Skip to main content

Investing in Firearms

Whether you buy stock in gun companies or buy guns, investing in the firearms industry can turn a profit.

Investing in Firearms
shutterstock.com

Saint Patrick’s Day 2020 wasn’t a joyous holiday for investors. The Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting worldwide shutdown caused global markets to shudder. People watched in anguish as their retirement portfolios were swallowed. Anyone heavily invested in stocks felt more blue than green on March 17th.

While most stocks were tanking hard, there were a few notable exceptions to that financial doom day: firearm-industry stocks began to rise. The reason is no mystery; in time of national crisis, many Americans decide to prepare for their own security and buy guns and ammunition. Ammo sales exploded, which meant there would be an uptick in stock prices the next day.

Gun Stocks

Ruger (RGR) was trading at $41.32 on March 10th. On March 17th, Ruger was at $46.60. By March 30th, it was selling $50.29 a share, an increase of roughly 20 percent over three very rough weeks on Wall Street.

Vista Outdoors (VSTO) owns Federal Ammunition and several outdoor companies. Vista’s stock jumped from $4.80 on March 11th to $8.12 on March 17th. As of April 9, 2020, Vista was trading at $8.98, about a dollar and a half below its 52-week high.


American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) owns Smith & Wesson and Thompson/Center. AOBC jumped $2.00 from March 11 to March 17.


If those are the only three stocks you owned on Saint Patrick’s your investments wouldn’t have fared bad. You’d certainly be seeing more of a return than most people.

We often think about firearms as tools of defense or recreational, but many don’t realize the companies can be sound investments. Stocks are the most straight-forward way to invest because they offer buyers the opportunity to see a quick return, and you can choose to sell off at any time.

Investing in Firearms
Illustration by Michael Ulrich

Many of us are not invested in the stock market beyond their 401(k) retirement plans, but history indicates that there’s nothing wrong with buying stocks like Ruger, Vista Outdoors, and American Outdoor Brands because you like to shoot, support our industry while hoping to make a little profit. As any stock guru will tell you, the trick is recognizing the right time to buy.

I’m not making a living solely off of trading stocks, so I won’t pretend to be an expert. I do watch the market and try to stay abreast of what’s happening. I know that if I leave my money with a solid company, I’ll see a profit over time. It may never amount to enough to afford a new house, but the net earnings may justify the purchase of a new gun. As a matter of fact, that’s the perfect way to reward yourself for a bit of savvy trading.


Buying Guns as Investments

Stocks aren’t the only way to make a profit in the firearms industry. Buying guns to sell them in the future can be a profitable way to cash in. However, purchasing guns as an investment rarely offers a quick turnaround for profit. They are an investment, and they are a far better one than many other items you may already purchase with the same mindset.

Consider that in 1959 a new Smith & Wesson Model 41 sold for $100, less if purchased privately. If you spent $100 on a Model 41 some 60 years ago and cared for it properly, according to the Blue Book of Gun Values, it could be worth more than $1,000 today. Adjusting for inflation, that $100 you spent in 1959 is worth $888 today; the Model 41 was a good investment. What’s more, you have had the pleasure of owning and shooting that pistol through the last 60 years. Six decades is a long time to wait for a return to mature, but it is better if you spent some of it at the range.

Investing in Firearms

What guns will hold their value in 10, 20 or 30 years? It’s hard to predict which guns will explode in popularity the way the Colt Python did during this last decade, but if you understand the basic principles of what makes a gun valuable, you can invest wisely now. The more you study the history and learn to distinguish between rare and common models, the better prepared you will be.


Auction sites such as www.gunbroker.com can offer some insight into which guns may result in a profit. While staying at home during the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve had time to review auction prices of multiple guns. I’ve also developed an average based on each model during the last 10 auctions. Accounting for inflation, I’ve determined which guns may offer a profitable return. I managed to make a list of the critical driving forces that influence long-term gun values. It is not a perfect list, but the following criteria seem to be most important when purchasing an investment gun.

Branding

How many Browning Buck Mark stickers have you seen in windows on vehicles during the last decade? How many people watched Clint Eastwood describe the .44 Magnum in the famous bank robbery scene in “Dirty Harry”? Does someone have to remind you that it was a Smith & Wesson Model 29?

Brand loyalty drives pricing. The key is to predict which firearm brands will be most in-demand with buyers of the future. Sometimes even a less desirable gun model can net you a profit if the right brand name is stamped on the barrel. Pre-’64 Winchester firearms and Colts, for example, are rarely a poor long-term investment even though every model wasn’t legendary.

Nostalgia

This is a big one influencer. The 1950s and ’60s TV Westerns made every kid and young man want a Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver. Fans of Tom Selleck’s character in “Magnum P.I.” (1980-1988) probably own at least one 1911. (Those that grew up and became successful also bought a Hawaiian shirt, are somewhat of a Detroit Tiger fan, and pushed up values of the Ferrari 308.) Many of us also enjoyed watching Selleck’s “Matthew Quigley” character shoot a wooden bucket at long range with a Sharps rifle, or James Stewart put a hole in a coin in “Winchester ’73” (1950).

Investing in Firearms
Source: imfdb.org

Readers of Robert Ruark and Ernest Hemingway pursue exclusive Rigby rifles and Westley Richards guns. The point is, if you can predict what memories shooters will cherish, you can make money. How many of our dads owned a Winchester Model 12, a Savage 99 or a Remington Nylon 66?

Perceived Quality

Quality isn’t always enough. If there is a perception that a gun is good, it’s worth a lot more than one with a poor reputation, even if it isn’t true. Some guns have well-deserved reputations for reliability. The Glock 17, 19 and 22 models are known to work just about any conditions. Thoughts of a Benelli semiauto shotguns come to mind when some of us consider thousands of shells fired over an Argentina dove field. Both Glock and Benelli produce reliable guns, and the brand benefits.

Condition

Investing in Firearms

If you don’t know that taking care of a firearm is critical for seeing a return on your investment, then perhaps you should stick to buying scratch-offs. All it takes is one afternoon to clean your firearm after a trip to the range or field. A gun is only an investment if it’s properly cared for. To add, guns that retain original sales receipts, boxes, paperwork and accoutrements, bring more money in the future. If you expect the maximum return, it’s best that you don’t shoot the gun or manipulate its action beyond ensuring its safety. The more disciplined you can be with an investment firearm, the greater the return.

Desirability & Exclusivity

Exclusivity is easy to measure. If Ruger only makes five purple-and-orange 10/22 rifles, then they’ll be hard to find later, but rarity doesn’t always mean that a gun is going to be desired by collectors in the future. For that savvy investor, a gun that is both desirable and exclusive is the money maker.

Though marketed as exclusives, Colt and Winchester Commemoratives were produced in great quantities through the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. So many were made that Commemoratives became bargain shooters because they’d hold their value worse than a more basic model in a classic configuration. However, so many owners gave up on expecting a return on their investments that the Commemorative market is making a turn and becoming sought after once again as the price of vintage originals have disappeared from the market.

Investing in Firearms
Colt Single Action Army revolvers are incredibly collectible firearms, due to their history and popularity.

If you happen to find a Colt engraved by Tiffany & Company, you’ve found a gun that’s both desirable and exclusive to two different collecting markets. The same reigns true for guns such as an International Harvester-manufactured M1 Garand. These Garand rifles appeal to both firearm collectors and those who collect tractors or farm implements.

The Future

With the surplus market drying up, the prices of former military issue firearms from anywhere around the world are on the rise, meaning that they are pushing up the value of more common-issued military surplus as a consequence. Any one of the millions of firearms, in working condition, that was used between the Civil War and World War I, during World War II and Korea are safe investments. Increasingly, opportunities to purchase military or police surplus are becoming few. Interest in Vietnam-era firearms indicate that they will become the next future collectible, especially as awareness is taught through the sale of reproductions. After that, it’s only a matter of time before more modern rifles, pistols and shotguns join the collector’s market in a significant way.

Some of the best investments remain to be seen. If you can scoop up a collectible gun, care for it and hold onto it long enough, it’s sure to bring you pleasure while contributing to your overall wealth.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout cartridge was developed to provide greater effectiveness than a 9mm at short and medium ranges when fired from a short-barreled suppressed firearm. Just because the cartridge wasn't designed to go long doesn't mean Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand won't take it there, using a large-format pistol, no less. Armed with SIG Sauer's 9-inch-barreled MCX Virtus Pistol loaded with Black Hills' 125-grain TMK ammunition, Beckstrand attempts to ring steel at 600 yards with help from Hornady's 4DOF ballistic calculator in this segment of “Long Range Tech.”

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready.14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a 6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle

6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand - August 01, 2018

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a "magnumized" 6.5 Creedmoor. It offers...

See More Trending Articles

More COVID-19 Tracking

9mm and .380 ACP ammo are hard to find, but .38 Special might be challenging them as the ultimate buy-it-when-you-see-it pandemic ammo purchase. It's worth considering a gun purchase to include .40 S&W police trade-ins or a pistol in .45 to better round out your options if you don't already own handguns in those calibers.Ammo Update: Panic Buying Continues COVID-19 Tracking

Ammo Update: Panic Buying Continues

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 06, 2020

9mm and .380 ACP ammo are hard to find, but .38 Special might be challenging them as the...

It's time to stock up on guns and ammo.Buy Now and Be Prepared COVID-19 Tracking

Buy Now and Be Prepared

Chris Cerino - April 07, 2020

It's time to stock up on guns and ammo.

Due to COVID-19, the 54th Annual Daisy National BB Gun & Air Rifle Championship Match scheduled for July 2-6 is cancelled.Daisy National Championship Match Cancelled COVID-19 Tracking

Daisy National Championship Match Cancelled

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 11, 2020

Due to COVID-19, the 54th Annual Daisy National BB Gun & Air Rifle Championship Match...

Gun owners are living through another history lesson.Buying Guns Before It's Too Late COVID-19 Tracking

Buying Guns Before It's Too Late

G&A Staff - May 06, 2020

Gun owners are living through another history lesson.

See More COVID-19 Tracking

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now