I’ve purchased a few items off the online gun auction site GunBroker and thought it might be worthwhile to pen a note about the buying experience. As with any auction site the items are listed and can be searched and can also be watched. I find the watch feature the best because I can view a list of items at the same time. The site does not have a feature to find similar items which would certainly be a plus.

Once you find and item it will have either a Buy Now link or the time remaining. GunBroker is a little different in that there is no swoop and steal ability. As long as someone is bidding the auction will not end. Every time a person bids the time clock is reset to 15 min so the best strategy for purchase is to offer the top dollar you are willing to spend early on in hopes of scaring others off in the end. Once you win the auction you and the seller have 5 days to contact each other. Most often for firearms the payment will have to be a USPS Money Order, but they have just announced an online payment system to be integrated into GB. The seller will also need a copy of the FFL. Once those are received they will ship the gun to your FFL. Then you go pickup the gun. Afterwards you leave feedback for the seller and they leave feedback for you. I would not suggest purchasing from someone with less than 10 positive feedback.

Before bidding you need to remember two things. Almost every GB auction has additional shipping and you also will have to pay the FFL fees. Shipping is generally $25 and if the FFL charges $25 it will add $50 to the total price of the firearm and that could be enough of a deal breaker for you to look for the item elsewhere.

Let’s run down a typical transaction. Gun pops up on a three-day auction and you bid on day one and win on day three. You and the seller converse and they instruct you how to pay by day eight. They do not have a fax machine and so you have to go to the bank to get cash, then to the USPS to get a Money Order (costs are minimal) and the to the FFL to get them to insert a copy of their FFL license in the envelope. Let’s call that day nine. The post office delivers the information and check on day 12. Somewhere in here has been a weekend so the seller ships to your FFL on day 15. The FFL receives the gun by day 17 and now you can go pick it up. The point being when using GB you must have patience. Even if you talk on day three in the scenario above and get the information out on day four it will be 10-14 days before the gun makes it to you.

Hopefully with the new online payment system it will remove all the time waiting for payment. If the person has a fax machine you can generally skip going to the FFL to get a copy put into your envelope for them to mail. I like GB, but often the items can be found elsewhere for less. At times an item is a deal, but be sure to check around before you place that bid. Good luck at the auction!