I recently posted an article about how to find and buy firearms, ammunition and related items online. In this article I will discuss how to sell firearms, ammunition and related items online.
Do you have ammunition or a rare and valuable handgun to sell, but you don’t know where to start? Maybe you are in the hunt for a new gun but need to sell one you have first. Here’s how to sell through eBay style auction web sites like Gun Broker, Gun Auction and Guns America as well as firearm equipment exchange sites.
Selling Through Auction Sites
One major difference between Gunbroker and eBay is that Gunbroker has no listing fees. Sellers pay only a final value fee on sales, and can relist as many times as needed to sell their item without cost.
There are four things to do before anything else:
- Weigh the item in appropriate packing for shipment;
- Craft a comprehensive description of the item;
- Determine what is the minimum amount that you are willing to sell for;
- Take digital photos. These don’t need to be professional photos, but get help from the family shutterbug. It is frustrating to be unable to judge the condition of an item from poor photos, and I won’t bid.
Browse around auction sites and look at descriptions of other items. Note the details to provide in your listing. Does it require an FFL? How do you want to be paid? USPS Money Orders today have new anti-counterfeiting technologies like those in our newest currency, and they offer good protection from counterfeiting. List what payment methods you will accept in the description, and select See item description when adding a new listing.
What is its condition and what is it worth?
Be honest about its condition. Might it be worthwhile to have a gunsmith do some minor repair and check it out to make sure it functions and is safe? If you are unsure of the value, a gunsmith or a dealer might give you a good ballpark estimate or an appraisal. You might get lucky and they could make an offer for it that will save you the trouble of listing it to sell online. The market will tell you what it is worth, if you describe it completely and provide good quality photos. However, never set the minimum bid below the absolute minimum at which you would rather keep your item.
What shipping methods are appropriate?
USPS will not ship ammunition. More details on shipping below. For ammunition sales, most sellers require the buyer to send a scan copy of their Driver’s License (with DL# redacted if they wish), to prove they are of legal age to buy ammunition.
Complete all of the listing details and then sit back and check the auction and email at least daily. Expect questions like, will you accept another form of payment? You should report anyone to site management who asks you to violate site policy. Be wary of anyone asking you to ship outside the U.S. and anyone with a “My dad had one of these” story who asks you to accept a lesser amount. Just say no.
When it sells, contact the buyer right away with your mailing address and the total with shipping. To estimate shipping cost, remember to use the Zip of the UPS Customer Center if applicable, not your home. When you receive satisfactory payment, ship the item. Magazines, parts and most accessories can be shipped regular mail or whatever mode is cheapest, or that the buyer prefers.
For firearms, give the buyer your FFL contact information. When both FFLs give the go-ahead, deliver the firearm to your FFL and they will do the rest. Make your buyer happy. Clean the gun and apply a light coat of oil. If you have an extra gun lock lying around, include it and the keys so the buyer doesn’t have to buy one at their end. Round up the original box and any tools, manuals, certificates of authenticity or extra parts that came with it and include them.
Pack ammunition in a sturdy cardboard box and mark it appropriately per DOT Title 49 CFR. The ORM-D marking below will no longer be used after December 2013.
You can reuse a box from a previous ammunition shipment that you received which has this sticker on it, but the sticker isn’t required. I have drawn this by hand with a marker at the UPS counter.
Ammunition must be shipped by UPS Ground or FedEx Ground, but not from your neighborhood UPS Store. You must find a UPS Customer Center. Familiarize yourself with DOT requirements and UPS or FedEx policies.
UPS has an online guide for shipping hazardous materials, or you can call the UPS Hazardous Materials Support Center at 1-800-554-9964.
FedEx also has an online guide for shipping hazardous materials, and you can call FedEx Customer Service at 1-800-463-3339 (say “hazardous materials”) for more information.
I have bought and sold magazines, parts and other accessories on eBay, but from my own experience I can’t recommend them to a first-time seller for firearms related items. Someone reported my auction for two .25 ACP six round magazines as 25 round mags that would violate eBay’s ten round capacity only policy. eBay does not read, investigate or perform any verification. They just delete the listing, and there is no recourse. This kind of thing has happened to me twice.
There are many things to consider when buying and selling firearms and related items online, and the myriad of ever-changing gun control laws that vary across states and municipalities further complicate things. If you live in an area where the law allows, the Internet makes it possible to more easily find just the thing you want. Likewise, sellers can use the Internet to give their items nationwide market exposure and increased odds of selling at a desirable price to both buyer and seller.
You can also find equipment exchanges or buy/sell/trade forums on a few firearm forums. AR15.com has an Equipment Exchange which is always active and is broken down by categories. You can find these types of sections on other firearm related sites and forums. Just be sure that when your items sells you go back to each place you listed it to update it’s status to Sold.
Be sure to read the previous article, “How to Find and Buy Firearms, Ammunition and Related Items Online“.