Question of the Day: Does Your Gun Collection Have a Theme?

Wall art (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

My mother the art collector taught me something about the art of being an art collector: collect what makes you happy, not what you’re “supposed” to collect. Follow your heart, as Disney princesses constantly remind us. My gun collection is far too meagre to have a theme (never mind a theme song). But if I had to identify something that ties my firearms farrago together it’s my desire to own a quintessential example of each firearm type: striker-fired polymer handgun (FNS-9), revolver (Smith & Wesson 4″ 686), battle rifle (SCAR-16), lever gun (Grizzly Customs .357), home defense shotgun (Benelli M4), etc. Speaking of all the guns you lost in a boating accident, was there any overarching characteristic that defined your collection?


  1. avatar Leadbelly says:

    S&W revolvers, forever and always.

    1. avatar PerplexedPistolero says:

      A fine sentiment sir!

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      As the unofficial chairman of The Smith Weenies of America, I wholeheartedly agree.

  2. avatar brentondadams says:

    They all fire bullets?

    Well most do. C&R long guns. The more impractical the better.

  3. avatar john thomas says:

    Nah, sorry. Just tools to me.

  4. avatar TheYetti says:

    Yes but its more like collections instead of collection.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      I was trying to come up with a descriptor, and read yours.


    2. avatar Brian says:

      Yep. Collections with an S.

      There’s the C&R collection, the modern cowboy collection, the bolt action collection, and the “Tacticool/The Fact That You Say I Shouldn’t Have It Makes Me Want It All the More Someone Pass Me Another 40-Round PMAG Collection.”

      1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

        “The Fact That You Say I Shouldn’t Have It…”

        Brian, I hear you. That’s why I have 2 AR-15s when I don’t really like them. When it looked like they might be [more] restricted in MA, I reached out to 2 dealers to get one and they both came through. Oops.

        I like my Steyr/AUG better.

  5. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    Yes, it’s “Enchantment under the sea.”

    1. avatar Brian says:

      Nice. You didn’t like “A Night to Remember”?

  6. avatar dph says:

    My theme is they had all better go bang when I pull the trigger.

  7. avatar AndrewinDC says:

    My theme is: Guns I like.

    1. avatar General Zod says:

      Mine is “Guns I Like…That I Can Afford”.

    2. avatar KDB says:

      Guns I like as, was said above. The price has a little to do with it also.

      1. Yep. And I want a little of everything.

  8. avatar tdiinva says:

    The closest thing I have to a theme is Mauser action rifles and John Moses Browning pistols.

  9. avatar GWHNick says:

    Now that I moved out of CA my theme is “can it be suppressed?”

    1. avatar Anner says:

      Hallelujah, welcome to the free world!

  10. avatar Another Robert says:

    Yes: Inexpensive but fully functional.

  11. avatar Alex Waits says:

    My collection is called “Operational Mall Ninja”

    1. avatar Pwrserge says:

      Ah, but does said ninja operate tactically?

  12. avatar Nick Pacific says:

    Yeah, it’s called “Does my wife like it?”

  13. avatar Peter says:

    The nerd in me appreciates all the differences in firearms design, gas operated rotating bolt, delayed roller lock, tilting block, long piston, short piston, straight blowback, bullpup.
    Plus they are fun!

  14. avatar PeterW says:

    Older than I am.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      If I did that, I’d be collecting flintlocks.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Fire hardened pointed sticks.

  15. avatar MiniMe says:

    “Does Your Gun Collection Have a Theme?”

    More or less. If it looks pleasing to the eyes and goes pew-pew then it goes in the collection.

  16. avatar jwm says:

    At one point it was milsurps. had up to 20 at one time. Now I’ve reduced my holdings to where I can shoot and clean them without an army of assistants. Down to 2 milsurps. Rest are hunting and self defense and plinking arms.

  17. avatar JWTaylor says:

    As an admirer of quality woodwork, let me commend you. That chair is a work of art.
    As far as a collection, I tend to do series of matching rifle/pistol/shotgun/knife.

    1. avatar TT says:

      Nice catch! What is that chair doing in that bare-ass room?

      1. avatar John B says:

        A Maloof rocker deserves a room of its own.

  18. avatar Dracon1201 says:

    “Replacements for the Girl that Broke my Heart”

  19. avatar LarryinTX says:

    All I can say is, if I were younger I’d be shopping for scuba gear, sounds like a fine array down there.

  20. avatar Croc says:

    I think of a “role” to fulfill that I can’t fulfill with the firearms I have. Then I find what I think is the best firearm to fit that role, save for it, and buy it. I don’t really get them to use in that role, just to know I CAN fill that role with it. When I’m not able to shoot it’s nice to look at them and go, “Home defense, Deer, CCW, competition, varmints, breaching, etc etc.”

    1. avatar James R says:

      Same, but if you are like me, you can get real creative finding roles to fill.

  21. avatar Stinkeye says:

    My theme is “Wood and Metal”. I have a little bit of plastic in the safe, but not much.

    1. avatar Wesley T. Hartman says:

      I’m with you there. Aside from two pistols and one carbine, I have wood furniture on all my firearms, including the C93.

  22. avatar Scott P says:

    Military firearms (preferably semi’s; wish i could get full-auto’s but they are too expensive and I refuse to deal with the tyrannical, unconstitutional NFA) used since World War I up to the present and future. Right now I am mainly focusing on the modern one’s that were imported from the 1980’s to present since they are the one’s that are going to be banned first.

    Moving to a more gun friendly state helps too.

    I am not a fan of shotguns, revolvers, hunting guns, or guns designed specifically for civilians (like Kel-Tec’s, Just Right Carbine’s, Hi-Point’s, etc.)

    1. avatar chotto says:

      I’m with you on this one. Love the old surplus military rifles. Wish i could do the FA thing, but like you said, don’t want to deal with the hassle. I also have something of disdain for made for civilian weapons, but I admit, I have a few. But if it (gun) was used in an official capacity by any standing army, I want it. Military grade weapons were just built better than anything designed for the civilian marker IMHO.

  23. avatar Pwrserge says:

    Standard issue rifles of every major party to a major conflict in the 20th century.

    1. avatar Scott P says:

      That sums up my collecting habits as well in the post above.

    2. avatar chotto says:

      Any of you chaps near Wyoming? Same interests. Love to buy/trade and being Wyoming, there is no shortage of what you can find around here. If your anywhere close, I’d love to just meet up and bs over coffee if your ever in the area!

  24. avatar IsaacT says:

    My current theme is more along the lines of: can I shoot it lefty without losing skin or having to contort myself to run the controls.

  25. avatar Blake says:

    Theme? Well, what would a couple of Garands, a couple of K31’s and a couple of 1911’s tell you? (with plans to add an SMLE, a 1903 Springfield, M1A and an M1 Carbine)

  26. avatar Don says:

    Steel and wood mostly. 1830s-1970s.

  27. avatar DaveinLA says:

    Theme… does it make a liberal gun-grabber quiver in fear…

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      From what I hear, plastic airsoft guns do that.

  28. avatar Julian says:

    Yes, cheap.

  29. avatar PerplexedPistolero says:

    Don’t settle, even if your bank account does temporarily.

  30. avatar Werechicken says:

    “Things Dianne Feinstein Hates.”

    1. avatar chotto says:

      for the win!

  31. avatar Swarf says:

    “Black plastic is boring.”

  32. avatar Calvin says:

    Yup: Soviet Infantry Arms. As a guy that caught only the tail-end of the Cold War for himself all that stuff really grabs my attention. I’m sure ARs and Glocks are great guns but there’s not enough uniqueness to pique my interest.

    I’d love to pick up a FAL at some point to help give my safe some balance-of-power.

  33. I almost have two completely different collections. I have a small set of very practical guns that I got because they have real uses… But the rest of my sizable collection is devoted to the unusual and bizarre members of the firearm family; novelties and answers to unasked questions. That’s the stuff I really have fun with.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      If the legal hassles weren’t so much of a pain I’d have walking stick guns and sword canes in my safe. Just cause.

  34. avatar AllAmerican says:

    Theme, well, Thats kinda hard, I guess military surplus and the Wild West. Does it have a theme song? Easy, Thunderstruck by ACDC.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Sound of the drums
      Beating in my heart
      The thunder of guns
      Tore me apart

      Great choice!

  35. avatar bandolero says:

    Don’t have a collection really. I just have some old crap. LOL

    My theme would be: Cheap. Reliable. Modular. Don’t feel bad if it gets stolen, rusts, broken, scratched, or lost. 😀

  36. avatar preston says:

    All of our collections have themes: freedom.

  37. avatar Hobbez says:

    I really have two separate collections. I have a real weakness for bullpups and anything in the titanium rainbow finish. They mostly sit in the safe. They get cleaned often, even if they don’t get used. I have them because I like them and for no other reason.

    I also have a growing collection of “working guns”. I use them a lot, don’t baby them, and expect them to do their job every time. I don’t care what they look like, just how they shoot.

  38. avatar Cyrano says:

    For the most part WWII, 30-06, 308, 223, .45, 12 gauge, and .357/38. I only have so many reloading dies I want to operate so I stick certain calibers. I would say I lean towards the rifle side than pistols. All my antiques are shooters. I collect nothing I can’t take out and run a whole afternoon.

    My moods have turned to acquiring a K-31 after reading a review on this site for some variety as well as getting an FN-FAL metric for some history.

  39. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

    ‘Valley Forge 1777 Collection’

  40. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    Generally I like classic looks

    1911’s have wood grips

    Bolt action rifles have laminate stocks. Laminate is an incredible stock material, it is heavy but bedded with pillars and something stout like devcon I dare you to find a “tactical” composite stock that is measurably better in any way other than maybe weight when it comes to stability and durability. Then you look at the cost, it either came on the gun or can be had for less than $200 call it three by the time you pillar and bed.

    My theme for more modern “defensive” weapons is light, no frills, and utilitarian.

  41. avatar Steve says:

    “Things that go ‘bang’ ”

  42. avatar Greg says:

    My firearm theme is they are fired weekly, cleaned, stored, and ready to use.

  43. avatar Roll says:

    If I could afford it, I’d get an entire room turned into a vault and have that be my arms room. Theme? Spartan, minimalist, gun racks, shelves, bench. Sorta like a workshop/mancave/arms room.

  44. avatar Hasdrubal says:

    Mine is “what I wish I could have carried in the Army.” Nicer ARs, 1911s, and working on a good Rem700 with a heavy barrel. Looking for a new trigger now, though.

  45. avatar AJ says:

    At least one of the following;
    Striker fired pistol
    Hammer fired pistol
    Rim fire pistol
    Bolt action rifle
    Lever action rifle
    Semi auto rifle
    Rim fire rifle
    Pump action shotgun

    Guess I need a semi auto shotgun next.

  46. avatar Nagurski says:

    I’m in the one of every type crowd too. Semi, lever, bolt for rifles; Single action, double action in both revolvers and pistols, striker fired pistol; Semi and pump shotguns. I am currently in the market for a double barreled coach gun and a Bond Arms derringer.

  47. avatar PeterK says:

    Yeah, it’s called “what I can afford on a student budget”, haha. ;p

    1. avatar James R says:

      books aren’t that important really…

  48. avatar Chris. says:

    I’m working towards the one of every type:

    9mm FNX
    .22 sig mosquito plinker
    .22 Marlin-glenfield model 60 (Grandfather’s)
    .410 break action “pardner” shotgun. (First gun – given by parents on 13th birthday)
    .30-06 savage bolt action.

    On the list to buy in no particular order: AR-15; .357 revolver (leaning towards Ruger LCR); 12 gauge shotgun.

  49. avatar Ralph says:

    Love WW2 milsurp. But the bottom line is that I won’t buy any caliber that I don’t already own. Too many calibers means that your collection is getting a bit out of control.

  50. avatar mike oregon says:

    I’m not a collector, I’m a gun nut. My safes have themes, hunting, personal defence, family guns, etc.

  51. avatar Avid Reader says:

    No particular theme, just these criteria (in no particular order):

    1) Does it shoot?
    2) Am I at least mildly interested in having it for a while?
    3) Can I afford it?
    4) Is there room in the safe for it?
    5) Is ammo readily available for it?

  52. avatar BDub says:

    Ha! That’s my theme as well. I like the idea of having examples of all kinds of action-types & gun categories.

  53. avatar JJ48 says:

    Historic military firearms and/or replicas. So far consists of a Mosin Nagant from 1943 and a Pietta reproduction of an 1858 New Army revolver.

  54. avatar jimmie says:

    Its not collecting, its more accumulating. Everything from a 1886 double barrel shotgun to the Springfield xds 45 the wife just bought.

  55. avatar former water walker says:

    I’d love to be a collector. Nothing right now but a Chinese shotgun. But I’d be utilitarian. I’d collect fine art like your mom RF-because I’m an expert and antique dealer.

  56. avatar ropingdown says:

    A few years ago I decided to focus on more purposeful focused living, less baggage and tedium.
    Therefore, I resolved that no firearm would stay in my safes unless it serves a well-defined purpose.
    I soon found I had many more purposes than I had expected…..

  57. avatar Southern Cross says:

    I think my theme is obvious with 6 Lee-Enfields, 3 Mausers, and 2 Mosin-Nagants. The exception is the Feinwerkbau 300S match air rifle, but that is my first competition rifle. The Milsurps are used in service rifle competition.

  58. avatar Ing says:

    I didn’t start out with any ideas other than practicality and fun, but somehow my small collection has taken a decided lever-action theme. I love those things.

  59. avatar Jake says:

    I think the theme for mine would be “users.” I have a carry gun, a trunk gun, and a home defense gun. They all fill roles. I may eventually have two carry guns for different roles. But I can’t stand having something redundant that I’ll never shoot or use.

    1. avatar OODAloop says:

      Yeah, no point in having a safe queen. If you have to worry about a scratch, you might as well put it in a shadowbox and put it on the mantle…

  60. avatar Ebenezer Bowman says:

    Tacticool, and every rendition of the Makarov/PPK design. Classic

  61. avatar Geoff says:

    “was there any overarching characteristic that defined your collection?”
    It must go “BANG”.

  62. avatar John L. says:

    A few degrees off-course of mainstream. I tend to like interesting mechanisms or unusual designs that you don’t see every day. Doesn’t necessarily have to count as collectable; preferably attractive or at least visually interesting; and must be functional.

    So, for instance, a RIA 22TCM 1911, Boberg XR45, a Coonan Classic, a PWS 7.62 piston upper, or a Smith & Wesson TR-R8 (or MP-R8) would feel at home in my safe.

    You know, coffee-table-book guns.

    Now, if only I had preferred the Mossberg Marine line of shotguns, that outing in the bay wouldn’t have ended in such tragedy…

  63. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    German and Austrian issued/captured firearms from 1895 to 1945 are my priority; expensive but well worth it. South African and Rhodesian FAL rifles are a very close second. Finding a Rhodie parts kit has proven itself a very difficult task.

  64. avatar DanRRZ says:

    Working on U.S. Service Rifles. M14 will have to be a Springfield repro, toying with the idea of buying a CMP Garand currently.

  65. avatar Tim U says:

    Based on what I own, and what I want….

    Nope, no real pattern. About the only thing I can say for sure is that it’s not about hunting (though I do have the basic requirements of a hunting rifle and hunting shotgun).

  66. avatar pyratemime says:

    Right now it is uniformity of the manual of arms. I want my plinkers, to be reinforcing habits and building muscle memory related to my daily carry/home defense/ZOMPOCOLYSE!!!!!! options.

  67. avatar publius2 says:

    “form follows function”; for basic self and home defense, plus basic hunting of the legal kind.
    KISS, priority reliability with redundancy for spares/parts. Got all I need now.

    Booorrringg….I know,
    but reminding myself helps to spend other money better,
    on bullets for practice, classes…

    Lots more to do there…collection of skilz?

  68. avatar cknarf says:

    My theme? Affordable/functional

    M91/30 -$150 Vs $300+ for something in .30-06 or similar (with a poopy plastic stock)
    WASR 10/63 – $450 Vs $1,000 Arsenal.
    Thunder .380 -$250 vs $350+ PPK

    The only gun I’ve ever paid over $600 for was my oh-so-glorious Vepr in x54r. Totally worth it.

  69. avatar ZB58 says:

    Finnish Capture Russian SVT-40
    Russian Mosin Nagant 91/30 PU Sniper
    Russian Mosin Nagant M44
    German Mauser K-98
    Russian Capture German Mauser K-98
    German Occupied CZ-27
    Canadian Longbranch Enfield No4MkI
    Japanese Arisaka

    1. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

      +1 for the German captured pistols. On two separate occasions in the past year I got to handle Waffenamt marked Radom VIS and Belgian Hi-Power pistols. Both had definitely seen action and the Radom had some shrapnel damage with a big chunk ripped out of the safety catch. The dealer I frequent was asking $800 total for both guns. Couldn’t afford it at the time and they were both gone less than a month later. I looked up prices for captured examples of both recently and what few I could find were at least a grand EACH. I’ll kick myself for letting those salty ones go for the rest of my life.

  70. avatar Phil COV says:

    My gun collection theme is. “This is all I can afford.”

  71. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    My collection has two categories:
    A) Stuff I inherited and hardly ever shoot
    B) Stuff that’s illegal in three states

  72. avatar John Doe says:

    My theme is badassery. All other categories are meaningless if they can’t fit into that one!

  73. avatar Defens says:

    Modern battle rifles and their precursors:

    FN49 and FN-FAL
    M1 Garand and M1A
    SKS and AK74

  74. avatar Martin B says:

    My theme? What would a toothless hillbilly buy. Music? Duelling banjoes (nah, Hank Williams). For example:
    Mossberg Maverick 88 with Paracord sling.
    Winchester Model 64.
    CZ 452.
    Norinco Model 25 ( Mauser K22 copy-ish).
    SKS. Say no more. Quintessential hill dweller bangstick.
    As long as I hit what I aim at, no problems.
    No safe queens or special editions.

    1. avatar Martin B says:

      Oh, that was before the house burned down and everything was destroyed (Sob!).

  75. avatar Hippi says:

    Theme would be what else can I cram in my safe

  76. avatar BCE56 says:

    3 collections:

    No plastic…

  77. avatar Mediocrates says:

    I hate to say it, but my collection is driven by what I think I need.

  78. avatar Grindstone says:

    The theme of my collection is called “I’m on a budget”.

  79. avatar 7.62x54r says:

    Are two a collection?
    Theme – Cheap
    Secondary Theme – Eastern European

    Mosin 91/30
    Zastava M70A

  80. avatar mountocean says:

    .22 Pistol, Carry Pistol, House Pistol
    .22 Rifle, “Social” Rifle, .30-06
    12 GA Shotgun two barrel lengths and interchangeable chokes

  81. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Theme. Hmmm. After careful thought, I guess it’s long range accuracy. I just picked up yet another heavy barrel .308 bolt gun. Scope shopping for it now.
    Finally wringing out a 7 mag for a 1,000 yard gun.

    Oh, and big bores. .375 H&H, .416 Rigby, .50 bmg.
    Still trying to come up with the scratch for a beautiful .470 NE double rifle. I love big bores.
    I should take advantage of winter and get my .45-70 rolling block finished.

  82. avatar KMc says:

    Beretta Cheetahs. Shiny .380 only please. Let the ridicule begin.

  83. avatar Sergio says:

    All my pistols are HK. All two of them.

  84. avatar Eric says:

    Used to be strictly a budget self defense theme but for some reason since 2012, it grew to a “what would piss off Obama theme”…. Going to need a bigger safe and credit limit…

  85. avatar C says:

    “Things i think are cool.”

  86. avatar Timmy! says:

    Kushnapup Saiga 7.62×39
    Kushnapup Saiga 12 (sold, because I’m dumb)
    Shernic Gun Works SKS
    CBRPS Mosin Nagant
    Bullpup Unlimited 870
    Hightower Industries 10/22
    oh, and a Tavor

    All tragically lost in the boating accident

  87. avatar Chrispy says:

    My LGS owner knows I’m going to blow another paycheck when he hands me something and I smile.

    “My favorite gun is usually the one I’m holding” -Hickok45

    1. avatar Louis says:

      Just did that yesterday, and then some.

  88. avatar Louis says:

    Mine is a “what I want” collection except for my “Garand” action rifles. M1 Garand, M1 CArbine, M-1A, Ruger Mini 14 and Model 99. No Mini 30 yet. Not interested in BM-59.

  89. avatar GenghisQuan says:

    I have thought about a Disney Princess themed collection at some point for when I have more money than I know what to do with. Thinking:

    Snow White – StG-44
    Cinderella – some kind of super-accesorized AR
    Aurora – ?
    Ariel – Glock
    Belle – FAMAS
    Jasmine – some kind of Khyber Pass Special
    Pocahontas – Winchester 1873 (wrong Indian War, but closest that fits, and maybe a bit easier to track down and shoot than a flintlock rifle)
    Mulan – Norinco SKS or Tokarev. If we were in Canada, she’d be a QBZ-97.
    Tiana – Raven MP-25
    Rapunzel – AK-47 (longevity/eternal youth reference)
    Merida – Barrett M-82
    Elsa/Anna – Either Elsa as a Mosin-Nagant and Anna as a Nagant revolver, or just a pair of Krag Jorgenssons.

  90. avatar M. Fox says:

    My collection is aptly described as: “Firearms from around the globe”

  91. avatar CA Patriot says:

    My theme is: Go SIG, or go home

  92. avatar notalima says:

    They are mostly black?

  93. avatar Terry says:

    I love to buy any guns. I don’t golf, play tennis any more I just collect guns any and everything. I am not a hunter I have zero desire to kill a bird or even a rabbit. Of my hundred guns I have only shot three. Many say a waist but I enjoy it.

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