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Selling Guns At Auction? Check Out Our Quick Guide!

Monday, February 18th, 2019
gun auction tips for selling guns and antique firearms

If you are looking to sell your guns, whether they are new or antiques, you likely have many questions. Besides understanding federal and state regulations, there are many other things to consider before selling. This includes what type of auction you should choose and valuing your collection.

Research and understand the laws before selling

There are some situations where an auctioneer must have a Federal Firearms License and others where a seller should. One of these is when an auctioneer is holding a consignment–type auction. Because they hold possession of the firearms, they are considered dealers.

For pre-1899 guns, a license may not be necessary for sellers or auctioneers depending upon the laws in your state for any type of auction or sale. It is best to consult your state regulations and the federal laws, and even speak with a lawyer, especially if you are selling guns in an estate auction.

Decide what type of auction is best for you

The best two kinds of auctions to sell guns are estate and consignment. These should both bring plenty of interested bidders and you can find auction houses to help you with any questions you have. If you are selling a large collection as part of an estate, an estate auction is a good idea. If you have a smaller collection or mostly guns and related accessories, a consignment auction might be better for you. Sometimes auction houses will sell collections and items from multiple estates, so keep a lookout for these as well.

Know what types of guns you are selling

Even if you aren’t managing a gun auction, it is best to understand the types you are selling. This will help you get a fair price for your items. Firearms with a receiver made before Jan. 1, 1899 are legally considered antiques, but this means they are not actually firearms. The date refers to the manufacture date itself, not the model year or patent date. Common examples of this type of gun include muzzle loading rifles, shotguns that use black powder, and pistols that use cartridges.

Understand the value of your guns

Although you should choose an auctioneer you trust to sell your guns, you should also know the value of them to ensure you get the best deal. There is not a definitive way to value each piece, especially if it is an antique, because prices at auction depend upon the bidders. However, you should be able to get a base estimate by looking at the condition of each gun.

Start by looking at the caliber, action, and measurements. Be sure to see if each gun has any defining markings like insignias, decorations, or signatures. You can also view the Standard Catalog of Firearms or take your guns to an expert to get an idea of what they might sell for at auction. The most expensive guns sold at auction are usually those that were owned by famous historical figures or used in wars.

Tips for selling at an auction

  1. Just like bidders, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for the auction as a seller.
  2. Be sure to research everything you are selling. If you have a major piece of history, you should know its origin, or provenance. You should also be familiar with all laws involved.
  3. Ask the auction house you choose about their rules for selling. They will be able to tell you everything you need to know about regulations and the process.
  4. Make sure the auctioneers you choose are licensed in their field and to sell guns, if necessary.
  5. Provide as much information as you can about your guns. The auctioneers will need this for their records and for the catalog of items being sold.
  6. Don’t be afraid to make any concerns you have known. Professional auctioneers will work with you to make sure you and the bidders get the best deal possible.
  7. The auction house should be able to help you with valuing and marketing before the auction, as well as finalizing any winning bids after the auction. Before choosing an auctioneer, be sure they will do all of these things for you.

Are you interested in selling guns at auction?

If you would like to learn more about gun auctions or estate auctions, contact the experts at High Plains Auctioneers today. We can help you decide if selling through auction is right for you. You can reach us at (806) 244-6776 or Contact Us by email for more information. If you are interested in bidding at one of our auctions, check out our Upcoming Events.