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Gun collecting as we know it today is a relatively new field. Sure, people have been amassing a wide selection of guns for their personal use and enjoyment for quite some time, but many of those people wouldn’t have called themselves collectors or their guns a collection. I’m talking about people who purposely seek out and acquire guns for the sole purpose of collecting them. It could be a certain caliber, make, or manufacturer that tickles their acquisitive fancy; or perhaps it’s a specific time period, like the Civil War. Sometimes it’s a type collection, like assembling one of every variation of the Luger ever made. Whatever it is, this isn’t an age-old practice.

A lot of what makes the modern world of gun collecting different from past collecting is price. Look no further than the Colt Python: since its introduction in 1955, the value of a new, in-box example has gone up over 14,000% – most of which has occurred in the past five years. That increase beats the performance of silver, gold, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Instead of a 401(k), some collectors are banking on a 401(gun).


What’s driving the prices of these and other guns through the roof? Age. Not of the gun, but of the collector. Do a search online for gun collector groups and look at the photos of their members. Most of them are Baby Boomers or older. I belong to a few gun collector groups myself and, in my day job, help oversee all of the NRA Gun Collectors Programs. I’m always the youngest person in the room by decades. They’re all old enough to be my parents – most of them could be my grandparents.

They have the disposable income available to them to spend on exorbitantly-priced minty examples of whatever guns they collect. The funny thing about it, though, is that while many of them bemoan how expensive even the most basic collectible guns are becoming, they fail to realize that they’re the reason for the price increases.

They can afford to bid against one another on GunBroker for a sample in 99% condition to replace the one they have at home that’s in 99% condition. They’re also willing to spend hundreds of dollars on the correct cardboard box to complete the ensemble.

Now, before you go thinking I’m a Boomer-hater, let me stop you right now. I owe a lot to these collectors – aside from the legacy of $500 Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolvers in 70% condition. The decades of knowledge they possess and their willingness to share it with the younger generation of budding collectors is amazing. Moreover, the truth of the matter is that the older collectors want younger guys to get into the game.


Unfortunately, this generation is hamstrung with an unprecedented amount of student loan debt (among other things) that has quite the trickle-down effect. Not only are we delaying getting married, buying houses, and having kids, but it also affects the world of gun collecting. Guys who can’t pay their monthly student loan bill sure can’t afford a Colt Python – or even an S&W Model 10. And don’t even get me started on the anti-gun slant many people in my generation seem to have.

Which brings me back to the title of this article: the future of gun collecting. What’s it going to look like? There are lots of people in my generation who are proud gun owners, but they’re distinctly different from the generations before. They aren’t as attracted to the richly-blued, hand-fitted revolvers of yesteryear. Instead, what they own is predominantly modern and mostly plastic – and churned out by the thousands.

There’s nothing wrong with modern guns. I own some “plastic fantastic” stuff myself and love it, but I don’t think that stuff is going to lend itself to collecting.

That said, I think the days of gun collecting as we know it today are numbered. They’ve probably got a few decades left at best. Once the older guys pass on and their collections come up for sale, the free market will take over. What was once rare and expensive will be a lot more readily available as their collections (often numbering in the hundreds of pieces) are liquidated. Prices will fall and guys will be able to pick up a 99% Colt Python for less than $1,000 again.

I’ve got a fair amount of money tied up in my guns; most of them are older revolvers that people my age don’t normally collect. So, do I want to see the collecting world take the path I just mentioned? Not necessarily, but like the dot-com and housing bubbles, I think it’s going to pop.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Only time will tell.

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. Excelent article! I own a few plastic pistols to cover all home defense/truck gun/ ccw scenarios I could think of, so if I scratch up enough to buy another handgun anytime soon it’s definitely going to be some flavor of wheel gun as collector piece.

    Mortgage, grad school, and first kid starting grade school in August may make that a longer term deal, but I have found when I buy a truly nice gun, not just some generic gun to fit a specific use, it makes the waiting so worth it.

    • Mosins … friggin’ *Mosins* .. have doubled in value since the old “$100, your pick off the rack” days at gun shows.

      • Those days were only a few years ago. When I first got into guns around 2011, I picked up a handful of Mosin’s for $99 each (hex receivers, too) and now even round receiver 91/30’s go for $250.

        • In 2011, for $99 they may have been Hex, but they were shot-out, non-matching, import stamped, garden-variety guns. If they weren’t, you bought them from an idiot who knew nothing about the value of a Mosin – good for you.

          People have been collecting Mosins and Mausers for decades. I knew a couple of hundred-ish example collections when I was a kid in the early ’70s. Interesting examples of either haven’t been under $100 since the early 1980s.

    • Guns shows lately seem filled with angry old men who think everything on their table is priceless and rare as hens teeth. Then they complain out loud that nobody’s buying and its obama’s fault.

      Gawd it gets old. I welcome a new generation of collectors.

      • I have a nice collection. I buy what i want because of my love of the mechanics of firearms. I do not buy as an investment but a hobby. Guns and working on guns is my escape from reality. i am a happy old man. Will future generations have a different attitude. Especially the Snowflake Generation. But why should this up set me as ones life span is limited.
        BTW I get most of my guns off Gun broker or Buds guns. I would not have my collection if I relied on overpriced gun shows and stores.
        Guns however unlike base ball cards are still a tool and do more than just something to look at.

    • I have full sets of Fleer and Topps baseball cards from my birth year. No one would buy them for any appreciative value over the nearly $40 my pops got them for.

      Such is life. A lot changes in 30 years, yet….

  2. I’m a millennial gun collector, and all that student loan debt you wisely alluded to means I collect weird cheap stuff instead of the true classics.

    That means collecting and learning about “B Grade” guns like the Ruger P Series, AMT Backup, or some of the interesting Intratec designs.

  3. Still bargains out there if you look as well as niches. Want my savage 1915/1917 before they go way up.

  4. I’m going through my second childhood at 67. I have restored an A-Code 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback. Then I started on firearms I grew up on. After that, it was firearms I carried in the military and law enforcement for 21+ years. Still looking for a couple I missed from my youth and from the military/law enforcement. Then it was specialty arms like the PO-8 Luger. While there are purists, like in classic cars, who own trailer queens, my cars and guns are for me to use and enjoy, and then pass down to my descendants. Of course, my descendants may acquire them early considering how it is here in the California Gulag.

  5. I’ve had similar questions about the future of high-end custom long range rifles. The 1,000 yd hobby is growing in popularity. Aerospace engineers are designing and building sub MOA ARs with state of the art machines. I think those blue-printed, glass-bedded tack driving bolt actions of today will soon be replaced by sub $1,000 modular rifles that shoot sub MOA out of the box. Ruger is the first major manufacturer to put this together with the RPR. Rumors are swirling about a similar offering from Tikka. I was going to build a 1,000 yd gun but think I’ll wait a few years for the market to catch up and scrounge reloading components instead.

    • This is a great point. I would like very much to own a 1,000 yd sub moa gun by Tikka, similar to say the Ruger precision rifle. I think it is only a matter of time before you see manufacturers offering factory rifles with the accuracy of custom shop guns.

  6. Didn’t take long for the autoplay audio adds to come back. home health care, this time.

  7. Nothing I don’t know already. It’s not just guns but every collecting area has taken a hit. And it’s not just because young folks got no bucks-it takes years to develop knowledge and knowhow. As a longtime antique dealer I can’t sell what I used to. So I don’t. I am not a gun collector(I view guns as tools) but hey I know some well-heeled ones. And did I mention the other day I found the motherload of WWII,Nazi,Lugers and old west guns in a collection nearby? And the owner is buying? And he’ll beat everyone’s offer? :)…

  8. The future of gun collecting?

    “Hello Mr. Smith, I’m Special Agent Mahmoud of the BATFE. We’re hear to collect your firearms because you’ve been placed on the Terror Watchlist for making a post on Facebook that said something critical of Islam. Please step aside or the brave members of the Anti-Hate and Gun Violence taskforce behind me will have to meet your resistance with extreme prejuidce, Inshallah.”

    • “Hello Mr. Smith, I’m Special Agent Mahmoud of the BATFE. We’re hear to collect your firearms because you’ve been placed on the Terror Watchlist…


  9. The bargains are still out there. Being patient and having cash on hand are the two requisites. It’s how I picked up my Python and my K-22.
    I keep a list of my “gotta haves”, would be neat to have, and huh, I think I need that.
    Almost picked up an early Marlin in .45/70 yesterday. The only thing that held me back was the long line at Cabela’s.

  10. A NIB Python is worth 140x as much as the local hardware store sold it for in 1955?

    It was $125 in 1961, had to be at least $100 in 1955, are you saying a truly new one is worth $14k?

    • Actually, that sounds about right. Unless it’s comprised of more rust than metal, you can NOT find a Colt Python (in any condition) for under ten grand.

      • “…you can NOT find a Colt Python (in any condition) for under ten grand.”

        Your number’s a bit high. I see guys advertising them on the local gun sites all the time for what look like nice examples in the $2500-and-up range.

        Sure, prices on honest-to-God new-in-box examples of particularly rare models can go into the stratosphere, but if you just want a nice Python to shoot and enjoy, you can get into one for a lot less than ten grand.

  11. The most collecting I see happening is .22LR cartridges. I’m half-joking. I’d actually really love to see a good article about ammo collections because some of their values have skyrocketed. I’m sitting on a crate of Sears rounds in the original boxes and I have no idea what to do with them. At the prices I see both the old and new ammos they are actually valued the same because of the massive inflation.

  12. Guilty as charged. My specialty is the M1Garand. I have a few. Real selective about what I buy.

  13. my brother is a serial car collector. buy a 64 1/2 mustang, sell that to buy a Stupidbaker Golden Hawk, sell that and buy an Avanti…

    one collector car at a time, album full of photos, only one garage stall tied up.

  14. When I see a 99% Colt Python for $100 I’ll jump on it. Until then I’m perfectly happy with my Rugers.

    I’ve been considering collecting early 20th century revolvers. They’ve got the whole prohibition era nostalgia going for them and they can be had for a lot less than a 1984 Python.

    • I’m not a collector. But I could easily get sucked into the late 19th century and early 20th century pocket revolvers and semi auto’s.

      I could quite possibly be the only American left that likes the .25acp.

      • My dad had a few guns when I was growing up, mostly revolvers and hunting rifles and the requisite.22 rifle and revolver but the only semi auto at the time was moms little .25. I only shot it a couple times but something about the tiny size fascinated me. A friends dad had his ffl in when I was in grade school so I got the 3″ thick catalog he ordered out of. Of all the guns in the catalog for some reason I mostly dreamed of getting one of the little .25s, only reason I can figure is it was the only gun, at a shade over $100, I could ever imagine being able to afford as a 9 year old making $5 a day helping on the local ranch during cattle gathering time. I finally picked up one of the best pocket look alike ones by fn because it was so cheap but for what it is they are interesting, not practical for much when a 380 isn’t much bigger these days but the small .25 still interests me.

        • At the time of it’s design, about 1900, the majority of pocket pistols were .22 rimfire. Very popular in Europe and America. John M. Browing wanted to design a pocket semi but he wanted to do away with the .22’s rim amd it’s rimfire ignition which caused reliability problems in a semi.

          He designed a center fire round that would duplicate the .22 long rifle’s performance out of a 2 inch barrel. The .25 acp.

          I saw an old ww2 vet with a Beretta .25 run 4 young tuffs out of a bar one night. The secret in these moments is to have a gun.

        • A while back I decided that a .25 auto that is on me is worth more than the .45 in the safe. Found a nice CZ 1945, all steel, reliable, nine pills delivered anywhere. Works for me.

      • I like it, but I wouldn’t necessarily trust it over a 380.

        I have an Intratec Protec 25 that is pretty cool and seems to be acceptably reliable.

      • Personally I’m kind of drawn to the history of the first half of the 20th century – world wars, depression, prohibition… Most Americans owned revolvers then, so that’s the appeal to me. I’m not nearly as interested on old SAAs and Schofields, and even if I was the cost of the originals would drive me to the many replicas. Searching around on Gun Broker it’s pretty plain that the most people owned revolvers in .32 S&W long (and they can be had fairly cheaply). I’m guessing the cost of shooting was relatively higher back in the day. Seems kind of odd now to think that .38 Special, .44 Special and .45 long Colt were the big powerful revolvers of the day.

    • Ha! Just noticed, that was supposed to be a $1000 Python. If I found one for $100 I’d probably pass it up thinking it was some sort of con.

  15. As my name implies I was once into Norinco and Polyech AKs and had a Norinco SKS with factory AK mags and thumbhole stock. They went up a bit especially the Polytechs so I sold them awhile ago. Only kept two a Norinco 56 that I had to recrown from a pitted muzzle and an NHM-90 I converted back to the way it should be. But neither are really collector pieces, but still are beautifully blued and great shooters with a dozen original Norinco and Polytech mags and bayonets I’ve picked up cheap along the way. It’s great finding a Chinese AK mag at a dealer or gun show for $15-20. I did keep the drum mag and a 20 round fixed SKS mag too. I haven’t kept up with it and prices, but the Mak, NHM, Hunter and the Bulgarians around the same ban time period are still not over priced and are great quality pieces. IMHO also the old colt and FN pocket/vest pistols are sweet and not crazy expensive.

  16. I imagine that most collectors start out as I did: on the cheap. Over time the price tag you’re willing to consider on individual items gets bigger.

    The best part about this story, to me, is that most of these collectors are old. That means when they croak the guns hit the market en masse and deals are there for the keen eye. I know that sounds wrong, but hey, we all die. Some day I’ll die and some portion of my guns will hit the market. They’re well cared for, so that’s good for whoever picks them up on some consignment rack.

  17. Guns are already way overpriced. If you look at similarly complex gadgets, guns fetch way more. My wife’s sowing machine is more complex than most guns and we paid 90.00 USD for it. Guns are serialized, destructive, and bottleneck through FFLs thus driving up the price.

    Yes, I know some machining processes cost a bit. Anything w/ close tolerances cost more. I have heard it all. Semi-auto technology is from the late 19th century and is not that complex. I can point you to many mass produced items with tight tolerances and plenty of complexity, contouring, bevelling, etc. that cost half (if not less) of what firearms cost. Lower priced firearms hitting the market is OK by me 🙂

    • It’s 100% supply and demand, sellers are charging what the market will bear.

      I had a guy at a gun store once tell me that a 1911 costs more because of all the steel in it (he was comparing to polymer I’m sure but he didn’t say that explicitly). I called him out right there. OK, if the price is dictated by the amount of steel why is a Rock Island 1911 half the cost of most others? Is there half as much steel in it? Why is my all steel 941 Jericho half the price of most 1911s? Why does a polymer framed full size H&K cost about what many 1911s do?

      Name recognition and a reputation for quality are what matter in the price of a gun for the most part. These days most guns are expensive just because they can be. Obama’s the best gun salesman in history so rather than the guns competing for your dollars your dollars are competing for the gun.

      He stuttered a bit and left.

  18. Two thoughts for young collectors:

    1. Chat up old collectors. There’s many older collectors who can see that their end is coming, and many times, their children/grandkids aren’t interested in the gun collection for what it is.

    Many gun collectors would like to know that their rare(r) pieces ended up in the hands of someone who appreciates the piece for what it is – eg, someone who knows the history behind the Singer 1911’s and isn’t about to take it to a gunsmith and have the slide milled for modern night sights.

    I have heard several serious and semi-serious collectors lament that their kids aren’t interested in the collection, “just the cash,” and that their wives show no interest in learning even a little bit about what the collection is worth. Odds are for some of these collectors, their collection will end up scattered, often in the hands of people who don’t have a clue what they’re buying – because the wife will just take them all down to the local gun store, where the employees often don’t know much about the guns aside from what read on the intertubez. Worst of all is when I hear of the wife taking them in to the police. Man, that really infuriates me – these women want more taxpayer money in socialized medicine, but when they have serious cash in front of them in the form of guns, they can’t be troubled to maximize the value for their own benefit.

    But enough about that.

    2. Whatever you’re collecting, buy the highest quality examples you can afford of what you would like to collect, and then take care of them. I see the consequences of this all too frequently in double guns; someone inherited a nice double gun from their dad/uncle/grandfather (ie, the WWII generation or perhaps older) and then they failed to take care of it. A little rust, or leaving it to fade in the sunlight while being displayed as a wall hanger, and next thing you know, a mid-grade Fox, Parker or LC’s value is down to about half of what it was when the person inherited it.

    If you’re buying a gun for a collection, buy the best quality example you can afford. Before you buy, look at the Blue Book listings for the gun you’re seeking to buy, and other guns similar to it. Notice something: the highest quality examples in the market appreciate much, much more than the middle-grade or abused examples of the gun. Want to see examples of this? Just look at the value of a pre-64 Winchester Model 70 in 98% condition vs. one in 90% condition, even in a rare(r) chambering. You will see a big difference. Same with commercial 1911’s, 1903’s or 1908’s. Lesson: In many guns, there’s plenty of beat-up examples, but only a few really nice original examples left.

    Here’s another tip: When you have a gun that’s not in the top-shelf condition in your collection, your gun can fall into this netherworld of “is it worth more in original shape or restored to original condition?” I see this too in the shotgun market. The nearly-perfect double guns are obviously not to be retouched or “restored” under any circumstances. The field-grade guns that have been abused, neglected, etc can often recover most of the money sunk into restoring them to a much better condition. The mid-grade guns in 90% shape? There’s where I have to get into big discussions with customers, explaining that they’ll probably never get their money out of this gun.

    So perhaps I might modify my position slightly: If you have access to a good ‘smith, and you’re willing to pay what it costs to get a gun restored, then look around for guns in rough, but serviceable shape. In a shotgun, this means that the barrel(s) are serviceable. If the barrels on an old shotgun are severely pitted, split or have been hacked down from original length, there’s nothing you can do to restore value to that gun other than call Briley and tube it. Same deal on rifles and pistols – if the barrels are shot out, rusted, pitted, etc – you’ll probably never get back what you’re going to put into it. Barrels that are scratched up or slightly rusted on the outside? OK, now we can work with that.

    Scratches, finish problems, faded color casing, wood issues on the stock, missing parts in the lockwork- these can be addressed at a reasonable enough price to possibly make it worth your while to restore the gun to like-new condition, if you get the acquisition price down to a deep enough discount.

    • “I have heard several serious and semi-serious collectors lament that their kids aren’t interested in the collection, “just the cash,” and that their wives show no interest in learning even a little bit about what the collection is worth.”

      This is very true. Years back I picked up a 1st Gen Browning T-Bolt .22LR with an old Redfield 3-7 power scope on it plus it came with the original rear peep sight too. Really well taken care of and would take the wings off a gnat at 100 yards no problem. I got it for less than $400 from the consignment rack at the local gun store. It was right next to a Savage .22 that they wanted $600 for, no irons and no scope on that one. The Browning was the better gun by far. I asked about the price because I was shocked. It was what you say; the owner died and his wife had no idea/didn’t care what was going on so she put it up for sale for less than half of what it should have sold for.

    • THIS-exactly this. And guns are no different than many other collecting categories. Everything goes through a cycle of popularity-whether it be cars, old furniture, art-or GUNS. Jump on that deal…

    • Thanks for the points on collecting, especially on when to restore and when to leave alone. The idea of tidying up a slightly rougher gun is especially appealing, as I would hate to be the one who chips the toe or something similar on some classic double that had only safe wear.

      Collecting is a bit trickier up here, as a lot of the best stuff gets bought up and shipped down to the States where it’s easier to move and they can get better money for it. There are several firms that go through the estate sale listings and stock up for pennies on the dollar. Your point about making friends with the older collectors is well taken- and it would do a lot to ensure that their efforts at preservation don’t go to waste.

  19. So many issues.

    I’ve been accumulating guns for 40 years. All have been shot. I grew up on revolvers. Smith and Wessons were the preferred marque.

    Younger folks seem to only want semi autos cause they shoot fast and hold more rounds. Accuracy is not as important since they shoot at 30 feet and not 30 yards.

    We tend to like what we see as kids. I think an S&W is a piece of art even in pedestrian models like the 10 and 13. The K22 is one of the finest production revolvers made and more accurate than most can hold.

    At ranges, I see folks shoot lots of ammo but not hit all that well. Not a lot of target accuracy or a desire for precison shooting.

    Modern polymer pistols are much more reliable than a tight fitting auto pistol of yesteryear with little or no smithing. But my most accurate polyauto is around 3 to 4 inches from a rest. Average ruger or smith revolvers from the 70s will easily cut under 2 inches at 25 yards.

    Smith has forgotten how to make revolvers like they used to. They premium models dried up and now the pedestrian model 10 in 90 percent condition goes for 5 to 6 hundred. Hell. I won’t pay that for one since I have some.

    Guns for general shooting are plentiful and not terribly expensive so the desire for well fitted and polished guns is less. As the population has increased, they have become more rare because people keep them.

    I sold a K22 2 years ago for 450. It was the only one at the show and the guy was a lawyer. He looked and walked off and came back in two minutes and bought it. He said he knew it would sell and it was what he wanted.

    If you want an older gun, buy it when you see it. They aren’t making them any more like that. Supply and demand rules. Unless they make them illegal, I don’t think prices will fall.

    • I’m one of those younger folks who prefers a semi-auto… in fact while I own a few revolvers I nearly never carry one. To me they’re an interesting range toy and that’s about it.

      This is usually where people say “WTF are you talkin’ bout youngun’?” So I will explain.

      First off I’ve been shot at, seen a friend take a round to the head right in front of me too. No one who’s ever been shot at looks at a pistol/rifle and says “I wish this thing held less ammo”. They might complain about the weight but when the rubber meets the road they want the extra rounds between reloads. A revolver seems nice, and statistically it’s more than enough. Those outliers will get you though. You don’t want to end up in a gunfight that actually lasts longer than the average when the other guy has a G17 and you have a five or shot snubbie.

      Second, failures of semi-auto weapons, in terms of what you can realistically expect to encounter with a well made gun tend to be those you can fix on the fly with a tap-rack-roll. Failures of revolvers are a whole other animal. I had (and still have) a S&W revolver that I bought for a good price brand spankin’ new. A little over a box of ammo into ownership, the first day at the range… maybe 65 rounds a spring inside broke. That gun was useless until taken apart and repaired. You couldn’t even pop the cylinder out to remove the unspent rounds without a jeweler’s screw driver to get in there and hit the release. That’s the kind of problem that will likely prove fatal if you really need the gun and don’t have a backup. At the time it also caused me to commit a crime because I had to drive home with a loaded gun which, without an Ohio CCW permit, was illegal even though the firearm wasn’t operable.

      Third, ammo failures, especially a slow burning primer, while rare are a serious problem with revolvers in a defensive situation. With a semi-auto you eject that round and let it burst if it’s going to. Maybe you get a few small pieces of brass in your leg. With a revolver you have a serious problem because advancing to the next round leaves that slow burner still encased by the cylinder and now out of alignment with the barrel. Depending on the design/position of that round when it finally goes off this will either cause the gun to blow up in your hand or fire a round with full power down the side of the gun and, since it’s not being guided by the barrel, who the hell knows where it’s gonna go?

      Forth, semi autos are accurate enough as compared to a revolver. Any 30-50 yard shot you can make with a revolver you can make with a quality modern semi-auto. Usually the accuracy of a pistol is limited by the user, not the gun… until you get to Jerry Miculek type levels. Even if the semi-auto is less accurate to the tune of say 1″ at a given range, by the time you get to the point it won’t hit a man sized target you’re outside the range of either pistol/your skill level with them. I mean, let’s say it’s 1″ at ten yards (which it won’t be anywhere near, but this is for demonstration purposes). Now to actually miss a center mass shot you’re talking 100+ yards. Are you really competent to take that shot under stress with a handgun of any type? Likely not.

      Fifth, while the recoil on most revolvers is what I consider tame it’s considerably more powerful than a similarly powered semi-auto load because the semi-auto mitigates a bunch of the recoil. That might not matter to me per say, but if I’m down and someone else needs my gun to finish the bad guy(s) off they might not be able to reliably handle the recoil of a revolver or deal with the short sight radius of a snubbie (if that’s the gun in question of course).

      Sixth and finally, you can get pretty quick at reloading a revolver but it will never be as fast in terms of time per round loaded as a semi-auto with a decent sized mag. Yeah, you can get quick with a revolver but if you put that much practice into changing mags on a semi-auto you’re gonna be that much faster. If it takes me 3 seconds to reload both guns, I’d rather have the semi-auto where I get [let’s just say] 12 rounds in three seconds as opposed to the revolver where I get six max. Based on the time I’m now loading four rounds per second into the gun as opposed to two. That’s an undeniable advantage.

      So yeah, like everything else with firearms, it’s personal. Personally, I choose a full frame semi-auto with 12 or more rounds of ammo.

  20. The Cold War ended about 25 years ago. Battlefields have been shrinking ever since, and the majority of armed forces use select-fire weapons that are currently illegal for us peasants to own. I have watched the supply of affordable surplus/collectible arms and ammo dry up at a frighteningly high pace over the past decade. Russian Capture K98k’s were $200 a piece just five years ago, $450-600 is the norm today since online distributors have run out. I bought my Tula 1939 Mosin in 2011 for $99 with sling, bayonet, oiler, and ammo pouch included. I haven’t seen a mid-late war rifle at less than $200 without accessories today. My sister hobby to guns is militaria collecting. I hear stories from old timers about $25 Wehrmacht helmets (now worth $800+) stacked to the ceiling of army surplus shops that make me green with envy. Buy the good stuff while you can, folks

    • I remember those days. Surplus stores really were surplus stores. And mail order catalogs were full of neat stuff.

      But, always a but, it would have been harder for me to come up with that 25 bucks for the German helmet then than it would for me to come up with the 800 now.

  21. I’m more of a car guy than a gun guy. If you replaced “gun” with “car” the article would be just as true. I’ve often thought in 15 years I might be able to buy a perfect 1955 Bel Air for about half of what one goes for today. So few 30 or 20 somethings know or care anything about a car with a carb and a powerglide. They can’t work on it and without power steering and AC they might not even be able to drive it… Ford Model A values seem to provide a good guide. Adjusted for inflation Model A’s seemed to be the most expensive in the late 1990s. Now that pretty much all of the people who were driving in the 1930s and 1940s are dead the values have sank. Could the same thing happen with a Python or a Union Switch and Signal 45? Who knows….

    • Hopefully you find the car you want before they all go the way of “Retro-mod” where people are converting so they can be daily drivers including anti-lock brakes and power steering. Keeping the exterior of the car, but IMHO killing the mechanics.

      I think with cars and guns, there will always be certain cars that will hold their value but others that will drop. A Bel-air is a class but I bet you will see drops in Mercury’s and Impala’s. Mustangs and certain Corvettes will always pull a premium.

    • I’m also into car collecting, just as my name on here is a car I own. I bought both of my classics in my early 20’s(15 years ago). Then, a lot of the people going to car shows were in their 50’s-70’s. That group had the high end rare cars as they had the disposable income to purchase them. Many had bought them before that big mid 2000’s upswing in prices. With the reproduction parts companies churning out everything from fasteners to whole bodies, I think it’s safe to say that classic cars collecting will be around for a while longer. Of course the statists try their best to screw us over in that hobby also. Just check the SEMA (NSSF for cars) website to see the stupid that legislators try to pass.

    • I’m still in my 20s and the first car I truly owned is a street rodded ’36 Ford Pickup that I will never sell, but other than one other friend my age, no one in my age group that I know has a decent old car. There are some guys with some poor condition 50-70s trucks, but not “collectible” grade cars or even decent street machines. I look forward to being able to afford a ’40 Ford by the time my son is old enough to drive. Its looking easier and easier every day so long as it is not all original.

  22. This is happening as more and more Baby Boomers retire and are looking to cash out some of their collection and the younger generation has either zero interest or no money.

    I see it with older cars and motorcycles. While there will always be some unicorns, like the Colt Python, other guns will not have the love because the number of guns will go up while interest in collecting is going down.

    If we are to believe the millennium generation, they don’t want to buy anything and if it is not digital they don’t care. For example, there has been a surge in older video games. arcade consoles and even pinball machines. — guns not so much. Although vinyl records seem to be a boon and was able to easily sell some of my old LPs.

    That said, I would love to have an entire set of target-style K-frame revolvers. So far, I have one I found by accident from a friend who was cataloging for a an estate sale. A in original box with light wear 1949 K-22 Combat Masterpiece.

  23. Out of production revolvers are fun to collect. 1st. one is Smith & Wesson 63-5 .22lr 3″ 8 round stainless steel
    2nd. one Ruger SP 101 5 round 9mm. 2.5″ stainless steel, 3rd one Colt Detective 38 special, full shroud so produced mid-late 1970’s. Paid $200.00 cash to a guy who brought it into my LGS, store owner was not interested in buying , At that price, I was. Have 2 Dan Wesson .357/38.revolvers, 14 model and 15 model. Have original hard case with interchangeable 2.25″, 4″ and 6″ barrels with barrel change wench, cylinder spacer. All are cleaned regularly, shot rarely. None carried for SD, have plenty of easier replaceable handguns for that purpose.

    • Ahh, my second big purchase as a kid (after my motorcycle anyway) the Dan Wesson Pistol Pack in .357.

  24. Most seem to forget that the boomer age folks dropping 2k on a pre 64 also beat the daylights and hacked down the rifles they had at 20. I’ve heard stories of guys buying surplus 1903s for back country hunts and leaving them if they killed more game than they could carry.
    Not to say good guns were not around but most younger folks don’t have the cash to collect much and if they do it’s quirky stuff or cheaper like mosins, odd ball savage shotguns or such.
    I’m still kicking myself for not buying a 52 model 70. But it wasn’t scoped and I “needed” a hunting rifle; I can’t afford a safe queen.

  25. Good….so by the time the kids are out of the house, and I finally have disposable income again, I can help one of these old dudes you’re talking about liquidate his collection. Specifically, of Colt and S&W revolvers from the 1950’s to 1980’s.

  26. I’m going to start collecting the current offerings of a manufacturer before they become rare through legislation or economics.

  27. I think one of the biggest issues is younger people, like myself, are less interested in simply amassing large numbers of items just to do so. I don’t know any young guys who are interested in collecting highly priced firearms that they never intend to shoot. Most are interested in guns they have a purpose for or are fun to actually use.

    • I’m still on the fence on this one. The 20-somethings I spend any time with are of the same mindset – why collect stuff at all? Even though their parents have collections of various items and they know there can be money in it.

      The flip side, is that the current extending of childhood into the late 20s is the real culprit, eventually the ones who will become collectors will come around.

      • I doubt the extension of childhood is the issue. Plenty of children collect things. Hell, many gun collectors started when they were children.

        I think the real issue is a natural changing of interests, lack of financial resources, and the decreased social acceptance of firearms.

        • Fair enough. I can’t disagree with you logically, I just do what I can to bring my hopes to fruition. I’ve helped 3 early 20-somethings into their first (AR ugh, but still a gun) purchase in the last coupla months.

          FWIW – I was born at Cook County Memorial, but shortly thereafter relo’d to the other side of the Iron Curtain.

  28. I think that “plastic fantastic” guns will be plenty collectible, at least as much as revolvers are today. Ever price a Gen 1 Glock 17 with original box? The material a gun is made of has nothing to do with it’s price. What determines price is the supply/demand curve.

  29. There’s a whole lot of big wheel karma in collecting.

    Last year I bought a Smith and Wesson Model 10, WWII V model, unfired. So that’s a gun S&W made, the US bought to ship to the allies, and then either never got shipped or returned home, stuck in a safe, and was never fired. It is mint, perfect. I paid $250 for it. I even let the owner know how much I thought it was worth, he said that was ridiculous, took my $250. It’s on loan in a museum now.

    A few years ago I traded an old shot gun I had for a new mandola. The buyer called me back the next day and told me that the shot gun turned out to be worth a lot more than the mandola, and he would trade me back if I wanted, as he did not have the money to make up the difference. I told him the shotgun was worth no more than the mandola to me, and thanked him.

    A few years before that I walked into McBride’s gun store with a very old, but pristine 1894, wrapped in the Japanese silk robe it had always been in. I had others, but none of them had this fancy wood, checkering, and a rifle length octagonal to smooth barrel. I’d had that rifle my whole life, as in it was stored under my crib when I was a baby. But I very rarely shot it, so I was interested in selling it. Kind of my philosophy. It doesn’t get used, it gets sent back out to someone who will. I got my first offer within a few minutes of standing in line waiting to talk to Mr. McBride. I walked out without that rifle, and $25,000 richer. I would have guessed it was worth 10% of that.

  30. I would love to start a collection. God willing it’ll happen someday. Lotta ifs, though. Luckily I don’t have outrageous student debt, but I will be accruing a fair amount for my masters. Such is life. Have to spend money to make money.

    Maybe I can pick up a bulgy mak for a grad present to myself? They are going to skyrocket in the coming years as well probably. They go great with the mosins that have now shot up in price.

    • Shouldn’t have to shell out much $ for a masters depending on your field if you are willing to work for it. Many people can get graduate assistantships which come with a tuition waver and a relatively low stipend. I had to work 1-2 other jobs, but came out debt free.

  31. This is exactly the same case as with Magic the Gathering. Certain old cards would have been an excellent investment and I’ve read many would have outperformed the best stocks from the 90’s. People who played in the early 90’s and 2000’s now have disposable income to spend on the cards and are filling out their collections with stuff that was unattainable because of price or demand when they were 10 years old.

    Even milsurps have exploded in price, albeit for different reasons. I think it’s a safe bet that many firearms will retain if not moderately appreciate in value.

  32. I’ve started an AKM collection, with the goal of having a parts kit AKM build from every country that produced them. So far I have a Hungarian AKM-63 and a Romanian civil guard (G-kit) rifle. Looking for a Polish AKM next. Eventually I’ll be able to afford Chinese, Russian, and Bulgarian AKM/AK-103s.

    The nice thing about collecting AKs is I don’t care about condition so long as they function and shoot straight. In fact, a worn look is more appealing to me as I view the AK is a tool to be used. What’s one more scratch on a “battlefield pickup?”

  33. I prefere M/G collecting myself, I can shoot the thing to its raw and still sell it at a considerable profit two to three years down the line. My RR AR-15 has increased in value 4000 since I bought in 2015.

  34. I’m there with ya. I’m a Gen Xer who likes older S&W revolvers.

    I think you’re on to something. Look at what happened with pre WWII cars. They were hot in the 1980s when the Greatest Generation retired. Now it’s musclecars…and that’s even starting to bleed into the late 70s and 80s. I’ve seen a lot of guys fixing up screamin’ chicken Trans Ams on the car shows. Cars that, 15 years ago, were mostly seen in trailer parks driven by Joe Dirt impersonators.

    Just like the age of plastic guns correlates well to the late 80s onward. There are very, very few “regular guy” cars with any collectibility, just supercars. Yeah, the coolest guy in my HS drove a white Mustang 5.0, but that doesn’t mean I want one.

    • Just sold a clean body (but otherwise unoriginal) ’79 T/A for $20K. Not numbers matching, right interior, or even the original engine/trans combo.

      Hated those hoosier-mobiles as a kid, and don’t like them anymore now. Absolute garbage cars. Unless they’re making me money…

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