The 8 Steps to Getting the Most Money When You Sell Guns

Determining the value of used firearms equipment can be a complex process that depends on many factors. Here is a comprehensive guide to assessing used firearm values:

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1. Identifying the Firearm

The first step is to accurately identify the make, model, and attributes of the firearm. Key details to note include:

– Manufacturer – Such as Colt, Remington, Smith & Wesson, etc.

– Model – Specific model name or number such as Colt Python or Remington 700.

– Type – Pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, etc.

– Caliber/Gauge – The caliber or gauge of the firearm, such as .45 ACP or 12 gauge.

– Barrel Length – Usually measured in inches.

– Finish – Blued, stainless, parkerized, etc.

– Action Type – Semi-auto, pump action, bolt action, lever action, etc.

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– Capacity – Number of rounds the firearm can hold.

– Features – Night sights, scopes, rails, custom grips, etc.

– Serial Number – Used to identify the specific firearm.

Having the original owner’s manual, box, accessories, and paperwork can also help positively identify the firearm. If needed, reference books and online guides can help you identify obscure or older firearms based on markings and features. Recording all identifying details is crucial for determining accurate values.

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2. Evaluating Condition

The overall condition of the firearm greatly impacts its value. Firearms are typically graded on a scale from poor to excellent condition.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has a commonly used condition grading system:

– NRA Modern Condition Standards:

– New – In the same condition as current factory production, unfired

– Excellent – Near new condition, used but little, no noticeable marring

– Very Good – Minor wear on working surfaces, no broken parts, good condition

– Good – Moderate wear on working surfaces, no broken parts, minimal rust, no pitting

– Fair – Well worn, requiring replacement of parts and/or restoration, but functioning

– Poor – Major and multiple defects needing extensive restoration to be functional

– NRA Antique Condition Standards:

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– Excellent – Original condition, near mint, very little wear

– Fine – Near excellent, used but little, small marks allowed

– Very Good – Small dents, dings, light pitting allowed, near very good

– Good – Moderate dents, dings, and pitting allowed worn finish

– Fair – Major dents, rust, pitting; mechanically functional, heavily used

– Poor – Parts missing or broken, requires major restoration to function

Factors to inspect when grading condition include the amount of original finish remaining, wear, dents, scratches, corrosion, pitting, cracked or damaged parts, and overall functionality. Refinished and modified firearms generally decrease collectability and value.

3. Researching Market Values

Once the make, model, and condition are determined, research market prices to gauge the firearm’s current value. Useful pricing resources include:

– **Blue Book of Gun Values** – Comprehensive guide updated annually. Rates used firearms on a percentage scale.

– **Gun Digest** – Annual guide with extensive pricing information and database.

– **Standard Catalog of Firearms** – Good for identifying antique and obscure firearms. Uses the NRA grading format.

– **Online Auctions** – GunBroker, GunsAmerica, and AuctionArmory can provide recent sale prices.

– **Classified Listings** – Armslist and local classifieds show asking prices.

– **Forums** – Specialty forums can help determine values for rare or obscure firearms.

When researching, compare prices of the same make, model, and condition as closely as possible. Be sure to note differences that can affect value like special editions or upgraded features. Analyze multiple comparable sales to determine fair market value – one high asking price does not necessarily indicate true value.

4. Factoring Rarity and History When you Sell A Gun

For collectible firearms, rarity and historical significance can greatly impact value. Factors to research include:

– Production Numbers – Lower production numbers means fewer available, increasing rarity.

gun history

– Production Numbers – Lower production numbers means fewer available, increasing rarity.

– Special Editions – Commemorative or special editions are more valuable to collectors.

– Special Editions – Commemorative or special editions are more valuable to collectors.

– Discontinued Models – Out of production models become rarer over time.

– Provenance – Ownership history, especially famous prior owners, increases desirability.

– Historical Significance – Values increase for firearms connected to significant historical events or individuals.

For exceptionally rare firearms, researching auction sale prices can help gauge their market value. Consulting a specialty appraiser may be needed to accurately assess collectibility and rarity factors.

5. Appraisals and Expert Opinions

For particularly valuable or obscure firearms, a professional appraisal from a reputable expert can provide an authoritative fair market value estimate.

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Professional appraisers have extensive expertise in firearm values and markets. They can provide unbiased fair values from inspecting the firearm in-person. Appraisals are recommended for:

– Heirloom or collectible firearms

– Firearms valued over $5,000

– Rare, antique, or obscure firearms

– Insurance coverage and claims

Appraisals typically cost $50-$150 depending on the appraiser. Getting multiple opinions on higher value firearms can help establish a fair price. For quick free estimates, collectors and experts on forums can help assess potential value.

6. Adjusting for Sale Method

The intended sale method will impact the realistic selling price:

– **Private Party** – Highest potential price by selling directly to a collector or enthusiast. More time and effort.

– **Gun Shop** – Only able to offer wholesale value. But, a reputable gun shop will make a quick, easy, and hassle free sale.

– **Online Auction** – Variable sale price depending on bidding interest. Account for auction fees.

– **Gun Buyback** – Typically only 10-30% of private party value. Fast and simple but low profit.

Consider costs like shipping, transfer fees, and auction commissions when setting asking prices. Be realistic when pricing firearms for quick sale versus maximum profit. Vintage and collectible firearms may be worth the extra effort of a private party sale.

7. Documenting Details

Keep detailed records of the firearm’s identifying details and estimated value for insurance and legal purposes. Useful documentation includes:

– High quality photos showing overall condition

– Receipts, manuals, box, accessories

– Appraisal documents

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– Detailed description of make, model, condition, features, and assessed value

Properly documenting details preserves the firearm’s history and provides evidence supporting your value estimates.

8. Re-Evaluating Value

Firearm values fluctuate over time and can be impacted by factors like new laws, economic conditions, trends, and supply and demand. Re-evaluate your firearms every few years to keep value estimates current:

– Review market price data and update estimated values.

– Re-inspect condition and update ratings if needed.

– Consider getting a new appraisal for exceptionally valuable firearms.

– Factor in any modifications, repairs or changes in condition.

– Adjust asking prices accordingly if selling.

Staying informed on the evolving firearm market allows you to maintain accurate estimates of your firearms’ values.


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In summary, determining used firearm values requires thoroughly identifying the item, grading its condition, researching markets, accounting for rarity, getting expert opinions, selecting sale methods, documenting details, and re-evaluating over time. While complex, these steps allow you to accurately assess your firearms’ worth. With proper knowledge and diligence, you can determine fair values to inform insurance, sales, trades, and estate planning.

At Kwak’s Trading Post, we are always looking to buy used firearms to add to our inventory. So if you have firearms you are looking to sell, contact us for a free valuation. With over 40 years of experience, we specialize in accurately assessing and paying top dollar for collectible antique firearms, rare modern firearms, and standard used guns.

We make the process quick and easy, offering competitive payouts on the spot so you walk away with cash in hand quickly. Don’t let your unused firearms gather dust – bring them in or call us to get a free quote on your firearm’s value. We are ready to inspect your gun and make you a fair market offer for immediate payment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does customizing or modifying a firearm negatively impact its value?

In most cases, yes. Any modifications that alter the firearm from its original factory configuration typically decrease collectibility and value for vintage or antique firearms. However, some practical modifications to modern firearms done well by a professional may add marginal value for the right buyer.

What documents should I keep with my firearms?

Keep the original owner’s manual, box, receipts, warranty cards, accessories, and any appraisal documents in a safe place. This proves provenance and supports your value estimates if needed.

How often should I reevaluate my gun collection’s value?

It’s smart to reassess your collection every few years. Gun values fluctuate over time. Reviewing market prices and getting new appraisals on exceptionally valuable firearms will ensure your estimates stay current. This protects value for insurance and helps maximize profit when selling.