Real Gun Geeks Sell Their Guns
by Herb Schlossberg
The typical gun owner has the guns he needs to do what he wants to do. Maybe a Remington 870 for the duck blind and pheasant field, a Winchester M70 in .22-250 for woodchucks, a Ruger Mk. II for Bullseye, a 10/22 for plinking, a Glock 22 for self-defense and so on. But a gun geek has a lot of guns and, even more, thinks about all the guns he would like to have. A real gun geek is either rich and has anything he wants, or else he thinks about what he has to do to buy almost anything he wants. I’m just learning this, and would like to explain how it looks to me.
I should say right away that I’m not saying that an avid collector of, say, mouse guns (editor's note: small caliber pistols like the 25 or .32 auto) should sell his collection; he gets satisfaction from the collection similar to what the hunter gets from his 870 in the field. I’m talking about a lot of people on this forum who have guns that at one time seemed important to them, but now seems less important. Typically they would like to get a loudenboomer .357 or .458, or 250-4000, or something from the Performance Center, or maybe just a SIG, but don’t seem to be able easily to raise the cash, at least not without the War Department getting after them. But what about those guns that seemed so important a year or five ago? Maybe a couple of those would pay for a loudenboomer. I have in mind some of you who say shooting is getting a little stale for you. Maybe you need to figure out what new toys would bring some of the old thrill back.
When I was active in aviation the typical problem for an airplane owner or club member was that he had capabilities he wasn't using. He had a nice airplane but no place to go. "Let’s fly over to Hagerstown and get a hamburger" Anything to try to justify having the expenses that go with an airplane. The ones that sat around unused we called "hangar queens." That's the problem a lot of our guns present to us.
The solution to the problem is to take careful stock of what our current interests are and tailor the gun collection to them. I got my C&R (federal Curios and Relics firearms collector's license) about five years ago, joined a C&R forum (the people that hang out there call themselves Crufflers), and came to think it was normal to have UPS come by with guns ("Big Brown Truck," the Crufflers say, or "BBT). Three Swedish Mausers, a 98K, a cut down 91/30, a Finn 39, a few British rifles, a Webley, a bunch of US milsurps, a Savage 99, old US Colt and Smith revolvers, and so on. With my interest in history it seemed a natural and it was a pleasure to have them and shoot them. More modern guns than I really needed too. But over the years that pleasure diminished. There were guns I hadn’t shot since the first time I took them to the range several years ago, and didn't especially want to shoot them. For a while I was buying a set of reloading dies for each caliber. Some of them I still haven’t used. At the same time my interests were dying on the back end they were growing on the front end. I wanted more guns, but I also wanted to save more for retirement, which is coming up in about 18 months. Something had to give.
What I found out is that the best thing to give is the back end of the interest pile–those guns I wanted a few years ago, but no longer have much interest in and hardly ever shoot, maybe never. In my case it was mostly milsurps, but not entirely. There were plenty of them and there was a lot of money tied up in them. How much? I don’t know, but on a recent Sunday I went to a gun show where my favorite FFL holder was selling some of my guns on consignment. He had sold five out of the eight and handed me around $1,600. I also have two on consignment at a nearby gun shop. Probably close to another $1,500 all told. Late last year I sold another ten guns. I’m not talking here about paying bills with this money, or putting in a savings plan, although some people will want to do that. I’m talking about being free to buy a gun if I feel like it without worrying about the budget, or what the War Department will think (or how can I sneak it past her into the house). Do I want a SIG P229? But why, when I already have a P228? It doesn’t matter why. I’ve got the cash from gun sales in my pocket and I don’t mind recycling it. If I conclude some day that SIGs are a load of crap (fat chance!!!!) I’ll dump them on someone else and buy something different. Just think, you guys with umpteen guns in the house, you can buy anything you want.
But what about all those fears that they’ll make this or that gun illegal, so we don’t dare get rid of the one we have? Well, I’m presenting an argument here, and arguments are worthless against paranoia. If you’re worried about that I have nothing to say. I’m selling peace of mind about buying guns, and if the paranoiac does what I say he won’t have peace of mind. For the next few years, if I’m reading the political situation correctly, we won’t have many worries, in spite of the NRA yelling the sky is falling (so send plenty of money).
I think the big barrier to doing what I’m saying is inertia, and probably also fear. Will I be sorry if I dump this or that gun? Well, it’s possible. I’m still mad at myself for selling a pristine army 1911 about 35 years ago, and a super-accurate Colt Anaconda about five years ago. But people do dumb things, and gun geeks are no exception. But the possibility of making a mistake isn’t a good reason for keeping hangar queens while we’re panting for that loudenboomer!
copyright 2004 by the author, all rights reserved.