Jun 08

Sometimes the Name of the Game is Patience

In my work I get the opportunity to interact with many different people on any given day. In a fairly large number of those conversations the topics of hunting, shooting and firearms in general will come up. Seeing an NRA bumper sticker or an American Rifleman magazine on the counter will usually get a great conversation going. (Bumper stickers like “it’s the guns stupid” or similarly idiotic statements can also get the conversation started but not necessarily in a good way) It was one of these conversations about 4 or 5 years ago that led to a great deal today.

I had dealings with this particular gentleman for a number of years before the topic of target shooting came up at his house one day. As these talks often do it resulted in his bringing out his late uncle’s Winchester model 1892. It was chambered in 32 WCF (32-20) and as an added bonus was a first year production gun. It was in antique very good condition and the bore was nearly pristine. He mentioned that he had needed money recently and taken it to Cabela’s for an estimate. They told him they would give $650 for it and he decided he could not bear to part with it and put it back in the safe. My comment was something on the order of if you ever decide to sell it I’ll give you $650 for it.

Yesterday that 5 year old conversation resulted in the phone call of “I need money and if you’re still willing to give me $650 you can have” Needless to say I beat a hasty path to is door checkbook in and the rifle came home with me. With an approximate value of $1650 not taking into account the excellent bore on the first year of production I consider this a very good deal.

The point of this short story is that good deals are out there but they make take some time to be realized. Be patient and have the cash on hand when you get those calls and you can walk away with some excellent bargains.


Jun 08

U.S. House Passes Appropriations Bill Containing a Number of Pro-Gun General Provisions

We reported earlier this month on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approving the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill.  The bill then moved on to the floor of the U.S. House where, on Thursday, May 29, it was passed by a vote of 321-87.  The bill contains a number of pro-gun general provisions, including:

Sec. 215–Prohibits Gun Walking Operations–and stops the Obama Administration from transferring firearms to any individual that is a known or suspected agent of a drug cartel as part of a law enforcement operation. 

Sec. 517–Firearms Export to Canada—Bans the Obama Administration from requiring an export license for small firearms parts, valued at less than $500, for export to Canada.  This continues the rational policy that has been in place for decades that recognizes the many common interests in the shooting sports and hunting communities of the U.S. and Canada.

Sec. 518–Curios & Relics–Prohibits the Obama Administration from arbitrarily denying importation of qualifying and legal curio and relic firearms.  Curios & relics are generally 50 years or older, and many are World War II and Cold War-era firearms.

Sec. 533–Shotgun Importation Protections–Prohibits the Obama Administration from banning the importation of shotguns manufactured abroad.  Many of these shotguns are already legally manufactured and sold in the U.S.

Sec. 538–U.N. Arms Trade Treaty–Stops the Obama Administration from using tax-payer dollars to implement the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, and:  

Sec. 539–Southwest Border Gun Registry–Bans the Obama Administration from requiring records on the sale of more than one rifle or shotgun to law-abiding individuals in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.  The registry scheme highlights Department of Justice (DOJ) hypocrisy on the gun issue.

We will continue to keep you updated as the process moves forward.

Jun 08

Hunting with Semi-Automatics

Many hunters look down their noses at anything but a bolt-action rifle for hunting. They think the bolt is the quickest, most accurate and most dependable rifle they can hunt with. In some cases they are right and in some cases they are wrong and a lot depends on the terrain and game hunted if a bolt action is truly necessary.

One winter my friends and I went coyote hunting on a series of ranches in Eastern Washington. The terrain is high desert with rolling hills, wheat land and grazing ground. The ranchers in that area, like most ranchers anywhere, have no love for coyotes. If you know them you can usually gain access just for the asking. One friend is a great guy and a fantastic butcher. When we have game he does all the cutting and does a wonderful job. He is not blessed with a lot of money and only owns a 30-06 and does all of his hunting with it. While the 30-06 is a great cartridge it is not known for being a great coyote round (especially when sighted in for 180 grain softpoints). He had the pick of the rifles in my safe and decided to carry my SKS paratroop. This is the inexpensive model with the 10 round fixed magazine and carbine length barrel. I have developed a load using Speer 123 grain softpoint bullets that is capable of shooting MOA groups at 100 yards.

During our hunt he took down one coyote at 120 yards with open sights and one of those previously mentioned loads. Later on we jumped a pair of coyotes at about 400 yards and he was able to track in with three shots while the other two of us with our bolt action rifles never got close. The wind was howling, the coyotes were running flat out and by the time we cycled our bolts they had run another 50 yards or more between shots. He was able to stay on target and hit one with the third shot.

Another time I was deer hunting and carrying that same rifle. When the deer jumped up in the brush one quick shot through the brush hit it and the second shot was ready to go instantly. It wasn’t needed in this case but had I needed it this was the only action on the planet that has it ready to go in time.

The main plus with the semi-auto is the ability to rapidly put follow up shots on target without taking your finger from the trigger guard and your eyes from the sights. They do this very well and assuming the correct chambering can take any animal on earth.

The minuses are fairly well known but how important they are is a matter for you to decide. First is the fact that autoloaders are harder to clean and maintain. No argument on this one, if you hate to clean rifles and want to do it quickly then most semi-autos are probably not for you.

The next common argument is that they are inaccurate. If you are shooting benchrest competition then they are not accurate enough. For any kind of hunting most semi-autos are more than accurate enough as long as you don’t want to stand in one county and shoot to the middle of the next one. I own a Remington 740 that has proven to be accurate enough for any hunting I want to do. It groups at about 2 inches at 100 yards with 150 or 165 grain hunting bullets. My grandfather used it for many years after he came home from WWII and took more than a few deer with it.

A side argument is that you can’t shoot as powerful loads in a semi-auto as you can a bolt gun. While that is generally true, off the shelf ammunition is loaded by the manufacturers to SAAMI specs to work in all type of actions safely. If you handload and want to really hot-rod the rounds then the semi-auto action is not for you but no deer that ever lived will be able to tell the difference at any reasonable range. In fact, the slower bullet speed might just ruin less meat.

The last problem is probably the most valid. Some states, countries and municipalities don’t allow semi-automatics for hunting. Pennsylvania for example doesn’t allow then for hunting. South Africa (and many other countries) does not allow semi-automatic shotguns. If you are constrained by the law, then they probably not what you should choose to hunt with.

Like everything in the firearms world the ultimate decision is up to you.

Jun 08

Ask Your U.S. Rep. to Oppose Wide-Ranging Gun Control Bill–H.R. 4783

Last week we reported that U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, had introduced what he is calling “the Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act of 2014.”  In truth, we noted, the bill — H.R. 4783 — is largely composed of gun control measures that mirror, and supplement, acts being pursued in the states by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and his “Everytown” gun control cabal.

After a nod to more general mental health reform in its first two Titles, the bill gets down to gun control in Title III.  There, it explicitly authorizes the Centers for Disease Control to study “gun violence,” a code phrase for smearing the concept of firearm ownership generally.  It also undermines protections placed in Obamacare to prevent physicians from inappropriately collecting information about lawful firearm ownership.  Some opponents of these protections claimed they were unnecessary, asserting that the healthcare legislation had nothing to do with firearms.  Yet Thompson’s bill would authorize doctors to question “a patient about the ownership, possession, use, or storage of a firearm or ammunition in the home of such patient,” whatever the patient’s need for treatment.

Title IV of the bill would expand existing prohibited person categories under the federal Gun Control Act.  Outpatient mental health treatment would become prohibiting in some circumstances.  Misdemeanor prohibitions would also be expanded, including an entirely new prohibition related to “stalking convictions.”  As defined in the bill, such convictions would not require any finding of violence or even violent intent, nor would they be limited to offenses occurring between persons with preexisting relationships.  An existing misdemeanor prohibition would also be expanded to capture a much larger class of people.  These prohibitions, moreover, would apply not just to future outpatient “commitments” or convictions, but to those that had occurred in the past.  Thus, persons who have long been in lawful possession of firearms without problem or incident could suddenly find themselves subject to federal felony penalties for continued possession. 

Another provision would limit states’ eligibility for certain federal grants unless the state had certain types of gun control laws or procedures.  One option would be for the state to authorize police to seize the firearms and ammunition of individuals who are deemed to pose an “elevated risk of harm,” even if no other criminal or mental health proceedings are initiated.  Such findings, according to the bill, could arise from a “history” of substance abuse or a determination that the person “lacks impulse control.”  Another option would be for the state to “temporarily” prohibit firearm possession by persons involuntarily hospitalized for at least 48 hours for mental health reasons, even if just for an evaluation that ultimately determines the person does not pose an elevated risk.  Because the term “temporary” is not defined, however, it could conceivably mean anything short of permanent disarmament.

Still other provisions would undermine the relief-from-disabilities provisions of the “NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007” (NIAA). For several years, states have been changing their laws to comply with the original provisions of that act.  Those changes, however, would prove meaningless if the bill were enacted. Also unclear would be the status of persons who had undergone rights restoration under the original version of the NIAA but not under the greatly expanded procedures that would be mandated under Thompson’s bill.

The NRA strongly opposes this misguided, anti-gun bill’s unjustified incursion on Second Amendment rights.  

Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to OPPOSE H.R. 4783.

You can contact your U.S. Representative by using the “Write Your Lawmakers” tool at www.NRAILA.org, or by phone at (202) 225-3121.

Jun 08

Senator Schumer Flubs Basic American History

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), sponsor of the Brady Bill and the “assault weapon” and “large” magazine ban when he was in the House of Representatives, probably shouldn’t be the go-to guy for historical arguments against the individual right to keep and bear arms.

The Washington Times reports that Schumer said on Tuesday Thomas Jefferson was the architect of the Bill of Rights. As the Times notes, Jefferson was overseas serving as minister to France during the Constitutional convention and the congressional debate over the Bill of Rights.

Schumer can perhaps console himself that both Jefferson and a pivotal author and champion of the Bill of Rights, James Madison, had a lot in common.

(Sen. Schumer, take notes.) Jefferson and Madison were both from Virginia. Both later became president of the United States. And both supported the right to arms.

But there are some important differences, too. For example, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Madison, on the other hand, argued for ratification of the Constitution in The Federalist, commonly referred to as The Federalist Papers.

In The Federalist, Number 46, for example, Madison said that under the Constitution, the people would retain the right to keep and bear arms for defense against tyranny. 

For that matter, Alexander Hamilton, from Schumer’s home state, also endorsed an armed citizenry for the same reason in The Federalist, Number 29

But, we digress.

Since his election to the Senate, Schumer has spent a considerable amount of time trying to enact gun control, in contravention of the work of men like Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton. In particular, Schumer proposed to expand the Undetectable Firearms Actexpand the federal “armor piercing ammunition” lawimpose “assault weapon” and “large” magazine bans, and expand background checks.

Instead, he might want to spend a little more time with a history book.

Apr 29

RCBS Bullet Moulds

RCBS Company offers an extensive line of reloading tools including, presses, primer seaters, case preparation and bullet casting. Their moulds include pistol, rifle and roundball moulds and many special order moulds for old and obsolete calibers. They are machined from cast iron blocks which can be a two-edged sword. I own several of these ranging from a 22 caliber gas check model I use in my 22 Hi-Power to a 300 grainer for my 45 Colt revolver. The handles must be purchased separately and since I am rather lazy by nature I have multiple sets of handle to avoid having to swap moulds to handles every time I want to cast.

First the good points, with them bring made if iron if taken care of properly they will last virtually forever. They tend to heat up a little more slowly but then retain that heat and if you are casting using two or three moulds they tend to maintain a consistent temperature which aids in pouring good bullets. They are available in many popular sizes and styles and the heavy sprue plate aids in cutting of the excess lead.

The bad points are the weight which can wear on you over time. The fact that iron rusts if not taken care of pThe best way to prevent it is to leave the last two bullets you cast in the mould. This is no guarantee but I always do it and have not lost a mould to rusting yet. The time to break in the mould which I will explain shortly and for some reason RCBS seems to have a lot of moulds that do not like to let go of the bullets.

I’ll take the last one first. In use, when you fill a mould with lead it is set aside for a short time to allow it to harden, usually while filling a different mould. One that is done the sprue plate is struck with a piece of wood or rubber mallet which then cuts off the excess lead on top. Then the mould can be opened and in a perfect world the bullets fall out onto the soft cloth. In reality many moulds like to hold onto their bullets and RCBS is not the only company that has this issue but in my experience they seem to have more mould that do it than other manufacturers. The up side to using their products is they have one of most extensive lists of available choices. When the bullets don’t fall out the mould can be tapped to try and get the bullets to fall out. I use a rubber mallet to tap on the back side of the moulds but sometimes it can take several hits to dislodge a particularly stubborn bullet. The more sharp edges and driving bands and lube grooves the bullet has the more this can be the issue. This can be somewhat nullified by proper mould break in but that is no guarantee.

When you receive a new mould it will be coated with cutting oil which is used when cutting the mould and then left on at least in part to combat rusting. At this point some sharp eyed reader is probably asking him or herself why you can’t just coat the mould in oil to prevent rusting when they are done with it. You can do that but it will require breaking in the mould again the next time you use it. Anyway I use a Q-tip and clean off all of the old oil with mineral spirits. Next I set the mould aside and let the residue evaporate. If you are heating up lead in the pot I then set the mould on top of the pot to start preheating and this will aid in drying it out. The next thing I do is use a barbeque lighter and smoke the mould cavities. The residue from the flame seems to coat the mould and let the bullets drop out easier. There are mould prep chemicals that advertise quick break in but in my experience they leave the bullets with a rough finish after they are cast. Next approx 10 casts are made and the bullets set aside to go back into the pot. By cast 11 if the bullets are not starting to look good I clean the mould with mineral spirits again and start all over. If you spend a couple of hours breaking in a mould you will not want to oil it so you have to do it all over again.

Since all iron moulds share some of these traits there is no real advantage one over another. The final decision will usually be the weight, style and diameter of the mould when matched to the use intended.

Apr 29

Smith & Wesson No. 3 1st Model U.S. Army Revolver

The U.S. Army acquired 1000 of these revolvers in 1871 for testing purposes. With 200 nickel and the remaining 800 being blued nickel specimens will be worth more than their blue counterparts. As with any item used and abused by the Army original high grade specimens are not common with the remaining specimens usually in very good and lower conditions.

To be considered authentic the revolvers must have the following attributes. First are the initials U.S. stamped on the barrel rib at the front of the cylinder. Nickel specimens have an inspector’s mark of A on the left grip, barrel, cylinder and frame. Blued Specimens have both an A and a P in the same locations.

The most common thing these gun need to have is inclusion in an old handwritten list of serial numbers that listed the gun sold to the Army. Some of the numbers are not entirely clear and around 20 were repeated so it is likely there are a few guns out there that missed this list. Those will probably not bring full value as there authenticity can’t be positively proved.

All blued specimens occur below serial number 1895 except for numbers 1722, 1729, 1863 and 1865 which were finished in nickel. Conversely all guns from 1895 to 2199 were nickel except for 1951, 1958, 1967, 1998 and 2053 which were finished blue.

The complete list of serial numbers is as follows

125, 164, 192, 211, 225, 242, 249, 257, 277, 282, 292, 293, 308, 330, 331, 334, 340, 352, 355, 358, 362, 364, 365, 367, 370, 371, 375, 382, 385, 386, 388, 390, 393, 397, 406, 408, 412, 413, 415, 418, 419, 420, 423, 425, 427, 428, 431, 436, 439, 447, 448, 451, 452, 457, 458, 459, 462, 464, 465, 466, 467, 469, 471, 474, 475, 483, 484, 486, 487, 488, 490, 491, 492, 493, 495, 496, 498, 508, 513, 516, 519, 521, 522, 523, 524, 527, 529, 531, 533, 536, 539, 542, 544, 545, 548, 549, 550, 554, 555, 556, 562, 564, 570, 571, 575, 576, 577, 580, 581, 585, 586, 587, 588, 590, 596, 599, 601, 602, 605, 607, 609, 610, 611, 615, 616, 619, 625, 628. 630, 631, 633, 636, 637, 641, 642, 643, 646, 654, 660, 664, 665, 666, 667, 671, 676, 683, 696, 699, 700, 702, 705, 707, 708, 711, 712, 713, 714, 715, 716, 718, 723, 724, 725, 728, 729, 730, 732, 734, 739, 740, 744, 749, 750, 753, 754, 756, 757, 758, 760, 761, 762, 763, 764, 769, 770, 771, 774, 776, 777, 779, 780, 783, 784, 785, 791, 796, 797, 798, 801, 802, 803, 804, 806, 808, 810, 811, 812, 814, 822, 823, 825, 828, 829, 830, 835, 837, 839, 840, 841, 844, 845, 846, 847, 848, 849, 853, 855, 856, 857, 858, 861, 864, 865, 870, 873, 876, 881, 882, 883, 891, 892, 894, 896, 899, 906, 907, 908, 911, 914, 926, 929, 939, 956, 958, 962, 985, 991, 994, 1000, 1003, 1005, 1010, 1014, 1017, 1018, 1021, 1022, 1024, 1025, 1026, 1029, 1030, 1031, 1036, 1038, 1040, 1042, 1044, 1046, 1047, 1050, 1051, 1056, 1059, 1061, 1062, 1067, 1068, 1069, 1071, 1071, 1077, 1079, 1082, 1083, 1086, 1089, 1090, 1091, 1092, 1093, 1095, 1097, 1098, 1099, 1102, 1108, 1122, 1123, 1124, 1125, 1128, 1132, 1137, 1144, 1146, 1149, 1155, 1157, 1165, 1170, 1171, 1175, 1184, 1187, 1189, 1192, 1193, 1196, 1197, 1198, 1199, 1212, 1224, 1227, 1230, 1231, 1232, 1234, 1248, 1249, 1252, 1256, 1258, 1259, 1260, 1261, 1262, 1266, 1267, 1268, 1269, 1270, 1271, 1272, 1273, 1274, 1275, 1277, 1278, 1279, 1280, 1282, 1283, 1284, 1285, 1287, 1288, 1289, 1290, 1292, 1293, 1295, 1296, 1297, 1300, 1301, 1303, 1304, 1306, 1308, 1309, 1311, 1312, 1313, 1314, 1315, 1316, 1317, 1318, 1319, 1320, 1321, 1324, 1325, 1326, 1328, 1329, 1330, 1331, 1332, 1333, 1334, 1335, 1336, 1337, 1338, 1340, 1341, 1342, 1343, 1344, 1345, 1346, 1347, 1348, 1350, 1351, 1352, 1353, 1354, 1355, 1356, 1357, 1358, 1359, 1360, 1361, 1362, 1363, 1364, 1365, 1366, 1367, 1368, 1369, 1370, 1371, 1372, 1374, 1375, 1376, 1377, 1378, 1379, 1380, 1381, 1383, 1384, 1387, 1388, 1389, 1390, 1391, 1392, 1393, 1394, 1395, 1396, 1397, 1400, 1401, 1402, 1404, 1405, 1406, 1407, 1408, 1409, 1410, 1411, 1412, 1413, 1414, 1415, 1416, 1417, 1418, 1419, 1420, 1421, 1422, 1424, 1425, 1426, 1427, 1428, 1429, 1430, 1431, 1432, 1433, 1434, 1435, 1436, 1437, 1439, 1440, 1441, 1442, 1443, 1444, 1445, 1446, 1447, 1448 1449, 1450, 1451, 1452, 1453, 1454, 1455, 1456, 1457, 1458, 1460, 1461, 1462, 1463, 1465, 1467, 1468, 1469, 1470, 1471, 1472, 1473, 1474, 1475, 1476, 1477, 1478, 1479, 1480, 1482, 1483, 1484, 1485, 1486, 1487, 1488, 1489, 1490, 1491, 1493, 1494, 1495, 1496, 1497, 1499, 1500, 1501, 1502, 1504, 1505, 1506, 1507, 1508, 1509, 1510, 1511, 1512, 1513, 1514, 1515, 1516, 1517, 1518, 1519, 1520, 1521, 1522, 1523, 1524, 1525, 1527, 1528, 1529, 1530, 1531, 1532, 1533, 1534, 1535, 1536, 1538, 1539, 1541, 1542, 1543, 1544, 1545, 1546, 1547, 1548, 1549, 1550, 1551, 1552, 1553, 1554, 1555, 1556, 1557, 1559, 1560, 1561, 1562, 1563, 1566, 1567, 1568, 1570, 1571, 1572, 1573, 1575, 1576, 1577, 1578, 1579, 1580, 1581, 1583, 1584, 1586, 1587, 1588, 1589, 1590, 1591, 1593, 1594, 1596, 1597, 1598, 1599, 1600, 1601, 1602, 1604, 1605, 1606, 1607, 1608, 1609, 1611, 1612, 1614, 1615, 1616, 1618, 1619, 1620, 1621, 1622, 1623, 1624, 1625, 1626, 1627, 1628, 1629, 1630, 1634, 1635, 1637, 1638, 1641, 1643, 1649, 1651, 1654, 1655, 1656, 1657, 1658, 1660, 1661, 1662, 1664, 1665, 1667, 1671, 1673, 1674, 1675, 1676, 1677, 1678, 1679, 1681, 1682, 1685, 1686, 1688, 1689, 1692, 1693, 1694, 1695, 1696, 1697, 1698, 1699, 1720, 1721, 1722, 1729, 1732, 1733, 1735, 1737, 1738, 1742, 1745, 1759, 1761, 1767, 1768, 1770, 1775, 1778, 1781, 1782, 1784, 1787, 1788, 1790, 1791, 1795, 1798, 1802, 1803, 1807, 1814, 1816, 1820, 1821, 1825, 1826, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1846, 1847, 1848, 1849, 1851, 1852, 1857, 1859, 1863, 1867, 1868, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1880, 1882, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1893, 1895, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000-2045, 2048, 2049, 2050, 2051, 2052, 2053, 2054, 2055, 2057, 2058, 2059, 2060, 2062, 2063, 2064, 2065, 2069, 2070, 2071, 2072, 2073, 2074, 2076, 2077, 2078, 2079, 2080, 2081, 2083, 2085, 2086, 2087, 2089, 2090, 2091, 2092, 2093, 2094, 2095, 2096, 2098, 2099, 2100, 2101, 2102, 2103, 2104, 2105, 2106, 2107, 2109, 2110, 2111, 2112, 2114, 2115, 2116, 2118, 2121, 2122, 2124, 2126, 2128, 2130, 2139, 2152, 2153, 2154, 2169, 2170, 2176, 2177, 2192, 2199.

As stated earlier it is believed a few exist that are not on this list but expert appraisal is a must to confirm their authenticity and even then prices may not be as high as for listed serial numbers.

Apr 29

Custom Firearms and Values

One of the stumbling blocks we had to address, when developing Mygunvalues.com was how we chose to address custom firearms. Custom of course is a very broad term and can mean a great many things so we first have to define what we are talking about.

Winchester and other gun manufacturers of the 19th century accepted special orders. They usually offered what was considered a standard model and then a customer could choose from a list of options. As an example we will use the model 1894 lever action. Standard configuration was a carbine with a 20” barrel and barrel bands, a rifle with a 26” barrel and a musket version with a full length stock. Some of the special options were barrel lengths from 12 to 36 inches, double set triggers, round, octagon or ½ round barrels and special finishes or engraving. All of these special order options add significantly to the value if they can be lettered to the firearm as factory original. Modifications that are not factory original usually add little to nothing to the value and can detract from the value in certain instances.

How we chose to handle these was to list the common variations as a choice when selecting your model and track each one. If the variant is rarely seen then it becomes very difficult if not impossible to track value so that is why we created the custom appraisal page. If you can’t locate your firearm you can sign up for our premium membership and we will give you one custom appraisal per year included with your membership. Additional appraisals are also priced at $21.95 each. We do ask that you include as much information as possible and pictures are really a plus. If you send us a request without pictures or a condition it will make it impossible for us to give you a value.

Antique firearms such as the Winchester have collector interest that drives them. The special options that were once considered custom have added to the value. Such is not generally the case with modern custom firearms.

Firearms that are considered custom today fall in to one of two categories. The first is the semi-custom manufacturer. These generally operate very similar to the way Winchester did 100 years ago. They offer a base model with a set list of features and options and you can choose from these to build your gun. Examples include but are not limited to A-Square, Cooper Firearms, Nula, STI and many others. The second type is the maker that can and will make the gun with any feature you desire. The preeminent one in today’s marketplace that comes to mind is Holland and Holland. They can and will put almost any feature on a gun that you desire providing you are willing to pay for it. Their guns start in the neighborhood of $10000 and go well into the 6 figure range depending on what you want.

In the case of manufacturers like Holland and Holland their guns are rare and the people that can afford such masterpieces are few and far between. Such guns generally hold their value quite well and even appreciate over time. In the case of these makers the custom appraisal page is the only way to go. Each gun is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits.

The biggest problem comes in from these semi-custom manufacturers or when special features have been added to a production gun by a gunsmith or a custom shop. As an example you have unusually large hands so you have a set of stocks built by a custom maker that fit your hand. It is a safe bet that they cost at least $100 and probably considerably more than that. The problem is that when you go to sell the gun it adds little to the value unless you find someone with a similar sized hand that really like that feature.

Another example is the company that allows you to have the firearms engraved with your name or any saying you want. (Say a retirement gift to honor years of service) A gun with your name will have great sentimental value for you and possibly your heirs but unless you are famous your name will add little to the value in the secondary market.

If you haven’t already figured it out gun nuts tend to be selectively cheap. We will go out and spend big bucks on that perfect rifle to go and hunt brown bear in Alaska but wimp out on paying $125 for a box of 458 Lott cartridges. Most guys purchasing modern guns on the secondary market are doing so because they are looking for a good deal. If you have a Smith & Wesson model 67 that is worth say $600 and you added $1000 worth of special extras chances are you are not going to get $1600 for it. In fact you will be lucky to get $800 unless somebody falls in love with those features.

Custom features will generally net you 10 to 20 % over the value in a given condition on most production or semi-custom guns. Anything over that is a case of luck in finding the right person at the right time.

I’m not advocating that you choose not to get those custom touches that make it special to you but I am telling you that they won’t bring what they cost in most cases.

Apr 29

More Government Lunacy

It is no secret that I think the government has overstepped its bounds on every level from local to Federal. The thing I can’t understand is how people can put their trust is a system that is inherently dysfunctional, unorganized and is broke.

In order to try to drive my point home I would like to relate what has happened to me in the last couple of months. As many of you know I live in Washington State. It is sometime necessary for me to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which is a toll bridge. (For those unfamiliar with it you have probably seen the video of a bridge waving wildly in the wind and then collapsing. That was the original bridge that fell in 1940) Anyway, I had to cross to bridge in January in one vehicle and then cross it again four days later in another vehicle. Since I cross it infrequently I often opt to pay by mail rather than wait at the tollbooth. Since the two bills arrived very close together I wrote one check and mailed in the two payments together and that’s where I went wrong.

I never envisioned that the geniuses at Washington State DOT could not figure out how to put one check into two different payments. To make a long story short I have received one refund check, been billed two late charges and have a $50 civil penalty notice. After 45 minutes on the phone yesterday I had to write a three page letter because the people in customer service can’t correct their errors and a review board must look at it and correct their errors. The best part is that if they decide they did nothing wrong I have no other way to appeal without hiring a lawyer and spending thousands of dollars. I ask again why do you want the government to do anything for you that you can do yourself.

Now on to the point of this essay, after the shooting in Newtown many states tried and some succeeded in enacting new gun control laws. In Washington there was a half-hearted attempt but with the budget being the overriding concern nothing happened. Enter the Seattle liberals. They have gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot that will require all gun transfers to have a background check. This is nothing more than a backdoor method of gun registration. If I hand a friend a rifle to try will I be breaking the law? What if I give my daughter some of my collection is that illegal? Criminals do not get their guns this way. For the most part the weapons are stolen. More laws do nothing because criminals by their very nature ignore laws.

Now just to show how ignorant some voters are comes the rest of the story (props to Paul Harvey). At the same time the gun groups in the state got an initiative of their own which specifically outlaws private sale transfer background checks at gun shows and in many other cases. The wild part is that in early polling both of these are leading. Since they are completely incompatible if both pass they will be in conflict. Only in a state that has been run by Dumbocrats for 30 years could such confusion reign.

Now for my last tilt at windmills for what it’s worth. Once again as with most 2nd amendment restricting initiatives in this state this one is being funded largely by Bill Gates. If you have a choice on doing business with Microsoft or someone else I strongly encourage you to do business with the someone else. Gates has made his money and anything we can do will have no effect but the less business he has the less money he has to use against us.

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