Pawning Guns: Everything to Know

March 01, 2020 - Guns & Other Firearms

Are pawn loans different for guns?

In a word: no. But if you’ve never pawned before, you’ll want to know some key terms. When someone pawns an item, they’re receiving a cash loan on the basis of its value. Your firearm is that basis– called the collateral – and they’ll keep it in case you cannot pay back the loan. If you don’t want the gun back, you can choose to sell it instead.

Indeed, the first question a pawnbroker will ask is whether you want to pawn or sell your gun. Whichever you choose, understanding the market value of your gun is the best way to know how much you can realistically expect to get. In general, you’ll want to know as much as you can about your firearm.

If you own a gun, you can pawn it easily and not have to struggle to find a buyer. However, you do need to know a couple of things about pawning a gun first.

Pawning a Gun: Pawning versus Selling

There is a difference between pawning and selling, even though you can do both at a pawn shop. When you are pawning a gun, you are giving it to a pawn shop as collateral for a loan. The loan amount is the value your gun is appraised at by the pawnbroker.

The loan will need to be paid back by a given date that you and the pawnbroker agree on. When you pay back your loan and by the given date, you should expect to receive your gun back.

Selling a gun at a pawn shop is very straightforward. The gun is appraised and you either agree to sell it to them outright for that amount, or you don’t. You have negotiating power, but do keep in mind pawnbrokers tend to keep a good pulse on the current pricing of electronic devices.

Pawn shops are a reselling business so they need to be able to sell your gun for a profit. It is easier for them to buy it from you than it is for them to issue you a loan. You will get more money if you sell it to them than if you pawn your gun.

Understand the Legal Aspect

Guns are not toys or any other possession, which you can acquire or give away without any accountability. You need to ensure that you are dealing with a pawn shop, which is allowed by the law to sell firearms.

The pawn shop needs to follow the gun regulations set by the federal government. In addition to that, the shop needs to abide by the state regulatory laws regarding background checks before selling a gun, and also the return of a gun to the owner once a pawn loan is done.

What you must know is that if you are dealing with a reputable pawn shop, they have to share information with the local legal authorities. In addition to that, they will also not allow any minors to pawn a gun.

Pawning and Selling Paintball and Airsoft Guns

You can also pawn and sell imitation guns like Paintball and Airsoft guns to pawn shops. Just understand though, within the past decade, the paintball sports equipment sales decreased from $300 million to $157 million. It’s a good idea to sell your used paintball guns to get some profits before they run out of value. They do not retain their value in the same way non-imitation guns do. In a significant number of states, you have to be 18 or over to buy and sell imitation guns, but you do not need a license anywhere in the United States to buy, sell, or own imitation guns.

The pawning and selling process for paintball and airsoft guns is much more similar to the process for any non-gun item. You pawn or sell the imitation gun to a pawn shop and walk away with cash, with or without a pawn loan.

Can I Pawn A Gun That Is Not Registered In My Name?

The Legal Considerations of Pawning a Gun not Registered in Your Name

You must know that when you bring a firearm into a pawn shop, the transaction process is more involved than if you were pawning a laptop or jewelry.

However, just like other items, if someone brings a gun into a pawn shop and it has been reported stolen, the pawn shop is required to report your attempt to make that transaction. This information goes to the police.

What is the first red flag that the gun has perhaps been stolen? You guessed it. A major red flag is that the gun is registered in a name different that what appears on your ID—which, by the way, the pawnbroker will ask for upfront.

Can I Pawn a Used Gun that’s Been Gifted to Me?

If you have been given a used gun from a friend or family member, there is a good chance this gun is still registered in the original owner’s name.

Before accepting a gun as a gift, you want to ask to see the original paperwork. This will show you if that person indeed owned that gun, or if you are inheriting a gun that might have been stolen. The latter is obviously a large concern.

You do not want to be in possession of a stolen gun. If you find that either of the aforementioned scenarios are true, return the gun back to the person who gifted it to you, and let them know your concern.

How can I find out the value of my gun?

While your gun might fetch a higher price if you kept it on the market, pawn shops will give you money quickly. In essence, you’re trading time and convenience to get cash now – taking a discount on the sale price. To get a sense of the fair market value, we recommend: | A simple, no-nonsense approach organized by weapon type (pistol, rifle, etc.). | Organized by the manufacturer, Firearms Price Guide has deep details on specific weapons.

Once you find the market price of your gun, remember this as a price point. Pawn Shops are reselling agents and have to make a profit to stay in business. If your gun does not have any additional features or historic significance, you can usually get about 60% of the market price for selling it, and about 50% if you pawn it. If you do have additional features or historic significance, you can expect more.

How should I prepare my gun?

For starters, you’ll want to bring your gun secure in its locked case – and entirely unloaded. Like any responsible owner, you and the pawnbroker will want to exercise best firearms handling standards. This means treating the gun as if it’s loaded. You’ll also need to bring your gun license. They will ask to make a copy to keep on file so they can run a background check if necessary.

Pawn shops, like a bank, are operating a business, and they will charge fees for loaning services. Also, each shop may have a particular interest in which inventory they accept. Not every pawn shop allows guns, know beforehand if a store accepts your item.

What kind of guns do pawn shops buy?

Any quality handgun or rifle that’s been heavily used, but mechanics still function properly can be pawned or sold at most pawn shops. A gun that’s “like new” will be even more valuable; and even better if you have an antique rifle, like from the Civil War. Regardless, expect that they’ll want to vet and check your antique gun to make sure it’s authentic – while you might know the history, a pawnbroker will still go through the standard process of precautions.

What if My Gun is an Antique?

Gun Basics

There are endless brands and types of guns on the market. You should, however, be somewhat familiar with what you’re pawning.

The two basic types are muzzleloader and cartridge-firing. From there, you have handguns and long guns. Handguns can be broken down into revolvers and pistols and long guns consist of rifles and shotguns.

Different firearms shoot various types of bullets. These bullets are measured in calibers, millimeters, and gauges for shotguns.

It is also helpful to know the manufacturer of the gun, which can tell you a lot about its history.

Although this may seem silly to know, it is actually quite helpful when searching out a pawnshop to make a trade or buy your gun. Having the knowledge may net you more money.

Rating Systems

There are two main ways a pawnshop will determine antique gun values. The first is the NRA (National Rifle Association) Condition Standards and the second is the Percentage System.

It is helpful to have an idea of how your gun ranks on both systems to have an idea of what price to ask.

History, Rarity, & Appeal

Knowing that a gun you’re pawning has a great history is great, but it has to be proven. If you have documentation, be sure to include it when you’re to pawn your firearm.

Another key to getting the price you want is knowing how rare this weapon is. An antique firearm that is widely circulated on the market isn’t going to bring the same value as something far rarer.

Finally, the aesthetic appeal of any firearm is important. This isn’t applicable just to antiques. Any gun collector will want something that catches the eye in their collection.

How Do I Reclaim A Pawned Gun?

Assuming you are the person who pawned the gun in the first place, reclaiming a pawned gun can be pretty easy. You can go in and reclaim your firearm whether you’re a resident of the same state as the pawnbroker or not.

If you are not the person who pawned the gun but are the current holder of the pawn ticket there are a few stipulations to reclaiming a pawned firearm. These conditions include being of age and legally able to buy a gun.

Make Sure You Understand all Terms and Conditions When Pawning a Gun

Since you are probably pawning the gun because you need quick cash, it is best to understand the terms of the pawn loan. Pawning a gun might sound easy; nevertheless, if you do not pay attention to the fine print, you will end up incurring additional costs and other inconveniences, which could have been avoided.

Feel free to browse around for more interesting information about pawning. Whether you are looking to sell or pawn something or trying to find a pawn shop near you, PawnGuru has you covered.

What should I do next?

If you do choose to use your gun to get a pawn loan, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the offer. These details will also vary by shop, but chances are you’ll have to make a payment in 30-60 days. We will follow up with more advice on how to pawn or sell a gun in our next column. We’ll include specific tips from some of the best pawn shops. In the meantime, you can get offers on your firearm on, or write to us with questions at

Good luck!

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David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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