What Makes a Gun Collectible?

Maybe you just inherited your grandparents’ homestead shotgun, maybe you’ve held on to your trusty rifle since your 12th birthday, or maybe you just bought a gun second-hand and think it’s something special. Whatever the scenario, one of the most commonly asked questions we are asked is, “Does this gun have any collector’s value?”

Before you jump the gun and think you have something rare and collectible, the experts at Cash My Guns can help you identify what you have. For the purposes of this article, we’ll stick to five key elements that determine the collectability and value of a firearm: condition, rarity, historical significance, unique features, and interest by the collecting community.

Condition: A gun’s condition is perhaps the greatest indicator of its collectability. The more pristine a gun’s condition is, the more valuable it is going to be. But don’t start buffing that flintlock rifle you found in the shed just yet – the condition of a gun should usually match its age. In other words, the finish of the gun must show that it hasn’t been tampered with or modified from its original state. Appraisers usually score condition on a six-point scale (new, as new, excellent, very good, good, and fair), so it’s best to leave a gun’s finish alone at the risk of devaluing it from cleaning.

Rarity: When the demand for a gun is greater than the supply of its production run, it’s likely to be rare. Basic economics tells us that shortages increase the value of items, and therefore buyers are going to want to collect it. Rarity can also come from the age of a firearm. Though not a sure determinant, often the older a gun is, the rarer it is going to be. A lot of guns simply do not stand the test of time, so those that do can be highly sought after.

Historical Significance: Some firearms play pivotal roles in history, and therefore have a significance that accompanies them. Many guns that came to fame during wartime conjure up images of battlefields and legendary marksmanship. These can be highly collectible. In addition, guns previously owned by famous individuals who contributed to historical events or used in entertainment can fetch a premium price.

Unique Features and uniqueness: Even if an invention becomes mainstream over time, firearm brands that are the “first to do such-and-such” can experience heightened value in their guns. Similarly, older firearms that are marked with early production serial numbers experience increased value in some situations. However, there is a flip side to this. Often, customizing a gun will diminish its value. Collectors do not seek guns that have been modified by unknown gunsmiths or hobbyists, as they cannot be trusted for the work they have done on a firearm.

Interest by The Collecting Community: When all is said and done, there must be the right buyer for the right gun. If there is little interest expressed by the collecting community, there is less demand and consequently a firearm’s value decreases. Collector interest is primarily determined by the factors previously highlighted in the post, so depending on the score in each of these categories, a gun can be deemed collectible or not.

There you have it! A quick checklist to determine if the gun you have, or are perhaps buying, is collectible. As always, we at cashmyguns.com can have your gun appraised at no cost, and if you’re looking for a fair buyer, more often than not we can help you.  Owning a collectible gun is exciting whether you are looking to sell or buy. Whichever end of the spectrum you are on, it is our goal to help you and share that excitement!