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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can somebody please explain to me the proper usage of the pricing information in the "Blue Book of Gun Values"? I'm in conflict as to it's purpose.

I'm sorry but this is a bit long to explain my situation.

I've been asked by a friend to help her sell off the guns and ammo from her late husbands estate.
I looked up the selling prices on a couple of online auction sites for some average selling prices on 2 rifles that another person asked about. I figure that the current auction price would at least give me an idea of current market conditions by what prices they are selling at. I'm also using the forum here to look at what you are selling these guns for between each other (I think a real good indication of current market conditions).

Another (now former) friend asked about a couple of the rifles she has and the asking prices.
I told him the asking price for one of the rifles and he just about laughed me out of the house, saying it was only worth about 1/2 of the price we were asking for it.
I asked him where he got his information for the price he was offering and he pulled out the 22nd edition Blue Book that is dated 2001 and showed me the pricing for that specific rifle in the book.
I told him the info he was using was so far out of date it was nearly worthless (I may be wrong, but I don't think I'm too far off the mark on it being out of date and useless). I also said I thought the book pricing was basically for retail/wholesale buyers, so they would get the best buy value for their resale dollar.(I may be wrong here too)
He accused me of trying to steal from my friend (thus the FORMER friend) and keep back money from the sale without telling her, by selling high, keeping some of the money back (stealing from her), and showing her the blue book values for proof of what I was selling them for.

First of all there is no way I'm going to steal from anybody, especially a friend or one of you guys in this forum. 2nd of all, I don't understand how he could think I would get away with it, because she has to approve every items selling price for the receipts she has to sign (duh). Bad reputations never leave a person alone. Not to mention it would be a felony!!

Here is what I'm asking.
Is the blue book pricing intended for a guy like me trying to figure out a reasonable selling price to another buyer?
Or is it intended for a professional buyer trying to buy at the lowest price for his resale profit line?

If it is for a guy like me, I will buy the current 30th edition right away and work with my friend to figure out her asking prices. If not, I'll just post what I think is a fair price and turn down the lowball offers.
It doesn't matter to me if they sell or not, they aren't my guns. I'm just trying to help a dear frind not get ripped off by somebody looking to score from an unknowing innocent widow.

I really will appreciate hearing from you on this.
I'm sure I'm not the only one out here wanting to know the answer
 

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From 1980 to 2005 I worked in a medium sized gun shop. The CURRENT Blue Book was our # 1 Reference but there were some things in the book that could not be counted on. For instance Colt and Smith & Wessons in our area were about equal price but the Blue Book showed a premium for the Colt brand which was true If you traveled West or South a few hundred miles but not in our area. Certain brands were very popular in our area. Today there are still differences in prices in regions especially in places like Kalifornia. Changes in prices in the last year cannot have been all captured in the current blue book. The Blue book shows the Retail prices and we of course had to buy at a discount from the Retail price to keep the doors open. THIS IS NOT RIPPING ANYONE OFF. Today we have internet auctions and internet sales which I am glad that we didn't have to contend with. Personally my instructions to my wife is to turn everything over to a good auction house. Your plan is one that will certainly get the widow a lot more money than going to a gun shop or auction house.
 

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Gearchecker:

When my dad passed away, I sold his gun collection to raise money for my mom. Our situation was lucky because I knew the "Blue Book" wasn't right at all. I had the current version (I spent the money on it) when I sold the guns. It is a good reference for dates of manufacture and for identifying certain model variations. Other than that, I wouldn't trust the prices at all.

The internet auction sites have nullified the old way of selling guns. It used to be that a S&W collectible was worth more in New York than it was in Texas. A Colt SAA was worth more in Texas than in New York (I'm generalizing, but you get the idea...a lever action is worth more in the SouthWest, a bolt gun worth more on the East Coast).

I scouted the auction sites and found GunBroker to be the best for my needs. People don't always realize just how many people looking for collectible firearms are constantly on GunBroker. It only takes two people who really want your specific guns to get the price going. The chances of two people wanting the same gun and willing to go up in price at a gun show or even a big name live auction is very slim. Plus the live auctions take huge percentage cuts of the selling price. GunBroker really doesn't take that much.

I sold several guns for THOUSANDS of dollars above the current Blue Book listed value! Not just 5% more, or 25% more, I'm talking 300% more! It was crazy.

I believe in excellent photos and long descriptions. Don't leave anything out. I also believe in $1 true auctions with no reserve. I know it freaks some people out because they think they'll only get $100 for a Registered Magnum. They just don't understand just how many people are looking at their gun on auction. I've had a gun view over a thousand times and I've had over 20 bidders trying to get it.

Examples of the sales:

Walther PPK RZM that the Blue Book said was worth $1000 sold for $3500.
Colt .38 Super Pre-War that the Blue Book said was worth $3500 sold for $7600.
Colt 1908 .380 that the Blue Book said "new in the box" was worth $1000 sold for $3125.

After my auctions, I was contacted by nationally known dealers who said they would have to reset their pricing due to the selling prices of some of the guns I sold on GunBroker. I was lucky my dad had some really good and desirable stuff.

It sounds like you have the knowledge and the ability to sell the guns on GunBroker yourself and make the absolute maximum amount of selling money for the person you're helping.

If you put a gun on GunBroker for $1 with no reserve, you can't fault the selling price. It's truly worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.

Those who tell you that a gun is only worth the Blue Book value when they're trying to buy it from you are just trying to rip you off. Your instincts are right. Go with them and good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
mm6mm6,
I really appreciate the words of encouragement. I will take your advice and list them very accurately. My wife says I can sell fleas to a dog, so I guess I will be able to get this done right for my freind. She will certainly appreciate it.

What am I to do about the guns that have recently sold below what her late husband paid for them?

She has a Browning A500G 12 Ga. that is 99.999% mint (NO BOX though, it's never even had a shell put in it). I've looked up the past 6 months of sales history, and all of them that sold are below what he paid for it to begin with.
The plan is to sell off the estates guns, but do we sell for a loss or put on the reserve in a case like this and hope for the best?

Any thoughts you guys? Even the smallest piece of good advice is welcome here.
 

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I cannot emphasize enough about no reserve gun auctions starting at $1. They have the highest views and the most bids.

It's all psychological. Someone sees your auction and it has an unknown reserve. They have no idea what you really want for the gun. Let's say you were selling a 99%, in the box with papers S&W 686 4" No Dash. Which auction for similar guns would you be interested in most?

#1: Opening bid of $1, unknown reserve.
#2: Opening bid of $1, no reserve. Whoever bids the highest gets the gun.
#3: Opening bid of $600, unknown reserve.
#4: Opening bid of $600, no reserve.

I know from experience that auction #2 gets the most views and the most bids. The unknow reserve in #1 could be some seller who doesn't really want to sell the gun unless he gets a certain high price. At a live auction, the excitement is in knowing that when the bidding stops, the gun is truly sold. None of this, "it's not high enough so it didn't sell" stuff.

Some people think that #4 is the way to go. You want $600 for the gun and if someone else will bid it higher, then that's great. If not, I'm happy to have gotten the $600 I put it up for.

Right now is one of the best times to sell guns that are not brand new. People are buying. I would say to put just one gun on GunBroker for $1 with no reserve and a 7 day auction (it is good to have the auction end on a Sat or Sun when people have time to bid) and see what happens. I was NEVER disappointed. I was shocked at the attention my auctions got.

I also bought $10 hard plastic cases for all the guns (handguns and rifles) and shipped them enclosed in the cases to protect them.
 

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gearchecker,
IMHO, the Blue Book is pretty much a waste of trees.
The older (and more valuable) the guns are, the farther from the mark the BB is.
I'd LOVE to buy every prewar gun I could at BB prices.
What's it good for?
Probably great for dealers trying to buy guns at wholesale.
Just my 2345ll
Don
 

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+2 for what Don posted. IMO its meant for a store centered FFL, what price to pay to someone who walks in with a gun to sell to the dealer.
For people like us it is about useless. The info within is detail lacking, vague at best, too often it will bunch together 20-30 years of production from any factory even though within those years there are plenty of variations and a sea of difference in the going prices for them. Its true for 'Smith, Colt, Ruger, Winchester, and far too many others. Toss that book in to the fireplace asap.
 

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the "Blue Book" is only a "reference book" , and one of several that are out there...some good,decent info in them, but no means "complete" nor is it "regional ,as pointed out above,certain things sell better , in other areas...and yes, an auction "May" fetch MORE money, hopefully , you get two drunks, and they BOTH want the same thing...I have seen MANY "widows" get screwed at and by 'auction sellers' far too often...unless you have a rare or scarce" collection of stuff that one of the LARGE auction houses specializes in (Ala, Rock Island, Little Johns,Southbys. and on and on), they will nickel and dime you in "fees"..they are in it for the "business" not to make widows rich......same goes for the internet gun selling sites,ala 'gunbroker, have to "know" who you are dealing with and have dealers in place to transfer, etc, again, can "nickel and dime" one with shipping, and transfer fees.........I want to "see, feel, look at and touch..." the item in question...then there are the "returns" ( 3 day inspection?)
then , trends, the economy, most of all "condition" of the guns is what will determine the actual "selling" ,NOT the asking price, nor the"wholesale" price that a shop is willing to pay......as for the owner paying MORE, hey folks have gotten taken to the cleaners all too often over the years buying guns...many guys tell their wifes, they spent "LESS" ,may even show them "receipts" for a lower price, to pull the wool over their eyes...they do it ALL the time........so best to get any and all of the guns, "appraised" looked at and evaluated in person, not via internet "pictures" ( often doctored) or the wrong or different gun even..........
good luck and nice try......we've been doing this since the 60's and have seen about all the "crap" that others have pulled over the years...we go to "live" auctions ( and even some local internet auction houses) just to check out the guns they may be bidding on, especially if they are out of state, as they trust our judgement, and opinion, as to what is being represented...............we have seen some actually have their auction 'licenses" pulled, by the State for "fraud" practices..........
so take your time and do your homework, as to the ones sold already, water under the bridge (over the dam..)
good guns will sell themselves, to the right person, in time,NOT overnight.......... kfjdrfirii
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Advice well received. So far we have sold 5 of her 30 guns and all but 1 have received either the same or more money than I anticipated. I has helped that I have taken the time to properly and completly clean and lubricate all of them very carefully. They are in the best possible condition that can be, considering every one of these so far have been used guns.

There are 4 guns in the collection that I have little or no experience with and they are being cleaned, lubricated and gone over completly by my gunsmith. He has been gunsmithing for over 40 years and I trust him completly as well.
I figure if I don't know what I'm doing I'd better leave it up to a pro.
As for the transfers he is only charging $3.00 per transfer + actual receipted shipping. I asked him how/why so inexpensive, and his answer is that it is a service provided and not really much work for him, so that's all he ever charges his clients. Everybody else is $20.00 + shipping fees.
I'll keep you posted when the better handguns and rifles come up to sell.
She is going to have ammo for sale too. that should be fun. I really need to make sure it's all legal.
 

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re: "I've looked up the past 6 months of sales history, and all of them that sold are below what he paid for it to begin with."

no different than investing in anything, stock-land-etc....

Prices often are like the tide, they ebb & flow....unless distressed sale "gotta sell NOW" perhaps in a year it'll be higher....or maybe not.

Closing out an estate is full of emotion for all involved. Making or losing a dime along with the effort complicates decisions.

Maybe he paid too much in the first place, or maybe there's someone looking for that EXACT unit just waiting at the next live gun show....

good luck
 
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