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What is the best way to buy a gun from a private seller online

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by browningpotato, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. browningpotato

    browningpotato Active Member

    There is a gun I am very interested in advertised here on THR. What is the best/safest way to complete this transaction? The gun is quite expensive, therefore I am a little leery sending a MO of that amount through the mail. I have no problem driving to do a FTF but he is in a different state and this is not legal, unless he meets me at a gun store for an FFL transfer.

    Is there any legal means to retrieve your money if you send a MO and never receive the item?
  2. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    The seller would ship the gun to your FFL after your FFL sends them a copy of their FFL. You can only take possession of the gun from your FFL, who'll naturally charge you a transfer fee. Alternatively, yes, you could meet together at an FFL in your state.

    As to the risk involved in buying on-line, I personally feel safer dealing with someone on these forums than on auction sights. Members here tend to develop into a kind of community of its own, and few would risk their reputation, particularly if they've been an very active member with a good post count.

    That being said, be sure each of you completely understand the terms of the sale to avoid a misunderstanding.
  3. browningpotato

    browningpotato Active Member

    I have bought and sold on other sites, but I am new here and do not have a very high post count and neither does the seller, that is part of the reason I am so leery. Every other transaction I've had I simply sent a MO and the seller shipped directly to my FFL and I have never had a problem. Like I mentioned before though, that was on another site that I was more familiar with the members (as they were with me).

    It sounds liek you are recommending an FFL to FFL transaction... I am not too familiar with this either, how does it avoid sending a MO and never receiving the gun?
  4. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    Nope - just like you've done it before - directly to your FFL

    I don't have a good answer for this. Maybe someone else will. May just have to go with your gut feeling. Sounds like you've had good experiences to date. Are they a more active member of another forum?

    FWIW, I'll be sending a check to a THR member for a gun today as well.
  5. docnyt

    docnyt Well-Known Member

    I've bought stuff from other members here without a hitch so far. You cannot avoid sending a MO even if you do an FFL to FFL transfer, unless you agree on a different payment method. Thus far, I've used PayPal, GunPal but not a money order as I don't feel comfortable doing that. The sellers I've dealt with were OK with that. With PayPal and GunPal, you may have some recourse if you use a credit card, but there have been some problems from others trying to get money back from a deadbeat seller. I personally have only used the PayPal money back from an eBay transaction gone wrong but not here. It all boils down to how much you trust the seller.

    Again depending on your agreement with the seller, you usually will send payment up front before shipment. Then you pick it up from your FFL once you clear the NICS check (if applicable), pay the transfer fee and you're good to go.
  6. jackstinson

    jackstinson Well-Known Member

    If you are worried, send a Postal Money Order via certified mail.
    A USPS MO makes it a federal thing if you get scammed.
    Certified mail makes sure everyone knows that the payment got to the seller.
  7. tc54

    tc54 Well-Known Member

    it's all about "trust". every seller i've done business with (or even heard about) wanted payment before he shipped the gun. it's just the way business is done. if you, for some reason, don't "trust" the seller, all you can do is back out of the deal. face to face being the exception.

    as far as the postal money order is concerned, it is true that there is a federal link, but that's about as far as it goes. one would hope that the feds would immediately jump in to seek out and apprehend a seller who just cashed the money order but didn't ship the merchandise. however, it's been my experience this doesn't happen. the feds will tell you they chase lots of criminals, and going after some fellow because he cheated you out of 400.00 isn't high on their list. a better bet is to call and speak to the cops. give them the name/address and ask that a patrolman make a quick visit. another option is an attorney in the sellers area. obviously this costs more, but it does get results.

    so, you see now, it starts and ends with "trust". the question you have to ask yourself is, "do i trust this guy to send me the gun?"
  8. wishin

    wishin Well-Known Member

    I've never done this, but maybe you can use a trusted third party at both ends to act as a clearing agent. Two FFL's would work. When the sellers agent (FFL) says the money is there, he ships; when your FFL says the gun is there, he passes the funds to the seller.
  9. jackstinson

    jackstinson Well-Known Member

    It's been mine and other folks that this does indeed happen, painlessly and fairly quickly. But everyone has different experiences.....I won't going negate your own personal experience.
  10. Bhamrichard

    Bhamrichard Well-Known Member

    In short, you cannot guarantee anything.

    Using a USPS MO and sending it certified mail would make it mail fraud if the seller doesn't send, and they'd likely prosecute on that basis. But that does nothing to protect your interest. Your only recourse would be a civil lawsuit.
  11. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Well-Known Member

    NO, it doesn't. You could mail wrinkled dollar bills, loose pennies, a third party check or any other payment method and it is still a Federal crime.

    USPS money orders ARE NO DIFFERENT than any other method of payment in regard to Federal law.

    What makes it MAIL FRAUD is that payment was sent through the US mail. It's the stamp on the outside, not what brand of money order is inside.

    ***There is no foolproof method of conducting a transaction between buyer and seller by mail or internet. At some point one will have to put some trust in the other to do the right thing. Checking the other persons "feedback" on previous transactions is a good start.

    You can also use an escrow service http://www.gunbroker.com/Support/SupportFAQView.aspx?FAQID=1165
  12. Lee Roder

    Lee Roder Well-Known Member

    I think a USPS money order is a pretty safe bet. I've purchased 2 guns through the mail and both times, never a problem. Knock on wood.

    While it may take a long time, and some fist pounding on your part, if the money order is "lost" or "stolen" by the seller, you may not get your dream gun, but you will get your money back. And if a gun went missing this can only elevate the importance of your claim to the postal inspectors.

    But only if you use a USPS money order. Money orders from Walmart aren't quite the same.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2010
  13. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Well-Known Member


    A money order (whether USPS or private) is the same as cash. Once the seller cashes it he's gone.

    If the money order is lost, both the USPS and private money order issuers will start a trace. But there is no way for USPS to "stop payment" on a USPS money order. You will have to go down to the post office and fill out a form, pay a fee (about $5 or $6) and (in my case) wait five months to get a refund:cuss:. If I had used a MoneyGram it takes just a couple of weeks.
  14. GunsAmerica Fan

    GunsAmerica Fan Well-Known Member

    Don't believe the stuff about USPS money orders being safe. The post office won't help you in cases of under 100k or so in fraud. There is just too much for them to do. That it is a a vaunted "federal crime" doesn't stop anyone.

    If the member here has a long standing, you probably are ok, but you never know. How many times have we seen snakes in the grass who use their social standing to scam people (or become president). People specifically do use discussion boards to scam people because they get caught and thrown off of the major gun selling websites.

    You might ask the seller to consider gunpal.com. I don't have anything to do with them but I have heard good things, and since it is a credit card, you have the option of doing a chargeback. I would stay away from the escrow systems. Gunpal is a better value for your 3%.
  15. A and O

    A and O Well-Known Member

    All relationships, business personal whatever are based upon trust. These details should have been worked out before you agreed to buy. That said, I've had good and bad experiences buying from complete strangers online. All of the online Gun purchases have been stellar with really great guys. At this point I would say that if you are a man of your word you will follow through with what you promised to do. You may be sweating a non-issue.

    Just my 2 cents

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