How do you determine 'fair' prices?


October 16, 2003, 12:10 PM
I've been looking around recently for something new to put holes in paper and have been astounded by the wide variety of prices I have seen. For example, watching for P-22 prices, a local store had one on the shelf for $369. A store a little further away has them brand new for $199. Browsing a forum, I saw someone offering to give someone a great deal by only asking $260 for his used P-22.

This, added to the number of requests I've seen around for people asking for price checks on items, has made me wonder if there is an easier way to estimate a somewhat 'fair' price (i.e. one that's not 185% of what it could be purchased for). Not necessarily the cheapest around (I would prefer to support the local store), but making sure that I'm not being bent over on the deal.

For common items, I have had some success checking forums, but for less frequent items, how do YOU determine prices? Is there a certain store that usually has fair prices? A website? A reference book somewhere?


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October 16, 2003, 12:23 PM
In a sense I think we can only ever scan the market place and see what is on offer from whom .. and for how much. ''Fair'' ... that IMO is very much in the eye of the beholder.!

Bottom line to me is ......... why does anything have a price at all?? It's cos someone may or will want it. Take that a stage further then ...... and how much will they be prepared to pay?? How badly do they want it??

Supply and demand .. governs so much in the market place ....... and one's patience or lack of it re finding best price.

Most of us are bargain hunters I guess but . I confess too that I have let imaptience get better of me a few times cos of ''I WANT'' ..... ''NOW''!! And even lookin back, an expenditure of another 20 or 30 Bucks still doesn't hurt, cos the goods have pleased so much.:)

October 16, 2003, 12:53 PM
Fair prices also vary from location to location. I see guys talk about prices sometimes half of what I see around here. I just tour around the local shops and compare apples to apples.

October 16, 2003, 01:11 PM
"Fair Price" is that price a willing buyer and willing seller agree on, and both walk away happy.

October 16, 2003, 01:56 PM
Check Gunsamerica and take a reading on several examples of the pieces offered there. Figure to pay about 10% to 20% above that for the luxury of buying it from a local source. If the price is above that, keep looking.

October 16, 2003, 02:05 PM
in regards to buying a used firearm, a similar question thats been on my mind is this:

seller says "only fired 200 rounds". who exactly are the people out there that put a small amount of rounds through a weapon? seems like every ad says 'hardly fired, only to check for accuracy'.
me, i put my guns through the paces. i like to shoot at LEAST 500 rounds per range visit, and my kimber that is less than 6 months old has already eaten 3000 rounds.
so tell me, am i off my rocker for suspecting a gun has been fired more than the seller claims?

October 16, 2003, 02:16 PM
Spiff .. I gotta say I have always been leary of the ''x many'' rounds fired!:rolleyes:

I mean, how can it - in most cases - be much more than an estimate. I sure as hell never log my ''rounds fired'' .. all I can do is base the deal on how long piece owned ..... approx number of range visits and average ammo expenditure per visit.

Even then ... damned if I could remember when I go to range which pieces i took in the first place ... always a hell of a hard decision knowing what to take and what to leave behind!!

If and emphasize if ..... a piece is on market as ''only 100 rnds'' or similar . maybe that's more accurate cos a guy perhaps blew two boxes thru it and knows that was all - but, then the question ... ''why is he selling''??:p

October 16, 2003, 02:43 PM
A fair price is the price you are willing to pay.


October 16, 2003, 04:40 PM
p95, i do try to keep a mental count of what my guns have been fed. i know how many cases of ammo i have bought and then i guesstimate all the other misc boxes i've picked up here and there.

someday i'll get myself a little notebook and take meticulous notes on a gun. i do however write down when i come across failures, and jot down all the details.

October 16, 2003, 05:10 PM
You can compare pricing at
Look for listings that indicate NIB.

October 16, 2003, 05:27 PM
As to the remark/question about the number of rounds fired through a gun, I have several guns that I have owned for many years that have no more than 200-300 rounds through them. These are guns that I wanted in my collection but not the ones I normally take shooting. Mike

Jim K
October 16, 2003, 05:44 PM
When talking using, not collecting, guns, I tend to be a bit leery of "hardly fired" or "only 100 rounds fired". I tend to think that the guy fired a few shots and found something wrong and traded the gun. Even so, if the price is right, I might take a chance.

As to a fair price, books like Gun Digest show the MSRP on new guns (though often outdated by the time the book comes out) so you can start with that price. Some dealers will boost the price on a popular item (I don't like that and refuse to deal with them) but many will sell at or below the MSRP. For used guns, the Blue Book can provide a guide, as will Flayderman on antique guns, but no book is more than that; they are guides, not price lists. For rarely sold guns not covered in the guides, the "fair" price is what someone will pay.

The problem with a small dealer is that he can't cut prices very much and stay in business, yet he has to compete with the discount houses and internet sales. This is, in part, why dealers charge high fees to handle transactions, especially of guns he has in stock; if you won't buy from him, he can tell you to take a hike, or else charge a fee high enough to cover part of the lost profit.


October 16, 2003, 05:59 PM
MikeJ ......... These are guns that I wanted in my collection but not the ones I normally take shooting. Hmmm .. I'll be honest and admit I sorta overlooked that ..... you are very right. I guess if a deal is done with someone you can have some faith in then maybe at times a ''genuine 200 rnds'' could be both honest and for that acceptable reason.

I do in fact have guns that fit that category when I stop to consider. How many rounds do i put thru Contender? ... measured in small increments of 10 I guess. How many thru Casull?? .. again probably 18 max at a sitting. And so on ..... quite a few guns spend way more time in safe than on range!

So - glad you brought that up ... balances things out some.:)

October 16, 2003, 06:41 PM
Around here I can buy NIB for 15-20% off MSRP.

Check the auction sites


Make sure you compare prices of the gun only. Then add back in FFL transfer and shipping.

I find I'm better off by patronizing my local FFL // shop // range.

October 16, 2003, 08:25 PM
...I have found that 10-15% off MSRP everyday is a good deal when not on "sale."

Standing Wolf
October 16, 2003, 09:33 PM
Look for listings that indicate NIB.

That's about half of them nowadays.

October 16, 2003, 10:47 PM
One thing I look for is less predicated on price. I check to see if someone here on THR is posting a gun for sale that I want. I check out that person's posting history (using the "Search" function to check on how many and what kind of posts he/she has made). If someone has been a solid citizen here, I'm more inclined to trust what they have to say about a gun they're offering. I've now obtained more than half-a-dozen guns from THR members through purchases or swaps (latest one just today! :D ), and in every instance so far, my assessment of the seller/swapper on the basis of his/her previous posts has been borne out in reality - great people, great deals, and everyone has been happy! I have three or four deals in the pipeline right now, and I'm looking forward to have them go well too.

Based on this experience, I'm willing to either advertise a "WTB" on the sales forums here, and/or wait until a member advertises something I want. I've never found an unreasonable price, and often they've been better than fair.

October 16, 2003, 11:36 PM
Only done 2 deals thru here preacherman but.... same comment as you.

I was well pleased and can say that overall i would expect both honor and integrity from all members here ... certainly ones of long enough standing and who I feel ----- up to a point at least .... I ''know''.

Good crowd eh.:)

W Turner
October 17, 2003, 10:15 AM
When I find a new local shop I am very direct about how I shop for my guns.

I let them know that I look for used over new every time first off. This seems to please them b/c they usually will make more off a used gun than a new one.

I also tell them that if I have to buy new I get the price off of a few sites on the internet, add the shipping and transfer fees and compare that to their "best" price with tax. If there is a $25 or so less difference, then I will buy from them.

I have only had problems from a few dealers when I used this strategy, and those few that have given me a hard time over it were informed quickly and directly that they will not get my business for anything.

There is one local shop that has recently started charging a $25 "processing" fee on all firearm transactions. Keep in mind that this is not a state or locally required fee, the owner just decided that since it was "so" much paperwork and extra work he would charge it. The next time I go in there I am going to politely inform them that I will not buy anything else there until they change thier policy.


October 19, 2003, 02:40 PM
Thanks for all the great suggestions! I realize that there is some truth to the "fair is whatever you're willing to pay" mentality, but there's also the feeling afterward that the person next to you on the range paid a few hundred dollars less for something. I suppose it is 'fair', but I wouldn't head back to my store again.

By the way, before posting this, I HAD decided that a local shop was 'fair' enough on a Mil-Spec. Yes, I could find it for less, but I do like to support the local shops when I can, and the extra $40 or so it cost was just fine to help the local spot out.

October 19, 2003, 03:00 PM
I mostly agree with Minotaur. I shop prices online for NIB, then I try to buy used LNIB privately for 15-20% off the online NIB price. I think it's hard to go wrong with a face-to-face private sale if both parties are open - I've always had good experiences.

Black Snowman
October 19, 2003, 03:28 PM
As a general rule I think the condition of the gun is more important than "X # of rounds fired". As a general rule I think people are honest about how many rounds have been through the gun but the only one I belived was on an HK USP in .40 used by an IDPA compeditor that my brother bought. He had logged every round in order to keep track of malfunctions in reloading batches and to see if there were any changes in gun performance. It had exactly 6080 rounds through it when my brother bought it.

October 19, 2003, 04:13 PM
Fair pricing is so very subjective; one person's fair price is another person's ripoff and yet a third person's "great deal".

I probably pay a bit on the high side for many of my pieces. I do this for a few reasons. First, the stuff I tend to buy is a bit on the rare side. How does one set a fair price for a variation that numbered less than three hundred pieces? How often does one see the variation? I tend to pay rather than regret letting it go. Second, the price of a firearm, in the long term, is relatively small relative to the total costs of shooting. As such, I am more likely to pay a bit more rather than haggle. Third, I have good relationships with two dealers. Both will order guns for me without requiring a down payment or a deposit; my word is good enough. One of those dealers has a range; for the last several years, my range time and targets are free. Those relationships are worth a few dollars to me.

October 19, 2003, 06:59 PM
farscott ....... I think we're pretty much on same page here. I certainly am bothered little by the odd ten Bucks here and there .... if the piece is what I want then usually it's snapped up.

It is also good to maintain the good relationship with a good dealer .... play things fair by him and vice versa .... works to both's advantage IMO.

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