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February 13, 2007

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Why Big-Dollar Guns Are Worth The Money

A number of bloggers have questioned the wisdom (and in some cases the sanity) of people who spend megabucks on the kinds of guns that you can buy at the SCI Convention. It may not make them feel any better, but in many cases expensive guns are an extremely smart investment. And sometimes, even good factory guns do right well.

Back in the 1960s, gun writer Mason Williams had a collection of 6 Super Grade Model 70 Winchesters in calibers from .257 Roberts through .375 H&H. They were all pristine, and at the time he bought them they didn’t cost a lot of money, but today they would be worth a bundle.

Truly fine guns always appreciate. In the mid-1960s, Abercrombie & Fitch (back when it really was A&F) imported a set of five Holland & Holland shotguns, .410 bore through 12 gauge, stocked from the same tree and housed in a rosewood gun cabinet lined with bleached Scottish deerskin. The price was something like $150,000, which was fantastic money for the times. One other set was made, and no more. If either of them should come on the market, what would be the asking price? I am assured by an eminent seller of shotguns that it could be a million dollars.

In 1980 I ran across a Westley-Richards droplock double rifle with barrels in .300 H&H, .375 H&H, and .458, that was stocked for a southpaw shooter. The price was $30,000, which I didn’t have, but if I had bought the rifle it would now be worth $85,000 to $100,000.

Some guns fetch big bucks even though they don’t deserve to. The Winchester Model 21, which is by no stretch of the imagination a fine gun, brings very serious money, and the engraved and inlaid versions command princely sums, even though the engraving and inlaying is done at a third-grade-art-class level.

And some fine guns don’t appreciate at all, most notably the synthetic-stocked working rifles. Even the best of them are never going to get your money back, or even close to it, no matter how nicely they’re put together.


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>>>"Winchester Model 21, which is by no stretch of the imagination a fine gun,..."



I have purchased several ordinary "factory" guns in ten years. In that same period of time I have invested in growth mutual funds. It looks like my guns have made more than a 30% gain (no compounding). My mutual funds are sitting at just under 4% over the actual contributions (again no compounding).

Are generic guns a good investment? I would say they are certainly better than my mutual fund picks between Oct 1998 and Oct 2008.

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