Make your next purchase at Gunbroker count with these six savvy tips that will save you money.
What Are The Money-Saving Gunbroker Tips:
- Avoid “Buy Now”
- Shop Other Gun Websites
- Take Advantage Of Penny Auctions
- Realize You Can't Snipe
- Account For The Fees
- Research Gunbroker Forums
There’s no doubt it: Gunbroker is king of gun auction sites. It’s become the nationally celebrated arms bazaar where every possible firearm and accessory — both new and used — can be found for sale. It’s where mom and pop gun shops, large national retailers and probably your next-door neighbor all display their wares among thousands of other gun auctions.
You can still save a load of money shopping Gunbroker, if you know what you are doing. That said, we’ve come up with six tricks to get you the best deal at the site. Certainly, it still requires time, effort, even a bit of luck to truly make out like a bandit. But these hacks will get you a little close to making it a reality.
Much Too Brief Primer On Gunbroker
Much as its name implies, Gunbroker is a firearms broker. But there’s some nuance to what that means. The website itself does not actively sell firearms, instead, it brokers deals between parties—be they gun stores or private sellers.
Contrary to breathless headlines, there are no loopholes in buying guns from Gunbroker or any other online firearms outlet. Similar to going down to your local mom-and-pop gun store or outdoors mega-mart, you’ll have to go through a background check to procure your firearms. The big difference, you’ll have to find your own local FFL to facilitate the sale. Without one, you’ll never get your guns—the FFL must send their official paperwork to the seller before they’ll ship.
The cornerstone to Gunbroker are auctions, though many sellers offer a “Buy-Now” option if you happen to find a must-have and want to ace everyone else out. As explained below, this might not be the best strategy. Additionally, not every auction is the same. Some have reserve bids—the minimum price the seller is willing to part with their goods. Others are straight-up no-reserve auctions, which can garner you one heck of a deal, also as we explain below.
Where Gunbroker wins big accolades is its selection. Few if any other sites hold a candle to the variety of rifles, shotguns, handguns and what have you—be they new, old or used. For example, an M1 Garand query turns up 2,137 results, Luger P08 255 and Glock 19 over 10,000. Unless you’re after Jim Corbet’s Tiger gun, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for at Gunbroker.
Become A Savvy Gun Buyer:
- Gun Digest’s Five Best Posts on Gun Buying and Gun Selling
- So You Want To Buy: Should You Go For A New Or Used Gun?
- What Sells And What Gun Auctions Look for in a Consigner
- 20 Questions To Ask When Buying A Vintage Shotgun
- Selling Antique Guns
Pro Gunbroker Tips
Avoid “Buy Now” Like The Plague
If you take a gun to a pawn shop and tell the proprietor that your fine firearm is selling online for a certain amount, you’ll face a terse rebuke: “Just because the gun is selling for that much doesn’t mean anyone will pay that,” he’ll say.
And he’s right.
You can put any “Buy Now” price on an item in a gun auction — and many gun sellers do, hoping to gouge a sucker or two with inflated prices — but that doesn’t mean the gun is worth that price.
A good way to gauge the going price of a particular make/mode on Gunbroker is to filter results by auction ended. This allows you to see the final gun prices in recently concluded auctions, thus take the temperature of the market. A smart move that will make you a savvy buyer.
Don’t Turn To It As The Sole Source For Guns
The miracle of buying guns online is the marketplace is laid wide open for you. It doesn’t matter where you’re from—Bill, Wyo., or downtown Miami—you have a vast ocean of sellers looking to connect. With that in mind, you should approach your virtual gun purchase as a buyers’ market. Let the good deal come to you, which might not be on Gunbroker.
As a mature marketplace, with a lot of brand power, plenty of sellers understand how to get the most out of the site. In turn, you might not garner the bargain you were hoping for. Sure, they might be competitive inside the confines of Gunbroker, but not the rest of the online market.
A case in point, we searched for a factory-new Bergara B-14 rifle at both Gunbroker.com and Gun.Deals.com. The best deal we could find at the former on a starting bid was $599, while at the latter it was $552 for a straight purchase. (This isn’t counting shipping, fees, etc. We’ll get to that in a second.)
This isn’t to say there aren’t better deals on other firearms at Gunbroker, there most likely are. And time has a role in this story, a seller might come on Gunbroker tomorrow with a batch of liquidation B-14 with no reserve. But it illustrates the point the site isn’t the Lone Ranger when it comes to gun bargains.
Like with groceries, cars, anything, shop around to find the best deal.
Hunt Out Penny Auctions
Some say these are the last great deals on Gunbroker. But don’t hold your breath to rake in a heater for a copper coin.
Essentially, penny auctions are slang for auctions with no reserve bid—that is the basement price the seller is willing to part with his or her wares. As the name suggests, bidding starts at a penny and goes up from there. In most cases, you’ll still pay in the hundreds of dollars, but if you’re knowledge you can net a gun at a steep discount.
The simplest way to find these potential deals of a lifetime is to filter a search for “Auctions” and “No Reserve”. Viola! There they are, legions of dirt-cheap rifles, shotguns, handguns, gear and ammo just begging for a new home.
The key to penny auctions—any auctions—is discipline. You should have a good idea of what the gun you’re after is worth and how much you’re willing to pay to procure it. If you’re willing to shell out new-in-box (NIB) money for a penny auction, you might look elsewhere—you’ll save time and effort. If you thrill at getting the most bang for your buck, don’t mind buying used and have a streak of competitiveness, this is the arena for you. Happy hunting.
Realize You Can’t Snipe
Depending on your personality make-up, you could construe this as good or bad. Fundamentally, sniping is a successful auction strategy, where you put in a bid likely to exceed the current highest in the last seconds to ace everyone else out. If you haven’t yet, give it a whirl on eBay sometime—it works. But it won’t on Gunbroker.
The company actively prevents sniping with what it calls the 15-minute rule. Basically, any bid placed in the final 15 minutes of the auction turns the sale into a special mode, where it is extended until no bids have been placed for 15 minutes from the final one. It’s a more sober way of running a sale and arguably fairer.
Realizing this, you’re better armed to search out auctions in which you are legitimately competitive. Also, before flying blindly in with a large offer, expecting to snipe, you can more judiciously bid. Very likely you’ll save money taking a more restrained path.
Take Into Account The Extra Fees
Many times, those too-good-to-be-true deals on Gunbroker—or any online gun sales site—are exactly that, once all the extra money is taken into account.
First off, Gunbroker takes its cut. It makes its money by enabling sales. Overall, their pound of flesh is reasonable and applies to the seller—6-percent for the first $250 of an item and 3.5-percent on every dollar above that point.
From there, the buyer has to account for shipping costs and Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder. Which can get spendy. How much are you saving if you have to shell out $50 on each?
Shipping is easy enough to divine, the seller lists it on the product page. As to an FFL, that’s up to you. While most generally demand a reasonable fee to complete your background check and transfer a firearm, some drift into loan shark territory.
Preparedness pays off when it comes to cutting down on FFL fees. Shop around and find an FFL that charges a reasonable rate and you can trust. He or she will make more money in the long run by offering a square deal and you’ll have peace of mind from a trustworthy business associate. Don’t know where to look for a local FFL? Never fear, Gunbroker has a searchable database that lists the nearest in your zip code with their hours of operation and fees.
Join the Gunbroker Forums
One of the largest on the Internet, the Gunbroker forums contain a wealth of information about current gun value trends.
This might be the best-kept secret on Gunbroker.
There are detailed threads about proofmarks, model variants and their values, release dates on firearms and more. Browse or search the Ask the Experts forum for a deep dive into the facts before you buy. Or post your own gun buying/gun selling questions in the General forum.
With more than 440,000 discussion threads and 5.6 million comments in the General Discussion forum alone, it’s as plain as a scratch on a blued receiver that the Gunbroker forums are alive and well. This very well could provide the competitive edge you need to snag a deal and avoid a lemon.
Elwood Shelton and Corey Graff contributed to this story.
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