November 18, 2021
By Eric R. Poole
Dad used to say, “Something’s only worth what someone’s willing to pay for it.” I’ve spent my life struggling to argue with his statement because I tend to be sentimental. What I own is always worth more to me than what I’ve wanted to accept in exchange. That said, I love finding deals.
I surveyed the wares at a recent gun show. The vendors were fewer than in years past, but there was a record number of attendees. Many sellers had raised prices to make more money than what guns and ammo typically sell for. This was especially so with firearms having collector interest.
A table displaying some 20 Colt Single Action Army revolvers didn’t have one marked for less than $2,500. And if there was a factory letter with it — which most on the table had — prices started at $4,500 and ranged to $20,000!
Another vendor was selling M1 Carbines and parts. You see, I’m in the market for a historically correct shooter. I carefully looked over a National Postal Meter M1 Carbine first, which isn’t a common brand. My smile turned into a frown after flipping the tag. “$3,500,” it read. Confused, I set it down and shuffled through the standing crowd to look at an Inland M1. $2,900? What’s going on here? I thought. The “42nd Edition Blue Book of Gun Values” list these at $1,950 for the National Postal Meter model in 98 percent condition — which it was not — and $1,675 for the Inland!
A Winchester Model 1873 made in 1889 in .38-40 tempted me for $1,695, which seemed fair, but at that moment my enthusiasm was soured. Leaving a gun show empty-handed is never fun. Now I wish that I had pulled the trigger on that ’73.
Even though I opined that the show’s prices for firearms, ammunition and optics were too high, there were plenty of people who felt differently. I witnessed stacks of greenbacks changing hands. This is how one seller justified his pricing on boxes of 9mm: “Someone in this building will pay a dollar a round.”
On March 26, I attended a virtual auction of guns from Ted Nugent’s collection. I knew he was a proponent of the 10mm and Smith & Wesson revolvers, so I wasn’t going to miss it. Handgun Editor Jeremy Stafford previewed the Lots during a video exclusive that was posted a day prior at gunsandammo.com. Stafford’s interview with Nugent revealed several interesting backstories, so I registered to bid.
For hours, gun after gun exceeded auction estimates. Romanian WASR AK-style rifles that were left-over gifts to the crew of his 2012 tour sold from $4,000 to $5,000 each. A cased Smith & Wesson Model 629 presented to Nugent by the band KISS after a tour sold for $8,000. Another concert gift, a custom-engraved Browning Hi-Power with pearl grips, brought $16,000. (The estimate was $2,000 to $3,500.) Sale prices were unbelievable.
Among the winners, however, was Derek Sevcik, executive vice president and group publisher for the Outdoor Sportsman Group. He placed several bids and scored a nickeled Smith & Wesson Model 629 with 8 3⁄8-inch barrel. At $2,250, I thought that he paid too much, but now that I’ve thought about it, I realize that I was wrong. He paid exactly what it was worth.
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