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.

Investments

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.

Whiscombe
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.

Benjamin 392LE
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.

Turkeys

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!

27 thoughts on “Investing in airguns – Part 1

  1. A great topic, with some advise and common sense we can enjoy great guns like the Whiscombe at a cost of little to nothing. I admit some people will be able to make money but most of us will be happy to shoot a quality gun and get our money back and maybe a little interest as a bonus.


  2. B.B.

    I didn’t get a chance to read your yesterday’s article on Haenel 311 until today. I have some questions about the 311.
    (1) How hard it it to cock (like the Beeman R7)?
    (2) Does it have leather piston seals like the Haenel 310?

    Thanks,
    Joe66





  3. I think that you’re dead-on w/ your advice on match rifles.

    The build quality of many of the classics is extraordinary. Fortunately they haven’t gotten too expensive, so you don’t feel that you’re losing money by enjoying them.


  4. Joe,

    The 311 is MUCH harder to cock than the R7, though they both require the same effort. The reason is the bolt provides such a short lever that all the work is done by the hand and wrist, rather than the arm.

    B.B.


  5. Daisy 990,

    Yes, the 990 is a curious mechanism and the gun is collectible. As is the Daisy Critter Gitter of two decades before.

    B.B.


  6. Optical centering,

    I think you should be able to get the deviation down to 1/4″ or even 1/8″ at 20 yards. Grid paper is very important to this operation and a friend to help you makes it go faster.

    B.B.


  7. Thanks for the added information on optically centering a scope. The B-Square Airgun Catalog (a good reference btw) suggests mechanically centering the scope first and then optically centering it, presumably to give you a better starting point and getting you there faster. Any thoughts on this?



  8. Blue chip investments? I’m not sure where you get your investment advice, but blue chip stocks generate 8 to 10 percent average annual return. The returns you talk about are lower than fixed income/bonds, which average 4 to 5 percent annually. You purchase airguns for the enjoyment, not to be good investments. It reminds me of art – a lousy investment, but provides great personal enjoyment.

    Go ahead and argue with me. I’m not wasting energy to provide a rebuttal to an uninformed investor.



  9. Investor,
    B.B. drew an analogy to investing in certain airguns: “There are airgun investments that seem to be as sound as blue chip stocks.” In the common usage – as opposed to the rarefied investment circles in which you appear to operate – “blue chip” is typically understood to mean that something has stability and value.

    So now we all know that you’re a brilliant financial operator! But we also know that you missed the point of the B.B.’s piece, which was simply that some airguns – while purchased for enjoyment – have stable value even after being used and enjoyed for some time, and are therefore worthy of consideration for purchase if you think you may sell them some day. To me (and probably to most other readers of B.B.’s blog) that makes for a sound investment.

    Go ahead and argue with me. I’m not wasting energy to provide a rebuttal to an unenlightened shooter.

    Wayne


  10. First off, great comeback Wayne! Second, Thanks B.B. for that very enlighening post on limited edition and collectable air guns. A few weeks ago I purchased a 392LE for the collectability of the air gun. I figure only 500 made worldwide is quite low and I am glad that I was able to get one made for me. I should be receiving it by next month. I am tempted to shoot it but I know that the less it is handled the better. I didn’t purchase it for an investment but rather a collector’s item for my pleasure to enjoying owning it. There isn’t many limited edition items that I like to have that I can actually own starting from the ground floor and Crossman has now given me that opportunity.


  11. 392LE:
    I bought a H&K P7M13 back in 1995 for about $1100. I took it to the range, let my family and friends shoot it, reloaded ammo for it, and generally enjoyed owning it. I decided last year to “cycle” it and use the proceeds toward a .45 (1911 model). Imagine my surprise when the gun sold (on Gunbroker) for over $2200. Needless to say, that paid for the .45, as well as a Diana 54 in .22, an Avanti (Daisy) 747, and a few other bits and pieces.

    That H&K worked out well for me. I enjoyed owning it, shooting it, and ultimately selling it. I finally decided to sell it when I realized it was spending more time in my closet than on the firing line.

    If you have enough closet space to put that 392LE away and forget it’s there, then go ahead. As for me, I couldn’t do that. And when my 392LE arrives – I ordered one last week – you can bet I’m going to be pumping till my arms are sore. 20 years from now, some unused, unmarked 392LE may well be worth a lot more money than mine, but it sure as heck won’t have provided any enjoyment to the owner.

    Wayne






  12. A gun with two barrels .177 and .22 is all he makes now and it with all the bells and whistles was quoted to me as $3500.00. I think that didn’t count shipping and duties. Anyone know how to get a gun to your front door from overseas?


  13. You need a U.S. importer who receives FAC airguns from the UK.

    The British Home Office requires their exporters to have a license for the specific dealer they will be sending all FAC guns to. Whiscombe won’t have that, but anyone doing business with the larger manufacturers over there could receive it from one of them who put it on their ticket.

    This is going to be one expensive airgun by the time you get it.

    B.B.


  14. I’m thinking because of all you just mentioned. I might not order it. It sounds like a huge hassle and expense. I was hoping being an airgun that the Post Office could handle it. On another note I ordered the 392LE based on your article. I’ll tell you what I think when I get it. Thanks for a great blog.


  15. I’m sorry about the Whiscombe. The problem is twofold. First, the British Home Office changed the export rules several years ago. Second, when it passes through U.S. Customs they will not know how to handle it. Anything that has the word “gun” in the title sets them off.

    I do think you’re going to like the 392LE. It’s the gun Crosman should have been making all along. I hope after the LE runs out they consider updating the Benjamin Sheridan line to incorporate that receiver on all the rifles.

    B.B.


  16. Got the 392LE. Once I learned how to properly mount a scope and bought decent JSB pellets I started shooting very well. The LE is built much better than the PA’s. Thanks for a wonderful recommendation. Well worth the purchase I think.


  17. Thank you for your report.

    The biggest difference between the 392 that all dealers can sell and the 392 that Crosman alone sells is the longer receiver. It makes scope mounting less of a chore.

    B.B.



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