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A common conundrum: To buy or not to buy

by B.B. Pelletier

I was casually reading through the new NRA Guide to Firearms Assembly for Rifles and Pistols last Sunday when something caught my eye. There’s a page on the assembly/disassembly of the Winchester model 74 .22 semiautomatic rimfire rifle, which I find to be a very strange firearm. It doesn’t look like any other Winchester, and it doesn’t resemble any other rifle that I’m familiar with.

I read the brief information about the model 74 because there’s one for sale at one of my favorite gun stores. Unfortunately, that one has had about six inches of barrel whacked off, which ruins it as far as I am concerned. But seeing it there last March and again this past Friday brought it to my attention.

On the same Friday, I saw another model 74 in a different local gun store, only this one was a real clown car! It was chrome-plated — I don’t mean nickel, either. I know the difference between bright nickel on a gun and chrome that looks absurd under most circumstances. And, on this rifle, absurd is a compliment!

The stock on this freak show has an unusual forearm tip of a contrasting wood. The rifle looks like a cross between a summer camp wood shop project gone bad and a ’57 Chevy. I wondered what deranged National Guardsman had done such an evil thing to this poor rimfire in hopes of marching in the big parade.

Then, I saw the entry in the NRA book cited above: A Gallery Special (.22 Short) version of the model 74 was also offered. Gallery rifles were furnished with chromium-plated trimmings on special order and at extra cost. This variation was discontinued in 1952.

That prompted a check in the Blue Book of Gun Values, which revealed a 25 percent premium for the .22 Short version. Okay, simple enough so far.

Now this rifle is one I wouldn’t own on a bet. It’s garish and completely foreign to my personal tastes. I don’t like silver guns, period. But it’s also a somewhat rare version of a fairly common Winchester rimfire, and I know there are a multitude of collectors out there who might be crazy about it. A check on Gun Broker located a .22 Short model that was not a Gallery model, but was like new in the box for $1,375.

So, the conundrum is this: Do I invest in a gun I don’t personally care for because I know it’s a rare one? I don’t even know what price they had on this rifle, but this particular gun store has the local reputation of underpricing rare things. It’s a sort of “sleeper shop,” if you catch my drift. All the local guys watch the used inventory looking for bargains.

Okay, let’s bring this discussion back to airguns. Now I’m at an airgun show, and I pass a table where someone is offering a Montgomery Wards model 180 CO2 rifle for $80. Yes, it holds and shoots just fine. In fact, he even has the box because it was a birthday present back in the 1960s.

Do you know what a Monkey Ward model 180 is? I do. It’s a Crosman rifle that Crosman never made under their own name. Despite what the Blue Book of Airguns says, this model is different than the Crosman 180. It’s a single-shot CO2 that you seldom see, and in the 99 percent condition this one is, it’s easily a $200 airgun, if not $250 with the box. It may not be your cup of tea, but it might delight that Crosman collector over in the corner who hasn’t come by this table yet.

I remember once seeing what appeared to be a Crosman second model (the one before the “beer keg pump handle”) pneumatic in an airgun shop. Yes, it was a Crosman, despite the total lack of writing on the gun. Yes, the breech was steel and machined (Crosman did that only in the very early days). I offered $150 for this non-working pneumatic single-shot and then held onto it until the Baldwinsville show four months laster. Then I resold it for $650 cash. I even told the shop where I bought it that I thought it was worth a lot of money. They weren’t interested because it wasn’t their mainstream business, so making a little cash was fine with them.

In the same airgun shop, I found an FWB 124 sport model. That’s the plain gun without checkering or sling swivels. And the stock finish was worn. Likewise, the barrel finish was worn. But what can you expect for $35. That’s right, I once bought an FWB 124 for $35. After applying a nice tune and a scope, I sold that gun for about $200, as I recall. I had less than $100 in it. It was a very nice shooter and the buyer got a good gun, but my point is that there’s money to be made in airguns if you know what you’re doing.

But what about those plug-ugly guns you would personally never deign to own? Are they worth your time and effort? Yes, they are. As long as you know what you’re doing, you can make money on a gun that you personally would never own.

Several years ago, a person approached me at an airgun show with a Challenger Plainsman multi-pump pneumatic pistol. It didn’t pump and it didn’t hold. The grips had been replaced by homemade scales of birdseye maple. There was no finish on the gun. All in all, it was an airgun that I would never own. But — and this is a big but — I knew it to be a rare air pistol. How rare? I couldn’t say at the time of the opportunity, but I’d recently sold a CO2 Plainsman that isn’t as rare, and it brought me a very good price. This pneumatic had a longer barrel than the one pictured in the Blue Book, and it was in the very desirable .177 caliber.

The Challenger Plainsman multi-pump pneumatic is rare. In .177 caliber with a longer barrel, it’s super-rare! This is a .22 with a standard barrel.

Even the Challenger CO2 pistol is uncommon and commands a good price.

The person offering the pistol didn’t know what it was worth. Nor did I, for that matter. He wanted something I had on my table that was priced around $200, so I took a chance and traded. Within the next year, I made $150 on that gun, and I’m sure I left something for the guy who got it from me.

So, to buy or not to buy? Well, here’s an interesting tidbit. As I was researching this very report, I stumbled across an antique crank air rifle from New York City. Nobody had bid on it, so I set up a sniping run for a few seconds before the auction expired. If I got it, well and good. If I missed it, I would visit the gun store where the strange Winchester model 74 was the next day. I will give you a follow-up on both of these.

This Primary New York crank air rifle emerged from research I did for this report. So, I set up a snipe bid

Here’s a little story that might further motivate you to start looking for collectible guns to keep or resell. Weekend before last, a Pyramyd AIR employee emailed us that she’d bought a Crosman model 112 with 10-oz. CO2 tank at a garage sale. It was the third day of the sale, so she was able to get the gun and tank for just $20. What a deal! Her .22 caliber single-shot gun was made between 1950 and 1953 and is worth $100-125. This is the first airgun she’s ever bought.

So, jump in…there’s plenty for all of us!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

61 thoughts on “A common conundrum: To buy or not to buy”

  1. Blog Index for August 2010

    2. Beeman P3 air pistol – Part 3
    3. Industry Brand B3-1 – Part 1
    4. HW97 – Part 1
    5. An open message to all new airgunners
    6. Physical science and the airgunner
    9. Industry Brand B3-1 – Part 2
    10. HW 97 – Part 2
    11. Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 1
    12. Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 2
    13. The Crosman Mark I and Mark II – Part 1
    16. Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 3
    17. HW 97 – Part 3
    18. Industry Brand B3-1 – Part 3
    19. Single mom teaches children to shoot – Part 5
    20. B.B.’s airguns – What I kept and why – Part 1
    23. The Crosman Mark I and Mark II – Part 2
    24. Beeman R1 – Part 1
    25. Beeman R8: A classic from the past – Part 3
    26. Engineered plastics, synthetic stocks and modern materials in airguns
    27. B.B.’s airguns – What I kept and why – Part 2
    30. Beeman R1 – Part 2
    31. A common conundrum: To buy or not to buy

  2. Hmmmmmmmn……..to buy or not to buy…There are two consecutive Daisy VLs NIB [with the checkering, +25%] being offered WITH 5,000 rds ammo.It could sell for 800$,and the rifles are worth 750$ according to the Bluebook.Seems like a deal….I’m overbudget so I have to pass but maybe someone will be interested.

  3. We don’t have a lot of old airguns here (in Canada) pawn shop don’t buy guns and/or airguns and “real” gun shop consider airguns as cheap things for kids as they aren’t “real” guns and when you ask they look at you in a funny way.

    But I do have the to buy or not to buy but with new stuff!

    For example :
    I really (REALLY) want the marauder pistol/carbine and will buy it as soon as I can get my hands on one but I don’t own any PCPs yet so I’ll have to buy the pump package anyways so should I buy the marauder rifle package that PA sells when I visit the US in a few weeks or wait for the pistol ? The marauder seems like a wonderful rifle but I don’t hunt and I don’t really need the power as pretty much all my shooting is done between 20 an 50 feet and I don’t want to alert the neighbors to what I’m doing so the discovery isn’t and option and with the price of the trigger package and muzzle break from TKO I might as well pay a few more $$$ and get the repeating version the marauder.

    So ??? To buy or not to buy that is the question.


      • I scratched that 10 meter pistol itch with a nice Daisy 747 that could eventually be replaced (or joined) by a nice FAS 604 pistol and/or Beeman P1 and/or Gamo Compact, if I decide to not buy the Marauder I’ll order the Beeman P17 to go with the Marlin BB gun (IF it’s available).
        The thing is I really want the whole package : PCP, quietness and repeater. It’s ALSO a nice take down carbine which is VERY appealing to me. Being able to easily bring it along if I want to while not taking much space is a real plus for me.

        The only question is am I waiting for the Marauder pistol or am I getting both which involves a substantial amount of money.


  4. Hi BB,
    I buy any airgun I can if I think I can make money on it. That’s how I pay for my hobby. To make this helpful to others, seriously look at what is being offered. If it is a gun with a scope, that means it also has mounts. Does it have sling swivels or any other accessories. You have to look at each component and what you could sell each item for and how easily they would be to sell. I have bought a lot of airguns just for the scope or in a rare instance, just for the mounts or sights. This allows me to play with a lot of airguns that I would not normally buy for myself. It gives me a reason to research things I have never heard of before. I have made new friends by finding guys who have a passion for a specific model of airgun. Airgunning makes for an interesting hobby and one of the few that can pay for itself.

    David Enoch

  5. I also do what David does and look at what is with the gun, and like BB , look for the ugly ducklings too. I bought an old Winchester low wall, that was rebarrelled with a heavy .22 RF target barrel, The stock work is hidious, but it is only the butt stock that is bad. The gun is mechanically perfect, but I really bought it for the Lischert 10X target scope and mounts on it. It is a superb old school target scope. I wanted the scope ,but would trade or sell both for something else. It is a good way to get capital or trading stock, to pay for what you really want, Robert.

      • BB: I made a mistake when I wrote that this morning. The scope on the low wall is a J.W.Fecker which is a 16X and is mounted in Fecker target mounts, with the recoil stop. I got too much stuff and I forget what’s on what sometimes, and yes it is as good as an Unertl, Robert.

          • BB: What is interesting about the Litschert scope I have, is that it actually is a attachment fitted to a Lyman Alaskan All Weather scope. It replaces the objective bell with a paralax adjustable objective bell, which is larger with higher power. It is a fixed power attachment, and has a sun screen which doubles to lock in your paralax adjustment.It is called the “Targeteer” and despite the name of the maker R.A. Litschert, it was made in Indiana, U.S.A. It turned a Lyman hunting scope into the equivelant of a Lyman Target Spot junior , in performance and power, another fine old target scope that I’m quite familar with,Robert.

  6. Although I have not bought anything from the bloggers here on the PA forum, it seems from the occasional posts and comments from others that the good folks here are more of a “trade & sell” fraternity” rather than just buyer and seller. I think a lot of this has to do with our personal attachment to all things airgun, which I believe stems from airguns being as much fine machines as they are lead slingers.

    Like a fine old Porsche or Triumph automobile, you get to know a fine air rifle or pistol (especially springers) much like a fine old car. You know it’s limits, it’s sounds and it’s vibrations and it all comes together when you put 2 or 3 pellets in one hole of the bullseye at 20 meters.

    Firearms just don’t have the same mechanical appeal for me, although I do enjoy all of those that I own.

  7. I guess the real question is, are you collecting for your own enjoyment? Are you collecting to turn a profit or is it a combination? BB, it’s quite obvious you are in the latter – a combination. If you don’t like the airgun you’ve bought, you’ll turn around and sell it fairly quickly to make a nice profit. I haven’t reached that stage yet. If you remember that CO2 lever action Crosman I bought in a private sale last year? I brought it down to Roanoke to show you and the blog and was thinking of selling it to obtain a profit. I ended up liking the rifle so much that now I don’t want to sell it! At least, not yet….

    Oh, Edith – at work on IE 7, I notice the right hand menu appears momentarily and then disappears as well. Just noticed it.

    Fred PRoNJ

      • Same here. For a split second I saw the right hand margin and poof it was gone. But my biggest problem is reading the text, I have to click right and left to read the line. At 75% I can see it all from right to left, with my reading glasses. Not sure what i have IE 7 or 8.

          • It says “medium”. I don’t change that, I click the “100%”, at my bottom right, and change it to “75%”

            Hmmm..mmm. First off I am just about illiterate when it comes to computers, but… On this page when I change the text size, my upper right, I click “Page”, and if I click from Medium to any other size, nothing happens. On another window, it will change the text size. If that means anything, I have no idea, I am just reporting and maybe someone in the know will know if that means anything or not.

            Not complaining, just trying to help.

            • This is a true story :
              A computer programmer friend of mine was having programming problems and not able to find the solution went looking for a little help on a programming forum, a few days passed and he still didn’t have any help, not one single post, he then reformulated the same question but using a girls name this time… he the answer to his problem (and a few personal emails) by the end of the day.
              Nothing to do with airguns but every time there’s computer glitches and programming issues I can’t help but think about this story.


  8. David Enoch echo’s my sentiments. I’ll buy or trade for any airgun related item that I can make a profit on. David makes a great point about mentally disassembling a ‘package deal” to assess the value of each individual component.

    Although not without flaws the Blue Book of Airguns is a good starting point as to what a gun is worth. In this day and age the internet has become an invaluable resource to research not only what someone has recently paid for a model but the internet also provides numerous options for places to sell guns.

    I still enjoy and prefer attending gun shows, visiting pawn shops and gun stores that sell used items since you get to see the detail of the gun and look the seller in the eye.

    Frank B, always happy to help a fellow addict.

    Already shared my story about attending a gun show this past weekend with Frank B but now I’ll share it with you. Interesting that the winchester 74 is mentioned today since I have a soft spot for its refined cousin the browning take down. Traded for one this weekend. The owner ordered the gun, scope, mount and case directly from the Belgium browning factory when he was stationed in Germany. First time I’ve ever seen a complete package including all paperwork on the gun, scope, case and option punchlist from browning factory (I’m a sucker for complete). Overall the gun is about 97%. Hit it out of the park with this trade.


  9. Hi BB:
    Do you check out antique air gun dealers in the UK online?
    I have a sneeky feeling that you do already but I had to ask.LOL
    If you do, what do think of the models on offer and the prices asked?
    I spied out a few Airsporters you were asking about you see.
    Is it worth the hassle of shipment to the USA?

    • Dave,

      I sometimes do check out the used airguns in the UK, but I haven’t gotten the courage to plow through all the mess of importing one yet. I know you guys have the Airsporter Clubs I’m looking for, and also the Webley Mark II Service that I dream about. Maybe one day I’ll get the courage.


      • I think I need to get the patience to follow some of these auctions.Online auctions normally irk me because I don’t like rejection,but it seems I am overlooking a great way to guage the public’s valuation of different models.A single auction could be an anomoly,but trends would yeild more truth than the Bluebook,which seems erratic in my experience.

  10. Brain makes a good point, as many traders are not just pickers looking to turn a profit. I’d rather trade something to get something I want from a like minded enthusist, than use just money. I’ve given away stuff that I could’ve sold that I had a connecton with, rather than just turn it into money.
    Edith: I have IE8 windows professional , and I don’t get the right hand menu same as Fred does. I tried the firefox deal but it didn’t do anything for me. I also have to scroll back and forth to read the new larger format of the blog, and I use medium text settings, which worked fine before. I will admit though, that I have little patience for computers and their issues, and it may be just me, Robert.

  11. B.B.,

    This genius of yours took years and years to develop. A trained eye like yours and a good instinct also came at a price. Tell us all of the painful “bargains” along the way, where you spent $300 and found it was only worth $50, and the rarities you bought for $500 and sold for $1000 only to discover later it resold immediately for $5000… You would cry if I told you MY stories like these…


  12. Kevin,

    The FX Cyclone arrived safe and sound today. Thanks once again. It’s timing is perfect for B.B.’s blog. While Kevin probably could have made a few bucks off it, he sold it back to me for what he paid.
    I would guess it was the resulting karma that allowed him to find that little Browning. Money isn’t everything.

    • Volvo,

      Very fine gun. Thanks for letting me borrow it.

      ……….”You never really own the airguns you have. They’re just yours for a time and then they pass on to someone else. If you think about it, that’s how you came to acquire them in the first place.” Tom Gaylord


  13. Hm, I would say not buy in my case. My buying philosophy was to buy everything I wanted at once and then enjoy them for the maximum amount of time. We will see if this holds up or whether my purchases were just the first wave of compulsive buying. It is odd to see how something that once seemed almost necessary to life and happiness doesn’t amount to much when given a little distance and time.

    Speaking of garish, I had another look at the Bob Munden videos that someone was kind enough to forrward. Bob is supposed to be one of the fastest quickdraw shooters in the world. His technique is spasmodic; he looks like he’s going to shoot off body parts. But he is fast and accurate, no doubt about that. What also jumped out at me this time was the highly engraved gold-plated sixgun he was using. Not my style. And I don’t see how it holds up to all his holster draws.

    For those who can handle the complexities of buying/trading and selling, it is interesting how certain people have very particular tastes that can be satisfied for everyone’s benefit. My family had a red ’68 Buick Skylark for many years that was driven until it was breaking down, not to mention the massive quantities of beer spilled into the interior. However, some guy was eager to take it off our hands, painted it black so that it looked like the Batmobile, and seemed very pleased with his purchase.

    Kevin, I did have a couple of experiences of fishing when I was a kid. The worms freaked me out. I greatly enjoyed pulling fish into the boat but had my enthusiasm dampened by trying to extract a hook from a live fish and hearing its guts get torn apart. Pulling a hook out of the eye of another fish also dampened my enthusiasm. On one outing, our group pulled in some record number of bluegills–way over 100. The second time was more ordinary, and then my opportunity for fishing disappeared. So, I’ve never had those lazy days in the boat that I’ve heard about–not sure how I would like that; I don’t know if I could get used to the hooks.

    Frank B. That’s excellent info on the ceramic knives. I had heard that ceramic which is harder than steel is the material for many sharpening stones–like the one you sent me–so I was wondering how to sharpen the ceramic knives. Only way to cut a diamond is with another diamond as the saying goes. Cryogenic treatment sounds like freezing. I’ll be sure to watch for blade fractures.

    Another lesson learned from my rimfires is the joy of using a sling which I do to practice kneeling and prone. All I remembered about that from my high school team was that it was very uncomfortable and put my arm to sleep. However, having learned about the natural body position and reading Nancy Tompkins who says that the position should be more or less comfortable (my high school coach said to ignore the pain and that you should expect your supporting hand to get purple), I now am liking the use of the sling quite a bit. It is a lot like martial arts in helping you find a position of balance and stability or like a structural engineering problem in miniature. Done correctly, it certainly does steady the rifle. It looks like just about the only venue in airguns for sling use is 3 position 10m competition. Yet another reason to get the Challenger or Edge. Or field target with the harness. I don’t know that the harness is exactly the same experience since it acts on the whole body, but the principle sounds similar. Wayne, you should get one.


    • Matt61,

      Sounds like you primarily “buy to use” instead of “buy to re-sell at a profit”. They’re both fun. You mentioned that “something that once seemed almost necessary to life and happiness doesn’t amount to much when given a little distance and time.” In my case, when I no longer get a thrill shooting a gun or even have a desire to own it (appreciation in design and/or appreciation in value) the gun gets sold.

      Fishing with bait is something I haven’t done in years. The fish usually get gut hooked and even if you cut the line and leave the hook the fish can die and I don’t like sitting and waiting. I rarely keep any fish I catch. Catch and release. I fish every weekend when weather permits and usually fish with flies. Takes knowledge of understanding the fish for location and time of day, presentation of the artificial bait, an awareness of the fly that the fish are feeding upon that day and that time of day and reflexes that must be keen if you are to set the hook before they quickly realize it’s not real and spit it out. In the quiet and majestic surroundings of the Colorado Rocky Mountains it’s zen like.


    • Matt,
      you hit on one of the finer points of fishing. Nobody likes it when the fish swallows the hook, or when you foul hook a fish. The more experience you get, the more often you get the hook through the paper thin membrane between the mouth plates. Easy on – easy off. There is a lot of skill in fishing and, much like airgunning, that fuels the hobby.

  14. What sniping programs work on the gun auction sites? I use HidBid for e-bay but it is for e-bay only. I know that Gunbroker and Auction Arms both now have extended bid times to limit the effectiveness of sniping but it would still be useful.


    David Enoch

  15. I made a feeble attempt at an R8 a few weeks ago on gunbroker – I think my high bid amount was less than 50% of the sales price. But the interesting part was when I clicked on the Bid history it appeared the winner was not actually the last bidder. Perhaps this mystery will now be solved…

    • Volvo,

      It’s because the earlier bid was higher than the last bidder was willing to go. The earlier bidder was bidding in large increments. The last bidder was bidding in small amounts and finally gave up. That gun could have sold for a lot more.


    • Volvo,

      That’s how the AutoBid on gunbroker works. Similar to ebay.

      Although K***s submitted his bid at 12:25:16PM EST since it was higher than subsequent bids, his name a date stamp kept escalating and resulted in keeping him on top in the bidding war.

      When he first entered his bid on 8/15/2010 at 12:25:16PM EST he would have appeared at the top of the bidding list just above s***e A+(35) who bidded a maximum amount of $415.00. When s***e A+(35) first bid $425.00 at 12:59:11 then K***s would have appeared above him (with AutoBid working in full force) at $426.00 and so on. K***s kept moving up the bid ladder since he obviously bid at least $436.00.

      The sale price of the gun could have gone higher. The word is obviously out on R8’s. LOL!!


      • Kevin,

        The funny part is I decided to go with the Logun Solo for $484 and not chase the R8…I would of had it. My luck is holding out.

        Next when I went to return the barrel band for Solo since the rifle leaked, and noticed a newly listed R11 for $289.00.

        With my credit for the barrel band the R11 would be $220.00! How could I say no? I ordered it on Sunday.

        Since I sold off everything I needed a scope and mounts which I ordered Monday. Today the vendor called and told me I did not get the R11, it was already sold – sorry …meanwhile the scope and mounts for it are on the way.

        • Volvo,

          Wow, can I relate. With the best of intentions sometimes I get the short straw. My typical clients say that “No good deed goes unpunished” my religious clients say “Don’t worry your reward will come but maybe not in this lifetime.” Neither provide me with much comfort.

          There are so many things in this hobby/distraction/affliction/addiction that don’t make any sense to me and that drives me to delve deeper into this interest. There is one thing that makes sense to me and it reaches back in time;

          The power level of the Beeman R7, R8 and R9 are progressive as are their model numbers. Wow! Something that finally makes sense.

          I know you’re tired of hearing this and you’re obviously already a convert or you wouldn’t have chased the numerous R8’s but….for someone like you that has owned over 50 different airguns and has a great appreciation for ease of accuracy and old style quality in design of metal and wood you should bite the bullet and pay the going rate for an R8.

          My CAVEAT. You’ve already experienced a Watts tuned R7/HW30 at your elevation and although the R8 would provide more horsepower likely without additional buzz/twang maybe you’ve had my R8 experience since I shoot at 5,300 feet in elevation.

          BTW, do you still like the .20 cal R7?


  16. Guess I’m buying the horse before the cart so to speak as just recieved my new scope 3-9×40 with Mildot great something else to figure out. Found Mildot master as tool anyone ever use or have an easy layman lil math as possible way to do it I’m sure isn’t Terriby hard just not used to it. Next buying pump, case, scope rings, ohh and finally the Marauder. Gotta get what ya Kan when ya Kan is my motto

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