Top 5 Gun Collecting Tips For Beginners

Alex C.
by Alex C.

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).


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 C.

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

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2 of 28 comments
  • Woofan Woofan on Nov 12, 2015

    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 Dltaylor51 on Nov 14, 2015

    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.