What Caliber Is It?

Unmarked or mismarked guns can be hazardous. When buying new guns you can count on them being clearly marked with the caliber or gauge, but the used gun market is full of pitfalls.

by Paul Mazan

Whether behind the counter of a gunshop or just perusing the aisles of a gunshow, you are going to come in contact with a lot of used guns. It may be a gun coming in for repair, a trade in, or just one you have been looking for to add to your accumulation. There are questions you need to ask. When buying a new firearm it will be chambered in the requested caliber and the folks at the factory will have neatly marked both the box and the gun itself with the caliber or gauge it is chambered for. Unfortunately, once the gun leaves the dealer’s hands any number of things can happen to it. It may be rechambered for a wildcat cartridge and still carry the original caliber designation on the barrel. It may have been rebarreled in any number of different calibers without being marked. That is not a safe or professional practice but it does happen. So, when finding that “bargain of the century,” how do you know if the barrel stampings or the seller’s claims about the chambering is the actual caliber its really chambered in? It is one of those things we take for granted and until you get bit by that dog you think it is friendly.

Read more in our May 2015 issue. Back issues are available.

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