Collecting Old Guns is Cool
Old guns are some of the best guns. Over the past few years, I have begun to shift back to my interest in old firearms. Sure, I like some of the newest and best models… today’s firearms are well-engineered and well-made. Alas, they simply do not have the allure of older guns with their history and legacy of service.
Old guns hold a real fondness in my heart. I encourage AO readers to hearken back to the guns of yesteryear, even if it is just to study and learn about them.
I have others to blame for re-igniting my interest in older guns, though admittedly I have been a student of old revolvers and rifles all my life. Two of my favorite current gun writers are John Taffin and Mike “Duke” Venturino. These guys are profoundly engrossed in old guns, and I refer to their works often. They do the grunt research, which cuts corners for me.
I suspect they both credit folks like Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, Jeff Cooper and others for their own affection for old Colt Single Actions, 1911s, Police Positives, Smith and Wesson Hand Ejectors, and so many more. While I favor the handguns, older rifles and shotguns are also worthwhile subjects.
I am often asked how to get started in gun collecting. First, buy some books about gun values and/or gun collecting. Pick a couple volumes that offer photos of the guns. Then perhaps buy a book exclusively on a brand that really interests you.
The tough part is narrowing it down to what specific gun brands or models interest you most. That is not to say that you have to limit yourself.
Frankly, I prefer a smattering of it all, each choice being a representative example of a particular brand or model. I would be just as happy to own an original Winchester 1897 shotgun as a dozen of them. It would be very difficult and highly improbable to find samples of all the models and versions of any specific gun, even if you could even afford to do it.
Once you make your choice(s), you have to decide the level of quality or condition you are willing to accept in your collection. I want them as new as they come, 90 percent original condition or better. I prefer unaltered guns with clear markings of make, model, serial number, and proofs. If a screw head as been turned out or buggered up, I pass. That is my standard.
One issue you will face is the difference between book price and what I call “reality price.” Gun value book pricess may be 20-50 percent below what you are likely to find on a gun tag at a gun dealer or gun show table. You have to plan and budget accordingly.
So, where do you find these old guns to collect? Anywhere and everywhere guns are sold. If you enter this game, you have to train yourself to keep your eyes and ears open. Gun shops that take trade-ins will certainly have some, and their stock can change daily, too. Many dealers selling new guns have quit buying old ones, but I like to look nevertheless.
In my experience, the best place to look for old guns is at gun shows. The bigger show the better.
At some shows you might find a dealer selling only Winchesters for example, but more than likely you’ll find older collectible guns spread out throughout the show. You will learn to quickly scan a table while being prepared for a long inspection if you spot something of interest. If you want that gun, make the deal then and there. Otherwise it may be gone when you come back by… I’ve lost count of the many times that has happened to me.
Take a gun value book a bore light with you, ask plenty of questions, and don’t be shy about dealing. That is all part of the game. Collecting old guns is a neat hobby that never ends, with new possibilities at every turn.
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May 18, 2017 at 07:12AM