Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ever Buy A Firearm Online And Wonder How It Was Graded

If you have ever seen a for sale add online for a firearm, you may have wondered how did the seller grade its condition. You may have noticed that the gun's condition is shown as: New, As New, Excellent (EXC), Very Good (VG), Good (G) Fair (F) or Poor (P) or maybe even just as new or used. Your idea of what each of those means may be different than what the next guy thinks but luckily for us someone has, in fact more than one person or group, figured it all out for us.

The thing is though, just as those descriptors could be taken differently as subject to each persons ideas of what they mean, so too do they differ between those folks who have tried to view them objectively. For example, the NRA has a set of standards for grading guns here. It is used by a lot of gun sellers and buyer. Yet, if the person selling a gun is using those NRA guidelines and the person buying that same gun is thinking along other lines, say the grading system used in the Catalog of Firearms Values, there is likely going to be a problem because they differ markedly. While the NRA defines an excellent rating of a firearm as "New condition, used but little, no noticeable marring of wood or metal, bluing perfect, (except at muzzle or sharp edges).", The Standard Catalog of Firearms categorizes and excellent condition firearm as being " at least 98% condition with respect to blue wear, stock or grip finish and bore..." and also states that everything including sights must be "...100% original factory condition without refinishing, repair, alterations, or additions of any kind." Their standards (1) cover both modern firearms and antique firearms (manufactured prior to 1898); however, the standards mentioned above that were set by the NRA cover only modern firearms. The NRA has a separate set of standards for antique firearms.

Billy Joe Von Bubba or Hotshot Bobby Bangaroo or John M. Aikendoe (the cheap sniveling rip-off artist with whom you may be doing business, of course not knowing of his shady side) may use another system altogether. So, whenever buying a firearm from afar, and not being able to see it and handle it to inspect it, you really ought to know what grading system is being used by the seller. If a seller is using one or the other of those professional systems above it would behoove you to know which one and it would also be a good thing if the seller listed the condition and which grading system was used to determine the condition in his ad for the firearm (that is also a hint for honest seller as much as it is for buyers). If you are buying a gun from someone who is not using one of those grading systems, and is using one maybe made up by a gun store guru or one of his hunting buddies, you had best be asking a lot of questions about the gun and for lots of pictures too before plunking down your hard earned cash to buy it. If you are planning on selling piece, why not just be open and honest about it regardless of condition, it pretty much guarantees good feedback and future business from your customer(s). In short, let the buyer beware and the honest seller be forthright.

All the best,
Glenn B


1. Lee, Jerry (2014) 2014 Standard Catalog of Firearms (page 13). Iola, WI: Gun Digest Books, F+WMedia, Krause Publications

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