Written Appraisal From a Gun Shop?


August 8, 2006, 08:40 AM
There have been several threads lately where someone has asked the value of a gun they recently inherited and were advised to get a written appraisal from a gun shop.

Has anyone actually ever done that? In nearly 20 years of gun collecting, I have never heard of someone who actually got a written appraisal from a gun shop. Does your average gun shop even do that? I would think if you have something fairly rare and collectible, like maybe a Nazi Luger, you could probably find a specialist who would do an appraisal, but I bet it would be hard to find someone like that.

If gun shops do give written appraisals, what type of price do they actually quote? Is it what they think the retail price is, or what the gun shop would actually pay the owner for the gun?

Is telling someone to get a written appraisal a useful and practical thing to tell them to do? Between GunsAmerica, Gun Broker, the Blue Book, and various other sources, it really isnt that hard to figure out how much something is worth, unless you have something extremely rare and unusual.

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August 8, 2006, 08:51 AM
Usually, for an appraisal for insurance purposes, you need the services of a qualified appraiser (certainly if the item is of any particular value).

In the case of a firearm, the appraiser would start with standard measures of value: the Blue Book, etc. He'd rate the condition of the firearm in percentage terms, and then assign the book value to it. He'd then add in considerations that might affect the value or make the weapon more collectable (e.g. US army markings, a known - and verifiable/documentable - historical connection, etc.). He'd probably also add in a quick survey of gun auction sites on the Web to see what similar firearms actually sold for, as opposed to their book value. Finally, he'd put all these elements together and come up with a figure for the value.

The typical gunshop isn't in a position to do such detailed analyses over the counter, and as a result, their appraisal might not count for much in court.

August 8, 2006, 08:53 AM
I'd go the certfied appraiser route. A note from your local gun shop is not going to cut it.

After you get an appraisal from a local gun shop, ask them how much they would pay for the gun. Thats what it is really worth - at least to that gun shop at that point in time.

August 8, 2006, 08:58 AM
What is a certified appraiser?

Certified by whom?

Has anyone ever actually met a certified appraiser?

August 8, 2006, 09:01 AM
Lone_Gunman, see here (http://www.t-na.com/auction/caga.html) for starters. Do a search for "certified appraiser" and you'll find many more links.

August 8, 2006, 09:15 AM
Thanks for the info, Preacherman.

Actually, after googling "certified firearms appraiser" and looking at the link you provided, it kind of re-enforces my opinion that generic advice to get a written appraisal is unhelpful advice unless you have something of particular rarity.

Its just not practical for the average person to box up all of grandpa's guns and ship them out of state to a certified appraiser. There seem to be a few appraisers out there who will do internet valuations (whatever that is) for a small fee, and that might be more practical.

It also appears that "Certified Appraisers" seem to be very opposed to the appraisals given to firearms by non-certified appraisers, ie, gun shops. Perhaps this is professional jealosy? From googling, it looks like there are some certified appraisers who basically work as expert witnesses for insurance companies to discredit the work of other appraisers, and thus get courts to throw out higher appraisals so the insurance company pays out less money. This practice seems a little shady to me.

August 8, 2006, 09:19 AM
Good question, what is a "certified appraiser" in regards to firearms? Real estate appraisers are required to sit for a exam in order to be licensed and must demonstrate proficieny before becoming "certified" to preform certain types of appraisals. It is a long a drawn out process. An appraisal is a fair estimate of value, at a specific point in time, based on available information and the OPINION of the appraiser. The purpose of the appraisal also influences the appraised value. Is the appraisal for insurance, marketing or financing? The same property will have different values for each as they are looked at differently.
I think the way to good with a firearm is to PAY a reputable gun dealer (auction house) to do an evaluation. Their experience and reputation would tend to give weight to any appraisal.

August 8, 2006, 10:52 AM
It shouldn't be too difficult to find an appraiser. Check with auction houses, antique dealers, insurance adjusters and gun shops for referrals. Some gun shops will do them like this one in Virginia.



Verbal appraisals of firearms are always free at Clark Brothers. We are also pleased to offer a written professional appraisal for $5.00 per item. We discount appraisals for multiple items or large estates."

August 8, 2006, 11:07 AM
I understand appraisers are out there, but how can you get a written appraisal (which is what the insurance company will want) without the appraiser actually seeing the gun?

Jim Watson
August 8, 2006, 11:48 AM
For insurance, NRA Arms Care only requires appraisal for guns you value at over $20,000 or more than 20% over Blue Book. Within those limits, you set the value, you pay the premium on it.

For gifts and inheritances, the main reason for posts asking the value of Grandpa's gun seems to be for bragging rights. Maybe for establishing equal division of an estate, but I don't recall many if any of those.

The only valuation that matters in a gun being sold is the one backed up with cash. If I tell you a gun is "worth" $500 and you are only offered $400, what is it really worth?

August 8, 2006, 02:53 PM
I recently had to go through this for a family member's estate (not guns, but other collectibles). We found that there are several "appraisement" numbers for an item:

1) value to replace if you purchase the item new (if it's even possible)
2) value to replace if you can find the item used, in similar condition,
3) market value (if you were to sell to a dealer)
4) market value (if you were to sell privately)

For insurance, go with #1 unless you have a rare/collectible item, in which case #2 applies.

August 8, 2006, 08:07 PM
"how can you get a written appraisal"

Find one close to home. I put 'firearms appraisal' into Google and then searched withing results for Virginia. Clark Brothers turned up high on the list. I suppose I could have just tried 'firearms appraisal Virginia'.

Then I found www.gun-appraisals.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.gunappraisals

I didn't read much of it, but I saw $9.95 per gun for an online appraisal.

Looks like they also have a guess-the-value game. I'll have to get back to it later and see what it's about.


August 8, 2006, 10:32 PM
I took a couple of guns in to three different gun stores and a collectors
store they told me for a written appraisal it would cost from 20 to 25
dollars a gun so I walked out .the blue book still isnt precise for what the
market price is.

Ala Dan
August 8, 2006, 10:58 PM
We do it for insurance purposes only; for a nominal fee dependent upon
how much research of the firearm(s) is needed. Most of the time, this
fee doesn't exceed 'bout $20~!:cool: :D

August 8, 2006, 11:21 PM
The shop I work for does appraisals for insurance reimbursment.
The charge is $20.00 for the first appraisal and $5.00 for each after.
Most insurance providers in my area also reimburse the insured for the appraisal fees.
Most insurance companies will replace the firearm at appraisal cost or reimburse in cash at depreciation of 70% to 80% value.

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