Anyone who knows me knows that I take a lot of pride in knowing the value of a firearm, or in knowing how to find out what it is. If I list something for sale, it generally sells quickly, and at asking price. I really have taken a lot of effort to learn what guns are worth, what they’re selling for, and what the latest trends in popular and classic firearms are. I developed this knowledge after, well, being screwed pretty badly because I didn’t have it.
When my father passed away in December of 2010, he didn’t leave a huge cash estate. He had a lot of tools, and a lot of firearms. He also had no burial insurance. Because of a lack of knowledge, I ended up selling a LOT of firearms for MUCH less than they were actually worth. Not so much out of desperation, as out of ignorance. You see, when you’re looking to sell firearms quickly, the Dingoes come out of the woodwork to “help.”
At that time I knew what a Blue Book was, but I’d never owned one, and certainly didn’t have one. Since my father had quite a few firearms he’d collected over the years in his safe, new in the box but never fired, a friend recommended I deal with a small dealer who was a friend of theirs from their church. Now I’ve been around guns my whole life, but usually, up until that time, I bought new from dealers or used from dealers in gun stores, and very rarely did any research beyond “good price from good place.” I trusted that this small dealer in Stark County would give fair value, and provided him a list. He came back with prices, with what sounded like a reasonable explanation at the time… “Even though they’re new in the box and unfired, they’re used guns, they are like a car, as soon as they leave the dealer, they lose a lot of their value.” I’ve since learned that, yes, it’s not a “NEW” gun, but they don’t lose HALF of their value by having been sold and tucked away. This dealer ended up with some fantastic deals on some very nice firearms because I trusted him, and he talked a good game. Just an example, he got a new, unfired, Ruger Mark II Stainless Heavy Barrel .22, all original paperwork, box, the lot, for $175. He was a Dingo, and I was a bleeding lamb that was cut from the herd and slaughtered.
There are many honest people and dealers out in our communities. There are also a lot of dingoes. They will do anything possible to get a fantastic deal, and will lie and cheat to make it happen There are tons of resources available to tell you what the ACTUAL value of a firearm is. The Gun Traders Guide and the Blue Book of Gun Values will tell you the average prices a firearm has sold for in the past year based upon it’s condition. They will also explain how to assess the condition of a firearm to get an idea of the value. There’s also a nation-wide website called Armslist that is composed of real people and dealers selling firearms. A quick search will give you an idea of the current asking price of a firearm both locally and nationally. Keep in mind these are asking prices and tend to have a factor built in to them based upon the knowledge that a buyer is going to haggle the price down. You can also seek out a reputable dealer who has a reputation for dealing square. A dealer isn’t going to give you full value, but an honest one will tell you what your firearms are worth on the private market and what they can give you for them and still make some money when selling them. Again, they should be upfront about that fact.
If you need to sell of firearms in a crisis the worst thing you can let happen is for people to know that you’re IN A CRISIS. It brings out the Dingoes in droves, and they will take advantage of your emotional state to attempt to get the firearms for as little as possible and you still feel like you got some fair cash for them. It’s much better to either wait, involve a friend to help verify pricing, or do the research yourself and sell them off slowly for value. Learn from my mistake. I did.
A few Dingoes made a lot of money off my father’s dying because we felt a need to desperation sell, and were led to people who make their living off buying during other people’s grief. It’s fair to say that, in many cases, my lack of knowledge, trust, and feeling like I had to raise money quickly, resulted in several of my father’s firearms being sold for 40-50% below actual value. I have since armed myself with the knowledge to never have that happen again.