Written by:
Chet Williamson
11 minutes read

Selling a handgun might seem challenging, especially with the legal and safety concerns involved. In this thorough guide, we'll give you clear, concise, and well-researched advice to help you through the process of selling your handgun.

We'll discuss topics like setting sales goals, figuring out your handgun's value, and selecting the best way to sell it. Additionally, we'll share important tips on avoiding scams and adhering to legal guidelines.

Establishing Your Sales Goals

Before diving into the process of selling your handgun, it's crucial to establish your sales goals. Identifying your priorities will help you choose the best approach to meet your specific needs. Consider the following factors:

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If you're looking to sell your handgun quickly, some methods may be more suitable than others. Explore options that prioritize fast transactions.

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For a hassle-free selling experience, choose methods that streamline the process and minimize paperwork or complex procedures.

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To maximize your profit, research the market and pricing strategies that can help you get the best possible price for your handgun.

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If you want to enjoy the selling experience, explore options such as gun shows, in-person auctions, or unique events that offer an engaging atmosphere.

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Ensuring a secure transaction should be a top priority. Learn how to avoid scams and follow the best practices for safe and legal handgun sales.

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Minimizing obstacles is essential for a smooth selling process. Consider methods that require less time, effort, or travel.

By defining your sales goals early on, you can tailor your selling strategy accordingly and achieve the desired outcome.

Ultimately, most people who are selling a handgun and who sell firearms, in general, seek a reasonable price for their firearm while ensuring a convenient transaction.

In the past, gun sellers often had to decide between expediency and value: would they rather sell a handgun quickly to a pawn shop or gun store, receiving only a fraction of its actual worth, or take the time to find a buyer over several weeks or months to secure a fair price?

Fortunately, times have changed, and modern options like Cash for Arms now provide competitive pricing and a straightforward, hassle-free process.

Once you've determined which factors are most important to you in this sale, the next step is to evaluate the value of your handgun.

Assessing Your Handgun's Value

To sell your handgun at a fair price, you need to determine its value.

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Follow these steps to accurately assess your firearm's worth:

Identify the make, model, and type of handgun

Knowing the specific details of your handgun will help you compare it to similar items on the market.

Evaluate your handgun's condition

Without understanding the true condition of your handgun, you won't be able to accurately determine its value. With your handgun unloaded, inspect the gun for wear and tear, functionality, and any modifications or enhancements. Do you still have the original box/case, accessories, magazines, and paperwork? If so, this will add to the price you can sell for.

Note: Just like new cars, in the world of firearms, guns that have been 'driven off the lot', per se, are no longer brand new. If you have handled the gun, loaded and unloaded it, or kept it under your bed for years, even though it may be unfired, it is no longer considered new. Now, if you have kept it in the box, and handled it minimally with care, you may be able to sell it as 'Brand New'.

Research comparable sales

When it comes to determining the value of a firearm, it can be tempting to base your assessment on the retail price or what you originally paid for it. However, these factors do not necessarily reflect the true value of your gun in the current market.

To get an accurate idea of what your firearm is worth, it is important to look at recently sold comparable sales (comps). By examining what similar firearms have sold for in the past, you can gain a better understanding of the current market value of your gun. In this regard, using recently sold comps can be an invaluable tool in accurately pricing your firearm.

To research comparable sales of firearms, there are several options available.


One option is Gunbroker, which is an online auction site that allows you to search for similar handguns and their selling prices. To view items that recently ended, you can use the "Completed Listings" section of Gunbroker. However, be aware that this area may contain listings that did not sell or received no bids. Look for items that have actually received bids to get a more accurate idea of the selling price.

Gunbroker listings page


True Gun Values homepage

Another option is TrueGunValue, a website that provides estimates of a gun's value based on its make, model, and condition. While this website may be outdated and glitchy, it has a searchable database of sold firearms, allowing you to search by make, model, and other criteria.

The Blue Book of Gun Values

Blue Book of Guns homepage

Lastly, the Blue Book of Gun Values is a reputable guide that can be used to assess firearm values. However, it can be complicated to use and requires a fee to access.

Overall, Gunbroker is our recommended option as it is free and the easiest way to find comparable sales. To find comparable sales, search for guns that are the same make, model, and caliber as yours, and in a similar condition. If you cannot find an exact match, you may need to make some assumptions or adjust the value of other sold guns up or down.

Although the process can be challenging and time-consuming, taking the time to research comparable sales will give you a more accurate and reasonable expectation of your gun's worth in the open market.

Calculate selling costs

When selling your handgun, it's essential to factor in any associated costs such as shipping, listing fees, and other expenses related to the sale. Typically, these fees amount to about 10% of the selling price, depending on the selling method you choose. However, with Cash for Arms, all selling costs, including shipping, are covered, and you get the cash offer that you receive.

Determine your asking price and target net profit

To determine a reasonable asking price for your firearm, it's crucial to consider both the market value and the selling costs associated with it. You should factor in all expenses, such as selling fees, transfer fees, and shipping, to set a realistic target net profit. Shipping long guns can be challenging and may require a special box designed for long guns.

By following these steps, you can determine the fair current market value of your firearm and set a realistic target sales price and net profit. It's important to keep in mind that calculating the selling costs is a vital step in the process, and failing to do so may lead to unrealistic expectations or disappointments in the final selling price.

Choosing the Best Selling Method

After assessing your handgun's value, it's time to choose the best method for selling it. There are numerous methods to sell your handgun. Based on your primary objectives for selling, some alternatives may be more appropriate than others. In this section, we will examine the various choices accessible to you and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Consider the following options:

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Fastest ways to sell a handgun

If you want to sell your handgun in the quickest way possible, here are some ways to sell your handgun fast:

Cash for Arms

Sell your handgun quickly and easily with Cash for Arms. Submit your gun for a cash offer in just two minutes. Our team is ready to assist you throughout the process, and we cover all selling expenses. We pay within 24 hours of receiving your handgun, and many clients report receiving higher offers from us than local stores or online buyers.

“I received bids from a few other places and CFA offered more than double what some of the others offered. The process was extremely easy and smooth.”

Jeff S.

“I tried two local gun shops as well as two others on line and this was the best offer I got. They made it very quick and easy.”

Dennis D.

“Compared to other options, Cash for Arms pays top dollar and waste no time in completing the transaction.”

Allen G.

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Sell your handgun quickly and easily with Cash for Arms. Submit your gun for a cash offer in just two minutes. Our team is ready to assist you throughout the process, and we cover all selling expenses. We pay within 24 hours of receiving your handgun, and many clients report receiving higher offers from us than local stores or online buyers.

Local Gun Shop

Selling your gun to a local gun shop is a quick and straightforward option. Typically, you will receive payment on the spot. However, keep in mind that you may not receive a fair offer for your firearm, and the process can be uncomfortable, especially if you're not used to dealing with gun shops. There's always an element of uncertainty when it comes to this option. If you do decide to try a gun shop, read their online reviews first. Additionally, go into the situation with your target sales price in mind, and hold strong. Do not get pressured into selling your handgun for a price that will leave you regretting it.

Local Pawn Shop

Selling a handgun to a pawn shop may be fast, but you will likely get even less money than you would from a gun shop. We only recommend selling a firearm to a pawn shop if you have no other options and need money today.

Selling to a Friend

If you sell a gun privately to a friend, it can be a convenient and fast option. You and your friend will determine the selling price, and agree on terms. Though selling to a friend is easy, it's still important to be aware of legal requirements in your state. You might need to fill out paperwork, even if it's a private sale to a friend.

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Maximizing Your Profit

There are several options available if you're willing to wait for your payment and want to get the most money and maximize profit for your handgun. Here are the main ones:

Cash Consignment with Cash for Arms

Consignment with Cash for Arms is another option to potentially earn more for your handgun. We work hard to get you the highest price possible. If our cash offer falls short of your expectations, we can consign your handgun. We'll market it to a marketplace of over 3 million gun enthusiasts nationwide for 14 days, aiming to secure top-dollar. You'll receive 85% of the net sales price when sold, and we'll handle all selling costs and shipping, making it hassle-free for you.

Private sales

By selling your handgun through a private sale, you may be able to get a higher price compared to selling to gun shops or pawn shops. Here are some ways to go about it:


Gunbroker homepage

Using GunBroker can be a competitive way to sell your handgun online. However, it requires a tedious signup process and high-quality photos, listings, and transfer through an FFL. GunBroker fees are 6% on the first $350 and 4% on the rest, and additional fees may apply. Without an established reputation on the platform, it can be challenging to sell, and not accepting credit cards could pose a problem for some sellers.

Local listing websites

Armslist homepage

If you prefer selling your handgun locally, consider listing it on websites like Armslist or regional online classifieds. These platforms let you target potential buyers in your area, which saves on shipping costs and allows you to handle transactions yourself. To create a listing, provide a detailed post with high-quality photos, a clear description of the gun's condition, and your asking price. Be ready to negotiate, as buyers may try to bargain for a better deal. Remember to comply with gun laws, which may require transferring the gun through a local dealer (Federal Firearms License holder).

However, selling on a local listing website can be time-consuming, and there's no guarantee of a quick sale or getting your desired price.

Firearms forums

The Firing Line forum homepage
Calguns forum homepage

Another way to sell your handgun privately is through gun forums such as Calguns or The Firing Line. These forums usually have dedicated sections for buying, selling, and trading firearms. To sell on a forum, you must first become an active member and follow the guidelines for posting your handgun for sale. This may involve providing a detailed description, high-quality photos, and a price that aligns with the current market value. Keep in mind that selling through a forum may take longer than other methods, as you'll need to build trust and credibility within the community before buyers consider purchasing from you.

Selling your handgun privately, except to a friend, usually requires more effort on your part. You'll need to list your collection for sale, meet with strangers, deal with time-wasters, and may have to take it to an FFL for a transfer. This process can take much longer than selling to Cash for Arms, and you may end up with less money in your pocket.

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Enjoyable selling experiences

There are a few options available if you want to have some fun while selling your handgun such as the following:

In-person auctions

Sell your handgun at an in-person auction event for a unique selling experience and a potentially high selling price. However, keep in mind that the process can be lengthy, and auction houses often charge commission fees. Consider this option if you value the excitement and have time to wait.

Gun shows

Sell your handgun at a gun show to reach a large audience and potentially get a fair price quickly. However, research the laws and regulations for selling firearms in your state or country, as background checks or paperwork may be required. Keep in mind that competition at gun shows can be high and affect the selling price.

Cash for Arms

Although we may not offer the same excitement as live gun auction houses, our team is passionate about assisting clients in selling firearms. Furthermore, receiving payment on the same day we receive your shipment can be an exhilarating experience.
We support you throughout the entire process, providing friendly updates and prompt answers to any questions you may have. While it may not be as lively as an auction or a bustling gun show, selling to Cash for Arms has its own enjoyable aspects.

Now that you're aware of the various options for selling your handgun, we aim to help you avoid potential scams.

Avoiding Scams and Ensuring Safety

Selling a handgun involves risks, so take precautions to protect yourself from scams and unsafe situations:

Identify and avoid fake buyers

Watch out for overly eager buyers or those who ask for personal information unrelated to the transaction. Scammers may pose as buyers and request payment or personal information upfront. To avoid falling for a scam, verify the buyer's identity before sharing any personal information or accepting payment. Never give out security codes or similar, private details, and don't let the excitement of a potential sale cloud your judgment.

Recognize and prevent payment scams

Use secure payment methods and verify funds before handing over the firearm. Only accept trusted payment options like cash, PayPal, or Zelle to avoid fraudulent buyers.

Meet in public places for transactions

Meet the buyer in a public location such as a gun store or shooting range to ensure safety and prevent theft or violence. Consider conducting transactions in gun shops if the gun shop will allow it.

Wait for payment before shipping

Never ship your handgun until payment is confirmed. Be cautious when dealing with non-FFL private buyers, as scammers may claim to have paid but then disappear with the gun. Shipping without an FFL's assistance is risky and can lead to severe consequences. We recommend using an FFL for your transfer, even if it's not required by law.

Legal Considerations for Handgun Sales

Complying with federal, and state laws is crucial when selling a handgun. Familiarize yourself with the following legal requirements:

Federal laws

In general, sales between individuals within the same state do not require background checks. However, interstate sales must be conducted through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL), who will perform a background check and handle the transfer.

Federal law forbids certain individuals from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition, including any person who:

  • Has been convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance
  • Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution
  • Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States
  • Is an alien who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa (with certain exceptions)
  • Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
  • Has renounced United States citizenship
  • Is subject to a qualifying protective order
  • Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence

Federal law forbids certain individuals from shipping, transporting, possessing, or receiving firearms or ammunition, including any person who:

Common state and local laws to consider

Some states have specific regulations for private gun sales, such as mandatory background checks or waiting periods. Research your laws to ensure you comply with all requirements.

Some states have specific regulations for private gun sales, such as mandatory background checks or waiting periods. Research your laws to ensure you comply with all requirements.

Here are some examples of common state requirements, which vary depending on the state:

  • Some states mandate a background check or permit for private sales, while others allow transactions directly with private buyers.
  • Some states ban specific types of firearms (i.e. some modern firearms) or magazines.
  • Some states require firearms registration with state or local law enforcement, while others don't necessitate such documentation.
  • Some states have waiting periods for firearm purchases.
  • Some states require sellers to document the sale or report it to law enforcement.
  • Some states have different laws regarding selling a handgun to a family member.
  • Some states require a concealed carry permit in order to carry a concealed weapon.

To learn more about selling a gun in your state and ensuring compliance with local laws, click here and then select your state to discover your specific state rules and processes.

Recordkeeping and Etiquette

Maintaining proper records and adhering to good etiquette can make the selling process smoother for both parties:

Drafting a bill of sale

To ensure the safety of both the buyer and the seller, a bill of sale should be used to document the transaction. It should include the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, the date of the sale, the names and addresses of both the buyer and the seller, as well as the purchase price. Both parties should keep a copy of the bill of sale for their records.

Verifying buyer identification

Before selling a handgun, it's important to verify the buyer's identity and ensure they are legally eligible to purchase firearms. Check the buyer's ID to confirm they are of legal age to purchase a firearm and reside in the same state. Some states may require a background check before a firearm can be sold, so it's important to research the laws in your state before completing the sale.

Proper shipping procedures

When shipping the handgun, it's essential to follow proper procedures and comply with all applicable laws. Depending on the destination, you may need to involve a licensed firearms dealer in the shipping process. Remember, it's always against the law to ship a gun directly to an out-of-state private buyer.

Secure storage during transactions

Keep the handgun unloaded and stored in a secure case when meeting potential buyers. It's essential to store your handgun securely until it's sold to prevent unauthorized access, especially if you have children at home or reside in an area with high crime rates.

Maintaining friendly and professional communication

Be responsive, honest, and courteous throughout the selling process to establish trust and facilitate a successful transaction.

Selling a handgun can be a rewarding experience when done correctly. By setting clear sales goals, assessing your firearm's value, selecting the best-selling method, and following legal and safety guidelines, you can navigate the process with confidence. Remember to maintain proper record-keeping and etiquette to ensure a smooth and successful transaction. By following these steps, you can sell your handgun safely, legally, and responsibly.

We understand the process can be overwhelming, so we created Cash for Arms to help you sell your handgun easily and quickly without any stress. We can simplify, expedite, and secure the process of selling your handgun, so you can receive a fair price while minimizing hassle.

Take some time to research and prepare for a successful and rewarding experience. Always stay informed and diligent to navigate the sales process with confidence. When it comes to the legality of selling guns, we suggest using a firearms attorney to answer any questions, as laws are always changing. Happy selling!

Wrapping Up

Selling a gun can be a straightforward process when you follow the necessary steps. It's essential to first determine your goals for selling your firearm.  Then, figure out the value of your gun, considering factors such as the make and model, condition, and comparable sales. Explore different selling options based on your priorities, whether it be convenience, maximum profit, or a fun experience. Always be vigilant and cautious when dealing with potential buyers to avoid scams and ensure a safe transaction.

Furthermore, make sure you are aware of both federal and state laws regarding firearm sales and adhere to any legal requirements in your area. Proper recordkeeping and etiquette are crucial to ensuring a smooth and legal transaction.

Options like Cash for Arms can make the process of selling your gun easier, faster, and more secure, ensuring you get a fair price while minimizing the hassle. No matter the route you choose, taking the time to research and prepare will help you have a successful and rewarding experience selling your firearm.