Selling Guns Online 101

  1. christophereger
    So you want to sell your gun and are pretty internet savvy. With that in mind, here is a quick tutorial on keeping you legal and sane, while getting the most money for your investment.

    Where to sell

    There are two types of websites out there that cater to those looking for guns. National sites and local sites. National sites enable a seller; say in Ohio, to sell guns to a buyer in Texas. Probably the biggest and best-known site for national online gun sales is Gunbroker, followed by Gunsamerica and Gunauction . These are auction type sites similar to eBay. Ebay itself doesn't permit guns to be sold on their site but does allow parts and magazines. All of these sites charge listing fees and/or final value fees from the seller to offset their costs.

    Regional or local sites are more like online classified ad boards that are restricted to smaller areas. Instead of auction style listings, sellers list an item for a fixed price or trade. Once an agreement is made transfer is face to face on neutral ground. While you won't see as much traffic as on a large national site such as Gunbroker, this gets you out of the hassle of shipping firearms. A good example of this is Armslist , Texas Gun Trader, Oregon Guns, etc . These boards are generally free to use.


    Keep away from Craigslist if you are a seller as listing guns or ammo on CL is a violation of their terms.

    How to sell

    If you chose to use an auction style website, be sure you sign up with a seller account. This normally involves a few more verification hoops to jump through than a normal 'buyer' account and includes putting a credit card or bank account on file with the site for fees. Once you have done that, proceed with your posting.

    The main thing to remember when creating your posting is that you cannot have too many pictures. Take good high-resolution pictures in natural light of the firearm including the magazine, markings, muzzle crown, bolt/chamber, grips, and furniture. Your best bet is your backyard on a sunny day on a neutral background such as a deck or patio. If taking pictures of a longarm, try to take them from atop a chair or step stool with your camera zoomed in so that your ingrown toenails are not visible in the shot. Be sure to take pictures of any blemishes so that the potential buyer is already aware of them before they bid.

    Another thing you can't have is too much honesty in the description. If you bought the gun used and don't know how many rounds it has, don't estimate it. If you see chips, splits and cracks, mention them in the description. Anything you would notice if you were shopping for that gun used at a local shop, feel free to disclose it.

    If you are open and honest up front, with detailed pictures, the chances of having a problem once you have shipped a gun to someone cross country are much less. If you are selling it locally through Armslist or another board, these steps are also valuable in cutting short the inevitable inspection process when you meet the prospective buyer face to face.

    FFL Basics

    If you are mailing someone a gun, you have to send it to an FFL holder that can accept that type of firearm. Make sure to mention that you are not an FFL holder in your auction as some recipients can only receive FFL-to-FFL, which means that you would have to send your firearm through a local holder who is willing to do the transfer (for a fee). Ask your buyer to send you the copy of the FFL signed in ink that it is to go to. You have to send the firearm to the address listed on the FFL.

    If you are meeting face to face, no state or local law precludes it, and are selling a legal (and eligible) resident of that state a firearm from your personal collection, then you do not have to be an FFL holder. Be sure to check all of your local, state, and federal laws on buying and selling firearms to make sure you are in compliance. Ask your buyer to bring a copy of their state issued ID and attach it to a bill of sale and do the same for them. This is incase anything ever comes up.


    Remember, while the BATFE is silent on exactly how many firearms you can sell per year from your personal collection before you are considered an unlicensed dealer, if you plan to do it more than just occasionally, you need to get an FFL.


    Unless you are an FFL holder or are returning a firearm to a manufacturer, you cannot use the Postal System to mail a handgun. Only an FFL holder can send a handgun through the U.S. Post Office with and then they have to use USPS Form 1508 to declare it. The USPS will allow non-FFL holders to ship rifles and shotguns to an FFL holder, and you don't need to fill out a 1508 for that.

    This leaves commercial carriers such as DHS, FED-Ex, and UPS for handguns, which usually have to be shipped overnight at about $50-$60 a pop, so be prepared for that. On UPS shipments, they must be made from an actual UPS facility (not a UPS Store, Office Depot, etc.).


    As with all shipping, be sure you get it 'adult signature required', with a tracking number, insurance, and some sort of delivery confirmation service. Never ship a firearm and ammunition in the same box. Be sure to disclose on all of the shipping paperwork that the content is a firearm. Remember to get in touch with your bubble wrap when you pack the gun, and don't skimp. Also, always include a photocopy of your FFL (signed in ink) and/or a copy or your driver's license along with a printout of the auction details so that the transfer dealer has something to put in their books.


    Again, follow all state, local and federal laws as well as the policies of the website you are dealing with to make sure everything is legal, honest, and open. As long as you follow these laws, rules, and polices, selling an old safe queen from your collection is just a few clicks away.

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