About firearms auction sites - this is an FYI

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by WHSmithIV, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

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    This is a long post, so take your time and read it thoroughly - I spent the time to write it to help everyone.

    I am a computer expert and engineer, I am also a telecom engineer and I did help make the internet what it is today as well as helping make cell phone technology work as it does today. For Telecom, I was a GSM Systems Engineer.

    Are there online auctions for firearms?
    Yes there are.

    There are online auctions for all sorts of things - Ebay is a perfect example.

    There are also scam sites for auctions. For anything you can think of buying, there is a scam site trying to take your money and let you never get anything but, make you think that you have a chance of getting something for a dime that costs $1000. You have a much better chance of winning a giveaway here on this site than ever winning those auctions.

    So, what sites to to go to, where can you find good deals? Well, on Ebay you can get a lot of good deals for gun parts and accessories. Ebay is the correct format for an auction site. Bidders may bid, costs them nothing to do so and the highest bidder wins. I can deal with what happens if you don't pay in a later article. The REAL auction sites format works on the concept of it you are at the physical auction yourself.

    Scam sites:
    These sites give you 50 or maybe 100 free bids. You bid in increments of one penny and, if you want to continue to bid after you have used your free bids, you have to buy bids. The insidious aspect of these sites is that when the bid is really over, they have a time extension on it waiting for one more bid. People watch the items that are ending and bid at the last minute, but the unadvertised time extension keeps running and the next bid resets the minimum time counter. Winning a really good deal from these types of sites is flatly not possible. The sites make money, the consumer loses money. Some of these sites even sell the same item multiple times and never deliver it. The buyer doesn't pay for it, they never ship it, so they sell it again, and again, and again. However, 99% of the bids were already paid for. By the time someone buys a $1000 television, or a $500 pistol (in the case of the gun auction sites) - the site has made 3 - 4 times that actual cost of the item.

    There are 2 sites for guns here in the US - there are also a few auction houses that run periodic auctions and do accept phone in or e-mail bids. Making a bid on these sites costs nothing. If you win something and fail to pay, your user ID is banned. You may be responsible also for legal costs trying to make you pay what you promised to pay. Never make a bid you aren't able or willing to pay on one of the honest auction sites.

    So, how do you find 'deals' on the real auction sites?

    There are basically three ways of listing on an auction site.

    1) you can list with a minimum bid of a penny and let everyone go to the highest price they are willing to pay. You can let the auction run for a couple days or a couple weeks.

    2) you can list with a minimum bid that is close to the retail value of the item.Your risk with this is that nobody will bother to bid because they aren't going to save even a dime.

    3) you can list with a reserve price - if nobody bids to the minimum reserve price, you do not have to sell the item to them for the price they bid.

    For any online auction - in the real auction systems, check the postage price. When you win an auction, you must also pay the postage. So, your final price is the auction selling price plus the postage. This will vary from between $15-$35 extra here in the US to the lower 48 states. (California is excluded from most interstate online sales - that's because it's really Commifornia).

    Lastly for guns - they have to be shipped to an FFL. For old firearms, they can be shipped to you directly if you have a type 03 FFL license for curios and relics only. Otherwise, you have to have an arrangement with your local type 01 FFL dealer to do the transfer for you. You will have to pay for them to do it for you $20-$30 generally.

    OK - now the bottom line:
    For any firearm you win on an an online auction you MUST count the final price as from 40$-70$ higher than the sold for price. If you live in the same state as the seller you will have to add the sales tax on the sale price also.

    I have two examples for pistols I have bought online.

    1) RG38 - this is actually a C&R pistol - some FFL dealers won't accept C&R licenses. Some firearms aren't actually on the list when they should be. So, $53 purchase price, $25 shipping and $30 transfer fee from our local FFL. (Beats $30 in gas + the transfer fee to go to the next nearest FFL). Total price $108. This pistol also needed 2 little tiny parts to fix it - $10.40. Total price for a working 38 special - $118.40.. Well, I'm a fledgling gunsmith so I could fix it. I'm happy to have it because my wife can shoot it. Actual value of the pistol in perfect working order - maybe $75. (remember that $30 gas cost to get there and back to the 'city' of 34,000 people).

    2) US Revolver Co. .32 S&W - this pistol I won for $36. Excellent buy because it is in really good condition and works - made in 1935. This will be my top break, hammerless showpiece for my collection. I've even bought ammo for it already. Now, total cost: $36 sale price, $20 shipping, $30 transfer fee - total $86

    So, I hope you all are beginning to understand the costs of buying a firearm online. REMEMBER - FORGET AND BLOCK ANY INTERNET LOCATION THAT WANTS YOU TO PAY TO BID! - I can NOT stress this strongly enough! As a Computer company which I own, we did a test. We paid $10 for bids. We used all of our combined skills and we could not win anything other than 10 more 'free' bids. If you see a site requiring you to pay for bids - avoid it like the plague that it is.

    So, back to the original topic - how to get a deal from an on-line auction?

    Well, re-read the two pistols I bought. The RG wasn't all that good of a deal with a total cost of maybe even only $50 in perfect working condition. I would have had to spend that $30 in gasoline and a lot of time to find a good deal. So, the RG is kind of a wash in cost.

    The Iver Johnson (US Revolver Co.) .32 is in really good condition. $86 total cost is a decent deal. I bought 50 rounds of ammo for it for $22 including shipping - same auction site. If my C&R FFL had already arrived I would have saved $30.00 - the same cost of the C&R FFL.

    Last in this article is HOW to bid one somthing you are interested in.

    1) decide what is you absolute maximum price including the listed shipping cost and your local FFL transfer cost

    2) Bid the absolute minimum that get you to a winning bid committing yourself to no more than 50% of your final maximum price. IF you get outbid, don't worry about it. Another piece will come along that you are just as interested in.

    3. Do your searches selecting the 'No Reserve' auctions, then sort by price with the lowest starting first. That will be $0.01. I 'lost' 359 items, I have 'bids' on 112 items, I won 2 pistols, 2 boxes of ammo and one cleaning kit for really good prices.

    Bottom line, pay attention, pick and choose what you buy and how much you are willing to pay to make sure you get a deal. When you win an item, contact the seller immediately and arrange the payment and the FFL if necessary.

    Lastly, buying ammo or guns online requires a degree of trust. You have to send your payment out before the item is shipped. So, you have to trust the seller that it will be shipped upon receipt of the payment. The sellers trust you as a buyer to pay for what you buy and you have to trust them to ship to you what you pay for.

    I will modify this article if needed based on responses and I will answer responses regardless.

    This really should be a sticky article and maybe have it's own category but that is up to the owners and moderators of this site to decide.

    REMEMBER - Never Ever PAY an auction site to buy bids. Such sites are rip off scams. I will post the links to the only two decent auction sites I have found - I have made purchases through both of them with patience. There are also a few classified sites where people can list firearms and ammunition privately for sale. I will post links to the sites with permission from this site to do so. I traded my SKS rifle for a 1911 straight across via the best of the private listing sites. No cost to me or the guy who traded the pistol to me.

    William H. Smith IV
    Big Lost Computer
    Moore, Idaho USA
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  2. wv hillbilly

    wv hillbilly Well-Known Member

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    yep. you pretty much sumed it up. but there is more than 2 gun auction sites i believe.
    there is one that i would not recomend if it were the only one to buy from
    Guns A------
    that site cost me $1800.00. i never did get it back or the gun
  3. bobski

    bobski Former Guest

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    paying for bids is what the old school use to call store credit.

    if it was a local store auction where everyone knew each other, it would be fine. your credit would act as a proxy bid.
    but pre pay on the internet....its a scam waiting to happen.:eek:
  4. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    hey, thanks for taking the time to share with us! I've never bought any guns online and don't ever plan to but it's good info to know.
  5. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    I hope these 112 bids weren't all active at the same time.... I have a friend that wanted a Ruger Blackhawk and found about 5 or 6 of them being offered on different auctions, He placed bids on each figuring he would win one.
    Well, he won them all and didn't have the money to pay for all.....:eek:
  6. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for posting that. Especially that second paragraph. I knew Al Gore wasn't smart enough to create the internet all alone. It was YOU Mr Smith that helped create this madness. It is all YOUR fault that I can't get my wife off facebook. It's because of YOU Mr Smith that I have to keep signing for packages my kids order. I blame YOU. Just kidding. Any chance you can get me my bellsouth internet and sprint data plan for me free? :D
  7. jjmitchell60

    jjmitchell60 Active Member

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    Just clarifying a bit of flawed info:
    Good article BUT with some flaws & PLEASE correct the info because there is way too much misinformation as to firearm ownership, selling, buying,& other areas out there already. No need to make it more misleading and I would lead off the article with the BATFE web stite URL to answer many questions about firearms myself.
    http://www.atf.gov/
    I will point out the one main one and I am a FFL holder so I do have a good idea what I am talking about:
    This is not exactly true!! One there are several factors in shipping a firearm with one being an individual CAN ship a firearm they OWN and are selling or ect. (the ect. will become clearer). Now here is the facts on shipping a firearm:
    A person can ship a long gun through the mail, UPS, and FedEx to a gun smith, a FFL holder (providing the FFL holder will accept from individuals AND the state in which the FFL holder allows it), to the factory for service, and to themselves all depending on STATE laws in which they live/firearm is shipped to (and most states do allow it).
    A person CAN ship a hand gun to a FFL holder, gun smith, factory for service, and to them selves BUT only by FedEx or UPS being USPS will ONLY allow hipping of handguns by FFL holders to OTHER FFL holders, gunsmiths, and the factory. Now this again is if state laws allow which most do.
    NOW a gun owner CANNOT ship a firearm to another individual WITHOUT going through a FFL holder thus paying a transaction fee for the paper work to the FFL they use and the receiver/buyer must pay the receiving FFL holder a paper work fee with one of the parties having to pay for actual shipping/handling.
    NOW all the above is easy info to access on the BATFE web site. Below is the ACTUAL info from their Q&A site (this is over 1/2 the way down the Q&A page) as well as link to it:
    http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/unlicensed-persons.html#shipping-firearms-usps
    Q: May a nonlicensee ship a firearm through the U.S. Postal Service?
    A nonlicensee may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensed resident of another State. A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of his or her own State or to a licensee in any State. The Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind which would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms. Handguns are not mailable. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun.

    [18 U.S.C. 1715, 922(a)(3), 922(a)(5) and 922 (a)(2)(A)]
    Q: May a nonlicensee ship a firearm by common or contract carrier?
    A nonlicensee may ship a firearm by a common or contract carrier to a resident of his or her own State or to a licensee in any State. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun. In addition, Federal law requires that the carrier be notified that the shipment contains a firearm and prohibits common or contract carriers from requiring or causing any label to be placed on any package indicating that it contains a firearm.

    [18 U.S.C. 922(a)(2)(A), 922(a) (3), 922(a)(5) and 922(e), 27 CFR 478.31 and 478.30]
    Q: May a nonlicensee ship firearms interstate for his or her use in hunting or other lawful activity?
    Yes. A person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner. Persons other than the owner should not open the package and take possession of the firearm.
  8. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Almost correct, except FFL03's (C&R) cannot use USPS to ship handguns.
  9. mogunner

    mogunner Well-Known Member

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    Can't you receive a firearm that is considered an antique rather than a C&R without an FFL as well? And don't forget that in most states a blackpowder firearm isn't restricted in the same manner as a cartridge type firearm, I know Cabelas shipped my new Traditions straight to my house.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  10. pickenup

    pickenup Active Member

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    Unless prohibited by the state (city, etc.)
    NO FFL required for any non NFA firearm sold instate.
  11. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

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    jj - the article is only meant to cover how the sellers on the auction sites handle the transfers for the most part - it is not meant to deal with other caveats of sending firearms. Some of the sellers will send antiques directly to the winning bidder since they don't require any FFL license transfer. Some of the dealers won't even send a C&R weapon to a C&R holder but insist on a FFL transfer. Buyers in the same state as the seller can often go to the sellers location and pick up their purchase in person of course.

    In the context of having bids on 112 different guns, I need to point out that I generally get outbid very quickly and never manage to have the current winning bid on more than 5 or 6 pieces. Even then I pretty much always get outbid anyway (which is why I was actually a bit surprised to win the two that I did win). I calculate the shipping and the transfer fee as part of the price I'm willing to pay so I don't have the chance to win very many of these. I do have business dealings with the local FFL though and fix their computers and network issues so sometimes the transfer fee effectively becomes me doing the work for them a little cheaper.

    Sorry howlnmad - nothing I can do to help you with Bell South :(
  12. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

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    @wv hillbilly - yep - I know of the G A site but I don't use them at all - their auction system doesn't really have very much in it.
  13. BETH

    BETH Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the info
  14. wolfdog

    wolfdog Member

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    I agree don't use the pay to bid sites. Other than that I have had my best luck by being aware of current values, and checking going, going ,gone auctons. I have scored quite nicely several times by doing this.
  15. ampaterry

    ampaterry *TFF Admin Staff Chaplain* Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The pay-to-bid sites were ranked as the number one SCAM by the Better Business Bureau last year -
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