Five Valuable Guns You May Already Own
Derrek Sigler 09.03.20
We have all heard stories about the young couple who buy an old house and they happen to find a fortune stuffed into the walls while they are renovating it, or the kid who has some lady sell him her cheating husband’s mint-condition, vintage Corvette. Whether or not these urban myths of wealth and good luck have any truth to them is unknown for certain, but there remains a possibility that you have something of hidden value stashed away in your gun safe.
If you don’t already own a valuable firearm, keep in mind that you may happen to walk across a deal on one at an auction, garage or estate sale. If you’re at all like me, you get all twitterpated when you see a gun for sale somewhere. It may just be the one you want or need. (Truth be told, I want them all, and tell my wife I need them.)
Here are five pretty valuable guns you stand a decent chance of running across, or that you may already own. Keep in mind that value is pretty subjective and depends upon condition, rarity and, above all, what it means to you, or the person selling/buying it.
Let me give you a little backstory into my ideas of firearm values. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to work with a major firearms publication, and one of the guys I worked closely with was Dan Shideler. Dan was the senior editor of the publication and was an absolute treasure trove of firearms information. Sadly, Dan passed away in 2011; something that still stings when I think of it. He had a wicked sense of humor, often doing or saying something outlandish just to get a rise out of you, and he also scoured the countryside, going to every gun show he could, just to see what was out there and to learn about gun values. Dan was better than anyone I know at forecasting what guns were going to wind up being valuable and he specialized in the obscure. He’d talk about some firearm that others would call “cheap,” and he’d say that it would wind up being collectible, and he’d be right. One of the annual titles he poured his work into, The Standard Catalog of Firearms, lists values and history for the firearms. It is currently helmed by Jim Supica, the former director for the NRA Museums. If you’re interested in gun values, get a copy every year.
Remington Nylon 66
It is pretty common today to see rifles with composite stocks, but in 1959 when Remington released the first Model Nylon 66, it was almost unheard of. These semi-automatic 22 rifles were made in various models up until 1989. Remington wanted to bring an inexpensive rifle to the market and worked with DuPont to develop a composite stock for a new 22. DuPont developed a material called Nylon Zytel-101 specifically for the project.
These little rifles have been gaining in value dramatically. Original brown-stocked models from the earliest runs are now fetching more than $1,000. I had one given to me many years ago. The person giving it to me said it was a decent little cheap 22 that he had paid $35 for at a yard sale. I eventually sold it for $750. Do any of you have one? You might be sitting on a little, plastic nest egg.
Early WWII 1911s
The 1911 is arguably the most popular pistol of all time, with many variations out there from a lot of different companies. When America’s war machine got rolling after entering WWII, there weren’t enough of the 45s rolling out of the factories. As we all know, companies that didn’t normally make firearms jumped in to do just that. This included the Remington-Rand Typewriter Company (not Remington Arms, BTW), Union Switch & Signal, and the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Of those, the Singer 1911s are the most valuable and rarest. They only produced about 500 pistols, but the quality was outstanding and if you can find one sitting in your attic, or in grandpa’s gun cabinet, they’re worth around a quarter of a million bucks. Others that were more mass-produced are worth much less, obviously. So if you have an old 1911 sitting around, look into who made it and when. You could have your new retirement plan in your gun safe.
The Parker Bros. Firearms Co. Made exquisite side-by-side, break-action shotguns from 1867 to 1942. These shotguns are highly collectible and are one of those things people suddenly realize they have. I have a family member who found one in some stuff he inherited. At first he thought it was some cheap, old shotgun. It looked rough and had some serious patina on it. He took it to a gunsmith to have it refinished and was told not to. That is a cardinal rule with old firearms. Resist the urge the refinish!
This shotgun was valued at $11,000 as it was. Refinishing it would drop the value to around $3,500. Parker made shotguns as big as an 8 gauge down to the 410. The smaller-bore guns and the obscure bores are the most valuable. The later stages of Parker Shotguns, those made from 1934 to 1942 were made under the company ownership of Remington arms, who phased out the Parker brand by 42. These shotguns hold a lesser value, but are still great guns and if you have one, hold onto it. The value will be going up.
Winchester Model 73
The gun that won the west! Winchester Repeating Arms started producing these lever-action beauties in, obviously, 1873. They were an immediate success and gained a lot of fame. Jimmy Stewart starred in a movie, Winchester 73, that was essentially about the rifle. The original rifle was produced from 1873 to 1923. It was chambered from several different calibers, but the original and most prominent is the 44-40.
The movie referenced Winchester’s “One of One Thousand” series, which were extremely accurate rifles with test-fired barrels and set triggers. Winchester also made custom variations of the rifle, including one-off versions based on specific customer needs and requests. If you happen to have an old lever rifle sitting around, you might want to look into what it is. These firearms can be worth a mint, especially any of the special models mentioned here. This firearm is so popular, Winchester released new versions of it that are available today, and there are several companies making authentic reproductions of the 73 that you can get for decent prices.
Ruger Blackhawk (Flat Top)
We’ve talked before about collectible Ruger firearms, and one we saved for this list is the original Ruger Blackhawk revolver from the 1950s. Also known as the Flat Top, these classic single-action revolvers were released in 1955 on the heels of the popularity of westerns in the movies and television. The first production models were available in 357 magnum, and 44 magnum was added the following year. From ‘55 to ‘62, the rear sight on the frame was unprotected, giving the handgun a flat top appearance, hence the nick-name.
Value on these revolvers is growing steadily, and if you have one in good condition, it’s currently worth $1,500-1,800. I wish I had one, but to be honest, if I did, I’d probably never sell it. I’d keep it and shoot it and enjoy it.
Lead image by Ollinka/Shutterstock Images
What other firearms do you feel are as collectible as these, or more? Leave us a comment about your favorite collectible gun. We’d love to hear from you.