If you don’t quite know how to estimate the trade-in value of a gun, here’s a quick scenario that you may relate to.
You bought a new truck a few years back, and while it served you well while you owned it, you’re ready for an upgrade. Of course, you’re not just going to get a new truck without getting something for your old one.
Well, maybe if you can afford it you will, but most people can’t. So you go to either Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds in search of what your trusty companion is really worth so you can be sure you’re getting a good deal.
Now, imagine the same applies to your old gun. You want to trade it in, but you don’t want to get ripped off. Where’s the Kelley Blue Book of guns? Unfortunately, there isn’t a great one.
You’re on your own when it comes to figuring out how much your gun is worth. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t resources out there to help. Just because a gun’s been used doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to maximize it’s trade-in value. Here’s a gun value guide to help determine what it’s worth.
Factors That Determine a Gun’s Value
If you’re selling your used gun, always remember that a used gun is just that – used. Not only do you need to be honest with yourself about its condition, you need to remember that people in the market for used guns are likely shopping used because it will save them some money.
Make and model
Of course, this will be your primary search criteria when looking for what you might be able to get out of your resale. But while this is at the base of its value, there’s a lot more to it.
The buyer may not care about the scratch, because they know that it gets them a discounted price. So while they’re still willing to buy it, scratch and all, they’re not willing to pay you more just because the scratch doesn’t affect performance.
The condition of your gun has a lot to do with its value, and you need to keep in mind that it’s not because it makes the gun worse, it’s simply because it’s not like new anymore, despite the fact that it may work even better than it did out of the box.
You may also want to consider the season or how popular your trade-in might be. You’re not going to get a great trade-in price if the market is already flooded with your particular model. You will, however, get a great price on something that’s highly desirable, rare, or in demand.
Are you selling your gun with ammo, holsters, sights, optics, add-ons, aftermarket gadgets, or anything else that could increase its value? If you are, you could potentially expect to get more for your trade. However, it depends on the type, condition, and popularity of those accessories, too.
Just like anything else, guns will depreciate over time. You can’t expect to get much more than 50% of its original retail value, if that. It will, again, depend on all of the other factors we’ve discussed.
Status as a good
A gun is a good that can be used for a purpose. Most of the time. However, if you’re in the market to trade an antique firearm, that’s a completely different ballgame. Guns depreciate, but if you wait long enough and you find the right buyer, they become valuable again.
A vintage rifle from the revolutionary period will be worth a lot more today than it was originally purchased for, whereas a gun that’s only five or ten years old will likely be worth considerably less.
Selling Your Gun
There are plenty of ways you can sell your gun. You can sell to a private party, you can sell online, or you can sell to a gun shop. You could pawn it, you could enter into a trade with a private party or a gun shop, or you could take your chances at a gun show.
No matter what you try to do, here are some things you need to do first.
No Strings Attached
First things first, get rid of your sentimental value. The person at the gun shop is always going to offer you way less than what you want. He’s in it to make money. The reality is that when you’re trading in a gun, you will likely never get a price as high as what it’s worth.
The gun shop owner has a profit margin he needs to meet, and he’s going to pay less than it’s worth so he can put it back on the shelf for more. That’s just basic business.
Understand the Convenience
That’s not to say that it’s not worth it to trade your gun in. You have to think of it in terms of the money it’s saving you. That money may be reflected in the time you’re saving cleaning it, posting it online, and jumping through the hoops of trying to sell it to a private party.
The gun shop right down the street will buy that gun from you any day of the week. Walk in, accept his offer, buy your new gun, and be on your way. It’s easier and more convenient. You may lose a little money on the deal, but it’ll be a lot less hassle in the end.
There’s not a ton of honesty in business these days, but I’m referring to being honest with yourself. Mainly about the condition of your gun. Mint condition applies to a gun that has never even left the box. It has no scratches and no fingerprints.
Not many people can say their gun is in mint condition. If it is, good for you.
Assess the gun for a worn finish, scratches, or corrosion. How much has it been used? Many guns work even better after they’ve been broken in than they did out of the box, so while this isn’t the measure of a good or a bad gun, how much it’s been used will sometimes have an affect on how it looks.
Find the Going Rate
You can sign up for Blue Book of Gun Values if you feel like it’s worth it. You may make your money back and you may not. However, you can do a little shopping of your own online. Look for your exact model on GunBroker or Armslist.
If you find it, you can see what other people are trying to sell them for. Keep in mind that the private party value is going to be more than the trade-in value. However, it can give you a good idea.
You also have to make sure you’re looking at your exact gun. A Ruger 9mm has a different going rate than a Glock 9mm. Even a Ruger 9mm subcompact variety will be completely different than a full-size.
The other thing that can have an impact on your price is your location. Knowing your area will help you figure out how much people are paying locally. One of the only ways to do this is to visit your local store frequently.
Here’s a quick rundown of the websites you could potentially use to find your used gun values:
It’s probably the most comprehensive source of used gun prices. It will give you some sort of industry standard and likely the most accurate value you’ll find anywhere. The price you’ll pay is in a one, two, or three-year subscription.
These websites offer a list of firearms for sale. They’re not auction sites, so the listed price is what the owner is hoping to get out of it. However, you’re at the mercy of current listings from all over. You may not find your specific gun, and if you do, it may not be an accurate representation of what they’re going for in your area.
This is also what people are hoping to sell their gun for to a private party. You won’t get nearly that much on a trade-in. All of these sites make it easy to search via filters and will tell you if there’s nothing matching your criteria.
This is an auction site, so instead of seeing what sellers are listing their guns for, you’ll see what people seem to be willing to pay. In addition to guns, you’ll find knives, ammo, and accessories here. It’s like the eBay of guns.
This is a lot like the Blue Book of Gun Values, but it’s free. The trade off here is that the site is largely ad-driven, and may be confusing or annoying. It’s not unlikely that you’ll inadvertently click something you think will take you to your gun’s value but it actually takes you to a completely different site trying to sell you something.
However, if you can make it through to your value, you’ll find an accurate range of fair to good values you can use to make an educated decision on how much to accept on your trade.
Cut It In Half
No, don’t cut your gun in half. Cut your price in half. It sounds drastic, but whatever price you see at the local shop around the corner or online needs to be reduced by 50%. You’re simply not going to get much more than that on a trade-in.
If it’s a gun currently sitting unused, that’s a fair price to pay for getting something you will enjoy more.
However, if you’re wanting to simply pawn it for some quick cash, you’ll want to reduce that price by 10-20% more.
Remember that if you’re trading your gun in for something new, the gun shop is going to look up the wholesale price on your gun and then offer you a certain discount on that new gun you have your eye on.
You might think you’re getting a good deal, but the reality is that the gun shop marks new guns up enough to make a profit. It allows them to negotiate with you on your used item and it gives them some room to run sales or offer other discounts.
They’re not really losing as much money on the deal as you think they are, so negotiate wisely. If you feel more comfortable getting cash for your used gun and then negotiating a discount on the new one, do one transaction at a time.
Don’t sell to felons. The best way to ensure you’re selling a gun to someone you can count on to use it properly is to sell to people you know first. Ask around to see if you know anyone who wants it.
Have your friends ask their friends. Make sure you know the person. If you don’t know them or don’t feel comfortable selling to them, don’t do it.
It’s also important to know and understand the laws in your state governing the private transfer of firearms. The easiest way to be sure you’re following the law is to deal with a gun shop or a licensed gun dealer. They will follow the law to avoid having their business license revoked, so you can be sure you’re doing the deal right, even if you are losing money.
What to Expect
The only way to know what to expect from a trade is to do the research. It requires looking at more than one place, considering more than just a few factors like age and condition, and understanding that there’s more to be said for the convenience of a trade-in than the money you might make.
If you are thinking about trading in your used gun, make sure you take your time to figure out what it’s worth before taking it to the shop. Your education will help you negotiate more effectively in order to get what you deserve.