Airguns as investments The Queen B FWB 124

by B.B. Pelletier

The other day I was reflecting on how much some of my airguns and firearms had grown in value in a very short time. The Whiscombe JW75 we bought for $2,300 in 1996 is now worth over $5,000 according to the open offers I see for them. Then, I reflected on the status of the M1 carbine. A carbine I bought for $800 five years ago sold for $1,200 just three years later. It hasn’t increased much since then, but still, that’s a healthy increase.

Three things drive the prices on collectible guns – be they airguns or firearms: rarity, condition and desirability. Take the M1 carbine as an example. Over 6.5 million were made in four years during World War II. Probably more than 4 million survive today. But some of those that do survive have been re-imported into the U.S., which means they have an importer’s mark on the barrel near the muzzle. While they’re nice shooters, don’t look for those guns to increase in value as fast. Many carbines are an assemblage of parts put together by civilians after the war. They have negligible collector value. Some others are just plain “beaters,” so used that they have lost all collector value.

But get a good carbine – one that is “right,” and you have an item that has steadily increased in value since the 1950s, when the NRA was selling them for $20. A carbine in very good condition today is worth $800 on up – depending on who made it and the condition.

So it is with airguns. There are some models that won’t be worth more than their purchase price for perhaps a decade or more. But a nice Crosman 600 pistol will bring $250-300 in the box if it hasn’t been fooled with.

Just 10 years ago, $400 bought a nice Sheridan Supergrade and $700 bought a peach. Today, you’ll spend $1,200 for a good one and $2,000 for the peach.

Let me tell you about a gun that you can actually still find for less than it is worth: the FWB 124 breakbarrel. A nice one today still brings only $350-400, though the real price should probably be around $600 or more. Many 124s have now been extensively customized and lost their collector value. Original stocks have been lost, guns have been buffed and reblued, and barrels have been cut down in an attempt to personalize the gun for one owner. While such a gun gives pride to one person, it sheds any collector value for all other buyers. At some point in the not-too-distant future, people will realize what a nice, untouched 124 is worth, and the days of the $400 bargain rifle will become just a pleasant memory.

About eight years ago, I was offered the opportunity to buy a 124 that had been customized by the Beeman factory in the mid-1980s. Normally, such customization would have ruined any collector value, but this was an exception. The work had been done for Mrs. Beeman, herself. The person from whom I purchased the rifle had placed a custom order and the salesperson remarked that it sounded a lot like the gun just made for Mrs. Beeman. So, the person asked if Mrs. Beeman could take a later custom gun and allow this one to be sold. When she called back a week later, she was told that Mrs. Beeman had agreed, so the rifle intended for her was sold instead. And, then, I was offered a chance to buy it.


The rifle I call the Queen B is a gorgeous FWB 124, stocked with highly figured walnut.


Here’s a close look at the stock.


Almost as pretty on the other side.

The stock was made by a master stockmaker – perhaps even Hugh de Pentheny O’Kelly, who worked for Beeman for a time in the 1980s. Not only was the fine-line checkering cut flawlessly – the entire shape of the stock felt just right in my hands. I have a Krieghoff .30/06 with the same feel, and I gave $1,500 for that rifle in the 1970s.

I was delighted to acquire this rifle for $600 at a time when an average FWB 124 D was selling for $275. I wrote about it in Airgun Revue magazine, and I confirmed the story of the sale with Mrs. Beeman at the SHOT Show. Indeed, she did step aside and let this one be sold, and I heard her say it.

The rifle had been tuned by Beeman, too. In those days, the state of tuning for a 124 was not as advanced as it is today, and a lot of the result depended on the individual rifle. This one shot 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers right at 800 f.p.s., with just a little buzz on the shot. The trigger, however, was perfect. The second stage released with about 1.5 lbs. of force and absolutely no creep. I’ve never felt another 124 trigger as good.

Unfortunately, I told the seller she had the first right of refusal if I ever sold, and three years later I had to sell the gun. I didn’t make anything on it (my choice), but I had an offer in the wings for $1,200 if she refused. I suppose that rifle is still increasing in value because of that gorgeous stock and also because of the association with Mrs. Beeman.

My point is this – there’s money to be made by careful investing in airguns. Some hot-ticket items may be overpriced currently, but a careful investor should be able to make a nice return with a little luck.

60 thoughts on “Airguns as investments The Queen B FWB 124


  1. b.b.,

    Thanks for the great article on collectible airguns. Hope you do more on this subject. I’ve just acquired a mint BSA 240 Magnum. Any chance of a story on it someday, and why it seems so desirable?

    Mike


  2. Viper Express,

    This is the third time you have asked the same question. No, I don’t think the Viper Express is suitable for hunting pigeons at ANY distance. The gun is not adequate for hunting, PERIOD, in its shotgun role.

    That is my opinion.

    Please limit your questions to one time.

    B.B.




  3. Mornin’ B.B.,
    Sorry to hear your loss. Do you think that if i get one of those HW50s’ that pyramyd get, do you think it will be worth something someday? Since it is one of the last shipments from Wierauch?
    Thanks,
    Brody


  4. Beautiful rifle B.B., Shame you had to let her go. Todays question is thus:

    Is it advisable to shoot Beeman Kodiak (extra heavy pellets) out of a .177 R-9 (or any other medium power springer)?

    From the ballistic tables I have access to it looks like this pellet is one of my best choices for pest elimination. It carries a lot of energy down range.

    Thanks again for posting my byline.

    Rick



  5. Brody,

    I think the HW 50S will be worth as much as you pay for it in 10 years time. It isn’t the kind of rifle I was referring to in the article.

    Now, if you want an investment, buy a TX 200 Mark III right now. That one will hold its price for five years and then start to appreciate. I paid $440 for mine about six years ago.

    If you could have afforded it, the last Whiscombes were selling for $3,500 new. They are now trading at $5000 and the final guns have not been delivered.

    B.B.


  6. Rick,

    I don’t see anything wrong with shooting Kodiaks in an R9. As long as they’re accurate, that’s what matters.

    I shoot them in my .177 TX 200 and they group extremely well.

    I know that some people say a Kodiak is too heavy and will hurt a spring gun, but that depends on the gun. If they sound bad when shooting the gun then I would stop, just as I would with any pellet.

    Don’t rely on tables or software to make this decision. Get out and actually shoot the gun with the pellet to see how it really performs.

    B.B.


  7. Good Morning B.B. and All

    I too like these collector bloggs… Do you think there is a special model of the TX200, that will be the best to buy, keep clean and hold for the long term…. carbine, .177 or .22, mk111…walnut or beech…does it matter?

    There is a 124 in the classified now, for $500 that was just tunned by the Beeman Factory, nice stock, with the box and all..is that a fair price? Is the Beeman tune a bad thing or good thing..

    Didn’t get much done this weekend, everyone played instead…the targets should be here early this week, that should get us going…

    Wayne

    Ashland Air Rifle Range


  8. I thought it was a fair price so I bought it already. You can get one in similar condition but not the D version on Gunbroker or Auction Arms right now.

    I did not really care that it was tuned by Beeman as I tune and prefer the Arctic Delux Old School Kit by JM as the Arctic spring does not vibrate even on looser guides and the 12x guns can not have the rear guide replaced easily.


  9. Brody,

    The HW50 is still available for sale in the USA courtesy of a couple of Pyramydair’s competitors so I don’t think an HW50 will have collector’s item written all over it any time soon! great gun though.


  10. Wayne,

    $500 is high for what clean 124s are bringing. $450 is about the top right now.

    A Beeman tune done recently is average. Not worth much extra.

    As for which TX is worth what, a walnut stock will always be worthy more and .177 will be more desirable than .22.

    B.B.


  11. I’ll correct my above information. There is a nice FWB 124 on Auction Arms – Do a search on Beeman FWB and it should come up. It has the earlier San Anselmo Cal. address and is a lower Serial number. The gun is in very nice condition and do bids yes with a starting price at $550. I was tempted as it looks nice but I already had a 127D and wanted the 124D version to make the set. (The D version has the but plate as well as sling hardware)

    I don’t know if the Beeman tune is a bad thing but I do know that JM seals and Springs are great and are better than OEM springs in most cases. His “Arctic” version springs are the Bomb. They are designed not to vibrate much even on loose oem guides.


  12. Do stamping mistakes ever increase a guns value? I have a Beeman R6 that is stamped “Beeman Model” No big deal really as the gun is a great shooter and I would hate to sell it.



  13. 124D,

    $550 is really pushing it, from what I see at the airguns shows. There is see average used 124Ds going for $350-375 and pristine ones selling for $400.

    But maybe the price increase I predicted is already underway.

    B.B.


  14. Beeman Model,

    What I find is that stamping mistakes on airguns are not the same as they are on coins. They don’t add value. But you know, that might just be my opinion. There may be some who value a mistake like that and are willing to pay extra for it.

    B.B.



  15. B.B.

    So I’m going to keep my real nice walnut stock TX200 carbine .177 in the bag and never rent it…only out when I want to practice or compete with my best springer…

    PA. will get a lot more business in Air Arms TX200 MK111 beech stock for the rentals and a few walnut TX200 MK111 to resell or keep nice for the long term…as well as the S410 PCP repeaters that I love SO much..the walnut stock on that one is very, very nice…I’m saving that one too…

    Really people, I’m warning you, place your orders now for a piece of that next shipment due the 8th..I wanted some more targets, but I got the last of the gamo targets on my first order, sorry…and Beeman bag rests are sold out too.. they don’t order very heavy in stuff, it looks like…or the suppliers don’t ship full orders to PA..

    Wayne,

    Ashland Air Rifle Range


  16. Bill,

    Bring your wife down for sure, I added a condor .22 with scope and fill attachments, you’ve been considering and an evanix AR6 six shot repeater in .22 as well, to the other S410 in .177…just so you’d have a selection and I’d win my bet with you and keep my HW-30…

    And there are still wild flowers on top of mt. Ashland, just 30 min. away..

    We’ll still be setting things up, for a few weeks, I’m sure, all the field targets will be here this week for sure.. and we’ve got some temp ranges we play on until then..

    Wayne


  17. B.B.

    It sounds like it’s better to just save up some money, and go to the Gun shows for the guns to collect…It sounds like the classified can be a little risky maybe…

    I got burned on the IZH61..It won’t index and close the cocking arm..I’m sure that’s not normal, or matt61 wouldn’t love his so much..

    Wayne


  18. As it happens the Kodiak is one of my rifles favorite pellets. They make a very satisfying thwack in the trap and are good for ragged one hole groups at 10 yards. They also knock over steel plates most reliably.

    Some tuners like the fish guy warn against heavy pellets. As far as ballistic tables are concerned I don’t have the energy or the time to exhaustively test every pellet in each of my rifles. So I have found Model specific tables that will give some notion of what to expect. Of course accuracy must be first before all else.

    As always making informed decisions is a personal habit. Thanks for your input, I value your time and wisdom.

    Rick


  19. Wayne,

    NBo, your 61 doesn’t sound normal. They usually do just fine. Maybe Pyramyd can help you?

    Another subject – I want some photos of this new range of yours. The sooner I see it the more I can help you with it.

    B.B.


  20. BB, do you ever buy guns with the intent to sell later on?

    Most likely because I don’t own many (only own 2) guns I can’t see myself buying something valuable to me only to sell it later. When I find something I deem worth collecting, I find it hard to put a cash value on the item’s worth to me. I know you have some guns that you’ll never part with though.


  21. B.B.

    On the general subject of value in guns, I just found out that Clint Fowler has released an inexpensive 34 page book detailing all of his secrets for accurizing an M1 Garand. I can’t do all of this stuff but I bet it would be easy for a lot of you expert tinkerers. One of the main items in the accurizing process is an adjustable gas plug which regulates the amount of gas that drives the piston. The big secret here is to adjust the plug so that there is enough gas flow to cycle the action but only after the bullet leaves the barrel; otherwise you get vibrations that decrease accuracy. It makes sense to me, and the test targets I got show how the groups were reduced from about 3 inches to less than 1 just by adjusting the gas plug. Anyway, the descriptions sounded like none other than…PCPs with all the details of regulating gas flow for increased accuracy. I bet it would be a snap for you PCP owners to do this. So, for 500 or so dollars for an M1 Garand from the Civilian Marksmanship Program plus a couple hundred in parts, you could have an historical artifact as well as a sub-MOA rifle that is probably state-of-the-art for semiauto firearms technology (in spite of its age). I read that the U.S. military is requisitioning every M14–which is basically the same thing–it can get its hands on for service overseas.

    I also read about some guy who claims that he pulls out his M1 Garand to watch old war movies with. “Laugh if you want,” he says. Well, I won’t just in case, I start doing the same when my rifle arrives.

    Wayne, I’m so sorry to hear that the IZH 61 didn’t work out for you and sort of take it personally that the rifle let you down like that. I would never have predicted that since mine has been steady as a rock with no malfunctions whatsoever except for the clip occasionally sticking and that was always corrected in a few seconds.

    As for damage control, I would request an exchange from PA. They sent me a pre-paid shipping label for each of the returns of my B30. And you might also request the $10 pre-test by the technicians before shipping. The rifle they sent me after testing worked perfectly. Hang in there with this rifle, it will be worth it.

    Matt61


  22. B.B.

    I know how to send them by email to you, I can take some shots of the land, and you could give input on the setup still….should I send you some or wait a few days until…

    I haven't learned to post to a site and link back here yet…one of the younger, smarter members said he would show me how to use my new camera to take some video and post it on line…I want to show a shooter at 50yards with the s410, so you guys can believe me about those groups.. and a video of the "grounds" to be rifle range…..it would be great to get input from all you pros out there…

    Wayne
    Ashland Air Rifle Range & Rentals


  23. Shorty,

    Sure I do! My wife once found an 1872 Haviland and Gunn BB pistol for $5 at a flea market that we sold for $400. If I see a gun that’s undervalued, I buy it and resell it. Isn’t that how life works?

    Now concerning the Queen B, I had no notion of ever selling it, but The Airgun Letter we used to publish put us far into debt and I had to part with most of my airguns to pay the bills. When you’re strapped it isn’t so hard to put prices on things.

    B.B.




  24. B.B.

    I had a go at disassembling my 1911 this weekend and made it to the penultimate step which was to remove the spring guide before removing the barrel from the slide. And here I was stuck fast. There doesn’t appear to be enough room to remove the spring guide. When I try to lift out the spring guide about half of it is still in that covered part of the slide at the front and that covered part is completely filled with the spring guide. In other words the geometry doesn’t permit. I’m close but at my closest approach, there is metal on metal contact. I don’t see that I’m doing anything wrong. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong to do. In this physical universe, it doesn’t seem possible. On the other hand, there are no obvious manufacturing flaws with the spring guide. I don’t get it. Anyway, I will call Smith and Wesson today and test out their fabled customer service which is one reason I bought this particular model. But if, sight unseen, you have any suggestions or have heard of a problem like this, please let me know.

    I did disassemble the gun enough to see that it has no gas piston system. Does that mean that it uses live gas to cycle the action like the M16? If so, how to explain the famous reliability of the 1911 compared to the dubious record of the M16?

    Matt61


  25. BB,
    First I would like to thank you for directing me to a couple 124′s several years ago at Atlantic. I didnt buy them as collectors but because they were such nice guns.
    Second I have found that anything I have ever bought that really gained in value went up because it was either discontinued because it became too expensive to produce or it was exceptionally good at its job but was under appreciated at the time. These dont include increases in value due to historical significants of course. In any case I was never able to predict what would go up, I bought them because of an appreciation of there function and craftsmanship and in a few cases others discovered what I saw and the prices increased. This is probably why even though some guns have tripled or quadrupled in value I still cant bring myself to part with them.

    Sam



  26. Matt61,

    You have to remove the slide from the frame in order to get the spring guide out. Try turning the gun upside down when moving the slide to the front. Also watch that the ejector and the firing pin safety dont catch the slide as you move it forward. If the Smith is the same as the Colt 80 the fireing pin release lever will pivot out of the frame when you turn it upside down and hit the back of the slide.

    Sam



  27. Matt,
    The 1911 does not use a gas recoil system. It uses a Browning Rocker lock. There is a pivot link on the bottom of the barrel and recoil locking lugs on the top that engage mating cuts in the slide. When the slide goes forward the pivot link pushes the barrel up and into the slots on the inside of the slide. When the gun is fired the force of the shot keeps the barrel and slide locked up. As the pressure starts to fall off the slide moves back slightly allowing the barrel to disengage the slide and as it continues to move rearward the pivoting link pulls the barrel down onto the frame and into proper alignment for feeding the next round. No gas metering involved but timing is very important so do yourself and your gun a big favor and NEVER let the slide slam shut on an empty gun. Stripping a round from the magazine slows the slide enough to avoid damage.

    Sam




  28. Hey BB,
    Do you know if there is any air rifle competitions such as field target, silhouette shooting, or daisy 5&10 meter shooting in upstate new york. if not how could i find out?

    CritterController




  29. B.B.

    Sorry to hear about your pressure. Hope things work out.

    Sam, thanks for the information. I have gazed upon the barrel link as well as the firing pin release lever and lived! I know exactly what you are talking about and take great satisfaction in that alone. I was able to turn the slide upside down with the receiver removed like you said and that's where I get stuck trying to pull out the spring guide rod. I've watched any number of YouTube videos as well as my Bill Wilson DVD, and in each one, they are able to pull out the guide rod like nothing. Everybody seems able to do it except me.

    I talked to S&W this morning and they were pretty nice. The guy said that I should be able to pull the spring out along with the retaining plug at the beginning of disassembly which I could not do. I was hoping to pull the spring out along with the guide rod, but the tech said that the spring might be what is preventing this. I was hesitant to apply superhuman force to get the spring off initially, but now that I know that this is supposed to happen, I'll go home and give it another try.

    As to the workings of the action, I have heard something about how the barrel of the 1911 rides back during the recoil and how there is an angle change. However, all of this movement is caused by the pressure of the expanding gunpowder gases, right? And since there is no gas piston, I'm wondering at the difference between this system and the M16. As I think about your answer, it sounds like in the M16 the gas is blown directly back onto the bolt and the action. But for the 1911, the barrel moves back with the slide, covering the action, for the fleeting instant before the gas dissipates. That must be the critical timing that you are talking about, right? And yes, I had heard about not slingshotting the slide on an empty chamber although I didn't really know the reason. It reminds me of the prohibitions against dry-firing spring guns. Thanks again.

    Matt61


  30. Matt61
    I assume you've been able to get the slide off the pistol?

    Make sure you have removed the recoil spring plug and either removed the barrel bushing, or ensured its rotated out of the way.

    Now remove the recoil spring to the front separating it from the guide rod. You may need to pull from the front and simultaneously push the rear of the spring forward with your thumb to coax it into sliding forward and off. The guide rod will stay with the slide assembly for this step

    The guide rod should now have enough clearance. Just make sure the barrel is in full battery position, and the barrel link is pivoted toward the rear.

    Your S&W 1911 manual says on page 23, third bullet, "Pull out the recoil retainer and spring". Unfortunately they don't show how to do so. Its easy once you understand how.

    This is why many shooters shun full length guide rods.


  31. Matt61
    Also see page 26 figure 30 explaining re-assembly. This is how the parts fit together when you are disassembling too


  32. BB
    In your April 18th 2008 blog on “Great airgun deals I missed (and some I didn’t)” , you said.
    “There are other remarkable deals, of course. Like the time I bought an airgun and resold it for a profit in five minutes – at a gun show! But that’s for another time.”
    Did you ever tell this story?


  33. BB,

    I’ve never been in either situation where I’ve seen something very under priced (I don’t keep tabs on values of things)or been strapped and needed to sell things off. Sounds good though, to make a cool 395 dollars from a 5 dollar investment. That’s too bad about the Queen B though…

    I’m still waiting on a bargain Enfield No.4 but when I do, I can’t imagine ever selling it (and I won’t get much anyway because I plan on refinishing it) because it has somehow become that valuable to me.









  34. B.B.

    I can’t get it out of my mind – you sacrificed your art and kept your word when the chips were down.

    My hat is off to you,sir.

    Springer John



  35. Hi B.B.:
    I have read everything you have said about dry-firing air rifles (metal spring pistons, CO2, and pneumatic)… But two days ago my son dry-fired my Gamo Whisper VH modified with the Gas Ram Air Piston about 4 times in a row before I had time to react… He didn’t knew that guns shouldn’t be fired without pellets (and I dont blame him since he just wanted to hear the “silencer”)… And obviously, without pellet there’s no silencing whatsoever… FINALLY… my question is… Is dry-firing Gas Ram Air Pistons as bad as dry-firing Metal Spring Pistons?????????


  36. Jony,

    If anything, dry-firing a gas spring gun is worse than doing it to a steel spring gun. But four times might be tolerated if you’re lucky. At least with a gas spring you don’t run the risk of breaking the spring. And Gamos take dry-firing better than most brands.

    B.B.



  37. I have a FWB 124D that I bought back in 1984, has a Beeman blue ribbon scope and a webley pro system "muzzle brake" on it that I bought from Beeman before they became illegal.
    I has just been tuned with a new maccarri spring, seals and buttons.

    Shoots smooth as can be, deadly accurate and I wouldn't dream of selling it for a penny less than $600+


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