Investing in airguns - Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
This idea comes from Dennis Quackenbush. There are two parts to it: (1) Some airguns are good investments and (2) You can own a lot of great guns for very little money by buying and selling them one at a time.
There are airgun investments that seem to be as sound as blue chip stocks. This blog doesn't have the room to cover all of them, so I'll give just a thumbnail view of a few notables.
John Whiscombe either has stopped making guns or will soon stop, depending on which website you read. A JW75 with 4 barrels and the HOTS on all of them plus a grade 3 walnut thumbhole stock sold for $2,300 in 1998. Today, the same rifle in excellent condition is worth $2,800-$3,000. That's a growth of $500-$700 over nine years. Not earth-shattering, but sound, if the gun's condition is preserved. Over the next 10 years, I expect the value to pass $4,000, because no more Whiscombes are being made.
Whiscombe JW75 with all 4 barrels and a thumbhole stock of grade 3 walnut will always increase in value.
Christmas Story Red Ryder
This BB gun sold for about $80 in 1984 and today brings over $400. Because of counterfeiting, no Christmas Story Red Ryder is considered legit unless accompanied by the box, and even the boxes are suspect. I imagine the gun will level off around $800-$1,000 in 10 more years.
Daisy No. 25 pump
The earlier versions of this BB gun are good investments, as long as they have not been fooled with. Guns made before 1952 (wood stock and blued steel or nickelplated steel) in near-excellent condition bring $175-$400 today, depending on the variation. They are increasing by 5-10 percent a year as boomers try to recapture their past. Any rust, incorrect screws or refinished wood drops the value to $75 for a nice shooter. The Daisy No. 25 Centennial Model made in 1986 is worth $150-$200, but the market is about to take off. It must be in the box with no handling marks and all original ephemera.
Daisy 25 Centennial model came in a box with a color slipcover. Inside was a brown cardboard box with the schematic on the lid. Daisy hit one out of the park with this gun. It's a solid investment, though not for rapid growth.
The 25 Centennial is a close approximation of the pre-1925 version of the BB gun. All paperwork must accompany the gun, including the hang tag.
This one is still available today, but I think it's a great investment. The 392 Limited Edition is sold only by Crosman's Custom Shop. It uses the AS392T receiver for better scope mounting and comes with a scope for just $215 with internet discount. Crosman is building only 500, so this is a rare variation of the Benjamin 392. In 20 years, I look for it to command some real money, when collectors will have to have one to complete their collections.
Some airguns being sold as investments are to be avoided, such as most Daisy guns made today. Daisy has ceased making new airgun models and for several years has been putting different finishes on the same tired models. These are sold to commemorate this and that, but they are as unlikely to increase in value as the Winchester commemorative rifles based on the model 94 action. One exception was the 700 model 179 pistols Daisy assembled from parts found in a warehouse. That special release in 2006 is now the most valuable 179 of all, except for the 25 handmade brass salesman's samples. It doubled in value after the last one was sold. To be genuine it must have the box and certificate signed by Daisy museum curator Orin Ribar.
Daisy 179 is a 12-shot catapult BB pistol. However, 700 of them were assembled from returned parts in 2006. Those came in this box and are the most valuable 179s of all.
Another turkey is any regular spring gun that's been dolled up with a special finish, stock plaque or engraving commemorating this or that. RWS Diana did a number of them and they are seen as just pretty shooters on the American market. Beeman did several, as well, and I've never seen one sell for an actual premium. One notable exception might be the Beeman FWB 125, a .20 caliber variation of the 124. There were only five prototypes produced, and they bring whatever a serious collector is willing to pay today. Another exception is the BSA Centenary that now commands $1,000...when you can find one.
A final type of gun to avoid as an investment is any new 10-meter target gun. Like cars, they lose their value with the first sale. However, the SECOND owner can wind up with a gun that will never depreciate! An FWB P700 may sell for $3,000 new, but don't expect to ever recoup that money. You lose $400 when you drive it off the lot. However, a current model will hold its value until the next model replaces it. Then it drops in value once more. So a nice FWB 601 is worth about $900-1,100, while a new 603 goes for $2,400.
Good stuff? Stick around, because there's more to come!