February 7th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: How to Find Great Rifles at Live Gun Auctions

David Buffington Live Auction Morphy Auctions
It’s easy to lust for those rare showpiece rifles at high-end auctions, but the author cautions readers to target the best deals, stick to your plan, and honor your monetary limits.

Buying at Gun Auctions — Be Crazy, Crazy Good

By Dave Buffington
“They’re crazy!” — You hear that all the time about live gun auctions. People love to rant about how people pay too much money for too many guns at too many auctions. It’s natural. And wrong.

I’ve been attending live gun auctions regularly for more than a decade — as many as 40 a year. I’ve learned that for every item that sells for a silly price, several sell for fair money and some — more than a few — have turned out to be great buys.

Just last summer, I bought a competition-grade STI 1911 in excellent condition for $670 at a live auction. Just this winter, at the height of the gun buying frenzy, I scored a highly desirable, rarely-found Anschütz 54.18 MSR in new-in-box condition for just $1,800. I then flipped that Anschütz for $3,000 just two weeks later. That $1200 gain represents a 66% profit — not bad for a little savvy shopping at an auction.

David Buffington SAKO L461 Vixen .222 Remington Leupold Vari-X II auction rifle
This beautiful SAKO L461 Vixen was a great auction buy … and it is half-MOA accurate as well.

Sweet SAKO L461 Score at Auction
Can you score an awesome deal at a live auction? Absolutely. Above is a .222 Rem SAKO L461 Vixen I got at auction for $1500.00 including Leupold Vari-X II 3-9x40mm scope. Note the highly-figured stock. My SAKO L461 is the “deluxe” model with rosewood forearm tip and grip cap. A similar .222 Rem SAKO L46 (below) with fairly plain wood (and no scope) is selling for $3995.95 at the Custom Shop, a Montana purveyor of fine firearms.* I got my SAKO for 38% of the Custom Shop price! SAKO fans will note that the L461 has an internal top-loading 5-shot magazine while the older L46 has a 3-round removable clip. And most folks believe that the newer L461 model (like mine) has a better trigger.

Compare the author’s $1500 Auction-purchased SAKO L461 (above) with this $3995.00 Custom Shop Inc. SAKO L46. This is proof that live auctions can deliver some impressive bargains:
David Buffington Live SAKO L46 .222 Rem Auction Morphy Auctions

Can you make a mistake? Yes, I’ve bought junk and paid too much for it. But I’ve learned that knowledge is the best vaccine against gun buying mistakes. That’s our next topic.

Know The Auctions
Finding live auctions takes a bit of research, especially during the pandemic. But estates still need to be settled, collections still need to be shrunk and so, guns still need to be sold. Read your local newspaper and shoppers guides. Use online auction search services like AuctionZip.com.

And once you’ve found an auction, know the auctioneer’s rules. Some do background checks. Some don’t. Some charge sales tax. Some don’t. Some charge a “buyer’s premium”. Some don’t. If you’re not sure, ask.

Know Your Targets — Stick to Your List and Avoid Impulse Buys
Especially at the all-gun auctions, it’s easy to be entranced by all the handsome-looking hardware, but some of my worst gun buys have been the impulse buys made at auctions.

So start with a list of guns you want — for target shooting, collecting, whatever — and stick to it. Get to know those guns, research them and for goodness sake, know the potential pitfalls. Some Winchester 52s are prone to the “crack of death”. Certain Brownings from the late 60s and early 70s are afflicted with “salt wood”. You need to know which ones.

Jay Ziegler Auction David Buffington Mauser K98k kurz Karabiner auction rifleKnow The Bidding Process
Auction newbies tend to worry a lot about how to bid. I know I did. But don’t. Remember, it’s the job of the auctioneer to get your bid, and once a good auctioneer spots you as a bidder, believe me, he won’t lose you.

The key is to get spotted. So don’t be shy. The auctioneer will likely start the bidding at some reasonable number. As a matter of theater, he’ll then start going down until someone actually bids. Then he’ll start going up again. When you’re ready to jump in, raise your hand and make sure the auctioneer spots you. If you’re not sure, shout something. (“Here!” works fine.) After that, don’t fuss about technique. Just nod yes or no the next time the auctioneer looks at you. (Ziegler Auction photo by Nathan Merkel)

Do understand one small but important detail: The price the auctioneer calls is the price he is looking for, not the price he has. For example, if you’ve bid $250, you’ll then hear him calling for the next increment up — such as “$300, $300, do I hear $300?”.

Misunderstanding that process can lead you to bid against yourself. 99% of auctioneers won’t let it happen, but as I can attest, it’s still embarrassing.

David Buffington Live Auction Morphy AuctionsKnow Your Price Limits
Auction fever is much like buck fever. You’re struggling to be still while you’re heart is doing its best rendition of “Wipe Out”. So you must, absolutely must, agree with yourself on the maximum price you’ll bid for a gun before the bidding starts. And be sure that maximum price reflects the true purchase cost, including sales tax, background check fees, and the buyer’s premium, if any.

Sticking to that limit is critical. First, because you don’t want to end up spending the mortgage money, but also, because there’s always another opportunity around the corner.

For example, on a cold, damp day last fall, I went to a small outdoor auction in hopes of getting a good buy on a Mauser-made, numbers-matching K98k. Ha! Despite the fact there were fewer than 50 bidders braving the drizzle, the gun sold for a whopping $3,200. (I bailed at $1,500.)

David Buffington Mauser K98k kurz Karabiner auction rifle
Is this the K98k that sold for $1,200? Or $3,200? The Karabiner 98 kurz (German for “carbine 98 short”), often abbreviated Kar98k or K98k, is a bolt-action rifle chambered for the 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridge.

But just two weeks later, I went to a warm, dry indoor auction with more than 200 bidders in the building. Yet I still managed to get a Mauser-made, numbers-matching K98k for just $1,200, a difference of a whopping $2,000. Crazy? Yes… Crazy good.


*Custom Shop, Inc. is featured on the Outdoor Channel’s “The Gunfather” TV Show. Located in Hamilton, Montana, Custom Shop has hundreds of rare and collectible guns — high-end rifles, pistols, and shotguns. In addition to used guns, Custom Shop, Inc., is also an Authorized Colt Dealer.

Permalink - Articles, Hot Deals, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 7th, 2021

New Mexico Law Would Ban Under-12 Youth Firearms Training

New Mexico Sedillo Lopez youth firearms training SB 224

Well it’s come to this… Democratic Party legislators in New Mexico are seeking to make it a crime if parents teach their younger children how to shoot. These anti-gun politicians will stop at nothing to undermine gun rights and the Second Amendment, and their goal here is clearly to stop the next generation from becoming trained shooters.

As reported in GunsAmerica Digest, a new bill, SB 224, has been introduced in New Mexico that would “criminalize parents and other adults for allowing children under the age of 12 to use [the adults’] firearms at a gun range.” SB 224 was introduced by New Mexico State Sen. Sedillo Lopez, a far-left Democratic Legislator who has been endorsed by the anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety.

This Bill would effectively ban all organized gun training for young persons under 12 in New Mexico. This could eliminate 4H and Boy Scouts marksmanship training activities for boys and girls under 12. So much for that Marksmanship Merit Badge.

New Mexico Sedillo Lopez youth firearms training SB 224

Bill Attacked for Demonizing Firearms Training
SB 224 has been slammed by The New Mexico Shooting Sports Association (NMSSA) which calls the proposed bill “an uneducated attempt to demonize firearms.”

According to the NSMMA, the bill “would make it a crime for a child to handle your firearm unless the child was 12 or older and had previously completed a firearms safety class. You would become a criminal for taking your child to go shooting if they had not previously taken some kind of formal class.”

Sen. Lopez and her anti-gun allies assert that SB 224 is merely a “safe storage” law. However SB 224 creates an “authorized user” category, defined as “an individual who has been specifically granted permission to have access to the firearm”. This authorized user restriction is how training will be forbidden. Minors can only be authorized users if they are at least 12 years old AND have successfully passed a firearm safety training course.” Any gun contact by a boy or girl under 12 is outlawed. The bill further requires that weapons remain in “direct control” of the owner or authorized user if they are not in a locked container. SB 224 defines “direct control” as having the firearm “within an arm’s length of the firearm’s owner or other authorized person”. Violation of the law could result in fines or prison.

Permalink News, Shooting Skills 5 Comments »
February 7th, 2021

Rebate Programs for 2021: Savage, Browning, Steiner Optics

Factory Rebate 2021 savage browning steiner

We’ve just started 2021 and some companies have already rolled out the first round of rebates. Here are three new factory discount/rebate programs that can save you serious money on a new firearm or scope. For example you can save $75 on a Savage. Or save $25-$100 on Browning rifles and shotguns for young shooters and Hunter Education (YEHC) instructors. There are deals on optics too — save 10% off all Steiner scopes and binoculars now through the end of March. Note: the Savage deal expires February 28, 2021 — just three weeks away. So don’t delay if you want to save on a Savage.

1. Savage Mail-in-Rebate $75 or $75 — February 2021 Purchase

Savage Rebate February money back 2021

There are multiple Savage Rebates for purchases made in February 2021. Receive a $25 mail-in-rebate on your purchase of any Savage rimfire, A or B Series, BMag, Rascal, Mark II, Model 64, Model 62, or Model 93 rifle; OR $75 mail-in-rebate on your purchase of any Savage 110 Precision or 110 Elite Precision rifle.

⏺ Product must be purchased between 2/1/2021 through 2/28/2021.
⏺ DEADLINE for mail in or online submission is 3/28/2021.

2. Browning Rebates for Youth Programs and Hunter Ed Teachers

Browning Rebate hunter education youth shooting team 2021

Browning is currently offering two rebate programs that apply to Browning rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Save from $25 to $100, depending model. First, there are rebates available for programs that help train young shooters. Such programs include: 4-H, AIM, SCTP other chartered organizations. These Browning Youth Shooting Group Rebates require group documentation and parental approval. Second, Browning offers rebates for current IHEA program instructors who teach Hunter education classes. Both the Rebates are available for the entire 2021 year, through 12/31/2021.

3. Steiner Optics 10% Off Purchases through March 31, 2021

steiner optics rebate 2021

We own two pairs of Steiner binoculars. These offer excellent performance for the price and have proved very durable. Steiner scopes are also a good choice for a backcountry hunter. Right now Steiner offers a 10% Discount provided by dealers through an Instant Rebate or Gift Card. This 10% Discount program applies to purchases made between 2/1/2021 and 3/31/2021. If you purchase an eligible Steiner Optic before the end of March, be sure to request your 10% Rebate.

Permalink Hot Deals, Hunting/Varminting, Optics No Comments »