What to Look For in a Gun Appraisal

  • Jack Collins

This past Christmas, my uncle gave me perhaps the greatest holiday present I’ve ever received. While we were on a trip to his local range (shoutout to the awesome folks and facility at White Birch Armory in Dover, NH), he surprised me with a Sauer & Sohn 38H that his father had brought back from a defeated Nazi in the Second World War.

Obviously I’m never going to sell this thing—if you want it, you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. But it did get me thinking about how exactly one would determine what it’s worth. Fortunately, we’ve got SDI’s own Jarred McNeely to explain how you can perform a gun valuation. Here’s how Jarred breaks it down in his video.


What could a Sauer & Sohn 38H with original Bakelite grips be worth?


Determining Firearm Valuation: Gun Appraisals

First off, Jarred explains why you would want to determine the value of a firearm in the first place. Even if you don’t want to sell the gun, nailing down how much it’s worth is useful if you want to insure it.

Jarred mentions that this is easy to do with a stock gun—just take a picture of it and call it a day. But if you start adding accessories to the gun, things can get tricky.


Upgrading your gun will add value to it, so you need to take note about all the improvements you’ve made to the gun. Of course, attaching a scope, bipod, or any other accessory will increase the gun’s value. But more subtle upgrades, like Cerakote jobs, can also add value to a firearm.

Jarred also mentions that some upgrades are hard to convey at a glance. If you’ve had custom barrel work done, for example, you’re not going to be able to show it in a picture. In that case, it’s important to get a letter from the gunsmith who made the upgrades to the firearm.


You also need to consider the condition the firearm is in. Cosmetic issues like surface rust can be easily cleaned, but more serious issues like pitting or bore damage can significantly lower a gun’s value. Conversely, if your firearm is in good condition, it will be able to hold a significant portion of its value.

Determining Gun Valuation Yourself

What happens if you—like me—have an antique firearm that doesn’t have an MSRP you can reference? In that case, head over to GunBroker or Rock Island Auctions to see what similar examples are selling for.

Even with the example of the Sauer & Sohn 38H—a gun with only about 200,000 individual units made that are nearly a century old—you can find someone else out there selling it. That can give you an idea of what the firearm may be worth today. In the case of my Sauer & Sohn 38H, that price is just shy of $2,000.

Learn More About What Makes a Firearm Valuable With SDI

Determining a gun’s value takes a lot of specialized expertise. And that’s something you can’t just pick up through osmosis. Instead, you’ll need knowledgeable teachers like the ones at SDI. To explore the classes SDI offers and find your gun guru, click here.

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