Everything You Need to Know About Gun Auction Sites

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By Danielle Hollembaek

Whether you are looking for a new hunting rifle or an antique firearm to add to your gun collection, you are sure to get a wide range of options by visiting gun auction sites. By shopping online for the firearm of your choice, you are opening the door to all different makers, styles, and eras of firearms. Highly collectible and rare firearms are more likely to be on gun auction sites rather than in your local shop. A select few firearm auction companies get consignors from around the country and world, making the variety of options almost endless for all kinds of gun collectors.

Rock Island Auction Company has been the leader in firearm auctions since 2003. With our numerous auctions held year round, you are bound to find something to your liking. With our knowledgeable staff and our strong attention to detail, we are your trusted source for all types of firearm purchases.

Pictured is Rock Island Auction Company's building. Within is our beautiful Auction Hall.

Pictured is Rock Island Auction Company’s building. Within is our beautiful Auction Hall.

What to Look for in a Gun Auction Site

When deciding on which gun auction site to purchase from, look for a good quality company who can provide reliable information about their firearms for sale. All established firearm auction houses properly evaluate their items and provide excellent customer service when a potential buyer has a question. Secondly, knowing the local, state, and federal regulations is key since they are extensive and different in all localities. The company you are buying from should be able to help you out when trying to gather information about gun laws in your area. Lastly, gun auction sites should provide a safe, secure, and private way to purchase a firearm. Overall, look for a professional, well operated, and organized online auction website to do your future firearm purchases.

Quality #1 Proper Gun Evaluation

One of the main reasons to buy your firearms from gun auction sites is that the company is a professional firearm dealer. This offers you a both a certain level of expertise, as well as additional recourse that is not typically found with a private seller. At auction houses like RIAC, there is a team of expert researchers digging up all the information they can on consigned firearms. Plus, there are multiple people reviewing and confirming that data so a customer can rest assured that the details about a gun are thoroughly investigated. If a claim is made about a particular firearm belonging to a famous person, like the Elvis Presly Colt Python we sold in May of 2017 for $172,500, proper documentation, evidence, and cross references must be presented in order for a trusted auction house to present items as such.

Another part of the evaluation process is in the overall condition of a firearm. Most auction websites have some sort of scale based on percentages or letter grades that tell the wear-and-tear or aging of an item. Rock Island Auction Company, and other auction websites, have  rating scales and descriptions for all firearms, which allows buyers purchasing from an online gun auction site to have a better idea of the firearm’s condition.

Historic Extremely Well-Documented Exhibition Quality Engraved, Inlaid and Carved Colt Python Double Action Revolver Presented by The King of Rock & Roll Elvis Presley to Employee Richard Grob

Pictured is the historic and well-documented exhibition quality engraved, inlaid and carved Colt Python double action revolver presented by The King of Rock & Roll Elvis Presley to Employee Richard Grob.

Quality #2 Abiding by County and State Firearm Sale Laws

Reputable gun auction sites have educated staff that know the laws of firearm sales like the back of their hand. Since gun laws vary from state to state, and in some cases within different localities, bidding on items from a company that knows how to sell guns legally is extremely important. Firearm laws and waiting periods to receive your purchases are ever-changing. It is essential to keep up-to-date with your specific laws if you are a serious gun collector or enthusiast. Be aware of your own local ordinances when it comes to purchasing and owning a firearm – if you need help confirming your regulations or restrictions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Quality #3 Supportive Customer Service

If the gun auction site you are planning to purchase from does not have customer service representatives, do not buy from them. Having a staff that can aid with questions about your purchases is crucial. We have full-time customer service representatives running phones, emails, and live chats throughout the day at Rock Island Auction Company. This is an amenity that all gun auction sites need in order to provide the customer with the best information and assistance. You can even reach out to us on our social media pages and we are very quick to respond to your inquiries. Our representatives are experienced and able to answer any and all questions you have about our guns or laws pertaining to your desired gun purchases.

Customer service is not only important during the searching process, but it also plays a big role during and after the auction. During our auctions, we have customer service representatives answering phones and emails with concerns, added or canceled bids, and questions people may have during the actual event. After an auction, these same people are organizing all winning bidder information, answering follow-up questions about lots, and notifying winners about when their items will be shipped or arranging when people can pick up their items in-house. A strong customer service team is a staple of a good auction house.

Quality #4 Secure Transactions

When purchasing a gun from a private seller or unknown third party, the safety of your transaction is not absolute. The guarantee that you will receive the firearm you purchased is not always there, and the condition you receive it in may not be what you were told. With trustworthy gun auction sites, fraud is not likely and you get what you pay for. There are options to purchase and pay for your items that keep you and your identity secure. At Rock Island Auction Company, you can pay for your auction items using a credit card, cash, or check. All payment systems are verified as safe and we have protections in place for your privacy. With other gun sale sources, you may not be granted assurances such as these.

Online and Phone Bidding During Auctions

During all of our auctions, we have both online computer and phone operators bidding on behalf of customers from all around the world.

Pros and Cons of Buying and Selling Guns Online 

There are many positives when it comes to selling and purchasing your firearms online. From the ability to shop from the comfort of your own home to the chance to view a catalog online and see all the guns available, the possibilities to find your dream gun are widely expanded. The convenience level is astounding! However, buying a firearm from a gun auction site is like purchasing any other item online, you don’t get to see it in person before you buy. For some, that may be a deal breaker. By making a list of the pros and cons to shopping online for your next firearms, you can be sure that it is the right decision for you.


  • Less Travel Costs – Firearm auctions are held all around the world and traveling to an in-person auction isn’t always a possibility. Booking a flight cross country or overseas is expensive and taking a trip can be time consuming. You’re already planning on spending money on a firearm, don’t waste extra cash on travel! By using gun auction sites, you can bid online or over the phone on items you found in the online catalog. As long as you have a computer and a reliable internet connection, you should be able to participate in your next auction online without any issues.
  • The Ability to Research Ahead of the Auction – Any wise gun enthusiast knows that by researching in books and online about a firearm, you will end up getting the best gun for the best price. The internet is a great place for broad information, but books are going to give you more details and specific facts about a firearm in most cases. Knowing a bit of history behind the era and condition of a gun is a way to be a savvy shopper when it comes to firearms. Do not be afraid to call and ask the company you are buying from for specific pictures or further information about the gun you are investigating; that is a part of our jobs and we are happy to get you what you need to feel comfortable with your purchase.
  • Convenience of Online Shopping – Dressing up and driving to an auction is no longer necessary. Put on your slippers, stay in your robe, and watch your favorite show while participating in your next auction. Through online live bidding or sealed bids, you can participate in auction right in your own home. Gun auction sites have made it incredibly easy to bid no matter where you are across the world.


Man holding a long gun in the Rock Island Auction Company preview hall.

The day before the start of our Premiere and Regional Auctions, we hold a Preview Day where consignors can view all lots. Throughout our auctions, the preview hall is open starting at 7:30am allowing bidders to see the items up for bid that day.

  • You’re Unable to Handle the Gun in Person – Some people do not trust online pictures and descriptions, so going to an auction in person to examine the items up for bid is the best way for them to purchase with peace of mind. At Rock Island Auction Company, we try to reduce this worry by providing a comprehensive rating system with our descriptions on every item. We also are always available to answer your questions regarding a lot and can take more pictures for you of a gun. This is a service most online gun auction sites do not offer. We do understand that there are people who are more comfortable purchasing from in person. Our Preview Hall is open to the public every day of our auctions for those wanting to handle the guns before bidding.
  • Missing Out on the True Auction Experience – Being in the bidding crowd of an auction is exhilarating. Hearing the auctioneers call off the rising bidding numbers, throwing up your own bidder card, and winning something in person is an unbelievable adrenaline spike. When you are at an auction, it is an all-day event where you can talk with seasoned collectors, the people who run the auction house, and other gun enthusiasts. Some people live for the auction atmosphere and once you experience it, you’ll know why. It is not the same to watch it happen over a live stream, sometimes you need to be there to truly know what an auction is all about.
A picture of one of our many live auctions at Rock Island Auction Company in Rock Island, Illinois.

A picture of one of our many live auctions at Rock Island Auction Company in Rock Island, Illinois.


If you are ready to dip your toes in the exciting world of gun auctions, what are you waiting for? Gun auction sites are the first place to start looking for your next firearm. Check out our online catalogs, where you can start browsing and bidding today!

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