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[How To] Estimate the Trade-In Value of a Gun

Looking to offload a gun you have sitting around but never use?

Maybe you bought the gun and ended up not liking it as much as you thought you would.

Variety of CCW Handguns
Maybe you want to offload some of these.

Or possibly you liked it, but as you’ve added to your gun collection, you find yourself using other guns instead.

Regardless of the reason, a trade-in is a great way to clear out some space in your gun safe for new acquisitions.

Awesafe Gun Safe Capacity
Need more space…

But just because you don’t use a gun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get its full trade-in value.

You don’t want to just walk into the nearest gun shop and take whatever the salesperson gives you without question.

Let’s be honest, the dude at the gun store will likely give you as little as possible. That doesn’t mean he’s unscrupulous, mind you. 

Gun Store (NSSF)
Gun stores have to stay in business. (Photo: NSSF)

The nature of business is to make money and losing money on trade-ins isn’t a very good long-term business solution.

He knows what he can get for the guns as he’s probably sold a bunch like it before. That doesn’t mean you have to roll over and take it, though.

There are some things you can do to get an idea of how much your gun is worth and increase your chances of getting the best price possible for your gun.

Check revolvers to be sure the cylinder fits well and is not loose. Also check to see I the cylinder lines up correctly with the barrel.

So, let’s walk through the options and tell you what you can do before heading to the gun store.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to fairly assess the trade-in value of your gun and know what to ask when you’re ready to trade.

Table of Contents

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Calculating Trade-In Value

There are three steps to determine the trade-in value of your gun. We’ll lay out those steps, then dive deeper into each.

  1. Figure out the condition of your gun.
  2. Compare prices to find the used rate.
  3. Take that used rate…and cut it in half.

We bet after reading those…you want more info and maybe some explanations.

So, keep reading!

Evaluate Your Gun’s Condition

First things first, examine your gun and determine its condition.

But be honest.

Is your gun really like new or are there scuffs, dents, and corrosion?

Never taken out of the box with zero scratches and hardly a fingerprint is considered mint condition.

Scratches, corrosion, worn finish? Take your initial assessment, then move down to the next grade.

BCA Scratched Barrel (2)
Scratches can mean the price of your gun goes down.

You can argue all you want but that single scratch will keep you from getting the “excellent” price even if you’re selling to a private party. Them’s the breaks.

Don’t let your judgment be clouded by sentimental value either. Sentimental value is only valuable to you, no one else cares.

Go ahead and give your gun a good, thorough cleaning while you’re at it.

frame rails
Clean it up!

Polish it up and get your gun in its best possible condition before you make a trade.

Still not sure how to rate your gun’s condition? Ask a collector or similar expert! They may be able to help you out.

Cleaning the outside of our dirty shotgun
Cleaning the outside of our dirty shotgun

Check Out the Local Market

Once you’ve determined the condition of your gun, it’s time to find the average used rate for your make and model.

Look at sites that host gun sale classifieds to find guns like yours.

Also, remember that people can list guns for the amount they want…but that doesn’t mean people buy them at that price.

Gunbroker
Gunbroker

Look for ads for similar guns that actually sold.

You can also visit local gun shops and see the going rate.

But if you prefer to shop from the comfort of your home…there are some other sites you can browse to get an idea of rates.

Places like Guns.com, GunBroker, and Armslist should give you a solid starting point.  

Used Gun Sites
Look around online.

Another option is to price your gun through Guns.com’s We Buy Guns program.

Basically, you submit a form with some pictures of the gun you’re looking to offload. Appraisers at Guns.com look at what you got, then contact you with an offer.

If you like the number, go ahead, and take the cash and send your gun to them (they’ll send you a box and pay for shipping).

Beretta from Guns.com
Beretta from Guns.com.

However, if you still prefer to trade locally, then, at the very least, you’ll have that used rate to work from.

Additionally, the Blue Book of Gun Values offers another great resource. But you do have to pay to access it.

It’s worth it, though, especially if you intend to sell or trade in the future.

Pro Tip: When browsing, look for an exact match to your gun — down to the manufacturer and model. Yes, a Kimber 1911 could go for $800, but your Rock Island Armory 1911 might not net that. There will be a price difference.

Full Size Mid Size Compact Handguns
Some of these things are not like the others.

Time to Negotiate

Once you’ve got an idea of the resale value, cut it in half. (If the cut in half price ends in 50, round up to the next 00.)

That’s your starting point.

For example, let’s say I own a Glock 19 with only a dozen shots through it or so. It falls in the good condition bracket.

Used prices in my area range from $400 to $600 for that gun. Personally, I tend to grab the middle price, so $500 for this example.

Glock G19 Gen 4
Glock G19 Gen 4

Remember, we got to cut that in half for a trade-in — landing us at $250.

Again, I like to round up, so $300 is my estimated trade-in value. (That may vary in your area, so again, research is key.)

What are the chances you’ll get that amount?

The salesperson will hit you back with an offer a good bit lower.

A final negotiation about halfway between your initial offer and the salespeople is ideal, but don’t be surprised if the shop’s final offer is a fair bit lower.

Pro Tip: Predetermine what the lowest price you’ll accept is before you head to the gun shop. That way, you won’t be tempted to take something drastically lower.

Trade-In vs Private Sale

At this point, you may balk at the idea of less than half of the resale value of your gun.

So, why not just sell it yourself and reap the whole resale value?

Private sales are certainly an option that will almost always earn you more money for your gun.

Bugs Bunny Money

The difference comes at the cost of convenience and effort.

By taking a lower price for the trade-in, you’re essentially paying a fee for the other person to eventually sell it for you.

If you’d rather get more money for your gun and don’t mind putting in the extra effort, it’s definitely worth going the private sale route.  

Another thing to remember, everything we’ve said here is about trading in your gun, not selling it to a gun shop for them to resell.

Gun Show Sales with FFL

If that’s what you’re doing, expect to make even less than you would with a trade-in, only about 30% to 40% of the gun’s resell value.

On the other hand, if your gun was documented as owned by someone famous, I can’t stress this enough — sell it through a private sale or auction house.

RIA Premier Auction
RIA Premier Auction

However, that does involve a bit of a gamble since you may not get the price for it you were hoping for…or you might get a lot more.

Like I said…gamble.

Pro Tip: If you want cash and don’t mind the work, do a private sale. But, if you know the gun you want is at your gun shop, the trade-in might be your best bet.

Conclusion

First and foremost, do your research and be honest about the state of your gun while pricing it.

Rusty AK-47
This is not what we’d call good condition…

Using the resources we mentioned above, you should get a good idea of what your gun is worth before you to the shop.

And don’t ever be afraid to walk away from a deal that just isn’t working for you.

Out!

Remember, knowledge is power in all cases, not just dealing with salespeople.

Have you ever traded in a gun for something else? Tell us all about it in the comments below. Ready to learn more about buying and selling? Check out our guides on Best Places to Buy Used Guns and Private Sales for Beginners.

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23 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Deandre cordsr

    So would gun stores or pawn shops accept BB guns, or 22 rifles? What gun can i trade for that?

    July 22, 2020 8:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    JackTenn008

    This helped so much. Thank you. I estimated three well-used guns at $450 total but would walk away at less than $300. I used your calculations, looked him straight in the eye, and the final offer was $350 cash. I was willing to do $300 before i read your article so you made me $50! Thank you very much. #pawnshop #rugerlcp #benellisupernova #springfieldxds

    February 12, 2019 9:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David

    I have an HK 93 that is in perfect condition and went around to some gun shops and the most was offered was 700 dollars the rifle at the time had a value of 2500, i was told well what it is worth and what it will bring is two different things. I said no you want to steal it you're not even close. They can do better than that, this was like spitting in your face. They didn't get the rifle I still have it. They said they only give 1/3 of the value well they didn't give that.. That's, why I won't, buy anything from any of them THEY ARE TO DAMN GREEDY. i buy all my guns used and from private face to face sell or online and have the FFL transfer done thru their greedy shop. What i buy my cost 400 dollars the same thing in a local gun shop is 725.00 now that's greedy and don't let something get scares they will buy them all and the fools that want to give double price they stick it to them and puff out the chest and pat each other on the back and brag how they screwed that fellow out of his money and how they were going to get a premium price out of his trade in, Hey Sally call Jack tell him i found what he was looking for. Car Dealers are the same way any privately owned business without competition.you are going to get dry humped they are so greedy they want use Valvoline that cost a few pennies more to use..

    March 22, 2018 9:14 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ron

      I bet you don't own a small business. So you are trying to offload a very expensive relatively rare rifle. The shop guy knows that this thing may sit on his shelf for a month or more before it finally sells, if ever. He could take that 2k you want for your unicorn and buy 4 used or new glocks with it and turn then over in a week making maybe 1k in profit. On top of that, perhaps your rifle may not be in excellent mechanical shape, and the guy he sells it to, brings it back saying it is a turd and won't feed right. It may be perfect, be he doesn't know that, he is taking a gamble. Would you take that gamble? Of course you probably started out being belligerent with the guy, any wonder he low balled you? I bet if you were a long time customer, and had spent some dough at that shop, things might have been different, no? Bitter much?

      January 13, 2022 10:27 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robert Sophiea

    Was this written by a gun shop owner? Lol Take the going rate and cut it in half and don’t expect to get that... So it is not worth the shop owners time unless he makes over 100% profit?

    March 10, 2018 6:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      VoixceofReality

      Yes- profit is figured by time to sell, cost to have an open shop and pay employees, Therefore the "profit" after taxes is about 8%.. Nothing is free these days and you do not work for nothing !!!!!!

      August 21, 2018 9:50 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Gunner Dave

      Whoa- The shop owner has to pay taxes, wages,building and other operating costs including loan costs and advertising. Of his "profit" almost half of the is outgoing expense. He also buys guns cheaper than he sells them(duh) he figures his buyback on HIS costs.. not what you paid.
      YOU are better off cash-wise to sell yourself and take thee wait and costs of selling.

      December 28, 2018 3:46 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        davis bush

        Last year I was buying Compass rifles with a net of $107 after applied discounts through retailmenot-gift card discounts and Cabelas cashback plus the 100.00 factory discount..
        It was a cash cow as I just sold two at $275.00 each..Which pays for my remaining 5 guns.. Go figure- just keep your eye open and have cash in hand. bargains like that lasted 3 weeks before Christmas.

        December 28, 2018 3:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rene

    Trying to sell several different guns that I have one is at 3:57 Magnum handgun in very good condition still with the box also Single barrel shotgun sod off to legal status Bolt action Long rifle and another one I'm not quite sure what make it is it was from my husbands great grandpa

    September 16, 2017 7:43 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Barry Gourley

      I would rather sit on my workbench and shoot spitballs at it than sell it at the prices this article shows me, that's just me.

      September 1, 2021 12:43 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kimberly

    I wanted to know how much my gun ia valve is it is a the Marlin fire arms co Mayfield. ky. Usa model XT-22 micro-Groove barrel 22 mag only MM655475

    August 10, 2017 5:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joe

    Another site you can use to find the going rate of your gun is gunhunter.com. They track what guns are selling for on a bunch of gun websites, like 80 I think, including gunbroker. Gun values are automatically calculated when you search, kind of like blue book for cars, and searching for gun values is free.

    July 17, 2017 8:34 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Good suggestion Joe!

      July 19, 2017 3:28 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Timothy J

    I would never go and trade a gun before I tried to sell it privately, The big box stores (rhymes with Crapelas) are a business they need to sell that gun later so they will low ball you big time. I took a barely fired Beretta 92 FS in just to see what theyd do wouldn't give over 225 sold the gun a day later to a coworker for 400. Always go private is my advice.

    May 9, 2017 6:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Perry Lane

    Another option to consider is that many gun shops accept firearms on consignment. If you do not need immediate cash you may be able to get a better price.

    March 11, 2017 3:03 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bob Morales

    I have never sold a gun that I didn't regret selling later.

    February 14, 2017 5:14 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Yup! I'm trying to never sell a gun.

      February 15, 2017 4:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    James Kane

    I just inherited an 1891 Mauser Argentino Modelo 7.65x54 Berlin, Ser# W0700, with a great adjustable open sight. It's in AWESOME condition.... blue too. Looks like it's rarely been used. All matching #s. What is something like this valued at? Is this a 'keeper or should I sell it?It's light yet seems like a great gun for 'the hunt'.

    December 16, 2016 2:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      ehung

      Hey James, nice! I'm not too great on the pricing of antique guns. I'd say take a look at the Blue Book or try to find a recent auction.

      December 16, 2016 2:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Tad

      If you look at gunbroker.com they are ranging between 200 to 600 (asking) not a lot of bids on them. I have seen them at a gun show but they weren't selling in this area right now. However if you find a Mauser guy, then it may draw more.

      December 18, 2016 4:47 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        ehung

        Thanks for the input Tad!

        December 18, 2016 5:04 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mike

      I have the exact same rifle my dad bought in 1959. I thought it might be worth a few bucks. Turns out a few bucks is about right $100- 150 seems about right in great condition. Some buckle heads have paid $500-600 for them. But that is nuts.There are 10's of thousands of these surplus rifles in crates all over the world. Find a few crates that's where you could make a couple bucks. BTW my dad paid $12 for it at sears in 59

      June 2, 2017 6:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    undeRGRound

    My son bought an M&P9c for $550 @ Gouger Mountain, on the same day I bought an M&P 9 at an LGS, non-chain store. I paid $499 and the 9c was the same price. Anyway, he later (a year or so) sold the 9c at the LGS, with 4 mags total, 2 of which were the full sized ones with X-Grips on them. $300, because they pretty much had to pay as if he had bought it there... Your formula held true there, it is our #1 LGS, we buy most of our items there, and they know us well. The deal was the offered $300 right away, and he took it. No haggle. Expect much more resistance at a place where you have not spent so much money, however :D He had dropped around $5,000+ there on several purchases, but a used M&P might only bring $400 if the LGS is fortunate. But it was perfect, and low round count, very clean. Marines tend to keep their weapons spotless!

    January 29, 2015 6:27 am
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