I frequently hear from people who want to know how much their gun is worth. While no website or book alone can give you a definitive value for your firearm, there are some ways to get an idea of what it might be worth. Keep in mind, of course, that any collectible is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it-in other words, it's not an exact science. Nevertheless, by using the tips below, you can determine if your gun is an old piece of junk or collector's dream or anything in between.
- Know your gun. Before you can even begin to research the value of a weapon, you will need to know a few things. First you will need the make and model of the gun. The gun maker's name will often be stamped or engraved on the weapon. From there, an Internet search can often lead you to the model. Enter the gun manufacturer and a few descriptive words. Then browse through images until you find your gun. If you absolutely cannot determine the make and model, a good local gunsmith may be able to identify your weapon for you. If possible, try to determine the year the gun was made, as well as its serial number. In addition, you will need assess the gun's condition and make note of any unusual features it may have.
- Buy a book on gun values. If you would rather not shell out the money for a book or want an instant answer to your gun value question, see the websites listed in the next section. If, however, you want an authoritative guide or anticipate needing to know the values of multiple guns, a gun value book can be a great investment. The two most reputable books are Blue Book of Gun Values and the Standard Catalog of Firearms.
- Use websites for your research. A great way to find out what someone is willing to pay for your gun is by seeing what people are paying for similar guns. This method will not give you an "official" value for your weapon, but you will get a general idea of how much you could sell it for. This will help you to determine if it is worth keeping or not. There are many sites out there that sell guns but for the purposes of valuation, I recommend Gun Broker, an online gun auction site and Guns International and Guns America, both of which are gun classifieds sites.
- Get an appraisal. If you want a more definitive answer than what your own research can provide, it's time to hire an appraiser. As a general rule, you will likely need to ship your weapon off to be appraised. You could start at a local gun shop but most of them won't have expert appraisers on staff. There are many companies online that offer gun appraisals but you have to be careful to find a reputable company. In the case of potentially rare and valuable firearms, check out any appraiser thoroughly before entrusting your weapon to him or her. Here are some places to start:
Gun Appraisals -- Endorsed by the NRA, these guys offer fast "appraisals" for as low as $9.95. You get what you pay for, though, and your appraisal is based on photos you submit and information you provide. Nevertheless, this could be an inexpensive starting point.
Witherell's -- You may have seen Brad Witherell on Antiques Roadshow. This reputable appraiser has a shop in California where you can send your gun to have it valuated.
Michael Simens -- If you need an antique firearm appraised or authenticated, Michael Simens is renowned as an expert in the industry.