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Winchester appreciation rates
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February 13, 2024 - 2:55 pm
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For years I’ve acquired rifles and handguns that caught my eye. Now that I’ve retired, sold my practice and my ranch and moved to TN, I’ve decided to get more focused on collecting Winchester rifles. I have the option to buy a few higher priced rifles or a lot of less expensive ones. I am looking for rifles that have stories to tell and that I can load for and shoot occasionally. I thoroughly enjoy shooting and working with my rifles and want to do so with my collectables. However…the pragmatist in me realizes my heirs may not have the passion I do and for that reason I want to buy rifles that are likely to appreciate in value over the next 15-20 years. So, my question to all of you is: Do all prices ranges of collectable rifles appreciate at the same percentage rate (not dollar amount), or do either low, middle or high-cost rifles appreciate at different PERCENTAGE rates? I realize no one can predict which rifle if any will appreciate or at what rate, but if you can give me some generalities, I’d appreciate it. 

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February 13, 2024 - 4:16 pm
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Barton,  There are those who resell with a certain frequency and they will likely have a more detailed response.  I will say, from what I see, the differing classes and categories definitely appreciate AND depreciate at varying rates.  Keep in mind the potential for some models and some levels of condition to fall out of favor and actually lose in cash value at a given time.  Some spot values can see quite significant increases, too.  I collect what I like, and the value I place on something is somewhat variable from true retail or wholesale values.  Tim

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February 13, 2024 - 5:38 pm
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Buying one  high condition gun for say $14,000 that is right will appreciate fast than seven  $2000 guns. That is what you see in auctions is the top end guns keep going up. I started out buying the entry level low end guns and soon learned they didn’t go up so I upgraded my collection. I still buy well used guns  if they have interesting history or rare features or I just like the gun.

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February 13, 2024 - 6:17 pm
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Overall, my suggestion is to buy what you like and enjoy.  As long as you have knowledgeable people to draw upon to confirm that what you are purchasing is what you think it is, you should be fine.  Note that some very prestigious collections of high dollar guns have contained fakes.  For me, the higher condition the gun, the less I’m going to, “enjoy” it as far as shooting it, carrying it in the field, etc.  If you’re purchasing decent, original clean Winchesters, you should be fine.  Again, my suggestion is buy them for yourself.  Your heirs will still come out ok.  

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February 13, 2024 - 7:05 pm
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steve004 said
For me, the higher condition the gun, the less I’m going to, “enjoy” it as far as shooting it, carrying it in the field, etc.  If you’re purchasing decent, original clean Winchesters, you should be fine. 

  

tim tomlinson said
Some spot values can see quite significant increases, too.  I collect what I like, and the value I place on something is somewhat variable from true retail or wholesale values.  Tim

  

1873man said
Buying one high condition gun for say $14,000 that is right, will appreciate fast than seven  $2000 guns. That is what you see in auctions is the top end guns keep going up. I started out buying the entry level low end guns and soon learned they didn’t go up so I upgraded my collection. I still buy well used guns  if they have interesting history or rare features or I just like the gun.

Bob

  

I’m in agreement with all. I would be more inclined to buy a high condition gun as Bob said for appreciation rises but, as Steve said the risk level for fakes rises also as others have learned the hard way. As Tim says, buy what you like. 

 Rick C 

   

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February 13, 2024 - 10:23 pm
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BUY THE VERY BEST YOU CAN AFFORD, or even a bit more than you can afford comfortably.  That’s where the appreciation is.  Midrange stuff, not so much.  Low end stuff has realized a recent upsurge.  There’s a market for someone yearning for a gun and shirt on funds, as it turns out.

One caveat.  The high end stuff usually looks very new, but don’t get fooled by a refinished firearm being sold as original by a deceptive individual.

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February 14, 2024 - 12:00 am
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 Barton,

 Antique guns, those made before January 1, 1899 are easier to buy, sell, and transport. Current Federal law considers them exempt from the FFL transfer.  State Laws can include antique guns and laws can change. In the past antique had advantages, this can change.

 You mentioned, “rifles that have stories to tell”. History, as to a previous owner or usage makes that Winchester a double collectable. When you go antique and history they appreciate. Something to be proud of and pass it on.

  You need help to know what your buying and what it’s worth. With that help this can be a lot of fun. T/R

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February 14, 2024 - 1:22 am
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Welcome to the affliction! All the above are correct and good advice. High condition guns have the most potential for appreciation these days and that will likely always be the case. That section of the market seems to be red-hot right now but may be slowing down a bit. The problem is that these high prices for high condition guns attract dishonest folks so this segment of the market also carries an enhanced risk. I don’t play in this ballpark much, just an interested observer. 
I prefer the more moderately priced specimens but I try to hold out for as much condition as I can afford. A high condition standard rifle will cost much less than a much fancier version of the same model and it has the same potential of appreciation and an easy sale down the road. If it’s in my safe it has a very good chance of going to the range so I don’t have much use for a safe queen other than to turn a profit. I enjoy shooting my old Winchesters and most shoot very well. I have several that have more “character” than some discerning collectors appreciate but I like them. 
I buy what I like and encourage new collectors to do likewise. That’s easier for me than some because I have no heirs that show any interest in old guns other than cash value. I’ll have to do my best to wear them out before I go.

 

Mike

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February 14, 2024 - 1:31 am
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I try to buy guns with more condition than I can afford

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March 8, 2024 - 7:21 pm
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Barton, I applaud you for thinking ahead here. I’m sure your heirs would appreciate it as well. 

Most are correct on here. The higher end and more rare appreciates in value faster than your typical day to day arms.

We are a premiere auction co and have one coming up on April 13th, we have some $20k+ Winchesters and some $2k shotguns. You can watch this online, and it will give you a good idea of where the demand and value is.

Winchester 21’s seem to keep rising regardless of grade.  All the levers and model 70’s in a Super or Deluxe grade with matching serial number bring a good penny.  And any master engraved signed piece brings a premium!  

Best of luck on this collector endeavor! 

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March 10, 2024 - 9:37 pm
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As a decades long gun collector and watcher I’ll mention some contrary views.  Yes, the most rare configuration guns in the best condition often sell for the highest prices.  But guns of any condition used to go up every few years, like blue chip stocks.  Many don’t anymore.  And the bigger risk is buying high in a category that is about to peak.  Do winchesters peak, ever?  I don’t know, maybe an 1897 shotgun during the Cowboy Action days was higher.  Maybe some hunting rifles in an age when fewer and fewer people hunt.  What I’m seeing, and predicting, is that many items that used to be blue chip collectibles are falling from all time highs about 10-20 years ago.  Colonial furniture….Hudson River art….western art….Art’s and Craft furniture…. Oh, what about guns?  Kentucky Long rifles, Belgium Brownings….Pythons….Woodsmans….single shot target rifles (schuetzen)….on and on, many things that USED to be very high every year, have plummeted.  I’ve seen what I collect, Colts, mostly stagnate or go down the past 10 years. I’ve watched and bought them for 40 years. 

I don’t know Winchesters that much.  But when people say “go as HIGH as you can!” I am always suspicious.  High conditio BEST class guns are like fine art – their prices are based on nothing but rich people paying their prices.  And yes, there will always be rich people so I gues these are “more secure”….but think about it….more secure than EVERYTHING else?  

I don’t play the “buy high” game.  I buy low, speculate on what might go high one day, or just because I can afford more of them and I like them.  I don’t care if they go up 10% and I’m not banking on them going up 200%.  I’ve seen many, many world class collections of things that WERE very high in the 70s or 80s selling for chicken feed at estate sales.  Which I go to every weekend.  Even classic cars from most eras are down, other than concours, cream of the crop ones.  You buy a bunch of “good to better” condition items and one day your heirs may have to sell them at a huge loss.  I see it every week.  

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March 10, 2024 - 11:57 pm
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Well, they’re doing a damn sight better than some savings bonds I just found. To sell a Winchester I don’t have to fill out a four page form and gather documents to submit with the notarized form to cash them in. Then I get to distribute the funds…eventually. An executor’s work is never done! I made some very good money in the stock market awhile back but stocks and bonds aren’t nearly as much fun as Winchesters. Winchester collectors are also a lot more fun to hang out with than bankers and investment types. 

 

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March 11, 2024 - 12:13 am
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AZshot said
As a decades long gun collector and watcher I’ll mention some contrary views.  Yes, the most rare configuration guns in the best condition often sell for the highest prices.  But guns of any condition used to go up every few years, like blue chip stocks.  Many don’t anymore.  And the bigger risk is buying high in a category that is about to peak.  Do winchesters peak, ever?  I don’t know, maybe an 1897 shotgun during the Cowboy Action days was higher.  Maybe some hunting rifles in an age when fewer and fewer people hunt.  What I’m seeing, and predicting, is that many items that used to be blue chip collectibles are falling from all time highs about 10-20 years ago.  Colonial furniture….Hudson River art….western art….Art’s and Craft furniture…. Oh, what about guns?  Kentucky Long rifles, Belgium Brownings….Pythons….Woodsmans….single shot target rifles (schuetzen)….on and on, many things that USED to be very high every year, have plummeted.  I’ve seen what I collect, Colts, mostly stagnate or go down the past 10 years. I’ve watched and bought them for 40 years. 

I don’t know Winchesters that much.  But when people say “go as HIGH as you can!” I am always suspicious.  High conditio BEST class guns are like fine art – their prices are based on nothing but rich people paying their prices.  And yes, there will always be rich people so I gues these are “more secure”….but think about it….more secure than EVERYTHING else?  

I don’t play the “buy high” game.  I buy low, speculate on what might go high one day, or just because I can afford more of them and I like them.  I don’t care if they go up 10% and I’m not banking on them going up 200%.  I’ve seen many, many world class collections of things that WERE very high in the 70s or 80s selling for chicken feed at estate sales.  Which I go to every weekend.  Even classic cars from most eras are down, other than concours, cream of the crop ones.  You buy a bunch of “good to better” condition items and one day your heirs may have to sell them at a huge loss.  I see it every week.    

EVERY investment has the potential to decrease, be it the stock market, collectibles, etc.  The only safe option is a CD.  Firearms may or may not go up, same with the stock market.  IIRC, after the 1929 stock market crash, it took until 1954 to return to that high.  A quarter of a century.

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March 11, 2024 - 1:03 am
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mrcvs said

AZshot said

As a decades long gun collector and watcher I’ll mention some contrary views.  Yes, the most rare configuration guns in the best condition often sell for the highest prices.  But guns of any condition used to go up every few years, like blue chip stocks.  Many don’t anymore.  And the bigger risk is buying high in a category that is about to peak.  Do winchesters peak, ever?  I don’t know, maybe an 1897 shotgun during the Cowboy Action days was higher.  Maybe some hunting rifles in an age when fewer and fewer people hunt.  What I’m seeing, and predicting, is that many items that used to be blue chip collectibles are falling from all time highs about 10-20 years ago.  Colonial furniture….Hudson River art….western art….Art’s and Craft furniture…. Oh, what about guns?  Kentucky Long rifles, Belgium Brownings….Pythons….Woodsmans….single shot target rifles (schuetzen)….on and on, many things that USED to be very high every year, have plummeted.  I’ve seen what I collect, Colts, mostly stagnate or go down the past 10 years. I’ve watched and bought them for 40 years. 

I don’t know Winchesters that much.  But when people say “go as HIGH as you can!” I am always suspicious.  High conditio BEST class guns are like fine art – their prices are based on nothing but rich people paying their prices.  And yes, there will always be rich people so I gues these are “more secure”….but think about it….more secure than EVERYTHING else?  

I don’t play the “buy high” game.  I buy low, speculate on what might go high one day, or just because I can afford more of them and I like them.  I don’t care if they go up 10% and I’m not banking on them going up 200%.  I’ve seen many, many world class collections of things that WERE very high in the 70s or 80s selling for chicken feed at estate sales.  Which I go to every weekend.  Even classic cars from most eras are down, other than concours, cream of the crop ones.  You buy a bunch of “good to better” condition items and one day your heirs may have to sell them at a huge loss.  I see it every week.    

EVERY investment has the potential to decrease, be it the stock market, collectibles, etc.  The only safe option is a CD.  Firearms may or may not go up, same with the stock market.  IIRC, after the 1929 stock market crash, it took until 1954 to return to that high.  A quarter of a century.

  

None of us know what the future will bring. Many lost their butt in the market back in 2008/2009 – those that stuck it out have done well. Winchester collecting is a hobby but historically it has been fiscally rewarding for those who have bought guns that are original, correct and have condition. Brown guns have never appreciated much and I think that trend will continue – there are too many brown guns and not enough buyers. To the contrary, nice Winchesters are very hard to find have been doing well, especially at auction. Someone in this thread mentioned the enjoyment of finding and owning the guns – this has been a very important aspect of collecting for me. I have always considered quality much more important than quantity but I know a lot of guys here on the Forum don’t agree with that philosophy. Historically, the greatest appreciation has been with case hardening and brass. Looking back, the guns that had the most appreciaton for me were the one’s where I sweated the most when I wrote the check! 

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March 11, 2024 - 2:17 am
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 Rare guns can be guns with history, can be collectible guns with rare features, or can be old collectible guns in excellent condition. The latter has appreciated at a high rate in the last 10 years.. Condition is rare on an old gun used in harsh environment.  Just compare the prices realized on an old RIA auction with a new one. Nice has gone up faster, just an opinion. T/R  

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March 11, 2024 - 4:08 pm
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All I’m saying is if you had bought top collectible single shot rifles, like a Pope-Ballard or Kentucky rifles from one of the prime 1790s long rifles 20 years ago, that was their peak.  Now you’d have to sell them for less.  The magnatude I’m talking about is $20,000-$40,000 rifles are now having to be sold for $15,000 or so.  

I’ve even seen this with “the other” blue chip gun maker, Colt.  Pre-war commercial 1911s and post-war DA revolvers are down or stangnated from their prices 15 years ago.  

I know the old axium that “guns have always done better than the stock market”, I’ve heard it my whole life.  But it’s false.  Just because there is a DOW drop or recession, you usually will make your losses back within 6 to 18 months.  I always have.  My investments have followed the very proven increases of doubling every 7 years, on average.  If you invested $100,000 in 10 prime Winchesters 7 years ago, would they be worth $200,000 now?  And $400,000 in 7 more years?  Doubt it.  And the risk is with demographics and youth not interested in sinking money into any antiques….you’ll be left holding a $10,000 rifle that won’t sell.   

Guns are a good investment for diversification, like art or other collectibles they are not a sure-fire bet.  And they don’t compound.  The best example of compounding interest is the Ben Franklin trusts he put in his will for the cities of Philidelphia and Boston.  He gave each $1,000 with stipulations that the interest would both grow the fund and be given out as small business loans to craftsmen for the first 100 years.  The second 100 years he left up to the cities.  Hundreds of people got these loans as well as funds for several institutions that are still around, which thousands of people have enjoyed.  And his 2 trusts were worth millions of dollars to boot – when the 200 year period was over.  

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March 11, 2024 - 5:23 pm
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I got into this because I like the guns.  Really never thought about appreciation.  I bought my Henry at it’s peak.  It’s nice but not engraved or a martial arm so it is worth less than what I paid for it.  I don’t care.  I have traded up so I now have less guns but nicer guns.  In my opinion I have not wasted my money.  So buy the best you can afford and over your lifetime of collecting trade up.

Garrett, it is the rule of 72.  Let’s say you make 10% on your investment.  It will take 7.2 years to double the investment assuming you make 10% every year.   The stock market over the last 80 years has averaged about 10%.  In the last 100 years the S&P has averaged just over 10% a year.

Some guns have outdone the stock market but most haven’t.  Take my Henry as an example.  The money would have doubled twice by now.  I only wish.

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March 11, 2024 - 7:18 pm
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Chuck said
I got into this because I like the guns.  Really never thought about appreciation.  I bought my Henry at it’s peak.  It’s nice but not engraved or a martial arm so it is worth less than what I paid for it.  I don’t care.  I have traded up so I now have less guns but nicer guns.  In my opinion I have not wasted my money.  So buy the best you can afford and over your lifetime of collecting trade up.

Garrett, it is the rule of 72.  Let’s say you make 10% on your investment.  It will take 7.2 years to double the investment assuming you make 10% every year.   The stock market over the last 80 years has averaged about 10%.  In the last 100 years the S&P has averaged just over 10% a year.

Some guns have outdone the stock market but most haven’t.  Take my Henry as an example.  The money would have doubled twice by now.  I only wish.

  

This is pretty much me…I’m about 18 months into really becoming a Winchester die-hard (love the guns, love the people) and I’ve overpaid for some, underpaid for others. I see them as an OVERALL investment, as a whole they’ll be worth money in the future if they’re needed to be.

Now…..to start saving for that Henry…(and a nice model 65 LOL)

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March 11, 2024 - 7:20 pm
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Special guns are good for one’s soul

I also got into it because I really like the guns, not to make money or as a hedge against inflation. Any appreciation over the years is definitely an added bonus

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March 11, 2024 - 7:42 pm
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I’ve never really considered it an investment, more of a holdings. I started out buying shooters. After a couple years, I soon realized condition trumped everything else. I’ve had rare, scarce, and pretty much everything in between high condition along with shooter grades. As stated here, and previously, guns with condition will always hold their own and appreciate in value. I’ve had deluxe guns, but now like to purchase standard guns in the highest condition available. It can be slow going, but it puts a leash on the addiction and I really enjoy owning standard guns with high condition. I kind of expect a deluxe to be well taken care of with all the special order features it may have, etc, but just something about a standard model in high condition.

 Rick C 

   

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