Top 5 Gun Collecting Tips For Beginners

Firearms are items that not only serve as invaluable tools, but carry with them an intrinsic financial value. In these turbulent times, people are now turning to alternative investments.

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The full transcript:

Hey guys it’s Alex C. with TFBTV. In today’s video I’m going to share a few tips about gun collecting.

Know that the following are just a few things I have learned over the years that have helped me quite a lot. Some folks may have some different experiences than I, but that is excellent and I would love to hear what has worked for you

These are all things I have learned through trial and error, but for the most part I have learned that if you buy right, it is hard to lose money on a firearm! The following are five tips that I believe are very conducive to starting or enhancing your existing collection:

  1. Surplus is a win.

There was a time when Enfields were $10 and M1941 Johnson rifles were cheaper than Garands. Basically, Enfields were so cheap that nobody thought anything of them and they were sporterized, shot to death, and neglected. Today a nice example can bring $500 and up!

While surplus rifles are harder to come by these days, in the future your nice Mosin Nagant M44 carbine may appreciate greater than you think. This is of course speculation, but you never know! Also, if you are interested in acquiring surplus rifles cheaply and easily, I would suggest a C&R FFL.

Ammunition is also a win. I have a ton of 7n6 that I am sitting on, and I would recommend that you buy a few cans of 7.62x54R. I believe it is only a matter of time before this ammunition is banned from import, because by law if some yokel makes a pistol that can fire it the feds must ban its importation. Drawing from personal experience, I once was sitting on a wooden box of pre-ban Chinese 7.62×39 that I was able to sell for over $1 per round and the case went for over $1,000! Before the ban, nobody would have thought this possible, and you never know what that spam can of Nagant-food you have stashed will someday be worth.

  1. If It isn’t made or imported anymore, it is good.

With obvious exceptions if a firearm is not made or imported anymore, that is good for collecting! The above surplus factor comes into play here too: I once asked a gunsmith what it would cost for a major manufacturer to reproduce K31s, and he said well over $1,500.00 and we can scoop up fine examples at the moment for $300.

Other examples are pre-89 ban rifles such as Daewoos, Chinese AKs, HK legacy guns, Valmets, and other rarities like the FN FNC or Sig AMT (while expensive, these have shot up in value). While the financial barrier of entry to these firearms is higher than surplus, they are great shooters and will increase in value as the number of rifles in circulation dwindles. In my opinion, if you are looking for a quality pre-89 ban gun that is still reasonably affordable and downright awesome, check out a Daewoo. The K1s and K2s are great, and they float around $1,500 or so (pricey, but you can always get your money back).

  1. If It Doesn’t Depreciate, It’s Not an Expense.

Ok, so this is accounting 101 here, but the above statement holds true with firearms. If you buy right and hunt for deals, you can always get your money back as firearms are very liquid assets. Like the above mentioned $1,500 Daewoo: it will still be worth $1,500 the day after you buy It. Your wife’s equally priced handbag will be worth pennies after she walks out of the store with it, but I have tried to drive this point home with several girlfriends and they just don’t seem to get it (how someone could spend so much on an item that costs so much and is worth nothing seconds later is beyond me).

That said, you can absolutely buy wrong…

  1. Do Not Make Emotionally Driven Purchases (And Take Your Time)

I have worked at car dealerships before, and it is astonishing how often people overpay for something because they just have to have it right that second. That brand new shiny F-150 with nice wheels and tires can capture a potential buyer’s emotions and they will find themselves in the F&I office anxious to drive it off the lot. The same goes for firearms; A man walks into a gun shop on payday and sees a very fancy AR15 with all the mall ninja accessories possible and decides he needs it right now! With no regard to the markup on the Chinese parts and crumby optic, he will gladly fill out that 4473 and swipe that credit card. This is just about the biggest mistake you can make.

When I want a new firearm, I decide what I want and write it down on a list. If a week goes by and I still want it, I keep it on the list, learn what fair prices are, and look around (in shops and on the web). While my “to buy” list is long, it stays on my computer and I have been perpetually looking for some firearms for years now. Patience will save you money and help you get a good example.

  1. Realize What Is Not Collectible

This is a tough one because a lot of it is pure speculation. But basically, many AR15s or AKs are probably not collectible. True, some variants like a Colt SP1 or even a 6920 are safe bets, and guns like Russian Arsenal AKs and Polytech Legends are home runs, but a $500 entry level AR is a riskier buy. Yes, during ban scares you can make a healthy profit, but as a result of these scares people now are stocked up as hell. I know people sitting on boxes of 100 lowers, dozens of completed guns, and enough parts to build AKs until eternity. Market saturation has really taken its toll here.

Another thing to consider is that recent ban legislation has included language banning the sale or transfer of what are considered “assault weapons” incorrectly within the context of the bills. This means that if you buy a nice BCM rifle and a ban passes, you will not be able to sell the rifle (which is absolutely ludicrous)! There was also language regarding what your heirs could and could not receive, which is quite troubling. We are a non-political blog, or I would be using a lot of four-letter-words to describe how I feel about this.

While this is unlikely to pass on a federal level, it still remains in the back of my mind when buying firearms for investment purposes (which is why I think surplus stuff is such a good option, as it is unlikely to be affected by this type of legislation).

Conclusion:

If you buy right, firearms are a great place to put your money. They outpace inflation and do not take up much space. They are also fun, functional devices that provide more enjoyment than staring at an equally priced stock certificate (not to badmouth people who do well in the market).

The image of the $10 Enfield is burned into my head too. Nagants were once $80 and are creeping up slowly but surely, and I predict that 30 years from now they will be worth much more than we think. That said, buy right, buy smart, and remember to tell the wife “it’s an investment, honey”.



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • The_Champ

    Good video. I agree that someday, maybe the very distant future, even Mosin Nagants will collect a hefty sum. I, or maybe my grandchildren, will talk with sadness about all those sporterized Mosins the way we talk about Enfields now.

    I will also be forwarding this video to my girlfriend and encourage her to lodge any complaints about my gun buying habits with you Alex 🙂

    • Griz

      M44, paid $75 out the door as my first gun purchased. Traded it last year for a brand new mossy 500

  • InfiniteGrim

    7.62x54R seems to be impossible to find already.

    • Major Tom

      There’s not a lot of domestic production yet. Most of it is milsurp or otherwise imported.

      Of course it doesn’t help that half the gun shops, hunting shops and sporting goods stores (and Wal-Mart) don’t seem to be aware the round exists or feel the need to carry it. Go to Big R’s hunting section and you can find .30-06, .308 and .30-30 for days but never see 7.62x54R.

      • InfiniteGrim

        I should have been specific, surplus 54R is near impossible to find, and what do find is nearly double the price of two years ago. I believe the video mentioned it in the surplus section…therefore I am talkign about cheap surplus ammo.

        I personally am not going to pay $.75+ a round for Mosin ammo. But I thankfully stocked up on Lapua x54R brass a few years ago at a really good price.

        • BattleshipGrey

          I’ve noticed it’s gone up in price too. I should probably just buy a case. For some time I considered buying a VEPR in x54r to have a full power semi auto rifle, instead of buying a semi auto .308 since I wouldn’t be able to afford feeding a .308 semi.

        • Nashvone

          There’s plenty out there. You have to use the search box since it’s not the most popular round.

          • InfiniteGrim

            Please tell us where we can get surplus for $80 per 440 rounds, or $130-150 per crate?

          • Nashvone

            If I told you to check out sgammo, there would be less ammo for me to buy. The prices aren’t as low as you specified but they have several choices for much less than the $.75 per round you mentioned.

      • Nils

        I think that since 7.62x54R is technically considered a military round (even though Winchester, S&B, and whoever makes Silver Bear make half-jackets and round-nosed versions of it), a lot of sporting-goods places don’t carry it. That’s what the gun guy told me at Dick’s when I was living in New York State.

    • Nils

      You really can’t go wrong with TulAmmo, which I think is now also manufactured stateside. It burns a little hotter than the surplus stuff, but it’s non-corrosive, and I’ve been able to get a box of 20 rounds for about $7-$10 consistently at the gun show that comes to town here pretty regularly.

  • ostiariusalpha

    The want list is a must for smart budgeting any continual acquisition of firearms. It must be my Swedish predisposition to neatly categorize things, but my list is ranked by general desirability, then subdivided into components and features with price tracking over time to help prioritize where the money gets spent. I actually enjoy making it more efficient too, which I’ve been told is incredibly nerdy. But I’ll be the one with the machine guns plus beautiful wood stocked longarms and handguns, so I really don’t sweat it.

  • It is astounding how exactly you hit all my gun buying rules.

  • Mark Hendricks

    I always viewed a gun collection as being something like all models of the Savage 99, or every caliber of the Winchester 54. Something specific like that. A bunch of various models, makes and conditions is more of an accumulation. That said………..I sure wish I still had my $25 Enfield, the $125 S&W 1917 45 ACP and my brand new $179 Colt Python! Of course, in another 40 years a decked out $4000 custom gun will sound like a bargain, too.

    • Cymond

      By that logic, Jay Leno doesn’t have a car collection.

    • dltaylor51

      When i first started out is was more of a gun accumulator but eventually i focused on a more specific area of gun collecting but even the guns that i had accumulated still were sold at a profit so i just figured they were part of my cheap education.You must be older than me because i remember new Pythons going for $350 to 400,its to bad we didn’t know then what we know now.

  • Joe

    Hands down the most collectable firearms are NFA transferable machine guns. Aside of the BATFE allowing more machine guns in the register (which lets face it is NEVER going to happen). Honestly you cant go wrong buying a gun that everyone knows like an M16 or AK or what have you.

    • iksnilol

      As much as I love AKs I would go for the FA AR, simply because off all the different uppers you can get.

  • Don Ward

    The main thing with having a gun collection is having a realistic expectation of what you want and what you can afford.

  • Giolli Joker

    If It Doesn’t Depreciate, It’s Not an Expense.

    It kinda is if you’d rather cut off one of your fingers rather than selling said item. 🙂

    It might not sound good, but my piece of advice is:
    Since the beginning, keep an up to date detailed list of the collection pieces and their value and inform your family about it… the one who will inherit them after you’re gone might not be that much into guns or might need to sell them, let her/him get the most out of it. It is fairly common, and cringe-worthy, to hear about nice pieces being either handed over to police or sold for cheap by widows or heirs.

  • noob, your ammo stocks are lacking if they can be fit in any size of safe 🙂

    I collect machine guns and specifically rare ones that are often in rare calibers. Regardless of caliber I have made it a rule that every time I buy a machine gun I will spend a few grand on ammunition for that gun. I have over 100K rnds of ammo now and all my machine guns are well fed and I do not have to worry about feeding them. The ammo also appreciates, ex 8mm Rommy I bought at 30 a case or Wolf 45ACP for $175/1000 or even 7.62X25 rommy at $30/1200 rnds all of then have either become scarce or very expensive.

    Spare parts are another issue with collecting rare guns. I always have common spares if not complete parts kits for rare guns. I would not buy a Japanese Type 99 LMG until I had acquired 2 parts kits to make sure it would always be able to be shot. I’m a shooter more than a collector, unfortunately this has led me to sell some guns that I did not shoot off that I should have kept.

  • iksnilol

    You forgot the most important one: Don’t sell guns which you “kinda like” because you will regret it.

    • Nashvone

      When I was a kid, I had a combination .22/410. My uncle traded it away. At the age of 45, I still remind him about it.

  • Just say’n

    Great advice Alex, thanks! Weaponsman had a similar post awhile back, came to many of the same conclusions (using his MBA background). http://weaponsman.com/?p=5180

  • Hensley Beuron Garlington

    I do not consider arguing against unconstitutional laws or sharing your opinion on those laws and those who wish to take our Second Amendment political in nature. I consider that free speech and a duty of any patriot. No need to necessarily use the four letter words, but definitely shouldn’t worry about calling any gun law what it is, infringement. Still, great post.

  • Woofan

    Of course having disposable income makes all this easy. I’ve got to ask, are all the guns in the vidoes Alex’s? Seems unlikely considering his age that he would have hundreds of thousands in firearms. Are they his dad’s or grandfathers? Cool guns but 99% of the population can’t this kind of money dump money and have tons of free time to keep up with it all.

  • dltaylor51

    There are only three rules to gun collecting for maximum return on investment,Colt,Colt and Winchester,there is no shortage of them and there are millions of them out there but what is really in short supply is condition and condition is everything.The most precious and costly material on planet earth is the amount of original bluing and finish remaining on a Colt or Winchester so add up what percentage that is still there and dont pay a penny more.Surface rust is not a deal breaker but pitting is.When a guy is selling its called patina but when I’m buying its called rust and i dont pay extra rust.Once an old gun has been re buffed and re blued most if not all of its collector value is gone other than being a shooter but there is nothing wrong with shooters as long as you dont pay extra for the shinny new rebluing job and the faint factory roll marks left from over buffing.