…because it won’t get any cheaper or easier to find. Military guns, that is. Part of the human psyche, I think, tends to disregard the value of things that are plentiful and inexpensive (or even just fairly easy to obtain) on grounds that they will always be there later. Then a few years later we go back to see when they’ve thinned out, and presto, the price has doubled or tripled…or worse. My suggestion? If it’s something that appeals to you, buy it today. In ten or twenty years you’ll be looking wistfully at that J&G catalog because that one boring Polish pistol has become completely impossibly to find, and you really need it to round out your collection.
The secret to a lot of the amazing collections we see today isn’t that the owner is a gazillionaire (although certainly some of them are). The key to many is simply that someone had the foresight and interest to buy things when they were available. It’s a bit of an extreme example, but decades ago there wasn’t much interest in C93 Borchardt pistols, because they were just so ungainly – and so you could get one for a reasonable sum. I’m sure most folks simply went with the crowd and ignored them…who wants that clumsy old thing anyway, when we can get a shiny Luger instead? But the few who bucked the trend are the few who are able to have one today without dropping 5 figures for it.
Okay, I know someone is going to bring up inflation in response to these ads. Well, that FG42 ad is from 1956 (Hy Hunter’s American Weapons Corporation, Burbank, CA). In today’s dollars, it would set you back about $1650. Does that still sound like a deal you would consider? Too much money? Maybe you would prefer an RSC 1917 French selfloader for $55?
So, I’m not saying we should all go drain our bank accounts and buy as many guns as we can (although I realize the idea is always a bit tempting). No, I’m suggesting that when you find something you want, you should consider how likely you will be to find it in 10 years and how much it will cost then. It is simply the nature of surplus that guns start common and inexpensive and disappear over time. We can see it in every single gun ever imported or sold as surplus, and yet we so often assume that the gun we see for sale today will somehow not be affected.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the exceptions that prove the rule. A friend of ours jumped at the chance to get an SKS in an even swap for a .38 Webley automatic pistol, and figured he got a pretty good deal. The was in the 50s, and it was one of the first SKS rifles to find its way to the US, straight from the Suez crisis. Interesting story aside, that rifle certainly lost some value when the freighter loads of SKS’s came into the country many years later…but that is very much the statistical outlier. We can see SKS prices climbing up right now, as importer supplies have dried up. Who doesn’t see the $350 price tags and not wish they had bought a few more at $89 each?
As for me, I’m trying to focus on Mosins. As I’ve said before, I really like the looks and history of the M1891 Mosin Nagant, and their prices are seriously held down by the still-significant glut of 91/30s on the market (same thing with rare Finnish Mosins). Those refurbished 91/30s are guaranteed to dry up sooner or later, and then the market will correct itself. So…if you want it, buy it today.