Letter Re: Advice on Private Party Gun Purchases

Mr. Rawles:

We have a few guns that were passed down from my father, father-in-law, and grandparents. But after reading SurvivalBlog, I’ve determined that its wise to buying a few more, ahem, “capable” defensive guns. (Like an M1A and a scoped Remington 700 Sendero or maybe a Remington 700 PSS .308.) I would rather not buy them from a [Federally licensed] dealer, so I can avoid that whole paperwork trail. My difficulty here is that I live out in cow country where guns shows are infrequent. And the few we do have, have a poor assortment of guns to choose from. What do you suggest ? Thank You Sir, – Ray, Somewhere in Wyoming

JWR Replies: I recommend that you make all of your gun purchases from private parties, through GunBroker.com (on-line auctions) or GunsAmerica.com (fixed price sales–usually more expensive). Both of these web sites have search features that allow you to search for private party sellers, by State. Search only for sellers from your own state. That way, you won’t run afoul of the Federal law that prohibits the transfer of a modern (post-1898) gun across state lines, except through a FFL dealer. It might also be worth your time to drive long distances to some of the larger gun shows in your state. There, you should of course buy only from private parties.

Another option that you should pursue is buying cartridge guns from the 1890s. Under the Federal, law, any gun or receiver/frame that was made in or before 1898 is not considered a “firearm”. Rather, it is classed as a Federally exempt antique, regardless of the cartridge chambering. These guns can be purchased privately across state lines without any paperwork. There are quite a few models such as the Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant and the Mauser Model 1893, 1894 and 1895 that are available with receivers from the antique years, yet are available in modern, smokeless cartridge chamberings. Two antique gun dealers that I recommend are: The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our loyal advertisers) and Empire Arms. If you end up buying a Mauser and plan to have it rebuilt as a .308 sporting or counter-sniper rifle, I recommend Scott Molnar of Valier, Montana, who does business under the name “Coyote Commander.” Phone: (406) 279-3797.