Passing up a good deal

by Tom Gaylord Writing as B.B. Pelletier This report covers:

  • A find?
  • He buffed it out!
  • Remington cap and ball
  • Making lemonade
  • Airguns
  • Painted guns
  • They will go up
  • So, what?

A find?

My shooting buddy, Otho, called me yesterday and said he was in a pawnshop where there was a pristine Wamo Powermaster in the box with all the paperwork. That condition is rare for a 1960s-vintage painted gun like the Powermaster. I told him it was a $300 gun at the minimum, and asked him to take a closer look for me. The shop had $275 on it, which means he probably could have walked out with it for $250 and they pay the sales tax.

Wamo Powermaster
Wamo Powermaster is one of three different .22 rimfire firearms made by the same folks who made the Hula Hoop and other iconic toys of the 1960s.

When the dealer pulled it out of the case and handed it to him he told me one of the plastic grip panels appeared to have been melted or possibly sanded down. Then he asked me, “Did this gun have a thumbrest?” Yes, it did. There was a thumbrest on the left grip panel when the gun was new. Bubba had removed the one on this gun by sanding and then carefully polishing the panel until it was flat like the one on the other side. That removed all the collector value, and with a Powermaster, collector value is all there is, because it sure isn’t a gun to shoot! Don’t think you can find a set of grips, either. They are plastic and fewer sets have survived than the guns they were on. This is a deal you have to walk away from. That made me wonder about the other deals I have walked away from, as well as the ones I should have walked on but didn’t.

He buffed it out!

I can’t begin to tell you the number of firearms and airguns I’ve seen that someone has buffed to a high sheen and re-blued. Let’s focus on just one. I own a .44 Special Smith & Wesson N-frame revolver that has a round butt. For several years people told me that S&W never made an N-frame with a round butt. My gun had to have been modified, and was therefore just a shooter. Then I met a man who had spent years with Smith and Wesson. So I asked him about it. He didn’t know, but he still had contacts inside the company, so he called. He was told that indeed S&W did make a round butt N-frame. It was a very early non-numbered gun with a classic 5-screw frame. Even the Blue Book of Gun Values fails to recognize this variation, but it was a real model that S&W produced.

S&W N-frame round butt

Smith & Wesson N-frame .44 Special 5-screw with round butt does exist.

S&W N-frtame round butt worn markings

Bubba’s buffing wheel turned this one into a shooter, only.

Mine is a very early 5-screw frame gun that has all the characteristics of the gun S&W described. It would be worth a lot if someone hadn’t buffed it and re-blued it years ago. “Yeah,” Bubba says, “I had to do that. There was some holster wear at the muzzle and also on the cylinder.” Bubba is the same guy who will pay $65,000 for a 4-wheel-drive pickup, add another $30,000 worth of options and then never drive it off pavement. He lives in Phoenix, where the snowfall gets measured by decades rather than years. As long as his stuff looks good, he’s happy. That refinishing took a $2,500-3,000 gun and turned it into a sparkling shooter worth maybe $1,200. Fortunately I am into this gun at the shooter level, so I wasn’t hurt. I knew it had been refinished when I traded for it, so I got a nice .44 Special Smith with a 4-inch barrel — something that will always command a certain value.

Remington cap and ball

One firearm is faked more than any other — the Remington New Army model .44 caliber cap and ball revolver. An airgunner I know who is also a firearm collector shelled out a lot of money for one many years ago. He was so proud to show his new acquisition to me. When he did he said he thought it could be a fake, but it looked so good he wasn’t really certain. Well, I was certain. The lettering on the top barrel flat was all wrong! Remington used very small letters and this one had letters that were tall and very thin. I have owned an original Remington revolver and knew what that their lettering looked like! This one was all wrong, and I told him so. Then came my chance to be deceived. Several years later I acquired a Remington New Army with no lettering at all. But this one was much more worn, so I figured the lettering could have worn off. Except the caliber .44 was stamped deep into the side of the barrel and was still very visible. I did a deal for it that made my friend’s deal look good, in comparison! When I got it home and disassembled it, I found the Italian marks that were put there in the early 1960s, when replica guns were still a novelty. I could write a book about this — except someone already has! Author Rick Sapp published The Gun Digest Book of Firearm Fakes and Reproductions in 2008. Guess which three revolvers are on the cover? That’s right — Remingtons!

fake firearms book

When they put Remington revolvers on the cover of the book about fakes, you know they are out there!

Making lemonade

A few years after he acquired the fake Remington, my friend traded it to me in a complex deal for another airgun. I figured he didn’t want it around to remind him of his folly. I have very little in that gun, and I wanted it to accompany my personal shame. The two make a nice pair. I take these two revolvers to all the gun shows where I display them with a sign that explains they are counterfeits.

Made to Deceive These two revolvers have been artificially aged to appear as vintage 1858 Remington New Model Army handguns. Both were passed off as original! The one that has no finish has no manufacturer’s markings on the outside, so partial disassembly is required to establish the maker. The darker gun has a very faint Remington address on the top flat of the barrel. If they were real, these guns would each be worth $600-800 in the condition seen here.

fake Remingtons

Both fakes are Italian copies from the early 1960s. Cable ties are required for the gun shows.

My thinking was this display might educate other gun owners so they could avoid my folly — as well as that of my friend. Many people do read my sign and talk to me about the guns. But at every show, someone wants to buy them. The first time it happened I shrugged it off, thinking a lunatic had escaped his confinement. But when he kept returning and pestering me, I put a price of $1,200 on the pair. That’s about what I have in them. I figured just because he was crazy didn’t mean he was also broke. Well, upon hearing that number his meds kicked in and he returned to the land of the lucid. Nothing like a high price to bring people back to reality!

Airguns

Airgun values are more difficult, because they are much more vague than firearms. For example, a 1924 Crosman pneumatic that later became the model 101 is rare enough to command a thousand dollars, yet they sell commonly for $250 today. People refinish them all the time and it doesn’t hurt the value because they are so undervalued to begin with. And the much more common model 101 almost has to be refinished to bring more than $100. A Hakim military trainer is far rarer than a 42 byf “Black Widow” Luger, yet the Luger brings over $2,000 in very good condition and a fine one will approach $6000. I have never seen a Hakim trainer that was in very good original condition. People refinish them all the time. If the job is done well it actually adds to the rather depressed value. You can get a very nice one that absolutely has been refinished for $450.

Painted guns

Then we have the painted guns like the Crosman Marks I and II Target pistols. Okay, maybe they aren’t that valuable today, but let time pass and they will be. Like the Wamo Powermaster we began with (and which, incidentally, the Mark pistols resemble more than a little), as time passes their value will go up. Wamo made 15,000 Powermasters. Crosman probably made well over 100,000 Mark I pistols. But the number of original Mark Is that are in excellent condition and still in their boxes today is probably very small. People refinish the Mark I all the time. So a true original will be very hard to find. That still has zero impact on the value of these guns today. People still want them as shooters — not as collectibles. Will that be true in another 10 years? Maybe not. Another 20? Almost certainly not. If a person wanted to buy a collectible that is grossly undervalued, an excellent original Crosman Mark I or Mark II in the box with the original paperwork would be the thing to get. Pay around $200 for it and set it aside for 10 years and see what happens.

They will go up

When I was a kid you could buy first generation Daisy Red Ryders for $5-10 all day long. Call that $50-100 in today’s money. Most of them were beat up and not worth the investment, but if you looked hard there were a few good ones to be bought. The refinishing craze hit the Red Ryder in the early 1990s. All of the originals were getting re-blued and their copper bands were being re-plated. They made beautiful exhibits — and they lost all value as collectibles. Sure, people paid a lot for them all buffed up, but today those $250 guns are not worth more than what they sold for 25 years ago. An original Red Ryder in excellent condition will now pull in upwards of $700.

So, what?

You may not be a collector. What do you care about any of this? Well, you may not care about the buying end, but what about the owning end — those airguns in your care right now? Let’s say you acquire a Webley Mark II Service rifle in a trade. You’ve always wanted one and this one was in your price range because the finish is mostly gone. You need a tetanus shot just to hold it — it looks so bad. Should you break down and refinish your gun? I say go ahead. You probably can’t harm that gun any more than it already has been. But, if the same gun has 60 percent finish remaining and you just want it to sparkle, you might be stepping over the threshold by refinishing. You need to consider the gun’s future — not just with you but afterwards, too. I own a Springfield M1903A3 rifle that is in 99 percent condition. It would be a thousand-dollar rifle if someone hadn’t engraved their social security number on the receiver with an electric pen! As is, it’s worth $500 as a shooter. In 20 years the pristine one will be up to $2,000 and mine will be worth $600. That’s the sort of legacy you need to consider.

Springfield

Ahh! Bubba and his electric pen! “I don’t care what happens to this rifle after I’m gone. Right now, it’s mine!”

Buy it to shoot if the price is right. But if it’s been messed with and you want a collectible — walk away!

46 thoughts on “Passing up a good deal

  1. Kind of off subject here just a little.

    No Christmas wish list this year? I think that’s what it was called.

    BB don’t you usually do that about this time? Sorry just kind of missing it. Maybe I’m to early though.



      • BB
        Wow. October. You write that far ahead? Or it just takes time to get everything in place for those types of articles.

        And yes I know what you mean about the holidays. It always brings back the memories. Some that I love remembering. Some that are hard when remembered.

        But thankful for them.



        • Jim,

          How about a Christmas Eve blog like that? I am currently putting some Best of B.B. blogs to cover me a few days next week when family and guests come and I don’t have any time. I could plan for this to be done on Christmas Ever (Dec. 24) and tell the readers about it on Monday through Wednesday.

          I would start with my wishes and them turn it over to the readers.

          Thanks for a great idea,

          B.B.


  2. I have been reading this blog for over a year now and I have really learned a lot. I started my son on a genuine Red Ryder bb gun at age 10, and then a Crosman 760 this summer. A friend let him shoot his Diana springer and he really liked it (as long as I cocked it!) For Christmas, I am getting him a .22 Titan GP. I am kind of confused as there are all kinds of advice in different forums. Would I be better served to clean the barrel first, shoot a couple of hundred rounds, then clean it or not clean it at all? Some forums have said not to use Loctite, use red Loctite or blue Loctite after tightening screws on the stock but not on the scope or use Loctite on everything, including the scope. Is there any kind of maintenance schedule for it? All the instruction that came with it were in Spanish! Thank you


    • Jdgjtr,

      Welcome to the blog.

      I know there is a lot of advice and opinions about what to do with a new springer. My advice is to just shoot it. It will take 500 to 1000 shots just to break in and you can use that time to get to know your new airgun.

      Cleaning I reserve for when airguns stop shooting accurately. Some people clean them when they are new to get the most out of them, but when they are breaking in they still give you accuracy problems, so I don’t think it’s worth it for you.

      Watch the tightness of the stock screws, as they do loosen with shooting. Keep them snug. Same for the scope mount screws. Yes, use blue Loctite to help keep all the screws tight.

      B.B.


    • Jdgtr,

      Blue as BB said. Never Red. You will use a blow torch to get something back apart with Red. Maybe a solder gun, but the wood or plastic will be “toast” at that point. Never used Red on an airgun, but use both Blue and Red at work. NO RED! 😉


    • If you break open the barrel and look down its dirty, clean it, if not then shoot a few and check again, all clear then your good to never have to clean it again, essentially. Loctite (blue) everywhere the stock screws attach, drop of silicone chamber oil in the transfer at the start of each new tin of pellets, that’s all you’ll ever have to do. That’s the minumum and what’s best for most modern springers, but cleaning the barrel has more placebo effect for some folks and that is up to you but the only thing I’d say to worry about is fresh from factory goop and possible metal shavings, usually not in crosmans, but better to have looked.


  3. B.B.,

    An excellent report. Everyone who is into any interest that involves collectibles should be required to read this about every six months.

    I think the mindset that causes the abuse of classic collectibles (as you alluded to in your last photo caption) needs to be repeatedly and regularly addressed. When it comes to original condition classics of anything, we are not so much owners as we are temporary caretakers with an obligation to their preservation.

    You also make good points about why one should consider the motive behind a potential purchase. Do you want it to shoot or collect or as in investment? Obviously most purchases are a combination of these, but more and more I find myself trying to decide if perhaps I want to transition from being mostly a collector to being mostly a shooter.

    It was your sharing the “Beware the man who owns only one gun” maxim a few reports back that got me reflecting on this.

    Michael


    • Michael,

      As time passes I find myself paring down my gun collection. I have a couple rifles that will always do what I want and need and the rest only stay on because I enjoy the mechanisms. My M1 Carbine and Garand are two that are in the latter category.

      I ruined a fair number of collectible guns in my youth. So now I am the zealot who preaches, “Do as I say — not as I did!” 😉

      B.B.


  4. My wamo powermaster crossbow pistol appears to have the same grips as that 22, but they are white plastic. I guess it may be worth buying any $5 powermaster crossbow just to have the grips and stuff like the rear sight for parts. the crossbow pistols don’t go for much at flea markets because they always are chipped varnish and pitting metal and look to be not as good condition as the china black ones that have been around since late 80’s to current day.


  5. Good morning!

    I am definitely on the “shooter” side of the fence.

    I have several old guns but I have them for the (sentimental) value they have for me not for their potential value as collectors items. My recently acquired 33 year old FWB 300SU is a prime example – I bought it for the shooter it is and also because I have been lusting over these rifles ever since I saw it in the 1980 Beeman catalogue.

    Over the years I have bought/traded many rifles but there are two .22 calibre rim-fires single-shot rifles that this blog brought to mind as they were very old when I was in my mid-teens.

    One had a very long barrel (36” ?), fixed sights and a shell extractor that was like ½ a washer that nested into the breech bellow the shell. I (vaguely) remember that the manufacture’s name was Zellis or something like that. I repaired the firing pin and extractor and sold it to get money to by the Mossberg 352KC semiautomatic that I wanted.

    The other was a short barrelled rifle with fixed sights that had an oblong slot in the receiver. It was convenient to be able to drop in the shell for loading. I replaced the firing pin and spring on that rifle and sold it to.

    I am curious what these rifles might be worth today but only curious. The were a novelty in that they were different that the typical Cooey bold-action but I am not sorry I sold them for more modern rifles… Only accurate rifles are interesting. 🙂

    Hank


    • Hank,

      Those rifles sound very much like the Falke .22 rimfire single-shot I own. It’s good-looking but not all that accurate. And the trigger is heavy. Still, whenever I come close to selling it I start to regret my decision and I take it off my table.

      B.B.


      • B.B

        I check the web for pictures and I don’t think it was a Falke.

        I do remember that the barrel was twice as long as that on a Cooey – so long that standard .22 LongRifle shells lost their supersonic “crack” when fired from it. Very noticeable difference in report when compared to the Cooey, much quieter.

        Hank


    • Hank,

      Your comment about sentimental value is a good one, I think.

      I have just two airguns for sentimental reasons. Both are non-functional but repairable and in original condition. One is a classic collectible, the other not,. I’ll not alter or even repair them, because I do not intend to ever shoot them again.

      Michael


      • Michael,

        It can be hard to decide what to do with an old gun if you are not a collector.

        I am in the process of refurbishing/re-sealing my Father’s Crosman 101 pumper that I used as a kid. For some reason, after it sitting idle for 4 decades I have strong urge to shoot it again. I’m finding that I am spending more time reminiscing about it than working on it though. A lot of memories in that rifle.

        I also have a Crosman 130 pistol that was given to me in poor condition (if came disassembled in a bag LOL!). No sentimental value and I am not sure what I am going to do with it. I might try to make it functional again just to see if I can.

        Hank



    • Michael,

      Almost. What happened is Wamo sold the rights to the pistol to the Floyd Hyde Engineering Corp. who then produced a 5-shot semiautomatic CO2 BB pistol. Daisy bought the rights to that pistol from Hyde and simply slapped their model number 100 on it.

      B.B.


      • This is getting to be mildly eerie as it seems your you and I have had a bunch of the same stuff…or at least similar stuff. Yesterday it was the Czech co2 pistol and the BMW. I opened the blog today to see what I first thought to be that God-awful Daisy Model 100 I wasted my dearly hoarded paper-route money on back in the early ’60s. And then the supposed-to-not-exist S&W .44 with the round butt, considerably similar to my also supposed-to-not-exist round-butt 6 inch model 19.
        I always thought that one was also similar to my then wife as she too had a feisty personality and a round-butt.
        And by all means, electric-pens should be banned, registered, confiscated and burned. I can tell you there’s many a collectible vintage Leica and Nikon reduced to sub-shooter status by those abominations. The particularly interesting thing about those is many humans engage in the same practice on themselves. These humans call them (badly done) tattoos.


  6. Hi BB,
    I used to have a lot of Colt 45 ACP pistols, 70 series, 80 series, Commanders, etc. I decided I wanted to buy a 22 conversion kit. I went to the Market Hall show in Dallas and found a man that had 3 Colt conversion kits. One was like new in the box. one was a clean used one, and the other had been customized. As you would expect the one in box was highest, the clean used one next, and the customized the cheapest. I wanted a shooter and so I started looking at the customized one. The man said it had been “blue printed”. It had a Armaloy (I think) durable aluminum looking finish on it, and all the internal parts were very smooth. The man selling the conversion kits said it was a shame someone had messed with the customized one but that it was a great shooter. I bought the customized unit and for me, it was one of the best buys I ever made. I have shot thousands of rounds through it and it has never jammed. It seems accurate, more accurate than my Clark Government model, and it so fun to shoot.

    If you are not a collector, but a shooter, you can get some good deals on refinished guns. For the most part, collectible guns are guns that have a track record of being accurate and dependable. They are often better made than their modern counterparts.

    David Enoch


  7. B.B.,

    This is way off topic but I looked and could not find any blogs from you making Christmas recommendations this year. As I said a few days ago I have been very tied up with another project and have missed a lot of your blogs this fall.

    Did you say anything about this and I missed it? I have always looked forward to your Christmas suggestions in the past and have actually made a few purchases based on them.

    Anyway, I was just curious.

    Merry Christmas,
    G&G


  8. B.B.,

    Geez. I should have read post one first. I see your reply to GF1. I can understand your not being in the mood this year. It’s been a hard one for you. I am still sorry.

    G&G


  9. I really liked that 10ga double but it was too heavy with all that steel way out there. Once it had no collecting value all I could think of was to cut the barrels down to legal length and have a big honking coach gun that would kick like a Mile.
    Left it alone but if I see it in there again I’ll have to start all over again.



  10. Hi BB, I’m not sure where I should post this so feel free to delete if wrong place or not of interest.
       I’ve been doing some more tests of BB guns.( Indoor, 5 meters, average of 5 consecutive 5 shot groups–no redos for for flyers, ctc.)
           Daisy 840:  Hornady Black Diamond .463; Daisy Precision .625; Avanti .920 . (Most accurate BB repeater?)
         Daisy 74: Daisy Precision .763; Daisy Avanti .900; Black Diamond .941. Gun was modded with a bushing around the inner barrel that kept it centered while it moved back and forth. This fix also helps 840’s that have a loose inner barrel–shake gun gently and listen for rattle. Trigger does a lot of work on the 74 so the pull is “interesting.”
        I think a lot of the lessons learned in designing the 499-B went into these guns, although they’re sporters and not target guns.
       Best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas! 
       Fido3030


    • Fido,

      Thank you for all that testing,…from a “tester” himself. As for the “deletion” part of your comment….well,..hang around. Cars, bikes, motors, etc…..you name it. Keep it on the level of “kid friendly”, or close anyways, and it is all good. While not much of a blog “surfer”, those other sites must be really hard core on keeping it “on topic”.?

      Much is to be learned,….and sometimes,… it is not all about airguns. Not going anywhere…..this site suits me just fine.



  11. BB

    Keep up the great stories and life lessons I get just as much from those as the gun reviews both are great and I think you have got a good mix lately. Thanks

    I have been thinking of buying a CO2 BB pistol for a change sometimes I get wore out with the continuous quest for accuracy and I think those around me are also needing a break.

    Well today I decided I had better go through my guns and give them a good rub down and checkout. I found two daisy pistols that I forgot I had; one is a daisy 1200 in very good condition. The other is a daisy 1700 also in good condition. I have not tested the 1700 yet. They both had a CO2 cartridge in them. The one in the 1200 had the old crimped cap.

    I did not have any BB’s or CO2 at home so I went and picked some up. I put some pellgun oil on the CO2 cartridge and filled the reservoir with BBs on the 1200. I was expecting to go through a few CO2 cartridges to get it lose and stop leaking. I shot a full load of BB’s and still had CO2 left no leaks. I will see if it still has gas tomorrow.

    The accuracy of the 1200 is very poor. I would guess the power is at least 300 fps. I don’t think the barrel is in the same place on each shot. Maybe it will get better after more shooting. It is still fun to shoot. I thought cocking it between shots would be a distraction but I think it makes each shot more enjoyable. I can get one to three shots in an inch at 15 feet then the next one or more will be off over 5 inches. So I think it will get better with more shooting. There I went again with the accuracy quirk I guess it is just not going away easily.

    I haven’t tried the 1700 yet maybe I will get lucky with it also.

    I am sure the grandkids will have fun with these also. Guess I need to empty some adult beverages in aluminum cans to plink at.

    Don


    • Don,

      Glass, not cans…… 😉 but, in a twist of “fate”, I ended up with a 12 of cans after going through the drive through. Not the usual cashier, in the back seat,…..surprise! when I went to un-load the car. “choked ’em” down, barely,….but the payoff was that I now have 12,..-1,…50 yard plinkers. The -1 is sitting out on the 50 yd. pole with already a bunch of holes in it. I am set for awhile.

      Good luck on the pistols. Always nice to find something interesting that you forgot about! 😉


    • Benji
      On the weekends I always mix my shooting up.

      I got paper targets set out along with some steel spinners. Then of course the plastic soda bottles and aluminum cans.

      I even tape some aluminum foil around a couple 2 liter plastic soda bottles and set them out in the feild upside down on the 12″ tall corn stalk stubs. And why aluminum foil. Because I shoot them when it gets dark out with the moon light. And why such big 2 liter bottles? Because they’re definitely out farther than 70 yards.

      I can think of a hundred ways to have fun with a air gun. It ain’t about hole in ones all the time.

      But it is nice to know you have a gun that can do it. 🙂



        • Benji
          Sorry. Not with bb’s.

          I’m a pellet air gun shooter. Been planning on a 499 just ain’t went there yet. Was going to try to get one at least for downstairs this winter to shoot with the teenage daughters.

          They both been shooting pellet guns since about 7 years old. Their now 15 and 18 and will give their old dad a run for his money.


    • Don,

      FWIW, I have a 1700 that is perhaps my most accurate BB pistol. It shoots right to the point of aim and for a CO2 pistol, it is pretty quiet. I thought of getting a 1200, but I’m a lefty.

      Michael


      • Michael,

        Glad to hear about the 1700, it’s barrel seems a little more stable than the 1200. They look like they are the same gun on the inside but I don’t plan on taking them apart as long as they work good. I will check out the 1700 tomorrow. If it is half as good as yours I will be happy.

        Don


  12. I got both my HIPacs bled down enough today to swap fill ends and it looks like the 2240 one is now holding 2000psi without the extension but my barrel’s still at least 1″ shorter than the fill adapter.


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