Man Holding a Handgun in a Gun Shop

Evaluating Used Firearm Value

When you’re looking for a great deal at your local gun show, you need to understand used gun values you’ll find in some of the most common guides and how to establish the value of a firearm compared to its price.  While plenty of the vendors at Pennsylvania’s Largest Gun Show are selling new guns and accessories, you’ll also find vendors who specialize in used firearms, as well as your friends and neighbors who’ve brought their own guns to sell or trade. You may even be ready to sell used guns yourself. Let’s talk about how to examine a firearm and make sure you’re paying a price you’ll be happy with down the road.

What Goes Into Used Gun Values

When we’re talking about a firearm’s value, it’s important to understand there are objective and subjective factors to consider. Price guides base their used gun values on the objective attributes of a weapon. Even then, two parties can disagree on the particulars, such as whether a firearm is in good or fair condition. It’s important to understand how much wiggle room you have when pricing a weapon so that you can negotiate around the subjective part of pricing a weapon with confidence.


Some brands earn a reputation for excellence, while others seem to earn notoriety. In addition, a gun manufactured by a company no longer in existence could come with a premium price tag.


As with manufacturers, some models carry a reputation for excellence. Others may be affected by engineering evolutions, such as comparing a 1st vs. 4th generation Glock pistol. It’s important to understand these changes and how they may change the firearm’s value.


Collection of Four Antique Pistols

Some firearms are so rare, unique, or special that they’re in a class all their own. Collectible firearms, such as those owned by someone famous, having a certain threshold of rarity, or bearing historical significance, will command higher prices due to higher demand and lower supply stocks. Starting a firearms collection can be a fun but expensive part of your Second Amendment rights.


For top-end firearms and collectible pieces, you’ll want to consider the condition of the original finish and parts, with more value placed on “like new” conditions. Weapons that are being bought or sold for use may prioritize functionality, including rebuilt parts or re-blueing, when determining what kind of value they offer.

Subjective Desirability 

One subjective factor in any gun sale is how much the buyer wants that particular gun. The Colt 1911 may be one of the most respected firearms in competition and self-defense shooting, but a die-hard Glock gun owner may not even give it the time of day.

Subjective Utility

Guns are tools for hunting, sport, and self-defense, but used gun values can’t capture how much utility a weapon offers to an individual shooter. Both a pump-action shotgun and a lever-action Winchester will make a good ranch gun, but you can’t expect them to necessarily fetch the same price.

The Secret to a Better Used Firearm Value: Preparation

If you want to sell a used gun, first, you have to understand what you have. Begin by making sure the bun is unloaded, then find the manufacturer’s markings. Look for the maker, model, caliber, serial number, and any other defining information. You can use this to look up basic pricing in a guidebook featuring used gun values, or you can plug that information into online gun sales sights to establish an idea of the gun’s current market value. 

Remember that people buying online will often have to pay an additional $20-$50 to a local FFL dealer to process the transaction for them, so these online prices should be adjusted for in-person sales that may not require an FFL transfer, depending on the type of weapon. Online gun auction sites may also charge a buyer’s premium that helps cover their overhead, potentially lowering the final sale price when the gavel drops.

If you want to buy a used gun, first, you have to know what you’re looking for. Since you can’t be sure what used guns will be available until the day of the sale, you’ll want to decide on a budget range and the key features you’re looking for. This includes whether you want a handgun or pistol, the brands you’re comfortable with, the most common models, the caliber, and the features you’d want.  Explore used gun value price guides, visit businesses that sell used guns to check out the local market, and research online gun sales sites, once again remembering that any auction fees and all transfer fees will add to the price the gun is listed for.

Evaluating the Condition of Individual Firearms

When inspecting a firearm to value it, ensure it’s unloaded, then start by looking the weapon over for obvious signs of wear and damage. A reasonable amount of holster wear, minor dulling of the finish, or small nicks in the grips may be perfectly normal for older weapons. Signs of obvious damage or abuse should always be respected and investigated thoroughly. 

Man Inspecting a Firearm While a Gun Shop Owner Speaks to Him

Cycle the weapon, advancing the cylinder, racking the slide, or using the charging handle, feeling for any catch or instability and listening for a scraping or rattling sound that is out of the ordinary for the weapon’s design. Use a bore light to look down the barrel, checking it for signs of rust, scoring, or damaged rifling grooves. 

Remember that buying a used gun, like when shopping for a used car, means you may be buying someone else’s problems, so make sure you can live with or fix anything you can find. Unless you know the seller, don’t take their word for the condition over your own observations. While performance slides and barrels are readily available from aftermarket parts manufacturers, that’s an additional cost on top of the asking price for the weapon. Remember your budget and be prepared to look for a better deal elsewhere.

Get Your New-to-You Gun at Your Local Gun Show

With vendors from across the country coming to your local event hall, you have a unique opportunity to find some great used gun values on modern and collectible firearms. Arrive at our comfortable sales floor early, make your way through our professional paid security on-site, and do a full circuit, browsing the deals and keeping your eye out for private sellers who brought guns to sell or trade. Once you’ve found the right gun for your budget, work with the vendor to find the best deal for your shooting needs. Order your tickets online to your next local Eagle Shows Gun Show today.

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