Buying a Gun Online

28 December 2020   •    Greg    •    Blog
The Internet and Gun Collecting

Greg | 28 December 2020

The internet has changed many things in our lives (or at least for those of us who use it to its fullest potential). My collecting old, but modern guns predates my use of the internet by a good fifteen years. The internet has done two major things for and to collectors (no matter what they collect).

Colt Mustang
The Internet Provides a Maketplace

First, it allows the collector to more easily find (or buy, sell or trade) whatever he/she collects. In this case we're concerned with collecting guns. There are auctions where guns are bought and sold daily. I will provide some links later. If you are looking for a hard to find gun with very specific characteristics, chances are that sooner or later you will find it on the internet.

Publicizes Market Values

Secondly, it's easier than ever before to find out what something is worth. This has an upside and downside for collectors. But really, in fairness to all, a healthy market benefits from well informed buyers and sellers. Nothing can rile me faster than seeing a knowledgable gun collector or dealer running down the value of a gun to an unknowing owner, in an effort to buy the gun for pennies on the dollar.

The internet practically ensures that you can find the gun you want to buy, but there may be fewer "bargains" to be found. This is because everyone can see what others are selling for. The internet also practically ensures that you can find a buyer for the gun you want to sell, but there may be more competition from other sellers that may hold down the price you can get. In the old days, if you were the only person in your geographic area with a particular gun for sale, you might get a higher price because the buyer may have to go to great expense just to locate another one. Not so today!

FFL Transfer

There are three major gun sites that I monitor for guns that I want to add to my small collection. In order to buy a gun on one of these sites, you will have to register with the site (basically just create a user name and password). This is also a very good way to find out what guns like yours are currently selling for.

Once you purchase a gun on the internet, you will need to have a local gun dealer that holds a valid Federal Firearms License (FFL) send a copy of his license to the seller. The seller or his licensed FFL dealer will ship your gun to the local FFL and you will complete the paperwork there when you pick up your gun.

Curios & Relics (C&R) License

If you hold a C&R License, as I do, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (officially ATF), there are many older guns that can be shipped direct to you. Otherwise, you will need to have a local gun dealer act as "intermediary" for you. You will be surprised at the very long list of guns that qualify as Curios and Relics. Link to ATF Curios & Relics page.

Things I've learned about purchasing a gun online.

Never pay with PayPal (they have a strict policy against buying guns). I am speaking from personal experience. I inadvertently did this years ago. It took a very long time to get my money refunded from PayPal. Use a credit card to pay when you can, but watch out for sellers that charge a 3% premium for using a credit card. Many sellers say that they are offering a 3% discount for cash, which cannot be earned when using a credit card (BS). Your credit card may provide some extra protection for you as the buyer, of course the extra risk that goes along with giving out your credit card information exists. If you pay with a bank cashiers' check or postal money order, if something should go wrong, the process or procedure may be involved.

If buying a gun from a seller on an auction, look at the "feedback" of the seller. This should give you a good indication of what kind of person or business you will be dealing with. Communicate with the seller as soon as possible after the auction ends. If using email, remember that email can be unreliable due to spam filtering software, etc., so follow up with a telephone call when possible.

Don't assume all sellers are knowledgable about guns. Many are pawwnbrokers who don't necessarily specialize in guns.

Be sure to either inspect your gun as soon as possible or have your FFL person inspect it. Most auctions require sellers to give a 3 day inspection period at a minimum. Guns can be damaged in transit, especially long guns, depending on how well they are packaged. And finally, be sure to leave feedback for the seller and ask the seller to do the same for you. The feedback record will act as a future reference should you decide to sell a gun or buy another one. Some sellers will only accept bids from potential buyers that have a minimum number of positive feedback.

1992 Colt Mustang I bought online
I Bought this Colt Mustang Online in 2001

Collecting, shooting and blogging about old guns has been a very enjoyable hobby (actually more like three hobbies) for many years. I've met a lot of really nice people that share a common interest.

When buying a gun online, consider the following before clicking the "Buy It Now" or bidding in an auction...

There will be sales tax added to the final price depending on your location, not the sellers location. There will normally be shipping fees added to the final bill. And often times there are additional fees passed along to the buyer for credit card processing if you pay with a credit card.

These extra costs add up! And should be factored in to your decision in the buying process.

Also remember, after you settle up with the seller, you will still likely pay a fee to your FFL when the gun arrives. Getting caught up in the excitement of finding a special gun can lead to overlooking these extra costs that are involved with buying a gun online, so don't forget. I also want to add that paying with a credit card may offer some protection to you as the buyer that you may not have if you pay with a money order or cashier's check.


My MOS when I served in the United States Army was 76Y. For you non-military readers, the Military Occupational Specialty of 76 Yankee means that I was a Unit Armorer. While on REFORGER 85, I trained with German Paratroopers and qualified as "Expert" with the German G-3 rifle, the Israeli Uzi 9mm sub-machinegun and the 9mm handgun.