How To Sell A Gun

How To Sell A Gun: All Good Things Must End

People get rid of their cars for new models all the time, and they do the same with guns; therefore, knowing how to sell a gun is a good thing to do for gun owners. It isn't necessarily too complicated, but there are definitely a few things to know.

How, then, to do so legally and responsibly?

Bear in mind that this isn't legal advice (we aren't lawyers here!) but rather a general discussion of how a private citizen goes about selling a firearm they wish to divest themselves of. Here's how…

Pricing A Gun For Sale

Pricing your gun for sale

Something you should know about how to sell a gun is pricing a gun for sale, and here's where things get a little interesting.

For a gun to be worth a significant amount, it's has to be significant in some way, a lot like a used car. For instance, a 10-year-old Camry is no big deal. A 1971 ZR-2 Corvette, on the other worth a lot. (Fewer than 200 were made, including only 2 convertibles; the most recent sale found was for $500,000.) A Hemicuda convertible…you better have a spare $10 million.

Guns are much the same. A used Ruger GP100 revolver will not be too expensive to acquire. A Colt Python in good condition costs as much as a used car. A used gun by a bespoke gun house such as Westley-Richards, Boss, Purdey or Holland and Holland will range in price from that of a pre-owned late-model BMW to that of a decent house.


So, you'll have to bear in mind the gun you have and its purpose. A Glock is a solid working gun, and works well as a range gun, home defense gun, or concealed carry pistol. The vast majority of them are not collectibles.

Usage (just like mileage) can also determine the pricing. A gun that's had thousands and thousands of rounds through it is worth less than one that's barely been fired.

Likewise, a rare and sought after model of gun will be worth more than a gun that you can get basically anywhere. An older gun has to be a sought-after model to be worth something. A LeMat revolver is quite rare and worth a lot, despite being an oddball black powder revolver. A vintage Saturday Night Special from a no-name manufacturer? Probably worth pennies.

Check some of the popular gun auction sites and gun classified sites to get an idea of what you should ask. You can also consult the Blue Book of Gun Values, but they have a pesky pay wall that you'll have to deal with.

Getting A Gun Ready For Sale

Cleaning the gun for the sale

Another aspect of how to sell a gun is getting it ready for sale.

Typically, you'll want to give it a thorough cleaning and lubrication. It's like selling anything else; your car, your house, your kids, whatever. Make sure any guns look presentable prior to showing it to prospective buyers, as even a used gun that makes a lousy appearance won't be attractive and may not reach your target price.

Pay special attention to the bore. As much residue as possible should be removed and the rifling should be clearly visible if a light is shone through the bore.

If your gun has modifications, you need to consider whether it is or isn't a desirable modification. Modifications to some guns may ruin their value - like a car - and some can add to it or have no effect. This depends heavily on the modification and the gun in question, so make sure to do your homework.

How To Sell A Gun At A Pawn Shop Or Store

Selling your gun to a pawnshop or store

When it comes to selling a firearm, there are two ways to go about it. There's how to sell a gun privately, and then there's how to sell a gun to a pawn shop that deals in firearms or gun store that deals in used firearms.

However, there are a few things to bear in mind.

First is that selling privately will likely bring you a better price, as there is no middle man in private gun sales looking to get their cut. A gun store or pawn shop, however, is.

Depending on the shop you go to, you might get astronomically low-balled. You might also get an offer that's just south of fair; enough for them to ask a fair price from prospective buyers while making a little profit themselves. It all depends on the shop.

You may be asked to provide paperwork (such as any registration, receipts, etc.) or you may not. It really comes down to the shop.

How To Sell A Gun Privately

Private Firearm Bill Of Sale

How to sell a gun privately can be a horse of a different color.

The first thing you're going to want to do is look up the relevant laws of your state, as private gun sales are regulated at the state level.

State law may require you to take reasonable precautions not to sell to a felon or otherwise prohibited person, some states (in fact, some 17 states) have some sort of provision requiring a background check for a sale of a gun, even private ones.

However, it works a little differently in each of those states.

Nine states have some sort of universal background check law, meaning a firearm sale has to involve a background check, including private. That means a gun store, law enforcement or other FFL will have to be involved with the sale, acting as a third party.

There are also 8 states where a person can only purchase a firearm if they have a firearms owner ID card or FOID. Getting said FOID requires the background check. In those states private sellers must confirm the buyer has an FOID before transferring possession.

However, some of the above-mentioned states only require the background check or ID card for handguns and/or "assault rifles." Check your state's regulations carefully to learn more.

With that aside, selling a gun privately is like anything else. The buyer and seller agree to a price, money is exchanged and the gun changes hands.

Some people who sell guns privately will insist on a background check as a matter of course and some don't. That aspect is up to the individual. You'll also want to print up a bill of sale to document the transaction and transfer of the firearm.

As a general rule, you should try to only sell to people you trust due to knowing them personally, or are vetted by someone you trust. When in doubt, insist on a background check or walk away from the sale. If pressured to sell the gun or if there's something off about the buyer, walk away.

How To Sell A Gun Online

Selling your firearm online

There are two ways to sell a gun online: by classifieds and by auction.

The most popular auction site is Like any auction site, like eBay, they exact a fee for using the service. Their fees are straightforward and reasonable, however; 5 percent of the first $50 of the final value (what you get paid for the gun) plus 2.5 percent of any amount over that.

In other words, if you paid $100 for a gun, you'll pay $2.50 on the first $50 (5 percent of $50) and $1.25 on the rest (2.5 percent of $50) for a total of $3.75.

Classified sites, such as Armslist, allow you to create a For Sale ad on your own. Depending on the site, there may be a cost of making the listing, there may not.

Transfers of firearms via carrier service must be to an FFL. The best way to do so is to have an FFL in your area ship it to an FFL where the purchaser lives, regardless of whether the buyer comes to you through a classified or through an auction site.

When in doubt, go through official channels. A background check is a pain, as are shipping/handling and transfer fees, but they are far less painful than dealing with law enforcement if you're broken the law regarding sale of firearms, even inadvertently.

Again, read your state regulations carefully for more information and proceed from there.

How do you prefer selling a firearm, or purchasing one?
Let us know in the comments below.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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