How do I choose a reputable firearm appraiser?
August 3, 2012 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I've an antique rifle that I need to sell. So many appraisers/auctioneers/consignment places on the web. How do I choose?

The good thing is that no FFL is needed (pre 1895) so I can sell to whomever I wish.

I've searched Metafilter and noted how I could sell this if it were more common. As is, I just want to get an accurate value before I put it up for sale.
posted by Man with Lantern to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Profile says NOVA. Is there a local gun dealer in your area ? Heck, the NRA is up there too.

In Southern VA, I took an antique where I knew (based on internet research) the ballpark value, to local gun dealer for a formal appraisal. Was told if I ever wanted to sell it, they would make a good offer.

So, do you know it's value (ballpark or specific) ?

Also, no FFL needed for private sales (generally, I've sold privately to other individuals legally)

There are also a number of internet forums that deal in gun sales. There, you usually need to line up a FFL (even for antique/collectables) for shipping purposes etc. I don't tread in those waters, but am aware they exist. (eg
posted by k5.user at 12:21 PM on August 3, 2012

Depending on how antique, re-enactors might be your target (no pun intended, honest) customers. You could try various forums, etc.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:37 PM on August 3, 2012

go to and do a search for the type of firearm it is. If you don't know the type of firearm it is take it to a few different ones and see what they tell you (of course don't tell them what the other stores have told you) if you get 2 or 3 independent appraisals that are close you can probably bank on those. Pawn shops are also usually pretty good for this. And the last is an auction house looking for consignments. You can also go to the (a gun forum) and post this question (with a few pictures) on their antiques/Curio and Relic forum and probably get a great series of appraisals from those guys. You can also add a picture to this post and I can give you what i know about it (BTW if isn't a Mauser I will know jack squat on a gun that old). The highroad forum is a pretty well run sight without all the crap a sight like has and usually a pleasure to deal with.
posted by bartonlong at 3:42 PM on August 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback. A couple of responses:

It's a c. 1872 E.M. Reilly .450 BPE double rifle. The NRA likes these things but they do not value, or appraise, guns. I've been perusing websites and fora and have picked up a lot of info. I'll continue to gather and as soon as I've a better idea of its value will probably auction it.

Reenactors probably wouldn't be interested - unless they were reenacting big game hunting. (grin)

And is a farm website. I believe you mean I'll check it out.

Appreciate it.
posted by Man with Lantern at 7:55 AM on August 6, 2012

Well I don't know much about double rifles other than that some are really, really valuable and one that old in good condition just might be. I would say an auction house that specializes in antique collectible firearms is the way to go. and I did mean, sorry about that. Most of the kind of gun nuts you are going to run into on a internet forum are not the type to be interested in this kind of gun. I was expected an old trap door springfield or german commission rifle, as that is usually what someone has when they say antique gun that is older than 1899. Good luck and I am curious as to what the final outcome is.
posted by bartonlong at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, bartonlon. Feedback from helped out, especially with the date of manufacturer (a bit later than I thought but still 19th century). I'm having an antiques firearms appraiser take a look at it on Monday, but now that I know a LOT more about it I'll not feel like a newb (even if I am) when I talk to him.

Note to the person that mentioned the NRA? This being an English rifle, it's not even something they have in their museum. I still need to make it over there, though. Someday . . .

I'll close this question out but will try to remember to let you know the outcome, if you like.
posted by Man with Lantern at 11:47 AM on August 10, 2012

Response by poster: AND for what it's worth, appraisers for antique firearms are not too common in the Washington, DC area. I'm heading up to Pennsylvania to speak with Monty Whitley ( I've also consulted with Cal Pappas ( and Gregg from

Mr. Pappas provides an appraisal based on photos (lots of photos) and I'll rely on Mr. Whitley to authenticate the rifle's condition and, hopefully, provide an appraisal that closely matches that of Mr. Pappas.

From there I'll explore the best way to get the rifle on the market.
posted by Man with Lantern at 11:53 AM on August 10, 2012

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