So, you inherited an old firearm and need to find the value for it. Where do you go?
The answer to this is simple; there are a few main ways of valuing firearms. First, there are books. Second, there are auction results. And last but not least, you can always take it to your local dealer. Let's discuss each of these in a little more detail.
When it comes to valuing a firearm, nothing beats the Blue Book of Gun Values. Updated and published every year, it is the ultimate source of estimated values for almost any firearm in existence. There are special versions of this book that are made for different types of firearms such as automatic rifles, as well as commemorative and special edition weapons. There is also an entire series for antique or pre-modern firearms. These would be black powder firearms or copies thereof. The only caveat to the Blue Book is that you must have some idea of what the gun you are looking at is. The book lists values for different firearms manufacturers, models, and calibers for each different firearm, but if you do not know which specific model, make, or even caliber, you can be very off in estimating the value. Certain models carry wide variations in the value of the firearm. If they only made a certain amount, for example, or if it was a particular year of production, values can double or triple.
The next and somewhat easier method is to look on the many gun auction websites for realized prices of auctions for the firearm you are trying to value. The most popular ones are Gunbroker.com and Gunauction.com. Both sites have listings for actual sold prices for many types and models of firearms, but to access them you will have to sign up as a member to the site. An advantage to using one of these websites is that they allow you to see photographs, which can help you match your gun easier.
If you are just looking for a general price value but not sold value, you can also check Armslist.com, which is a private party sale website. Listings will usually have pictures, which again can help match your gun, as well as give you an idea of what people are realistically asking for it.
Keep in mind that all these sites reflect exact gun prices and not necessarily the correct price for your exact model. So, you may need to find as close to what you have as possible and go with a general value.
The third way you can figure out your gun’s value is to take it to your local gun shop or big box sporting goods store. The only disadvantage to this is that you are at the mercy of the shop owner for their honesty. If they are trying to buy the guns from you, they may tell you they are not worth as much as they are. It helps to find a gun shop that has been around for a while and is trusted by the community, as the more fly-by-night shops can lack credibility and close quickly. That said, there are many places out there that truly want to help, some of which won’t even make offers on guns they appraise. You should also keep in mind that gun stores may charge you for their time and knowledge. This is reasonable though, as many of the owners have spent a long time studying and working to gain the gun knowledge they have.
For the larger, big box stores, it’s important to remember that the guy behind the gun counter may not be any more educated about your gun than you are. A smaller, respected gun shop is probably a safer bet when looking for an accurate value.
The best advice is that before you do anything, especially before you sell anything, do your own homework first. Read any writing that is on the firearm, or any paperwork that came with it. Most firearms made since the 1800s have some form of manufacturer information and model number on them, and the internet is truly your friend in a case like this, as even typing in part of a model number could yield a helpful result.
Also, the internet is full of groups and gun forums that specialize in identifying rare and/or valuable firearms, and they will give this information to anyone who asks for guidance. So again, do your homework, especially if this is a firearm that you have inherited or that may have sentimental value to you. If you combine two or more of the valuation methods we described in this article, you have a better chance of getting the true value of your antique firearm, and less chance of selling it for less than it is truly worth.