Purchasing from the RIA can be a mixed experience. They "bundle" some guns into "lots". I have bid and won a "lot". Often you get stuck with a number of guns you have no use or interest in. Often the buyers present at the auction are professional dealers.
RIA often shows up at local gun shows. I was at a CADA show a while back and they were there. They brought only the best guns for that auction, over 7 tables worth. I was able to ask questions & handle any gun there. Some really nice items.
RIA does have a viewing in advance of the auction and they encourage people to attend.
There are many small auction houses here in the midwest. RIA is the largest that I am aware of.
Some the small houses will simply not respond to email or phone calls. I have had several bad experiences and tend to stay away from them now. I won an auction at one of these small houses via Proxibid. 3 months later they still had not shipped the gun, a TL Golcher 12ga. This after being assured every week that the gun was "in transit". I finally had my credit card company fix the billing. Never again with small houses. I reported them to Proxibid who did nothing.
I am not saying that RIA is perfect or always right.
I have learned with any auction house to ask many questions, ask for more pictures, etc. If they do not respond, I walk away.