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How To Invest in Collectible Firearms

Author Steve Ostrem
one year ago
The stock market's in free-fall. The banks are shaky. The housing market is tanking. Is there any investment that's a "safe bet" nowadays? How about firearms? Steve and Caleb are joined by our friend Bobby Tyler to tell us about investing in guns. But are guns good investments? The guys agree they've never lost money on a good-quality gun. As proprietor of Tyler Gun Works in Friona, Texas, Bobby buys and sells a LOT of collectible guns, so he's got valuable insight into this market.
What should you invest in? A good rule of thumb is to invest in guns from highly respected, "A" List makers: Colt, Mauser, Smith & Wesson, Winchester, Holland & Holland, John Rigby & Co., and the like.
Buy the cleanest example of the best-quality gun you can AFFORD in the platform you're shopping for. Condition is critical because mint-condition examples of even common guns can be rare and thus have a higher value. Originality is vital, too. Refinished guns don't have nearly the value of original guns in excellent condition. Even if it's heavily worn, a gun with its original finish will usually be worth far more than an extensively refurbished one.
What about "Commemorative Edition" guns? They look pretty, but they don't appreciate in value. In fact, you can often buy a commemorative gun for LESS than its original price. That's great if you want something that looks nice on your wall, but it's not an appreciating investment.
How important is rarity? "People want what they can't have," says Bobby, and that drives prices up. Some guns aren't popular when they're in production, so relatively few are made. Later on, they become hot collector's items. For example, the Smith & Wesson Model 16-4 Masterpiece in .32 H&R Magnum was not a big seller in its day, but it now commands dizzying prices on the collector market. Serious Colt collectors now snap up the very unsuccessful, clunky Colt 2000 pistol of the early 1990s just to complete their collections.
Should you get a collectible gun refinished? Bobby tells us why he REFUSED to engrave and refinish an 85% condition, factory-lettered Colt Single Action Army from 1935. Make sure any work you have done increases the gun's value! Now, if that 1935 SAA had been refinished years ago by an ordinary gun shop, Bobby would've been happy to go to town customizing it. And its value would have increased greatly.
Investing in guns can be a lot of fun, but it's easy for the uniformed to get scammed. Make sure you get guidance from a seasoned collector or do a LOT of homework yourself.