basic inspection and a little testing.
Here’s a rundown of the steps you can take to ensure your new AR is up to snuff.
Whether you’ve got your rifle home or have been ogling a new piece for your collection for weeks, the process looks the same:
- Visual inspection: disassemble the rifle and look at the components to ensure they’re where they should be.
- Mechanical check: manipulate the receivers, action, and controls to feel out the fit and finish.
- Range testing: Put some rounds through the thing and see what comes of it.
Provided you have a solid relationship with the LGS in your area, the visual and mechanical bits shouldn’t be a problem, but some gun shops might look at you sideways. Watching you disassemble a rifle while fielding customer questions, phone calls, running applications, processing payments, and gathering fingerprints can irritate the most patient shop owner. In those cases, don’t be surprised if you can’t get everything done at the counter.
Also, gun shows are a tough place to get everything inspected due to requirements around locking down actions with things like zip ties. You can still get a visual and a business card from the FFL, but don’t expect a callback if things go totally sideways.
These tips are less critical for those buying a new rifle, as you can lean on a manufacturer warranty should anything go awry, but it can’t hurt to at a minium rin through the first two. Besides, taking down a rifle is fun!