. HOME - Guns for sale
basic info on selling or consigning your guns to us
FIREARMS IDENTIFICATION & VALUES
On this page:
How to ask - type, action, caliber, measurements, markings.
Price Guide reference books
Other sources of help
General value comments for certain types of guns:
Some examples of usually high value guns
Link to info on difficult to evaluate gun types.
i.e., Antique flint & percussion guns by small makers, Trade name firearms, small european revolvers, custom guns, non-factory commemoratives & historically attributed guns.
By Jim Supica — One of the most
frequent questions we receive is someone asking what their gun is, or what it’s
worth. Although I really enjoy trying to help folks w/ antique gun questions,
business has to take first priority, and I regrettably find that I often don‘t
have the time to do research on email questions of this type. I will do
appraisals of collections for hire. This page will give you some ideas on how to
identify your gun and find out what it might be worth..
HOW TO ASK
HOW TO ASK– You need to provide enough info to identify & estimate the value of the gun you’re asking about. Be sure your GUN IS UNLOADED first. Here is a basic list of what to include:
* TYPE – Long gun or hand gun? Is it a muzzleloader or does it take shells? If it’s a handgun, is it a revolver (with a rotating cylinder holding the rounds) or an autopistol (with a removable magazine)? If a long gun, is it a shotgun or rifle?
* ACTION – What type of action does it have – single shot, break-open, double barrel, bolt action, pump action, lever action, revolver, semi-auto, other? Double or single action? Exposed hammer or hammerless? If revolver, solid frame, tip-up, top-break, or swingout cylinder?
* CALIBER – sometimes this is marked. Otherwise, give an approx. measurement of bore diameter
* MEASUREMENTS – barrel length, overall length.
* MARKINGS – if you know the make & model, say so. Either way, list ALL markings on the gun.
CONDITION– After you know WHAT it is, the biggest factor in value is the CONDITION of the gun. Differences in condition can EASILY halve or double the value of a gun. This is a somewhat technical evaluation, and if you’re not familiar with guns, you probably won’t be able to do it, and should ask help. There are two systems commonly used .
The NRA CONDITION STANDARDS rate modern guns as New, Excellent, Very Good, Good or Fair, and antique guns as Excellent, Fine, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Each condition rating has a specific definition (you can find these defined in Blue Book of Gun Values).
The PERCENTAGE SYSTEM rates the percent of original finish remaining on the gun, 100% to 0%.
Refinishing a collectible gun or modifying it or customizing it or over-cleaning it nearly always lowers the value. NEVER take it upon yourself to clean up an old gun unless you know what you’re doing. I’ve seen folks buff a $2,000 gun into a $200 junker!
Link to definitions of NRA Conditions Grading Standards, and more information on rating gun condition.
REFERENCE BOOKS – Most value questions can be answered by the major price guides -
Blue Book of Gun Values by Fjestad, uses the percentage system, good for modern guns, no pictures. To order: Blue Book
Standard Catalog of Firearms by Schwing, uses "Excellent" through "Fair" rating system, lots of photos, good all around guide, but BEWARE that their "condition definitions" for antique guns are radically different from the widely accepted NRA antique condition definitions!
Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Arms – absolutely the best for antique American arms.
R.L. Wilson's Official Guide. – can be helpful for oddball guns not listed in the others.
Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson - by Jim Supica (that's me) & Richard Nahas. With no false modesty, the best price guide for S&W's.
Remember that these list RETAIL prices. Expect a dealer to offer you 40% to 70% of these if he’s buying for resale.
Most of these are $30 each, and available at major bookstores, most libraries, or at Amazon.com
OTHER SOURCES OF HELPYou can also get help with most questions at the rec.guns newsgroup, or at aol’s Gun Talk forum (keyword "Guns"). You can also take your gun to a gun show & walk it around asking opinions, but remember that some opinions may be from folks who want to buy your gun as cheaply as possible.
Also, you might try the following:
Gun articles index - My articles previously published in the Dispatch & elsewhere. Often helpful especially with identifying Smith & Wesson revolvers, or other older revolvers. May be temporarily unavailable, check back if so.
Old Town Station gun site links - other interesting & helpful firearms websites.
Guns for sale here – see if we have a comparable gun listed for sale, and what we’re asking.
The newstand publications Shotgun News and Gun List also list guns for sale for comparison pricing.
SOME SPECIFIC GUN VALUES–
There are some types of older guns that tend not to bring much money (as guns go). While there are always exceptions, here are some of the types that tend to bring less than folks often hope —
* Most single barrel break-open shotguns.– (except for fine trap guns), most bring $25-$75
* Most top-break or solid frame .32 & .38 DA revolvers by firms like H&R, Iver Johnson, US Revolver, Secret Service Special, Hopkins & Allen, Forehand etc. Most bring $40 to $125. A truly "as new" gun in the original box can bring more. Top-breaks by S&W can bring more, and large frame .44 & .45 caliber S&W top-breaks can be very valuable. Foreign copies of S&W's do not bring nearly as much as original S&W's.
* Many (but not all) double barrel shotguns w/ damascus barrels have relatively low values. Damascus barrels have a "twist" or "laminated" pattern in the steel, and are generally unsafe to shoot with modern ammunition. They are primarily "wall hangers" or "decorators". About 95% of these will retail in the $100 to $300 range. This range includes most well-worn, plain grade double barrel muzzle-loading shotguns, as well as those which break open to take shotshells.
Those double damascus shotguns which will bring more have one or more of the following factors —
1. Famous maker (such as Purdey, LC Smith, Parker, Greener, W&C Scott, etc.)
2. High grade of gun. Nearly all the best makers offered several "grades" of guns. The better grades included fine engraving, select fancy wood, special features, etc.
3. Excellent original condition (never refinished or over cleaned, barrels never cut, no rubber recoil pad installed)
A double barrel damascus shotgun with all three of these factors can be worth many thousands $$$.
* Most mass-produced reproduction blackpowder (muzzle-loader) guns do not bring a great deal. It’s not uncommon to mistake a modern reproduction of an antique pattern gun for an original. If a gun is marked "For Black Powder Only", it is reproduction. Usually, if it’s marked "Made in (name of country)" it’s a reproduction. Many Italian made reproduction cap and ball firearms retail used in the $40 to $150 range. Some of the better reproductions, such as those by Colt, Ruger, or Thompson Center, might tend to retail more in the $100 to $350 range. Some rare hand made reproduction Kentucky rifles by famous individual gunsmiths can bring much more, but can be slow to sell.
* Recently imported military surplus rifles. Again, there are numerous exceptions, but many "import marked" bolt action type non-US military rifles in well-used condition (esp. w/ "mismatched" serial numbers) will retail in the $50 to $200 range. Ones that seem to be especially cheap right now include most English, Turkish, Chinese, and Spanish bolt actions (some of these are caliber conversions which are unsafe to fire.)
* TRADE NAME GUNS – These are guns which were made by various manufacturers for large distributors or mail order or hardware stores. The manufacturers would put any name the wholesaler wanted on these. This started back in the 1800’s (see damascus doubles above) and continued through the 1960’s for Sears & Wards. Folks are sometimes disappointed, since they find a gun with an odd name on it, and assume the it must be rare, and if rare, must be valuable. Not so. Trade name guns have little collector interest, and are valued primarily as shooters. Many of these were made by good manufacturers and make fine shooters – they just don’t usually have collector value. Most trade name .22 rifles will retail between $40 to $100. Trade name pump shotguns will retail in the $60 to $150 range. See above for trade name single barrel & double barrel shotguns. More info.
* COMMEMORATIVES – Most guns increase in value over the years (after an initial depreciation when the first few years). One group of guns that have not performed as well as others are COMMEMORATIVES. To get top value, a commemorative must be absolutely unfired w/ the original box & all papers. Even so, they can be very tough to sell, and some are worth less now than when purchased years ago. Especially weak performers have been commemoratives created by firms such as Franklin Mint, American Historical Society, etc. Most better price guides list retail values for commemoratives which were offered by the actual manufacturer (most notably, Colt & Winchester.) They can be slow to sell if you’re trying to get "book value" or close to it. Info on non-factory commemoratives.
* CUSTOM GUNS – Also, it is very hard to get your money back out of CUSTOM GUNS. Often, customization reduces collector interest, and most shooters will not pay full cost of someone else’s personal mods. This is especially true of SPORTERIZED MILITARY RIFLES. Usually, a military rifle will be worth more in it’s original configuration than if someone has extensively modified it for sporting use.
There are some types of guns which are worth watching for, as they nearly always have good collector value. A listing here will be woefully incomplete, but some of the many major collecting fields include Colt percussion revolvers, Colt Single Action Armys, pre-1964 Winchesters, Lugers & other early auto pistols in nice original condition, large frame S&W top-breaks, US military arms, original percussion & flintlock rifles, fine double shotguns, etc, etc., etc. There are generally collectors for specific rare guns by any of the better quality manufacturers. Among those, often WWII or earlier guns bring a premium, and pre-1898 "antique" guns may bring an even larger premium.
These are gross generalizations, of course, but they may give you a starting place to research your gun.
Hope this has been of help! I will do APPRAISALS FOR HIRE. Jim Supica, President.
OLD TOWN STATION, LTD ANTIQUE & COLLECTIBLE ARMS
Jim Supica, President 913-492-3000 Fax 913-492-3022
Sales made only on TERMS listed on this website.
HOME SEARCH . Last updated 07/06/07.
Copyright Old Town Station, Ltd.