Although there are serious collectors who seek out antique guns to add to their collections, the interest of an average gun enthusiast will more than likely lie in later models. This type of buyer may need a little more assistance in determining gun values. Gun value isn't determined as a sentimental issue but is instead a practical one: most collectors want to know how much they can sell a gun for, or how much they will pay for a gun.
The best source of information in determining gun values is found in the most recent edition of The Gun Digest Book of Modern Gun Values, which can be purchased at a local book store, gun store or online. The Gun Digest is an exhaustive list of more than 8,500 models of firearms from 1900 to the present. This book contains the resources needed to assist in identifying guns, assessing the condition and ascertaining the value. In most of the listings you will find information such as caliber, barrel length, weight and characteristics. The Digest grades the gun from the lowest (60%) to the highest (100%) retail value. A gun rated at 100% of its retail value would be one still in its original box, never fired, with the original paper work. Sixty percent or less will be what you can expect a pawn shop to pay if you sell the gun or borrow money against it. For example, an average deer rifle 5-10 years old but well-kept may garner 80% of its retail value.
A 10-Point Checklist for Determining Gun Values
When determining gun values, several factors should be taken into account. Here are the major criteria to be considered:
- Examine the stock closely for cracks, dings, wear and tear.
- Scan the metal carefully for scratches, rust, and wear and tear.
- Check for missing hardware, such as screws.
- Test the action. It should be smooth, not stiff or loose.
- Check inside the barrel to determine if the lands and grooves are still sharp. Make sure there is no rust or fouling.
- Be sure there are no bulges.
- Verify that the safety works.
- Check for missing sights or scope mounds.
- Examine the gun for possible modifications, such as welding or extra holes having been drilled into the gun.
- Be sure the trigger is smooth, not hard.
Finally, brand names may also determine a gun's value. However, the foregoing checklist is the best gauge to use.