Most pistol values can be found by using a published pricing guide, such as the Blue Book of Gun Values by Fjestad. Compare the condition of the pistol to the results in the price guide to determine how much it is worth. These pricing guides can be found at local libraries and bookstores, orthey can be purchased at many online retailers.
The overall physical condition of the pistol contributes significantly to its total value. A pistol in excellent condition usually has an enhanced value, while a pistol in very poor condition often has a decreased value.
There are two widely accepted methods of grading the condition of a pistol in the United States. The first method involves judging how much of the original finish is still left on the pistol, called the Percentage Grading System. The other method is called the NRA Condition Standards. This method involves assigning the pistol a rating of excellent, good or fair.
There are two different rating scales: one for modern pistols and one for antique pistols. Both of these grading methods are subjective, so pistols should be graded by a professional.
Altering a pistol from its original form can greatly devalue it. Never attempt to refinish a pistol if it's important for it to retain its value. Keep all original parts even if they have been replaced with pieces that are functionally better. The pistol can be put back to its original form before being sold.