For many people, buying a gun at auction is a scary prospect – but with a pieces of advice in mind, it is possible to bag a bargain with your paddle. have put together to following top tips to finding that elusive bargain.

Finding your gun

  • Get yourself familiar with the list of gun auctioneers – has compiled a small list here.
  • Subscribe to their sale catalogues – truly the stuff of dreams, but also a useful tool for checking prices and previous sales – many of sales have online catalogues now.
  • Remember that photographs can be presented really well, painting a favourable picture of any item in order to get a sale – but you shouldn’t assume that everyone is a crook, there are some lovely guns out there for sale.

Evaluating your gun

  • Decide whether you want to check out the gun in person – all auctions have a sale preview period, which are a great chance to see some lovely firearms and mingle with the real enthusiasts. There is no alternative to handling the goods at any auction.
  • If you cannot make the sale preview – try and contact the auctioneer by phone and get a condition report

Checking a shotgun (useful for ANY second hand gun purchase)

  • Remove the forend and check the barrels sit tightly on the action. Look for any ‘give’ or twist between the two.
  • Check the barrels for external bulging, scratches etc
  • Check the barrels for internal damage (pitting, marks etc)
  • Check the ribs are sound, hold the barrels by the lumps and tap the barrels – you’ll be able to tell from the sound whether the ribs are still fitting well
  • Check the safety catch function
  • Check the firing pin function against a small block of wood
  • Check the ejectors – worth taking a pair of snap caps along for this
  • Check the stock carefully for cracks, with the gun fully assembled look for play or movement between the stock and foreend
  • Check for any marking from oil in the stock which can affect the wood
  • Examine the chequering for any cracks or repairs

Bidding at an auction

  • On arriving at the auction register your details and you should be given a paddle with a number
  • Watch the patterns for other lots, watch for the other bidders in the room and see how they ‘play the game’
  • When your lot comes around, have a budget and try and stick to it. Watch out for buyers commissions and VAT etc
  • Enjoy!