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October 10, 2020

Pawn or Auction Your Gun: How to Get The Most Money

By Emily Robinson

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You just inherited a firearm from a family member, which isn’t exactly in your realm of knowledge or something you’re interested in. After careful consideration, you decide you want to sell your gun. You have options. You could find the local pawn shop (assuming they deal in firearms) and sell it off. However, if time isn’t an issue, you could stand to make a LOT more money.

Before you take a trip to the pawn shop, let’s look at what precautions, steps, and options you can take to get the most money for the gun, and while also staying on the right side of the law. For example, you could contact Rock Island Auction Company. After you agree on the gun’s value, you ship it directly to the auction house, and just wait for your check (or direct deposit) to arrive. That's it! It’s safe, legal, hassle free, and earns you much more money. If you have estate guns or a firearm you believe might be very rare or valuable (see RIAC's top 50 gun sales of the past 5 years), RIAC specializes handling such items.

If you pawn, you'd never know the value of this well-worn revolver. It sold for $16,100 in September 2020

Getting the Most Money

The main point of this article is to give you some insight into pawning guns, and to let you know there is another way.  Please take some time to find out what Rock Island Auction Company can do for you.

Many people who want to sell their guns are unaware they have a rare gun. A pawn shop generally does not employ firearms specialists and will not know the value. Even worse, they may know the value but could make you a low offer. For example, this pistol below looks like many other common military surplus pistols. A pawn shop may only offer you a few hundred dollars, when you should have received thousands. The item below just sold in our October 2020 auction. Estimated to bring $1,200 to $2,000, but sold for $6,900! An auction house that specializes in firearms can properly identify such valuable items, and also has the clientele willing to pay for them. If you have a large collection or estate guns click here to read more.

Polish Eagle Radom Pistol. Sold on October 9th, 2020 for $6,900.

Safety First

Whether you are familiar with firearms or not, safety is the number one priority. The first rule of firearms safety is to always treat every gun as if it is loaded. If you are not sure if it is loaded, and not comfortable checking yourself, contact someone who is familiar with firearms to verify this for you. Do not point it at anyone or anything you don't want destroyed. Do not touch the trigger. Be sure it is kept in a gun safe or a locked case while at home, and keep it inside its case when transporting it.

What Does Pawning Mean?

Typically the first question a pawn shop will ask is if you would like to pawn or sell your item, and you should be sure to understand the difference. To pawn something is to use your item as collateral for a loan. When the loan is paid back with interest, your item is returned to you. Depending on the agreement, you are likely to have a time limit to pay the loan back. You may also find out your item has already been sold if you don’t follow up in time. Be sure to read all the fine print and fully understand the arrangement.

If you must have money immediately, pawning may be an option, but it will generate the least amount of money of the three options to be covered in this article.

Typically you will receive more money if you choose to sell the gun as opposed to a cash pawn loan.

How to Find the Value of Your Firearm?

For some people, this can be a very fun part of the process. Some people love a puzzle or researching history, while others don’t have time and simply want the process completed. Regardless of which group you fall in, it’s important to know the value of your firearm before blindly accepting an offer.

You’ll want to note the make, model, caliber, and any special markings on the firearm. If there is any sort of documentation available pertaining to the gun, that can also be beneficial in the valuation.

If you enjoy this process, you may wish to use a Blue Book of Gun Values or a similar pricing guide to help you find a proper value. If online research is more your style, you can Google search “(your make/model of gun) Rock Island Auction” to find previous sale prices at Rock Island Auction Company on similar items.

If you don’t enjoy this process and simply want a quick, free, no obligation answer, fill out the form here for an estimate of what your firearm may bring in a RIAC auction.

Pawn Shop Terms & Conditions

If you decide to use a pawn shop to sell/pawn the gun, be sure to read the fine print. This will make sure the process is legal and will disclose all of the costs and fees associated with that particular shop. It is not something you want to rush because it could result in large additional costs. For example, since the pawn shop is offering loaning services you will be charged fees like any other loan. Have those charges been fully disclosed? Do not agree to anything until you are sure of every detail.

Ask about their special licenses to ensure they are following federal guidelines. Also know the local laws of your state before selling your gun. The chosen pawn shop must be an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed retailer), unless the gun is an antique firearm. If you are considering this route, be sure to do your research first. Accidently breaking the law when it comes to firearms still has consequences. All states have different laws you have to follow and pawn shops licensed to sell firearms should know them.

Depending upon the store location in your state, county, or city you may need:

  • A drivers license, or other government issued ID.
  • A second or other state issued photo ID.
  • A license to own firearms (if required in your state)
  • The pawn shop may be required to report the gun transfer to other agencies.
  • Depending on your state and local laws, a background check may be required when you reclaim your pawned firearm.

Pawning Guns: Should You Do It?

With all the information about the firearm in hand, it’s time to make your way to the pawn shop, right? Let’s not jump the gun (pun intended). Instead assess if pawning the gun is the best option.

Pawn shops can get you money quickly, but often at a low value. If you can afford to wait, do it. There are other options that will put more money in your pocket.

Pawning vs. Auctioning

You have done all of your research and taken the preliminary steps to prepare to pawn or sell the gun. The next part of the equation is to understand your other options, like consigning the gun to an auction house. Placing your guns, gun parts, or related items into a firearms auction is absolutely the best way to get the most money.

So, let’s discuss what it means to auction a gun. When you place a gun in auction, you are consigning it. In other words, the auction house sells it for you and charges you a predetermined percentage of the sale.

When consigning a gun with RIAC, your gun will be evaluated, photographed, described, stored, and marketed all at no additional charge. When the gun is sold, you will be charged a flat percentage of your item’s sale price. With this system, there is no conflict of interest because the more money YOU make, the more money the auction house makes. Everybody wins.

Rock Island Auction Company can buy guns and collections (like some pawn shops) if you want to be paid quickly, but the consignment process is recommended in order to receive the most possible money. Once you get the gun(s) to RIAC, your work is done. The gun will be researched to determine value, given a description, have photographs taken, and placed into the auction that is best for your type of gun. The gun will then be marketed heavily across the country and internationally. They even take care of the ATF laws as well as the state regulations. You have nothing else to do but follow the auction and watch your gun sell.

What Should You Decide?

Get an estimate of what your guns are worth. Rock Island Auction Company can assist you through the entire selling process. You can call 309.797.1500 or email at [email protected]. We will first ask you for any photos, descriptions, documentation, or anything else you may have obtained with the firearm, to give the best possible estimate. This is of course free and at no obligation. If you decide to move forward with the consignment process, RIAC can help you along the way.

After receiving a free valuation, you will be contacted to place the item in one of our upcoming auctions. Once we have reached a mutual agreement, RIAC will work with you to choose the best option to transport the firearm to their facility.

Once received, the staff makes sure your item is inventoried, professionally photographed, described accurately and in detail, and stored safely. Your gun will be heavily marketed and advertised right up until auction day. If you have any questions about consigning a firearm with us, please don’t hesitate to call 309.797.1500.

To Get the Most Money for Guns Means Placing them at Auction.

Not all gun auction houses are the same. They have fee structures, sliding scales and gimmicks. Most do not have a full marketing and social media department like RIAC, resulting in a small internet presence. RIAC also posts their catalogs online 6-8 weeks prior to auction to accept bids. Others simply put the catalog up for a week or two.

RIAC President Kevin Hogan says it best,

“The firearms auction business today is as competitive as ever. Our goal at Rock Island Auction Company is not to sell the most guns or the most expensive guns. Our goals are to be the most dynamic, innovative and efficient outlet for marketing and selling your firearms at auction.

Protecting the 2nd Amendment through actions like the RIAC Freedom Challenge, and growing the collectible firearms community. At RIAC we believe in actions, not words. Results, not excuses.  We believe in facts, figures and data not just hot air and lip."

Get Started Right Now - Find Out What Your Guns Are Worth

It is highly likely that you will receive more money at auction than through a pawn shop. Your gun will be part of a large, heavily marketed gun auction where many will compete for your gun. In review, the benefits are numerous:

  1. Save yourself a lot of time, stress and driving around. RIAC does all the work for you.
  2. RIAC knows the law as it pertains to buying and selling firearms.
  3. After you have spoken with RIAC's Acquisitions Department for an estimated value, they can help make arrangements to drop off guns, ship your guns, or possibly pick up your guns. Your work is done.
  4. Just sit back and relax while you wait for your check (or direct deposit). Consignor payments are mailed out 35 days after each auction.
  5. We hold auctions almost every month. They consist of our Premier, Sporting & Collector and our popular Online Only auctions.
  6. RIAC has hundreds of stories where a gun was consigned to us and it brought way more money than the consignor expected. Do not be taken advantage of by low ball pawn shop offers.
  7. It is simple to ship your firearm to our location. We hold an FFL (federal firearms license), so shipping guns to our facility is perfectly legal. You do not need a license to do so.

RIAC is the world's largest firearms auction house, leading the industry since 2003. Find out what so many others already know: nobody gets you a better deal for your firearms than RIAC. Contact us for a free valuation today.

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