Resources and tips for finding firearm values using trusted references or getting free online gun values
By Corey Graff, Online Editor
No matter how you look at it, guns are a serious purchase. They’re not something you can buy at the five-and-dime store, so the first step in making a purchasing decision is figuring out gun values. The same is true if you’re selling a gun. The key is research, and whether you’re a serious gun collector or occasional gun buyer there are many resources available to learn gun values.
What is a Gun Worth? Factors Influencing Gun Values
You should be aware of a firearm Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) as a starting point but the ultimate factors affecting military gun prices versus antique gun values, for instance, are as varied as the types of guns that are out there on the market.
Firearm prices fluctuate based on demand, availability and condition. Political winds of change, such as the proposed “Assault Weapons” ban, results in astronomical spikes in demand spurred by panic-buying, which creates shortages of AR-15 rifles and semi-auto handguns (as well as ammunition for these guns). Vintage guns or collectible firearms are particularly difficult to value. While their supply is more or less fixed, less obvious trends and niche interests in gun collecting can influence what people are willing to pay.
“Believe it or not, there was a day when Webley commercial revolvers could be had for well under $100, even adjusted for inflation,” writes gun collecting expert Phillip Peterson in the Gun Digest Book of Modern Gun Values, 16th Edition. “Then one day Webleys caught on for some reason and values doubled and tripled, seemingly overnight.”
Condition is key to gun values. For collectible guns — let’s define them as firearms purchased for rarity or as long-term investments — the difference in price between an “excellent” grade firearm and one in “very good” condition can be substantial. Learn all you can about a gun’s history and specific idiosyncrasies, so you know what parts tend to show wear or break. If you’re looking for a used gun, one you intend to shoot often, you might not care about blemishes as much as gun barrel condition and throat/chamber wear. These clues, which are unique to each type of gun, can tell you how much “life” it has left.
Again, a good gun value book like the 2019 Standard Catalog of Firearms 28th Edition will provide these insights so you’ll know what to look for.
Gun Values Online or Gun Value Book?
Serious gun buyers browse online auction sites like gunbroker.com or gunsinternational.com for pricing references. And they also use gun value books. Both are essential parts of the gun buyer’s strategy.
Online gun prices give you the advantage of being able to quickly narrow down a gun’s range of new and used prices by model using the search function. You can type in “Spring Model 1903,” for example, and browse pages and pages of Springfields for sale. There is a downside. While online listings with abundant photos help, you still have to take the seller’s word for the condition of the gun. And they may or may not be using an industry standard condition.
As mentioned, with the 2019 Standard Catalog of Firearms, 28th Edition, you can march into the process armed with the expert’s recommendation on gun values. That’ll give you the upper hand in negotiations, plus equip you with the right questions to ask the seller. Same if you’re selling a gun. By being able to cite the value of the firearm from an industry reference like the Standard Catalog of Firearms, or The Official Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices, 13th Edition , you’ll be able to stand firm on your price and get what the gun is really worth.
For those who want the convenience of online with the authority of a book the Gun Values by Gun Digest program provides all the model information and pricing data from the Standard Catalog of Firearms in an easy-to-navigate website that is perfect for mobile and desktop browsing alike. It’s also a lot less heavy – for when you would rather not haul a book around.
The other issue with typing “gun values online free” into a search engine is understanding all the variants of gun models out there. Someone might be selling a “Garand M1A” but was the gun made by Springfield, Beretta or Winchester? To add to the many pitfalls in gun pricing for this firearm, there are at least 32 variants of this military gun. A gun values book like the 2019 Standard Catalog of Firearms— which features over 7,500 images of guns to aid you in gun identification — can help you understand what gun variant you’re looking at so you can zero in on an accurate value.
Determining Your Approach on Gun Values: Now Go Get ‘Em!
Determining gun value isn’t difficult if you use the Internet to narrow down your search and a collection of good gun value books to pinpoint a reasonable asking price. Going into the buying or selling transaction knowing the value of the firearm will make the transaction more pleasant and increase the likelihood of finding a great deal on your next new or used gun.