Before NFA?


January 2, 2010, 11:31 PM
I was wondering if anyone knew what the prices of full auto firearms were before 1934? I would like to know cause I just watched public enemies and thought about how much they were and how available. Could you just walk into any hardware/gun store and pick one up?

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January 2, 2010, 11:33 PM
The Thompson gun was nearly $200, IIRC. And you'd generally order from the company, not many stores were going to stock something worth 6 months of pay.

January 2, 2010, 11:35 PM
My dealer in DFW Texas, Nick Tilotta, who has around 90 full auto Tommy guns from the 1920's said that Tommy Guns were sold in hardware stores for around $200. That was a great deal of money then. I've handled many of his guns and they're a work of art. Handmade and very heavy.

January 2, 2010, 11:39 PM,4b401e3c&geometry=4x3-1-01&display=split

if this pulls, this is his collection. These are all 1921 or 1928 Tommy guns. I enjoyed messing with the MG42. The Macs were horrible

General Geoff
January 3, 2010, 12:01 AM
Just as a comparison: in 1927, you could buy a brand new Ford Model T for ~$250. So yes, $200 for a firearm was very expensive indeed.

January 3, 2010, 12:27 AM
And remember, in 1934 when the NFA was passed, the tax at that time was still $200. I don't think the intent of that could have been anything other than a defacto ban, since no one but the very rich could have afforded that. 76 years later it is still keeping out the "average" gun owner, but since the amount has never been corrected for inflation, the "average joe" can pay the tax if he wants to.

The '86 new machine gun ban has effectively relegated machine guns only to the wealthy. But not because of the tax.

January 3, 2010, 12:44 AM
What $200 invested in 1928 would be worth today (compounded annually over 81 years)

At 10% $450,648.05
at 9% $215,068.26
at 8% $101,942.24
at 7% $47,986.16
at 6% $22,428.75
at 5% $10,407.90

According to the US Bureau of Labor Stastics, the buying value of $200 in 1928 would be the equivalent of $2,530.18 in 2009 (the calculator won't calculate for 2010 yet.)

The S&P500 compound annual growth rate from Jan 1 1928 to Dec 31, 2008 was 9.32%, so if your grandfather had invested $200 on Jan 1 1928, it would be worth $272,708.99

I don't know what a mint 1928 Thompson goes for today, but it looks like the stock market probably beat it.

January 3, 2010, 12:56 AM
And the primary reason that gun would be worth what it is today is because of the 86 ban, not natural market forces. I assume a mint 1920s model would have some inherent collectors value regardless of the '86 ban, but the '86 ban is still going to be a big factor.

January 3, 2010, 01:20 AM
Prior to the '86 ban, from what I understand, FA guns were only nominally more expensive than their semi-auto equivalents. Not counting the tax stamp. E.g. if an AR-15 in 1985 would have sold for, say $400, an M-16 would have sold for $500-600 before the tax stamp. Not saying that's what the actual prices were, just an illustration. In fact I seem to recall seeing a non-transferable M-4 at a gun show that was advertised for sale for $800 a few years ago. You had to be a LEA to buy it, but the price was within $100 of the semi-auto only M-4geries a few tables down the aisle.

January 3, 2010, 09:29 AM
In the case of an AR-15, the only differences between select fire and semi-only are a slightly different carrier (in some cases) and different shaped trigger parts, plus one extra trigger part (sometimes requiring an extra pin hole in the receiver). If there is even $100 difference in retail, that is coming from something other than the actual cost differences in the parts.

Art Eatman
January 3, 2010, 11:22 AM
Off the investment and back to gun prices: In 1982, a brand-new full-auto Thompson retailed for around $740 plus sales tax. I test-fired one at a dealer's before he made delivery.

In the WW II era, a Model 70 Winchester retailed for around $54, from an ad I saw in an American Rifleman of that era. The SuperGrade was around $70 or so.

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