ON COLLECTING SHOTGUNS, by Dave McCracken
The voice on the other end of the phone line said something like,"Dave, I got your number from Jim Bob who says you know an awful lot about shotguns. I have this _____ shotgun, and I wonder if it's a collector's item. Can you help me?"....
Filing a mental note to rebuke Jim Bob for giving out my unlisted number, I gave speech # 23078B, the one on collecting shotguns. And I was nice, nicer than I'll be to Jim Bob. So, here's 23078B....
A collector's item is one a collector wants, so marketability is a given. Some shotguns are far more in demand than others, like the Model 12 Winchester vs the equally well designed and made Remington 31. Some niches are multiples, like a Model 12 Trench gun that appeals to Martial and Winchester collectors is so popular and rare forgeries occur.
Shotguns with historical connections are well worth big money to collectors. Years ago we went to dinner at a co-worker of Wife's, her husband had an ancestor's firearms from the Civil War. These included a brass frame Confederate copy of a Navy Colt and a ML shotgun with very short bbls. Those relics of a long dead Rebel Cavalryman, his uniform and a couple of Daguerrotypes made a nice display and a great heirloom.
Condition is of paramount importance to collectors. NIB shotguns of certain makes are worth big money, while used but not abused guns of the same make and model aren't worth much though they may be excellent shooters.
And factory new is much better than restored, no matter how well done it is. However, a fine gun with a bit of honest wear still has some collector value. Modifications however, do lower the value rather than add it except in a few cases, upgraded wood comes to mind...
And collectors greatly vary. I know one gent who collects only "Ranger" shotguns, another single bbl hardware store 410s. For every Purdey collector, there's 10 guys happily collecting Savage SXS shotguns or their Model 24 combo guns.
Can one shoot a shotgun with some collector value w/o diminishing same? Sometimes. I wouldn't take a Parker Invincible (Only 3 made) on a sea duck hunt, but I might take a middle grade Parker on a dove hunt where dings and high humidity aren't that likely. And classics like the Rem 31 and Win 12 are made to be used, again and again.
Here's a list of shotguns I expect to see gain collector value,some already have a bit. Remember, condition is critical. And note I left the classic doubles out, Parkers, LeFevres, Foxes, etc, are already up there.
Also, I left out the non US guns, that's a morass I don't navigate well.
Browning A-5s, the Sweet 16 especially.
Dave McCracken has been shotgunning longer than many shooters have been alive. He regularly posts on TheHighRoad.org and TheFiringLine.com. This article is reprinted here with his permission; reprinting or redistributing this article without his permission is expressly prohibited.