Private Sale Best Practices


Here is a quick guide to buying and selling guns safely on online message boards. This article assumes that you live in a free state where private firearms sales between residents of the same state are allowed.

  • Set up an inventory list on an encrypted spreadsheet and include the following fields.
    • Make
    • Model
    • Serial Number
    • Gun Type
    • Sold or Owned?
  • Dealing with Buyers
    • I personally prefer a state-specific board over Armslist, since it keeps the out-of-staters who don’t know the rules from wasting your time.
      • I know Virginians who post on Armslist and have their time wasted with contacts who forget/neglect to tell them they are Maryland residents.
    • Check their profile on the sale board
      • Virginia Gun Trader has a profile and feedback system and good moderators that keep foolishness at a minimum.
    • Don’t get upset when people try to haggle over private message (PM).
      • That is just part of the game. 🙂
    • People are much more open to barter transactions than they are to straight up cash transactions.
    • Agree upon the price via private message
      • I suggest walking away if they try to haggle in person after agreeing to a set price online
    • Do not accept checks.
    • I have found that the lower the quality/cost of the gun, the more of a pain the buyer may be to deal with.
    • Some buyers may “forget” the price agreed upon or show up $20-$40 short on cash
      • Either walk away or politely remind them of the agreed upon price.
    • Ask to see his driver’s license or photo ID
      • This is what establishes your knowledge of the other party’s residence of a particular state.
      • If he is antsy about it, then politely decline the sale.
    • Draft up a bill of sale
      • Most firearm sale boards will have a model bill of sale for you to use.
      • Offer to exchange cell phone snapshots of each other’s concealed carry permits

“It’s a trap!”

-Admiral Ackbar

  • Interstate Sales Traps
    • This means you are in one state and the other guy is in another state. You have to go through an FFL!
    • Anyone who makes an offer to drive over to you from out of state to buy a gun directly from without going through an FFL is most likely an undercover agent looking for an easy bust or someone even worse.
      • Notice how they make their offer in a written private message to display as an exhibit at trial!
  • Prohibited Persons Traps
    • Get the other party’s name and check your county and surrounding county court websites for any criminal cases.
    • Watch out if the other guy mentions anything about not being in the USA legally,  having done jail time, using drugs, or smacking his girlfriend.
      • Those are federal disqualifiers that make it illegal for such a person to own, possess, buy, or sell a firearm or ammunition.
    • If the other guy smells like weed, then don’t sell to him.
  • Straw Purchase Traps
    • This trap happens more often to FFLs but is not unheard to happen to private parties
    • If there are two people at the sale unexpectedly, then that should raise a red flag.
    • The way this trap works is that one party will admit to something that legally disqualifies them from having a gun or have an issue with their driver’s license (it is from out of state) then their partner/”buddy”/significant other will conveniently have a clean record and an instate driver’s license and be able to buy the gun from you for his friend!
    • Politely decline the sale and leave the area.
  • If the other guy gives you a bad feeling or just seems “creepy” then don’t sell him anything.
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Firearms Instructor in the DC Metro Area

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3 comments on “Private Sale Best Practices
  1. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    I simply say up front that I am from New York, and will need them to ship to an FFL in New York. Then I ask for their fax number and other information, and give them the local gun shop’s information so whatever paperwork there is between FFL people, is their obligation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Source: Private Sale Best Practices […]

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