One of these days, I'd like to start some sort of project where one compares the values of reasonably common firearms over the United States. I think it'd be interesting to see how much a .30-30 M94 goes for in LA, or TN, or PA vs. TX or MT or somesuch.It's true that gun prices reflect regional variations. What sells in one part of the country seems to have less economic value (price) in another part. That's part of our large, vibrant economy and based on the idea that people place different values on things.
Another part of the equation is the condition of the item for sale. I've seen (for example) two rifles on the shelf together in vastly differing conditions. One virtually pristine, the other willfully neglected. The pristine one commanded a higher price than the neglected one. Other considerations that drive price are things like historical value, age, individual history, fit, finish, and buyer's perception. If the buyer perceives that he's getting a good deal, then he'll buy the piece. If not, he won't. Buyers can have vastly different perceptions for lots of good reasons.
However, there are a number of online sites that list perceived values of firearms. Places like Gun Broker and GunsAmerica. These online auction houses work like Ebay or any of the other auction sites, but cater to the gun trade. With one important caveat. All sales of firearms must be processed through a local Federal Firearms Dealer.
The way it works is when you bid on a gun, you contact the seller and give him the information on your local firearms dealer. If you win the bid, he ships the firearm to the dealer, who calls you and tells you your gun has arrived. When you get to the dealer, he completes the NICS check and you get to take your gun home.
No, Molly, you can't get a gun through the mail, unless you buy it from the US Government. The CMP still ships guns through the mail.
But, what Gun Broker and like sites have done is to set up a nationwide clearing house for gun values. I've never bought a gun through them, but I've used the resource to research gun values. If I can see what a like item is selling for across the country, I can judge whether or not the price is in line with what I'm seeing locally. That's valuable information regardless of what you're buying or selling.