Truth.

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."

Ariel Durant

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I've never been a good gun trader.


I collect guns, but I almost never trade or sell one.  The only time I really did that was when I bid on a big lot of guns the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was auctioning off in Gainesville, Ga. I think it was in 1993.  In those days, confiscated weapons weren't destroyed, they were sold to gun dealers or to the public by sealed bid. There would be a batch of guns, and you had to take them all, you couldn't cherry pick.

I saw this lot going on the block. There was a nice M-1 Garand, some Italian Single Action Army Clones, three Ruger Vaqueros , a Smith and Wesson Model 10 with brushed satin finish, some other vaguely desirable guns and then a scattering of Saturday night specials. I bid $3000, got the winning bid, and I still have all the guns except the low end ones, which I traded to the general store where I worked  some weekends for a really nice Smith and Wesson revolver.



I did trade a gun to a Brit who lived down in Florida. I had a Randall M1911.  Randall made the first ever stainless steel Model 1911 and this was one of them.   They were only in business from June of 1983 to May of 1985.  The company produced 24 different models, in different chamberings, so there were never many of the guns. Total production of all variants was about 9000 pieces.



I just picked up the Randall really cheap, because at the time they weren't all that big a deal, and what's more, there were rumors that the slides bound up sometimes because of the stainless steel. I don't know if that is true or not, but it made me wary of the pistol.  This British fellow came in the store, and we were talking. I mentioned the Randall and he wanted to know if I would sell it. I said no, but I might trade for something nice.  He said he had a new in the box Italian made Beretta 92 with the rare grayish finish, and he would trade that.

I told him that he was getting the dirty end of that stick, but he said he would be happy to do the deal. So we exchanged FFL's ( I should have perked up my ears when he had his dealers FFL on him) but he was happy and so was I.

I sent the gun to his dealer, and his dealer sent the Beretta to my store.  Everybody was happy. It was only years later that I learned the Randalls had become super collectible and were now highly sought after. But like the old Mammy said " a deals a deal."  Besides, I was interested in shooters, and didn't trust the Randall. He was a collector, and didn't care how it performed. So we both got what we wanted.

But I did learn that I am not a shrewd trader and had best hang on to whatever I get. Also, every time you read a gun magazine, there's an article that starts out " I once had a (insert gun name), but I (traded, sold, it got stolen) and I sure wish I hadn't now."


Check out the "good people" in this kids drawing.

16 comments:

  1. I think we have all had a few "get away" from us at one time or another. I have started to, when I find a "deal" just go ahead and get it, whether or not it is something that I want. I keep the ones I don't really want as trade fodder...I don't know if it is a winning strategy or not..but it keeps me amused to do it.

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    1. Well, I'm happy with the early Beretta, they hadn't been out long and this particular finish, according to my trading partner, was hard to find. I don't think I've ever seen another Beretta 92 that odd shade of gray so I expect he was right. The Randall wasn't "cool" when I traded it, but it would be nice to have now. This British guy was an expatriate, I'm not sure if he was then an American citizen but he had a huge chip on his shoulder about Britain. I remember that about him. He was about my age, so maybe he's still out there, and gets the gun out of his safe and just enjoys having it. I hope so.

      When I was working part time at the general store, lots of really good pieces came in used, in trade, and I cherry picked them and put them on layaway. I never got a cent out of that place, I took all my pay in goods, but I still had to pay taxes on it which grips me to this day. Still, I got weapons, ammo, field gear and anything else I wanted dirt cheap. If a box of ammo got torn, I got it for peanuts. If a good gun came in, I got it for what we gave in trade (and we were not generous on used guns) plus I got 20% off that. It was a sweet deal. I also got to hang out at the gun counter in the sporting goods section all Saturday and Sunday, from 7 to 7, and drink coffee with a bunch of good guys who were in to guns. It was only later, after the four lane road to Atlanta got built, that all the tourists started coming in. Some of them were good guys but a lot of them were jerks, and it wasn't as fun anymore.

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  2. Sadly places like that are slowly dieing out. My FIL had an arrangement like yours at the last old school gun store like that around here. (You know, wooden racks around the walls new and used mixed together...Now they are all brightly lit w/ "poodle shooters" up and down the walls, not a used gun in sight...) He did it for years, and amassed a quite decent collection. Nice way to do it I think.

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    1. There were a lot of good weapons came through that place. It was as much a social event as a commercial enterprise. The same old geezers came in there on weekends, most of the gun club came through, and people would just hang out and drink coffee or RC cola and talk. They were a good bunch of people. Ever so often, somebody would die and his wife would come in to sell his collection. We never cheated any widows, always gave fair prices to them. When you dicker with other shooters over a gun, the price you arrive at satisfies everybody. But most women had no clue so we didn't dicker, we paid fair measure up front.

      There were all kinds of hunting weapons, surplus weapons, and you never knew what you'd find when you came in to work, nor what would come in the door during the course of the day.

      I hardly ever go there now. All the old crowd is dead or moved off. The people that work there now are a couple of young guys who know jack about guns, but they don't have to since, as you say, they mostly sell AR15 rifles and a few shotguns. When I worked there , we had one hell of a selection of hand guns, but now you'd do better in your average pawn shop.

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  3. I never had one quite as special as the Randal, and most of them were nothing to write home about, but I regret letting go of every one of the ones I did. A Llama 9mm that would not shoot a whole magazine without a jamb, mostly failure to extract, A Taurus model 66. A Swedish Mauser carbine and a Helwan Brigadier Egyptian version of a Beretta 52. Let them go for various reasons and now I wish I'd kept them all.

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    1. In the end, I guess they go anyway. My wife would like me to start selling my collection, as she knows it isn't going to a Condo in Florida or a little beach house in Costa Rica. But I'm not dead yet and nothing is certain in life, so I want to enjoy them as long as I can. I don't shoot as much as I should, but I still like to get this or that out of the safe, clean it, and just have the same joy in it as some people get out of looking at paintings.

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  4. I'm another one of those persons who has some regrets with past private sales. Live and learn. It seems to me that more folks are hanging on to the good stuff, and if they do sell, they are stingy on the price. --T

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    1. Well, sometimes deals turn up. I used to get a lot of good deals by selling someone something they just had to have, even though I told them it was too much gun for them. Then they'd come back the next weekend, come all the way from Atlanta,and trade it in because it was too heavy , without even firing the piece. So I'd take it back in trade ,but having left the store it was used, and I'd buy it at used priced plus I got a good employee discount. That's how I got my Kimber Custom II. But I grant you, if you don't work in a gun store it's pretty hard to find a deal. I watch the paper, once in awhile a world war II bring back will show up, that was left to someone's dad, who left it to him, and he doesn't care anything about guns. I also haunt pawn shops, and get some good old surplus rifles that way. Pawn shop owners know what something is worth, so I don't get good prices but I do get good additions to my collection ever so often.

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  5. Harry, you hit the nail right square on the head. I don't shoot as much or as often as I once did, but there is a certain "joy" for want of a better word. in holding a piece of history in your hands. You wonder who elses hands have held it, where it served, and even sometimes, about the folks who made it...The ultimate durable goods.
    Recently I have been given two rifles. One is a Remington 22, made in 48... Customer told me he had owned it for 50 years and never shot it, and the other , an 1891 Mosin Nagant, that was captured by the Finns, and re worked. Neither is valuable in any way, but both are cool, and each has it's history...

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    1. The Finnish Nagant is a real prize. Those have never been as common as the straight Nagants, and they are renowned for their accuracy and durability.
      If you want to do some research on your rifle, here's a good place to start:
      http://7.62x54r.net/MosinID/MosinMarks02.htm

      The .22 is nice because it's from that far back. And a person can always use a .22.

      I just enjoy my weapons for the history associated with them, and because they used to be made so carefully and with such craftsmanship.

      If I don't get out to shoot as much as I once did, there's still the pleasure of owning them.

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  6. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    I still want a Mosin Nagant, all original sniper with the matching PU scope and maybe a Isapore Enfield in .308.

    Maybe one day....

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    1. Both of those guns are available, Istill see the Nagant snipers on the wholesalers web pages, and the .308 Enfield you can get off the on line auctions. Neither of them are cheap, though.

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  7. I've learned that when the other party makes an offer for an item sight unseen, that item has significant value. My only stainless steel handgun is a S&W 639 and its 'meh' in accuracy and heavy in weight for a 9mm.

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    1. I've got a good many stainless steel guns now, mostly Beretta and Taurus. Back when the Randall came out, that was unheard of. Everything was either blued, parkerized, or nickle plates by and large.

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  8. You let me know when the Israeli Mauser .308 needs a home. Im sure I can find something to trade you.

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    1. Ok.

      As I haunt the on line auctions I'll keep an eye open for one as well. I remember reading a blog here not so long ago where the guy had an Israeli mauser and had just sold it, so I know they are still out there.

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