eBay and Amazon don’t let you sell guns, and their refusal has led to a number of websites popping up on the Internet that try to give you the same ability to buy and sell used guns online. The only issue is that their design is universally terrible. Seriously, go look at Gunbroker or Guns America and try to resist the urge to stab yourself in the eye. But all that might change, as a new website, Defense Auctions, is launching this week that plans to give you all the features you want in an easy to use interface. And the best part is that right now its 100% free . . .

The way auction websites work is that they take a cut of your listing price as their fee for hosting the auction. And while this site will follow suit, they’re offering anyone who signs up this month 100% free listings for life.

Once the month is up, they plan on introducing an interesting fee structure. Apparently there’s going to be a mechanism that lowers the fees for people with good feedback or high ratings. From Adam, the guy behind the website:

DefenseAuctions was formed as a response to a limited market space in an environment that is increasingly hostile to gun ownership. When looking at online options for buying guns, the current choices tend to be limited, the sites not always easy to navigate, and the general consensus being virtually no concept of customer service. Our goal was to create a modern, clean, and easy to navigate marketplace to connect firearms enthusiasts whether buying or selling. Not only do we want to provide a high standard of customer service for all members of the site, we also want to encourage the same from users by implementing rewards for sellers that keep up a good reputation – this is done by reducing seller final fees for members with high feedback.  We also believe that the challenges present through constant attempts to not only limited, but in many cases outright restrict gun ownership need to be met by providing more opportunities for folks to exercise their rights to ownership or simple enjoyment of firearms. It’s our hope to provide a simple, trusted, customer focused marketplace for like-minded individuals and to also help add positively to the firearms community.

So basically, their plan is to provide awesome customer service and an innovative fee structure all wrapped up in a sparkling site design. Sounds like a winner to me.

The site is launching this week with the bare bones features and some minor hiccups, but given that the people behind this work for one of the top three hosting companies in the world and bring some big guns in terms of coding and web design, the future looks fairly bright for Defense Auctions. The guys are asking for anyone with ideas on how to improve the site to step up and ask — I’m sure they’ll be watching the comments here for any ways to improve as well.

Defense Auctions

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58 Responses to Defense Auctions: The Gunbroker Killer?

  1. I prefer armslist.com over gunbroker and guns america because its COMPLETELY FREE, for buyer and seller, I can sell face to face with no shipping or FFL. I’ve done it it a few times both ways and it’s been a great experience.

    That said, I’ll definitely be checking out this new kid in town.

    • Gunbroker does not forbid Face to Face transactions. If the buyer is local and legal who’s stopping you from selling it which ever way you choose?

  2. Wow, impressive looking web site. I just registered. I wish the people behind this new site well.

    You are so right about Gunbroker being a clunky web site, of course, I would not know where to begin building/designing anything like it.

    Glad to see this new option.

  3. The only way that this will work is if there is a proper payment system.

    The auction sites are not the problem….a lack of a paypal alternative that is easy to use and just as secure is the problem.

    • I agree it is a PITA to have to go and get a money order. Its a bigger PITA to wait 10 days for a money order to clear or pay an extra fee for CC.

    • Bitcoins. Anyone not familiar with Bitcoin P2P currency should take a minute and check it out. This stuff is going to be a huge game changer in the coming years.

        • Bitcoin is a completely unregulated exchange that may or may not be shut down on a moments’ notice by the FTC. Use it at your own risk, and don’t risk more than you can afford to lose.

      • > Bitcoins…This stuff is going to be a huge game changer in the coming years.

        No, its not.

        Here’s why: Generating bitcoins generally relies on a non-optimized architecture that renders the computations just a shade above the energy cost threshold. FPGAs and GPGPUs can make inroads and give people a slight computational advantage, however, the up front cost, coupled with moore’s law makes it hard to recoup the energy plus equipment cost every 18 months.

        Therefore, the complexity and cost place it outside of the mainstream so it won’t be widely used or accepted, but that isn’t even the biggest reason bitcoin isn’t going anywhere.

        If it *was* worth anyone’s time, it would be someone with a large computing threshold with high efficiency…say google, amazon, cray, etc. The moment one of them stepped in, it would upend the economy for the user base.

        But even they aren’t the threat to the bitcoin ecosystem that a silicon manufacturer is. Should a company such as tsmc, intel, amd, arm, etc. decide to press dedicated silicon for the calculations it would be game over…heck, even an investment brokerage house could afford for a fab run. And everyone that has done the calculations has already determined it isn’t worth a single low volume fab run for them.

  4. I’m guessing a small number of sellers account for a large percentage of the sales on these sites, so free listings for life for anyone who signs up this month will probably get some of these sellers to at least sign up and check it out, but it sure seems like it’ll cut into profits for the site.

    • TD – to be fully honest, I’m looking to find the balance to break even and keep the site going more so than maximizing profits. I’m a firm believer that a business that focuses on the customer will succeed and last the longest. I appreciate that if a boatload of big time sellers join this month that profits might be cut into, but if the sellers are providing great service and the site can operate at a non-loss, it’s no biggie.

      I’m going to look at ways to eventually drop prices further and may even look into the lowest price/free model . I’ve already seen one suggestion about a free classified listings style site, I will definitely pursue that down the road if all goes well.

      • Why a 12 character limit for passwords, after all, that is brute forcible (not for a truly random password, but sticking some words together and mangling them a bit can be brute forced up to at least 13 characters).

        I hope you salt them, and use a password hash (not SHA1 or some such!).

        I like long, random passwords, I’m getting more and more paranoid.

        • Ronald – I’m not sure the password length is limited to 12 characters, it’s probably bad wording. I’m checking on that and username length tomorrow and will hopefully have that fixed (where applicable) the same day. There is a salt and hashing mechanism involved with the storage of passwords though.

  5. First off, a big time thank you to Nick for getting the word out – we’ll definitely do our best to exceed expectations in terms of site experience and customer service.

    @OHgunner – if you want to drop me a line, I’d be interested in your thoughts, I would like to understand things from your point of view to see what might be doable down the line.

    @I_Like_Pie – I agree, and it annoys me to no end that Paypal treats anything related to firearms like the plague. I’ve considered a pass-through payment option down the road, ironically it’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. To be trusted with this sort of payment system, you need to have trust with your users/customers…but to help build your trust with customers a payment alternative goes a long way. What I can tell you is that if all goes well, this is something we will absolutely look into.

    Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line directly via the site or @ adam [[at]] defenseauctions. I’d put the full address in but just the posting of support@ has generated bucketloads of spam into our support ticketing system.

    • Armslist is more along the vein of craigslist, with postings being free for sellers to put up and Is geared towards local sales. I don’t know how well that business model fits with an auction site. Keeping posting costs low will be key to enticing private sellers to use your service. The only aspect that I would like to see tied on on your site from armslist would be the ability for instate locals to be able to pick up the firearm without using a FFL or paying shipping. Other than that it seems that you guys are spot on with your goals, and I look forward to using your site in the future. Good luck with your new business!

      • Thanks OHgunner. I’ll look into the listing option once we have the auction site running smoothly. I think there is a space for a free listing site with a little more “wild west” risk that can run in parallel with a site focusing on having a more trusted marketplace. Seriously, drop me a line as I would love to talk about it. Also, in terms of arranging pickup, I do think that it would be easy for the buyer and seller to arrange local pickup as the auction closes…but I’ll look into a way to add a “local pickup” flag to cover this base. 🙂

        To be 100% honest, making money is nice, but right now it’s all about providing a much better venue for folks to use and carving out another place that is gun-friendly in the world (it’s only gotten rougher out there over the years).

        • Pyro – I kept hotmail on the ban list. Drop me a direct email with your registration details and I’ll make the account for you…I need to change the registration page details to reflect this stuff. I’ll remove the hotmail ban in a moment.

          UPDATE – I’ve opened up Hotmail. 😉

  6. Ok, so how is this site really that much better than gunbroker and gunsamerica? I’ve been able to easily find everything I’ve gone looking for on both of those sites in the past.

    This new site still looks like a very basic website IMO…and here’s the kicker…THERE IS ALMOST NOTHING FOR SALE. I’m guessing the TTAG author is friends with the owner/operator of this new site.

    I’m all for more choice and selection and would welcome another site…but since this site HAS no selection, this TTAG article comes across as nothing more than a quite premature and shameless plug. 😉

    I’ll take a rudimentary website with a ton of ads/content any day, over a prettier, easier-to-navigate site with nothing for sale.

    • Hi Moto – I agree, more options in the marketplace is a good thing. In terms of listing items for sale, the goal of getting word out is to encourage sellers to show up. Our goal is to open up the site to sellers for no auction fees (i.e. the percentage shaved off at the close of an auction) – all sign ups for this month and possibly beyond will be exempt from fees for life. After the initial period, we’ll move folks into our standard pricing plan.

      As for the look and feel of the site, I agree it could be snazzier. Hopefully with traffic and users, we’ll get a lot of feedback for the next version.

      In the meantime, I’ll do what I can to get you some sellers listing items on the site. I’m hoping that making it practically free for them is a pretty decent enticement.

      • No, I didn’t miss it “Randomhero”…but I still think pointing us to a website where there is no product doesn’t really do much for the brand (or the potential customers). Wait a another month or two, work hard to get some advertisers/sellers by offering free listings and no fee’s for their first month (or whatever)…build a reasonable base of products and THEN announce more broadly.

        Adam, if you have a good selection of products in the future…I’ll give you a try. Good luck with the venture.

        • Thanks Moto. My partner and I are working on it. I didn’t realize just how wide an audience Nick reaches on this site, so I think I got a huge boost pretty fast.

          Personally, I’m excited as heck that we got a seller in Kentucky posting. 🙂 If you want to sign up anytime soon, I’ll look for your account and drop you a line.

    • If you come up with a site that works better than the existing crappy alternatives we’d happily plug it as well. We were all over ArmsDealer.net when it came out and was similarly vacant and it seems to be doing pretty well these days.

      We’re an equal opportunity promoter, as long as your stuff looks cool and seems to be on the right track.

      • Not interested Nick…plenty of places to buy guns online and in person…doesn’t seem like a worthy business venture for me personally. I already run a business focused on building the infrastructure that makes sites like this possible.

        Again, I’m all for more online gun auction sites and look forward to having a reason to go there.

  7. Username restrictions are pretty arbitrary. Between 6 and 12 characters is too long for my usual, and too short for my alternate.

      • 4 or 5 minimum, with 20-25 maximum would be much more workable. I know a lot of people with 4 and 5 character usernames, and enough other sites have 20-25 character maximums that you shouldn’t have many users with that long a username.

        • Just a heads up kg333, I’ve set the username maximum up as asked. The password length has been adjusted but I’ll keep that detail quiet. 😉

  8. Good luck with the site. If it has a fault, the TTAG crew will probably locate it with extreme prejudice. I’ll be checking out your site as soon as I have decent Internet access. In the meantime, I look to support any business that operates well and supports the 2A.

    I’ve purchased two guns with Gunbroker.com, and their search ability is mediocre at best. Hopefully, you can give them good competition, and improve their website by showing them how it’s done.

    • Thanks Accur81, please drop a line with any info on improvements you would like to see to the search functionality. We’re hoping to set an example and make the bar higher than it presently seems to be.

  9. Gunbroker has worked perfectly for me three times, and I don’t doubt for many others. I don’t see another site displacing it so easily. One flaw in its system is that there is no mandatory positive buyer feedback once payment has been made, as in eBay, so sellers can and do hold buyers hostage for positive feedback.

    Another flaw is that many if not most of the auctions start with a high initial bid from the seller himself, so it’s not really an auction at all, and the market is not allowed to set the price. The price is whatever pie in the sky number the seller wants to use. You’ll notice that most of the auctions have zero bids, and that’s why.

    Clearly, Gunbroker gives preference to the sellers, which makes sense given that’s where the site’s revenue comes from, but in the end, it all comes from the buyers. They have yet to acknowledge that.

    Otherwise, the appearance and functionality of Gunbroker is more than acceptable.

  10. Honestly, site design is pretty far down on the list of important features as far as auction sites go. I’ve used GunBroker once and was quite satisfied with the experience.

    Of much higher priority (but not necessarily in order):
    Can I trust the seller?
    Are payments easy?
    Can I find what I want?
    Is the item actually as described?
    If I have an issue with the seller, is there an easy way to resolve it?
    Is my payment information secure?
    How hard is it to hack the site?

    Basically, as long as the site is usable and it doesn’t make my eyeballs bleed, I couldn’t care less about eye candy.

    • Carlos, I agree with you 100%. One of the driving factors to the site going from just an idea to a “let’s do it” type of thing was getting feedback from folks saying that they’d like more alternatives (not specifically that anything was wrong, just that people like having options).

      In terms of the design, I agree that flash is not high on the list, but to be honest it is indicative of how much work and effort is going into making a solid user experience, keeping things secure, etc. One of the interesting balances we faced in designing the site was making it too slick and “web 2.0” style and whether or not this would alienate members.

      On the points you raised, we have items in place for verifying sellers and their trust levels, collecting more feedback on search options, and security in general. At present we are having a 3rd review of the site code security – one of the benefits of working with a lot of talented folks in the tech world. 🙂

      In terms of issues with buyers and sellers and general usability, this is where we really hope to show our members what distinguishes us from the 800 pound gorilla that is GB – customer service. Again, nothing bad to say, but quite frankly I think both buyers *and* sellers are going to see a noticeable difference in the customer service focus from DefenseAuctions.

      With all of that being said, the most important part of this site is that it’s not easy out there for the firearms community (buyers, sellers, owners, fans, etc). We face a constant pressure to restrict or deny accessibility on all levels – my opinion is that anything that pushes back the other way can only benefit us all. Think of it this way, if the current top dog(s) closed shop, what would happen next? Right now it only takes 2 or maybe 3 folks to fold up or get folded up to virtually close off the online buying and selling pipelines…more people in the market secure against this sort of thing.

  11. Hmmm..so the author works for Rackspace Hosting in San Antonio…the same hosting service this website uses. So much for unbiased reviews from the author. Shame shame shame.

  12. So How is this better than Gunbroker? I’ve used Gnbroker Many times without a hitch, I understand building a new business like you new website but talking trash
    on someone elses business is petty and shallow, I am sure you will not succeed!
    you would need some inventory first buit even then with your Poor business skills
    you WILL fail!

  13. I have used GunBroker.com several times with complete success! I tried this new web site and it is VERY user unfriendly. For example, on GunBroker all you have to do is select ammunition and put in 5.56 and up comes all the listings for 5.56. With Defense Auctions you enter ammunition – rifle and then enter 5.56 and you get another lengthy form to fill out as though it doesn’t recognize 5.56. Way too much hassle.

  14. I’m hearing or seeing some good thoughts and hopefully will stay on the positive side to share some things that I feel most gun culture people look for.Customer service is very important and I’ve been looking for answers from a site support team for some time.A site with sponsors that stay away from housing,drivers license and the many other distraction’s or sightly nuisance should be a great change.Our positive encouragement and advice will lift a site that’s trying to improve the choice’s we have at the moment.I along with others know you will have a hard time in screening out or trying to dictate the client make-up. Thanks

  15. I think I just read a 100 posts of gunbroker hatered…. Arms list has no guns …..mman all of these places don’t carry 10% of what gunbroker has…. Gunbroker might be clunky as hell but I am there to buy guns. I want a website I can search 1841 Brunswick rifle and shit actually comes up. With Gunbroker I get that. Thank you GB!!!
    you can keep your good looking website

    • So far Defense Auctions seems to have not much on it. Certainly no firearms. So what is the point. Yes, Gunbroker is not free, but hey, it works and I can buy and sell there.

  16. “The Gun Broker Killer?” Lol! Reading all Nick’s Bull $hi% makes me want to stab him in the eye. This Defense Auctions is just a blog and no users or items what a joke, it’s waste of a internet server. Thanks for the heads up Nick L. I will be sure to disregard anything else I see with your name attached to it.

  17. I just finished looking at the defense auctions website a gunbroker killer it is not.when i started looking at the site i soon realized it is a pain in the ass.the site has no guns no ammo just some holsters thats it.the site looks good but its a fail. i have bought some really nice guns from gunbroker they were easy to find like my DPMS AR-15 a MOSSBURG 500 a SBR .223 my trusty 1911 .45 and my S&W 500 gotta love that gun but anyway gunbroker is very user friendly and you can find any gun you want and its a good site to buy ammo in bulk.to sum things up gunbroker is here to stay……………..

  18. Oohhh wait there are no guns for sale… didn’t all the guns get taken away from the people by Obama… ooohhh I see that didn’t really happen… just a bunch of lies from gun nuts

  19. As a dealer, my personal favorite is http://www.GunCycle.com. There are a bunch of features that streamline the auction process, from the listing through to checking a buyer’s FFL before shipping. The site is pretty new but very user-friendly. And I was assured by the admin that there are new feature launches on the way.

  20. I signed up for defense auction thinking this was legit,I found 1seller with a couple of knives for auction,I can find more Knives at the checkout counter in 7/11 or a quickie mart.Sounds to me like somebody just lettin off some steam at Gbs expense.Ive used GB several times and think they are awesome .I agree with Justin.

  21. Terrific publish. I became examining consistently this particular site using this program . prompted! Very helpful details specially the very last area 🙂 We preserve like details much. I was trying to get the following certain data for the really long time. Thank you and finest of chance.

  22. A few suggestions for the new site.

    I’m not sure if this has been adressed or not due to the sheer volume of comments left here but here goes:

    I would like to see some kind of verfication used when leaving reviews. Ie: a way to sort out false positive reviews so that people can get honest feedback on the seller.

    a way to review the negative reviews left by other users(without having to sort through 259,854,602 positive reviews just to read the 54 negative reviews) so a person can see what is the worst case scenario that they will be encountering when dealing with a given seller. because nothing annoys me more than reading a hundred comments in a row that all say the exact same thing…. can you say falsified reviews?

    a system similar to the Better Business Bureau would be nice because people would be able to see how many of the negative reviews were resolved with a positive outcome. this is always my main concern, with any seller or online dealings, is that at least if there is a mistake made it is resolved in the end.

    I appreciate you taking the time to read this and hope that this helps.

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