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Head to any gun show and you’ll see plenty well-worn copies of the Blue Book of Gun Values. While it gets updated every year (2017 is BBGV’s 38th year), people often hold onto their old Blue Books because they are a tremendous resource of information. Even an old copy whose values are no longer relevant still contains a wealth of knowledge about different makes and models. It’s easy to see why people often refer to it as “The Bible.”

To say that the book is thorough is an understatement. The 37th edition from 2016 has 2,512 pages, more than 1,500 manufacturers, almost 30,000 model descriptions, and over 180,000 price listings. Now, because of its size, the book is necessarily brief in many respects. Among others, one of those areas of brevity is in antique American guns. That is such a large collection of makes, models, and histories that they could not be effectively included in the regular BBGV.

To solve that problem, the Blue Book of Antique American Firearms & Values was released in late 2016. It picks up the slack from the regular Blue Book, and then some. Within the 400 pages of the first edition are identifications and histories of almost 700 manufacturers and trademarks, over 2,100 model descriptions, 1,500 high resolution photos, and over 7,500 price listings.

A lot of time and effort went into creating this book. In fact, the forward notes that it took three times as long to compile this book than it did to build the Empire State Building, which was completed in 14 months. That time and effort was not in vain. The quality of the information contained in this book is unmatched, and the generous inclusion of photos throughout are very much appreciated, especially when you’re researching a rare gun that you may not have ever seen before.

My favorite part of this book, though, is the index. I have used plenty of reference books that have tremendous content – if you can find it. A book’s information is only useful if you can locate it, and the BBAAFV makes it very easy to find the information.

In addition to containing a huge amount of info on antique American guns, it is also one of the most comprehensive gun-related resource directories I’ve ever seen. It features a comprehensive listing of all major firearms museums in the United States, a compilation of all sorts of gun collector organizations, firearm auction companies and internet sites, and a glossary of terminology.

Whether you’re a gun collector or just a student of history, the BBAAFV is a must-have addition to your resource library. I’ve only had my copy for a couple months now and have used it countless times already. Even if I’m not researching a particular make and model, I find myself opening it up and reading just for the sake of learning.

Pick up a copy; you won’t regret it.

Logan Metesh is a firearms historian and consultant who runs High Caliber History LLC. Click here for a free 3-page download with tips about caring for your antique and collectible firearms.

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  1. Use great caution using blue books to determine actual values.

    The variables involved are so vast it makes them close to worthless…

  2. I have a copy on cdrom . It’s handy for making sure you’re not getting fleeced too bad on that used gun in the display case. The shop is under no obligation to honor the price and your under no obligation to pay his either. It can be a good tool for starting the conversation.

    • Some vintage American women are treasures. Others are like the HildaBeast.

      You won’t know until you’ve had them at home for awhile…


      • Sorry Hillary lost. Now get a life.

        But on the book side is the AR15 in the book? Read somewhere that some colt models were getting AARP junk mail.

        • Article here on this blog the other day that yes, indeed, the earliest versions now qualify as C&R.

          And are possibly worth some real money if you get the right one…

        • The AR15 isn’t in this book – nor will it ever be. It’s old enough to classify as a C&R, but it will never be an antique because none were made before January 1, 1899. This book focuses on legal antiques, which are guns made on December 31, 1898 and earlier.

  3. Psssh, anyone who has sold a gun in the private market knows that everything is worth 1-2 gen3 Glocks and a little bit of cash.

  4. Spending a few evenings a week with a beer and a gun value book will impart a quality baseline of knowledge for dealers/buyers. After that, I’d suggest consulting the book, GunBroker, GunsAmerica, and Armslist in that order for specific guns.

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