The auctions that Rock Island is really known for are its Premier Auctions, which happen a few times per year and have really phenomenal goodies. But in between those are smaller regional auctions, which are still nothing to scoff at – the one this coming weekend has about 6100 guns up for sale. The hitch is that most of these guns are packaged together into lots of 2, 3, 5, and 10 or more guns that you have to bid on together. That’s a problem if you just want one specific item, but it’s also a big opportunity if you have some money available to play with.
Since virtually all the lots are intended to sell for $1000 or more, lots of folks are more or less excluded from bidding right off the bat (and many of the folks with big money probably aren’t interested in the non-exotic stuff). But when you look at the individual prices that lot bid represents, they can be pretty good. Take, for example, Lot 1486:
Here you have a Swedish Mauser, a No4 MkII Enfield, a Polish Mosin trainer, a Czech VZ-24, Yugo M48, and Arisaka Type 38 carbine. The estimated selling point is $800-$1200. simply averaged out, that’s $133-$200 each. That’s about right for the Yugo and maybe the trainer, but it’s a great deal for a nice Type 38 like that, as well as the Enfield and Swede. Here’s another example, Lot 1580:
Nothing really spectacular, but the estimated price is $900-$1500 (or calculated differently, $113-$188 per gun). And if you take a closer look at the descriptions, you’ll notice that the SMLE is actually a .22RF trainer (neat) and the Swedish Mauser at the top has a Finnish “SA” service mark – pretty cool!
Of course, there are risks. Unless you show up in person at the auction, the only information you have to work with are left- and right-side overall photos and a pretty brief description. Things like bore condition, matching numbers, unusual markings or variations are all left up in the air. If you are looking for that one specific thing, this my not be a good place for you to jump in…but if you know what you are looking at and can caveat emptor, then carpe arma! (apologies to anyone who actually speaks Latin…)
How do you participate? Well, assuming you don’t go in person, you can bid by telephone or internet. Sign-up is pretty easy through RIA’s web site, and you can easily place as many online bids as you like. The online bids also offer a great way to calmly assess what a lot is actually worth to you and bid just that amount, without risking auction fever luring you into inflated bidding. If that’s too detached, you can bid by phone – place a phone bid on the web site, and they will call you when the item comes up and let you bid live through the phone. It’s still pretty fast-paced, though (roughly 30 seconds per lot), so you should still have a good idea what you’re willing to do ahead of time.
FYI to our non-US readers; they will ship outside the States, so if you can legally import guns, you should take a look at what they’re offering. The prices will probably be better than what you can find locally…
I’m looking forward to the event, and I’m bidding on a bunch of things (nothing that I’m posting here, though – ha!). I did spend a bunch of time looking through the catalog, and here are a few specific things that jumped out at me:
Cool military-style optics: Lot 835
Funky derringers, and a Protector: Lot 136
A pair of Colt Lightning pump-action rifles: Lot 1043
Nice starter US WW2 collection (the Garand is missing a gas cylinder lock): Lot 1823
Want a Reichsrevolver? Try Lots 204, 205, 208, 1544, or 3304
There are a ton of commercial/sporting guns in the catalog as well, but I don’t have the detailed knowledge in those areas to pick out the gems that are hiding in there. You’ll have to go check out the listings yourself…but the action starts this Friday morning, so don’t procrastinate!