It’s no secret that the gun industry is going through a massive period of high demand right now. Regardless of the reasons for this increase in demand a lot of you are probably looking to buy more guns or perhaps, your first gun. The problem here is that while many more people are buying guns right now, not many are available locally – even at gun shows. The good news is that there are still plenty of guns out there and you can buy them with just a tiny bit of effort – sometimes at a steal of a price. Today I’ll be going over how to find and purchase a gun online legally with Gunbroker.com.
Local Gun Store Out of Stock? How to Buy a Gun Online With Gunbroker
TFB is not in any way affiliated with Gunbroker.com, this guide is made entirely up of my experiences personally with the website and its use. Your experiences may vary so use caution.
Gunbroker.com was established in early February 1999 by Steven F Urvan after the online auction website eBay announced that would henceforth prohibit the auction of firearms and firearm parts like barrels, magazines, and trigger assemblies. Gunbroker itself does not sell firearms but instead acts as a mediator between those who want to sell firearms and those who want to buy firearms and even accessories and ammunition – this is where you come in.
You’ll need to put in a tiny bit more effort than just driving down to the gun store so this article will serve as a short guide on how to navigate a much larger firearms market that you can access from your own home.
Make an Account and Find a gun
Making an account with Gunbroker is free and easy. In order to open an account, you will need to provide your name, phone number, email address, mailing address, and date of birth. This information (which is also the information you’ll end up putting on any form 4473’s you fill out) is all that is needed to start browsing for firearms and accessories.
One of the great things about Gunbroker is its many filtering options. Regardless of the type of firearm, you’re looking for, what caliber it’s in, what barrel length it has or what type of furniture it has you’ll be able to narrow down your search results fairly accurately so you don’t have to dive through the tens of thousands of listings they have on the website.
Additionally, you can help yourself work within your own budget if you only have so much to spend. The filtering options are quite numerous and you can do just about anything with them to narrow down the results based on your current needs.
Just for an example, I am in the market right now to find a Mossberg MVP Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor. Local gun shops have been out of stock for a while but Gunbroker has 54 listings for that particular rifle.
Once you find the firearm you want, you can simply place a bid indicating that you want to buy the firearm for that price. If the bid is successful and is above the current price you may end up being the highest bidder.
Pitfalls to Avoid on Gunbroker
I’d like to express some cautionary advice for first-time buyers on Gunbroker. The great thing about the internet is that the products you want are widely available and almost always in stock (in fact on Gunbroker, if it’s not in stock, it won’t be listed). However, what this means is that there are often hidden fees, deceptive listing strategies, and worst of all – shipping costs and taxes that aren’t always made readily apparent if you’re not looking carefully. We’ll briefly cover each one here.
Most of the firearms listed on the website will list some sort of shipping option for the firearm. If you’re lucky, the shipper can list that they are the ones willing to foot the bill for the shipping and this is quite often a godsend for buyers like myself but on the flip side I also use this option to attract more views to my listings. I hate shipping firearms and the more steps I can take away from the process the better.
However, most sellers don’t mind doing the shipping portion and will either charge you a flat rate (generally anywhere from $25 to $45) or charge you for the estimated shipping costs to the zip code of your FFL or the actual shipping costs. Be mindful of all three of these options when weighing them into the cost of your firearm.
Credit Card Processing Fees and Cash Discounts
Another important thing to look out for is the dreaded credit card fee. While paying for items online is commonplace now, many sellers will offer “cash” discounts if you send payment via money order, cashiers check, or even a personal check.
Generally, sellers will offer something like a 3% surcharge for credit card purchases and a 3% discount for cash/check/money order purchases. You’ll pay more and get the gun faster with a credit card purchase but you’ll pay less and have to wait longer while the other forms of payment make their way to the seller, get processed, and get changed inside the system.
Again, if you’re lucky and you run into a seller that offers no credit card fees, then you’re golden. This again is another thing to factor into your purchase as often times no CC fee listings are priced cleverly at what you’d pay for another firearm being sold for less but with the added on credit card fee.
Not Committing or Committing too Early
Gunbroker is first and foremost an auction site. However, you can purchase items at a “buy it now” price which will seal the deal right then and there when you click the aforementioned “buy it now” button. Once you do that, you’re indicating to the seller that you want that item and should it be the only one in stock it will then be held for you until payment is made and it’s shipped off to your FFL.
The same goes for auction type listings. If you make any sort of bid on an item and the bid is accepted you should be prepared to make the purchase regardless of if you think you’re going to win or not. I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I may or may have not purchased several firearms via auction while under the influence of a couple fingers of Wild Turkey (okay who am I kidding? I bought guns and I’m never upset ashamed of that).
Defaulting on a won item or refusing to pay for a won item can negatively impact your user rating which can dissuade people from doing business with you both as a seller and a buyer. So just make sure that you’re ready to buy when you click those buttons and everything should go smoothly.
Keep track of your auctions – The 15 Minute Rule
If you are bidding on an item being auctioned make sure to keep track of it if you really are after the item. I like to keep an idea in my head of what my maximum bid will be for the item so I don’t end up bidding over that. The smart thing to do is to start as low as possible in order to get in the highest bidder position and then battle it out from there.
Gunbroker does have a 15-minute rule for auctions. This means if someone places a bid on an item within 15 minutes of the scheduled closing time, the auction is automatically extended until there have been no bids placed for 15 minutes. All Gunbroker auctions use the 15 Minute Rule. So if you find an item at a good price within 15 minutes of closing that could be a good sign!
What you’ll need to buy the gun
Once you have won the auction there are several more steps that both you and the seller will go through in order to complete the purchase and shipment of the firearm. Right after you win the auction both you and the seller are notified by Gunbroker via email. The email you receive will contain the seller’s contact information like their address and username along with what the winning bid or buy it now price was.
THIS IS IMPORTANT
From the time you win the auction, you have exactly five (5) days to contact the seller at the address that Gunbroker sends to you. Likewise, the seller also must make contact with you within those same 5 days. Once you have both made contact the seller will send you instructions on completing the transaction based on your chosen payment method.
Follow the seller’s payment instructions very carefully. If paying by money order you’ll be happy to know that the postal service can be of some help if you end up running into problems with the seller and need to be refunded. Regardless of how you send payment make sure you include your name, address, and phone number as well as the item number of the auction that you won – this way there is no way for the seller to mistake which item is yours.
Once the payment is completed and processed by the seller, the gun will then be shipped to your FFL. I like to always request a tracking number, however, good sellers will naturally include this in their correspondence with you. This way you can estimate which day your firearm will arrive so you can arrange to pick it up with your FFL. As a final note, it’s also a good idea to keep your FFL in the loop just in case there are any issues with the shipment.
Gunbroker has a built-in listing of local FFLs available near you that you can choose from. This can help narrow down the time it takes to complete the process if the FFL already has their license on file with Gunbroker.
Final Notes – Submitting Feedback and Resolving Conflicts
It is a good idea to leave feedback both as a seller and a buyer on Gunbroker. Even more important is to leave honest feedback. The rating system on Gunbroker can help people find good people to do business with and help sway people away from sellers and buyers who don’t want to play by the rules or play fairly.
If you do encounter problems with a seller, Gunbroker will help you sort it out as there is a convenient “BPP Claim” button that is listed in your account underneath your won auction. I have personally never had to use this option, however, the option is there should the need arise. Simply fill out the form to get the process started.
I hope this brief guide on buying a gun online helps some of you out there get access to the firearms you’re looking for. If you have more pointed or specific questions about buying firearms on Gunbroker feel free to leave a comment below, I’d be more than happy to help. Until then, happy bidding everyone!