Should You Sell Gear to “Upgrade”?

Is flipping a piece of equipment you own a good idea to purchase something new?

SCAR rifles heavily kitted with optic and rail upgrades
SCAR 16 and 17 Rifles wearing SIG Tango6T Optics

No.

Now, this is not a Hard No.

It’s a soft no. It’s a no that requires careful consideration before becoming a yes. It’s a recognition that you purchased your current equipment for a reason and it could have greater value to you than just becoming flipped cash for another ‘latest and greatest’ item.

This line of thinking came about from a conversation via email I had this morning. It developed into the day’s topic.

When is it time to sell gear in order to facilitate new gear?

The answer is… almost never.

Selling a piece of equipment should be independent of buying another piece. You shouldn’t rid yourself of an optic to facilitate getting a different one. Now selling an unused optic might allow you to buy a new piece, and this might seem like semantics, but it’s a mindset difference.

If you are constantly chasing the better optic, light, rifle, etc. at the expense of your current one you will never complete a working system. If you keep a complete working system, however, and are open to selling former pieces of that system that are no longer in use, your gear will maintain a ready state and you will retain a ready mindset. Don’t sell pieces off of your working gun.

If you are constantly seeking the next piece at the expense of the current you do not consider yourself ready. You need the new piece in order to be ‘ready‘ for whatever it is you are getting ready for. A hog hunt, home defense, civil unrest, the boogaflupacolypse zombie alien tag team rematch, the usual items. If you are chasing gear to ‘fix’ your kit you are always going to be chasing the fix instead of working with your perfectly serviceable gear and buying new when time/opportunity comes up.

FN SCAR 16 MOD1 upgrades
Early days of the SCAR MOD 1, “System Complete”

Use my SCAR 16 as an example. The picture above is my completed “Mod 1” project for the SCAR rifle. It is a complete system: rifle, light, and optic. The rifle, as it sits in the picture, is a highly capable and functional 5.56x45mm platform I could use in the intended role of a general purpose fighting rifle.

I have, in the interim time, changed the optics suite four times. I’ve changed the light three times. I will be making a fifth change in the near future to add IR/Night Vision capability to the rifle. The rifle is complete without an IR/Vis laser/illuminator and will be complete with it also.

The point is to not remove functionality in an effort to purchase more functionality. It is easy to walk that road, I did it for years, selling a rifle to get a ‘better’ one. In truth I just wanted the new one more than the old, which is fine but… I would tear apart a working system and short sell the pieces to fund the next project which wouldn’t be a working system until I slowly acquired all the pieces again. Imagine wanting something new or different about your vehicle, even a new vehicle entirely, but to get it you stripped your current vehicle down out of drivable condition and sold the bits until you got the new thing and then had to put it all back together into a drivable condition. That is what I was doing to my carbines.

This is a mistake, it was one I was guilty of in spades and I am missing several items I will never be able to get back because of it.

I will never be able to retrieve my 18″ Microtech or SAR Tavor rifles. They were unique, fun, accurate, and I miss having them. I may still have sold them later on but I flipped them flippantly to fund new things. If I had used greater patience, completed systems and only sold excess items not in use, I may still own both those guns or would have parted from them without regret. And at the time I sold both of them they were my ‘main’ rifle and I didn’t have as good an alternate.

Today that wouldn’t be the case, and it is because I changed how I look at purchasing new gear. I am unwilling to remove a capability from a completed system and will only change the item if I am doing a direct swap or have purchased the upgrade stand alone so the item it is replacing will become stand alone. If I have excess gear from my systems, those can be made available for sale/trade if I so desire. I’ve found I like holding onto most of them. Holding onto the items makes putting together future systems that much easier. And there is no pressure to replace.

When to trade/sell for gear?

Like I said, the ‘no‘ about selling gear is to curb the mindset of constantly buying to ‘level up’ without letting your carbine settle into a complete working system, and thereby generating downtime where you can’t shoot it. There is one time I will consider it worthwhile and that is if your are completing a change to a higher tier quality of gear.

If you’re selling your Ruger or S&W Sport AR in order to buy into a top tier rifle, that’s okay and won’t generate a lot of down time. If selling your Primary Arms dot or LPVO grabs you those few extra bucks for an Aimpoint, ACOG, Tango6T, or Razor then that is a worthwhile deal. Your buddy wants to toss you $100 for your Condor set up and that will let you ship an SKD rig or something similar? Go for that.

A significant jump in quality makes sense to accept a small amount of system down time.

But what I see and what I get asked about the most are changes I consider lateral moves. A piece of gear that is in the same overall quality category.

You shouldn’t sell gear to lat-move into gear that’s the same.. but different. Selling an EOTech to get an Aimpoint just because the Aimpoint fans are loud on your feed at the moment about the PRO or CompM5 doesn’t make sense to me. Dropping one LPVO model that serves well and selling it to wait for a slightly newer model that does essentially the same thing doesn’t either. I wouldn’t drop a Razor Gen II-E for a Tango6T or vice versa. I wouldn’t even sell either for the Razor Gen III, arguably the LPVO leader on the market right now, because going from a premium optic to the ‘most premium‘ optic of the moment is going to be an unending race. And no, I wouldn’t sell my FN to pick up an LWRC, or an X95, or an MCX, or… or… or anything in the category of another high quality piece of kit.

Buy the new piece and then, if it lives up to what you want of it, you can move the extra item you now have. But you aren’t in a rush about it. It isn’t critical to move your life saving device, depriving you of its use, in order to get another piece that will then become even more critical before you’ve had time to figure out if it is an actual improvement over what you had. It’s something I wish I had learned far earlier.

There’s nothing wrong with selling extra gear. It’s a very strong sellers market right now. But don’t put your rifle, handgun, or armor out of commision to buy your next piece.

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Group editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009 he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.