Rock Island Auction Company

February 6, 2019

3 Reliable Ways to Find Used Guns for Sale

By Guest

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As a collector of antique firearms, finding reliable sources to purchase used guns for sale is challenging. While your local gun or big box stores offer a wide range of handguns, rifles, and shotguns, for the firearms enthusiast who is looking for an extremely specific kind of gun, your options become seemingly more limited.  Additionally, it can be a challenge to properly vet sellers offering used guns for sale. How do you know that you’re buying something authentic? What ways is it legal to buy used guns for sale online and in person? And which factors should you look out for as you shop for used firearms?

Take out the pain and headache of buying and selling a gun and use a reliable source that you know you can trust.

The Benefits of Buying Used Guns for Sale

There is no shortage of gun stores and large retailers that sell brand new firearms. However, there are several reasons why someone decides to invest in used guns instead of buying them new. For starters, gun collecting is an exciting hobby that allows you to carry on a family tradition. Many collectors begin buying used guns because their grandfather, father, or other family member collected, and it allows them to bond over a shared interest.

Other collectors are history buffs who enjoy learning more about a specific era of history and the weapons that were used during that time. They have an interest in studying the specific types of military weapons used during certain historic battles that helped shape the United States.

The beauty of gun collecting is that your collection can be as niche or as generalized as you prefer. Whether you’re a hunting enthusiast looking for a specific .458 bolt action for your dream hunting trip in Africa, or you’re a collector seeking an investment piece, there’s a used gun for your collection.

Let’s take a closer look at buying used guns for sale via auction companies and buy, sell, trade websites, and discuss the pros and cons of each.

1. Gun Auction Companies

Gun auction companies can be one of the most reliable and safest ways to find used guns for sale. They’re reputable and established places to find unique and historic used guns. Auction companies have the benefit of seasoned and educated customer service representatives who have been working in the firearms industry for years.  Their staff is experienced and has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to specific types of guns, deciphering various gun conditions, and the history of particular firearms.

Additionally, auction companies carefully inspect each firearm they sell before it’s offered to the public. They do extensive research to verify the authenticity and the condition of the gun they’re selling you. This is not always the case when you’re buying a firearm through a private sale online versus an established and reputable company.

Gun auction companies have customer service representatives available to answer your questions and provide additional information on the firearm when you need it. When you’re trying to decide between two guns, or have a question that isn’t answered in the gun’s description, speaking with a knowledgeable customer service representative can be really helpful.

In terms of the buying process itself, auction companies allow people to buy used guns for sale in several ways. For those that prefer to bid live, most auction houses accommodate a live audience as well as bidding via telephone as the auction is taking place. Some even offer live bidding online through a 3rd-party website.

The other way to participate is absentee. When you can’t attend in person, but still wish to participate, you can tell an auction company the maximum amount you would like to bid, and they will execute your bids for you. These must be submitted in advance and can be done via phone, email, snail mail, fax, or through a website.


  • A trusted, reputable source to purchase used guns for sale.
  • A knowledgeable and accessible customer service team to assist when you’re shopping.
  • The option to bid in person at auctions or online at your convenience.
  • A huge inventory and wide selection of firearms; from modern handguns and sporting rifles to military surplus and antique flintlocks.
  • A range of gun prices that can suit varying budgets.


  • First time gun buyers may feel slightly intimidated by the large inventory of weapons.
  • If you prefer to shop in person only, you may need to travel to find a gun auction near you.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to buy high-quality or unique guns, a firearm auction company is the perfect option to start your search. However, they are also an excellent source of more common collectibles and modern firearms.

2. Estate Sales

Estate and garage sales are common places to find used guns for sale. People sell antique firearms at these events for a variety of reasons; oftentimes someone was once a collector and is no longer interested in keeping their gun collection, or a family member passed away and their relatives are looking to liquidate their gun collection.

The best way to find an estate sale that is offering guns is by doing your research beforehand. Consider searching online yard sale sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to get started. Typically, within the event information, the person hosting the sale will list what types of items will be sold. You’re also able to message the person who listed the ad for the estate sale allowing you to inquire about which types of firearms will be sold. Ask as many questions as possible before attending the sale so you are informed about your possible purchase and to ensure that attending the sale is worth your time.

Although estate sales may turn up a hidden gem that has been sitting in someone’s basement for many years, you want to be cautious when shopping for used guns for sale at these events. First, unless you’re an experienced gun collector, it may be difficult to evaluate the condition of the gun without an expert’s opinion. Second, you cannot always guarantee the authenticity of the gun. Last, it’s imperative that you’re sure you’re buying the gun legally and abiding by the laws in your state.


  • You may get lucky and find a rare, unique gun at the sale.
  • There could be less competition for the gun if you’re shopping a smaller estate sale.
  • You may be able to find local yard sales and estate sales that do not require you to travel long distances.


  • It’s very difficult to determine the condition of the gun if you’re not a firearms expert.
  • You cannot always ensure that the gun you’re buying in a private sale is authentic.
  • You have to do your research before purchasing to ensure you’re following all laws and regulations set forth in your state and city.

3. Buy, Trade & Sell Websites

If you’re looking to purchase something used, whether it’s a gun, or piece of furniture, buy, trade and sell websites can be a great option. These sites are great, because they’re often organized in categories and by location, making shopping convenient for the buyer.

Similar to buying from an estate sale, the premise of purchasing from buy, trade and sell sites is that you’re usually buying from another private party. Although stores advertise on these websites, oftentimes the sellers are individuals.

When you’re looking for used guns for sale, it’s important to do your research before purchasing one. Unless you’re using a trusted gun auction site, never assume the person you’re buying from is an expert in the firearms industry.

It’s important to ask some of the following questions before buying a gun from someone you don’t know:

  1. Do you have any paperwork that is original to the firearm?
  2. How long have you had the firearm?
  3. Did you “customize” it?
  4. Why are you selling the gun?
  5. Does it have a history of any malfunctions?

It’s also important to mention that many buy, trade and sell websites have banned the sale of firearms. These companies include Craigslist, eBay, and Letgo among many others.


  • You may be able to get a great deal on a used gun for sale.
  • You’re able to shop locally.
  • You may be able to message the seller about the gun and ask questions before agreeing to meet up and/or purchase the gun.


  • You cannot ensure the authenticity of the gun by looking at images online.
  • You need to do your research to ensure you’re dealing with a trustworthy, honest person who is selling the gun honestly and legally.

Rock Island Auction vs. Other Methods of Buying Used Guns for Sale

Although there are several ways to buy used guns for sale, both online and in person, it’s imperative that you vet the authenticity of the seller, as well as the gun itself, before purchasing. The best way to do that is to buy your firearms from experts who have a great reputation. Rock Island Auction Company continues to be the #1 firearms auction house for antique and collector firearms, globally, breaking our own records year after year. We’ve been offering used guns for sale since 1993 and have been the #1 firearms auction company since 2003.

Gun collectors turn to RIAC for the highest quality, and rarest collectible firearms. Our team of experts ensures the exceptional condition of their used guns for sale. Unlike buying a gun from a private seller, our antique firearms, collectors’ firearms, rare guns, modern guns, and other firearm related items are all carefully vetted by our experienced team.  Additionally, RIAC’s in-person and online auctions cater to gun enthusiasts of all kinds, who are looking for a particular gun manufacturer or model. Find out more information about upcoming gun auctions or explore our exceptional inventory of used guns for sale online.

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