Firearms, ProTips for Buying and Selling at Auction

This week we broach the subject of buying and selling firearms and guns at auction.  Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania are hot areas for gun auctions.  Before you get involved in an auction here are couple of tips for both the buyer and seller.

Do you enjoy hunting or recreational shooting? Do you spend weekends at the range, learning how to shoot for defensive reasons? Maybe your family has been collecting firearms for many generations, and you have some very valuable pieces you are thinking about selling. Enthusiasts of all backgrounds can benefit from buying and selling firearms at an auction–auctions offer fantastic opportunities for both buyers and sellers.

Buying firearms at an auction is an excellent way to find unique pieces and bargains. It is also easy to get caught up in the moment and end up overpaying or purchasing a piece you don’t really like. An auction is also an excellent place to sell your firearms. Maybe you recently inherited a bunch of antique firearms from a relative and you just aren’t interested in keeping them. Maybe you’ve outgrown your own collection and you want to make some money to get some new and exciting pieces. Either way, selling at an auction is a simple solution. Check out some tips for both buyers and sellers before you attend your first auction or decide to sell your firearms:

  • Do your research. Before visiting the auction, be sure to research the firearms that will be available. Most auction companies provide information about available items on their website. Look through photos and descriptions of the firearms and find what you like, then search online to get an idea of what the pieces are worth. The Blue Book of Gun Values is a valuable tool that is updated each year. The book is available in a hard copy or as an online tool. If you are selling firearms, be sure to provide the auction house with accurate, detailed descriptions and photographs.
  • Understand the terms. It is incredibly important to understand the terms of the auction. Sellers should be very clear on the percentage of the sale that goes to the auction house. Buyers should pay close attention to the auctioneer’s description of the firearm. If purchasing from a catalog sale, be aware that the auction company usually only guarantees the portion of the description in bold print. If an item is marked “As is, where is”, this means there are no guarantees, period. Remember there may be “buyer’s premium”, meaning you’ll pay an additional percentage for the item if you are the highest bidder (15% is typical for high-end auction houses and higher for online bidders). If there are any special requirements for the removal of the item you are purchasing, be sure you are ready to accommodate that requirement on the day of the auction. Another important term to clarify before the auction is the accepted method of payment. Cash is always a safe bet, and credit cards or personal checks may or may not be accepted.
  • Take advantage of the preview period. There is usually a preview period before the day of the auction. Be sure to inspect each firearm you are interested in purchasing–even some that you might like if they were to offer them at a bargain price. Bring tools such as a flashlight, bore light, and magnifying glass to help you inspect the pieces.
  • Stick to your guns (no pun intended!). Before you attend the auction, set a firm limit for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment during the rapid pace of an auction, and you don’t want to put yourself in the poor house because you had to have a firearm that you really didn’t need… Make a limit and stick to it, regardless of how many others continue to bid.
  • If you can’t make it, understand the absentee rules. If you are very interested in a specific piece and you simply can’t make the auction, you can usually place an absentee bid. This is either done in person–allowing you to inspect the piece–or over the phone. You state the maximum amount you want to bid, and the auctioneer will bid for you. Be sure you are working with a reputable auctioneer, as they will truly attempt to purchase the piece at the lowest price for you. An unethical auctioneer might start the bidding at your maximum price–this means you’ll either lose the piece or purchase it for far more than you would have if you were there.
  • Remember that the auctioneer has the seller’s best interest at heart. The auctioneer’s job is to secure the highest dollar amount possible so that the seller is pleased. After all, if the auctioneer fails to make the sellers happy, they won’t have any pieces to auction in the future!

Auctions are a great place to find unusual, authentic firearms or a great bargain to add to your growing collection. For those looking to sell their firearms, a reputable auction house can help ensure a great sale.

It’s important to deal with reputable auction houses.  Kaufman Auctions is a FFL Licensed facility in both Ohio and West Virginia.  This gives seller’s the opportunity to sell online with shipping throughout the country and allows buyers from out of state the chance to participate as well.  If you have questions about consigning to a firearms/gun auction or participating as a buyer, contact Cliff Sprang or Derrick Kandel.  


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