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Education / Training Like to be an airgun collector?

Like to be an airgun collector?

by B.B. Pelletier

When I was young, I was interested in old firearms, but all the articles written about them said I had been born 30-50 years too late. All the real deals were long gone by the 1950s. As an adult, I became interested in collectible airguns, and it looked like the same thing had happened! Then, I paid greater attention to the airgun market and, son of a gun, if things didn’t get MUCH better! Today, I’ll share how it works.

Starting out as a collector
Rule No. 1: Keep your eyes in your head and be realistic.
That Sheridan Supergrade you want, used to cost $300 20 years ago, but now you can’t touch it for less than $700. Don’t fret, but also don’t cash in your life insurance to get that gun. Instead, do what I do – use…

The stepping stone approach
You’re probably not going to luck into a Sheridan Supergrade for $300. But it could happen. So always be prepared if it does (always have quick access to some cash) but don’t hold your breath. Instead, look for targets of opportunity.

Say you have three pawn shops, two flea markets and an antique mall that you visit. One day you spot a strange-looking Daisy BB gun in one of those places. If it was a Red Ryder, it would be overpriced from the git-go, but this one is an 1894 Texas Ranger commemorative new in the box. The price tag says $100 because the gun is so nice. You know Daisy hasn’t made the old-style 1894 since 1996, and some of the commemoratives are worth some cash. You dicker with the dealer and wind up with the gun for $75. You also bought some other stuff, so he was inclined to be softer on his price and you talked a good line. The other stuff sold for what you had in it, so this gun cost you $75.

My Daisy 1894 Texas Ranger commemorative BB gun was made in 1973-74, yet it’s worth more than a like-new original 1940 Red Ryder!

The receiver is colored to look like case hardening and has a Texas Ranger medallion.

Rushing home, you turn to the Blue Book of Airguns, 5th Edition and discover that your new/old Daisy is the rarest one ever made and worth $600! Sound impossible? Well, I did that exact thing not six months ago. I wasn’t looking for that particular airgun, but I knew from the Blue Book what things should cost. Now I have $600 (or more!) toward that Supergrade, if that’s what I want.

Story No. 2 – not as fast
That was a wonderful story and it did happen, but it’s not what normally happens.
Usually, I’ll spot a Crosman 130 pistol for $20 in an antique dealer’s booth. My wife actually found the one I’m referring to, and you read about it on September 19 in the posting Another oldie – Crosman 130. It cost me another $37 to get it sealed, and I could sell my $57 gun for $80 on one of the gun auction sites. Or, I could’ve gotten lucky and a shot of Crosman Pellgunoil might have fixed it – and I would have saved $37. If I watch my hot spots regularly, I’ll find an average of one gun a month like that.

How to go broke – quickly!
Gun collectors know that there is NO money in Winchester commemoratives. They avoid them like the plague. The same is true for every commemorative airgun that has no top limit on the number produced. Beeman commemorative nickelplated rifles and RWS commemorative rifles are an example of this. They aren’t worth a penny more than the same model in plain clothes. On the other hand, the Daisy Christmas Story Red Ryder that sold for about $60 in 1986 is now worth over $350!

The name of this gun is “opportunity,” and it’s knocking RIGHT NOW!

Here is a gun that will make you money!
Right now, on Pyramyd Air’s website, there is a Crosman 760 commemorative. Crosman only produced 1,500 of these to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 760, and Pyramyd AIR has it listed for ten dollars UNDER the suggested retail! Guys – I can joke with you and I can scold you, but I can’t buy your guns for you. If you want to get into airgun collecting, BUY THIS GUN RIGHT NOW! In five years, it will be worth $125. In 10 years…who knows? When you’re as old and feeble as I am, you will have a treasured story about the “good old days,” when you could still get incredible bargains in collectible airguns.

37 thoughts on “Like to be an airgun collector?”

  1. BB. ordered one this AM. The perfect reminder to my first.

    and… if you ever come across a low series # tallon in your personal collection for sale…please by all means contact me. Had one w/ serial no below A00000050 I let go. And I kick my own butt several times a day about it. TOP DOLLAR being offered for the reciever, if one should cross your path that low.


  2. i gave my grandma’s bb gun to an uncle. never got it back. it was a 760. funny that all of this comes up today as i was thinking of getting the commemorative model for old times sake.

    great blog by the way. i’ve read every one and it’s fun. i like that you take every airgun seriously and find the good points in the budget lines. some sites get too snobbish for their own good. cheers.


  3. matt,

    You’re too kind! Do I owe you money?

    Seriously, I like all BB guns, without exception. The budget-priced guns have been just as carefully developed (often many times MORE carefully developed) as the expensive ones. I like them because they reveal how clever people can be.

    You have bumped me off dead-center. Apparently this post has started a run on the 760 commemorative, so I will rush to order mine!

    Merry Christmas,


  4. B.B.,
    I’d love to get one too but I’m still waiting on my Colt M1911 from Pyramyd. I finally had to upgrade to a nickle plated to assure that I would get it by Christmas but they gave me 10% off the whole bill because of the wait so I’m happy! Can’t afford any more at the present time. (The Beeman lead Balls are also on back order so I will have to wait to see if they will help my ailing Daisy 25).

  5. airgundoc,

    So many toys – so little money! I have to live on a budget, too, so I commiserate. You’ll probably get the next collectable that pops up.


    p.s. Check your local Wally World for .177 Gamo balls. Sometimes they have ’em. Not as cheap as here and you don’t get the 4th one free, but at least you’ll get the 25 running again.


  6. Ordered my commemorative 760 last night. Thanks for the heads up on that one. P.S. Gamo balls at my local Dicks sporting goods .97 cents. I might have to buy them all just for resale.

  7. Cdubbs,

    That’s not a bad idea! Apparently there is a worldwide shortage of round lead balls at this time. When RWS finds out I bet they will release some of their own. They make zimmerstutzen balls in all sorts of sizes, some of which are ideal for BB gun owners and the like.

    The Old Western Scrounger used to import many sizes, but apparently the demand wasn’t there. Now that the Drozd is here, the demand may support selling them again.


  8. I would never last as a collector limited edition or no I would still break out the weaver rails OD paint and wood lathe and go to work creating some new type of gun that will eventually end up in my spare parts bin, but don’t get me wrong I’ve pulled off some decent airsmithing and I have quite a large “collection” but not of “airguns” in general, I have mostly high end airsoft guns that range from upgraded marui guns to the guns from the early and late 80s produced by JAC asahi FTC and maruzen that run off a modern paintball c02 tank. I’ve just started into airguns and since I’m really used to the blowback and select fire airsoft guns, I went with the night hawk and droidz rifles heh and not to dissapoint myself I’ve already bolted on a weaver rail and a aimpoint comp m3 to the nighthawk and painted the ugly yellow reciver a nice OD on the droidz.

  9. “…painted the ugly yellow reciver a nice OD on the droidz…” what a stupid color to market that cool little gun under. I bet they would sell 5x as many in black.

  10. Turtle and airsoft guy,

    I agree that the Drozd is a funny color. The reason it is, is because EAA, the importer, thought the original all-black gun looked too threatening. They kept it off the U.S. market for a year and asked IZH to change the color.

    In fairness to EAA, they are not rreally in touch with the mainstream U.S. airgun market. And they are the folks who had the Makarov and Kalashnikov ripped away by BATF. So they were probably trying to be accomodating.


  11. Regarding the 760 commemorative’s receiver, plastic doesn’t bother me as much, now that I see Glocks made from it.

    One of the Red Ryders carried in the movie A Christmas Story is now owned by a private collector (there were several of these guns especially made for the movie) who won’t take $10,000 for it. It has a plastic loading port for the BBs.

    Regarding the Benjamin 392 Limited Edition, yes, that would be a good gun to buy because they will only make 500. Just don’t shoot it, or the value goes away.

    Years ago Benjamin (before Crosman owned them) made up a special U.S. County commemorative rifle for every county in the U.S.

    They were supposed to make 6,000 plus guns (that’s two per county), but the offer lost steam and they only made a few real county guns. They produced the remainder of the guns without county attribution. I see the original county guns bringing huge sums, while the others that look the same are not selling, because collectors don’t want them.

    Caveat emptor!


  12. threatoning? whats up with that? a gun is a gun no matter what shell its in, and sometimes the guns in the toy like shells are the most deadly.

    airguns arn’t the same as the airguns of our fathers and forefathers, todays airguns are 10 times deadlier than the airguns of the 50s. and the toy like shell manufacturers are putting the guns in is not helping. now if they would just switch over and produce the more powerful “adult” airguns inside shells that actually resemble a real rifle parrents would more than likely think twice about buying something that resembles a PSG1 than something that looks like a squirt gun

  13. Hi,

    I have a questions that keeps bothering me. I was hoping that you can answer it for me. With a same gun, same power plant, different barrel (ie Diana 350 Magnum .177 and .22) and shoots pellets of same weight (ie: .177 15gr and .22 15gr). Which caliber would shoot further? I think the .177 would, but I would like to hear what you have to say. Thanks.

  14. Purchased two of the 760 Commerative’s. I fired them to make sure they work alright and packed them back in the boxes. Reason for buying two, I have twin boy’s that will be proud of them in coming years.. Thanks for the tip…F Nash

  15. B.B.

    First off what a geat site. I have a modest air gun collection and have had alot of fun reading and learned alot from it.

    In regards to the Benjamin U.S. County Commemorative model would that by chance be the Model 87?

    I ask because I saw a Model 87 at a gun show recently. Owner said Benjamin only made 6,000 and some of these in the 1980’s. He wanted $200.00. The gun was in mint condition but no box.

    As nice as it looked I had no idea if this was a good price. I am on a fixed income and saving for something else.

    So was this a real buy that I let slip through my hands?

  16. Benjamin 87,

    You might not have made a serious mistake. The original concept of this rifle was to make two guns to commemorate each of America’s 3,086 counties (including parishes and boroughs). That didn’t happen.

    Demand for the gun was low, so only about 400 of the real model 87 commemoratives were made. But Benjamin went right on making that model of gun until they ran out of materials. So there are a lot of guns that are marked as model 87s, but lack the special serial numbers (00XXXX) that were assigned to actual counties.

    An authentic gun is unlikely to be missing its soft case, box and papers, though those things do happen. But a lookalike is very much going to lack those things, because it isn’t the real deal.

    I would say the $200 asking price is about right for a non-real model 87 in perfect condition, but a real one with all the authentication and extra stuff should be worth $500 or more. The Blue Book of Airguns says the high is $395, but they also list values for the gun in less-than-perfect condition. I don’t think it has any special value in less-than-perfect condition because it a collectible that no collector would want. In used condition it’s worth what a good used Benjamin from the 1980s is worth, perhaps $50 – 75. Maybe a little more for the special finish and wood.


  17. Mr. P
    I took your advice and bought a 760 commemorative nib–Also didn’t take your advice and bought a Daisy made Winchester 1894 Texas Ranger Commemorative nib.
    What is your feeling on the values of the Winchester Commemoratives now that the plant has closed?????????

  18. sc5561,

    First of all, the plant may not close. That issue is still up in the air. Second, Winchester still exists, even if the plant does close, so Daisy will probably still make the regular 1894 with the Winchester name on it. Third, the current Texas Ranger commemorative (not the one I referred to in this post) is a good buy because it is a limited edition. The first Daisy Texas Ranger 1894, made back in 1973, is now worth $600 nib. So I think you have a nice airgun.

    The Winchester commemoratives I referred to in the post that ARE NOT good buys are the FIREARMS. They are stagnant in the market. But the airguns continue to be great investments.


  19. Hey, nice name!

    I have a Diana Mod. 5 air pistol that my dad brought back from Germany in about 1964. Still in the box (and plastic bag), and looks like new. There are even 2 full tins of Diabolo .177 pellets he brought back. Sounds like maybe airport security was more lax then! Anyway, any clue what this is worth and where a non-collector could get a fair price for it? Thanks. Nice web site.

  20. I recieved my 40th aniversery edition 760 a few days ago (1840 of 1500)and the memories of when I first used one in the early 70’s came flooding back. A neighbor across the street had one and let me shoot it a couple of times. Of course I was not able to afford one and the worn out excuse, “you’ll shoot your eye out” kept the rifle out of my hands. The two things I remember most are the short pump action and the chambering of a BB, oh those warm summer days plinking everything in sight.

  21. please can you help me i am trying to find out something for my dad . he has a diana 177 number one air rifle, and we are trying to find out how much it is worth also the best place to sell it . it is in excellent condition.
    if you have any information please could you e-mail me
    many thanks

  22. hello, my husband has a texas rangers bb pistol, not a rifle. on the side of the barrel, it states – 1873 the texas rangers 1973 and it was made by daisy. we are trying to see what if is worth. it does work. have you seen any like this or know any information about this bb gun?

  23. The Texas Rangers pistol is a companion to the rifle. In perfect condition in the box with all the papers including the Texas Rangers pamphlet, it’s worth at least $500. In good working condition without everything else, it should bring $150-200.


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