February 15, 2012, 09:23 PM
Am I wrong? I have been buying vintage Winchesters for a while now, and I am saddened by all the 'restored' rifles (and pistols) out there. It seems to me that doing a 'restoration' on a rifle pretty much destroys it. I recently bought an original, 90% 1886 Winchester... and while perusing the available 1886's for sale discovered the majority of the high end rifles to be Turnbull restorations, and for sale for top dollar. Does anyone buy these rifles? For myself, I would much rather have a '94 that has turned to an even plum brown patina than have a gaudy case colored receiver on a restored rifle. Am I alone? What are your thoughts? Lee Davis

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February 15, 2012, 10:36 PM
Lot's of people buy Turnbull restorations, so they must like them. Personally if the only problem is a faded finish I prefer original, however when they get to the pitted ugly stage then I don't see a problem with a good restoration.

As with almost all other collectables, orginals will sell for more than restored, assuming similar conditions. So if you could find an original 1886 in 95-100% condition it would sell for a lot more than any restored 1886. The problem is they just aren't out there, and you can get one that looks like new for a price.

February 15, 2012, 10:41 PM
I reckon it depends on if the rifle lived in Granddad's closet, in his barn, or in the trunk of his Buick.

February 15, 2012, 11:22 PM
If it's a true restoration, then it is restored back to its original finish. Are you saying the rifles you love were "gaudy" when new but you like them fine now that age has rusted and worn the finishes??? That's odd.

It's strange that in England, where some of the world's finest and most expensive hand-crafted guns hail from, factory refurbishing is done quite often and without fanfare. However, in the US, we'd much rather have old rusted guns than restored guns.

Personally, I'll take a little bit of both. Old guns have an appeal all their own but I have to gag at the statement that returning them to factory new condition is "destroying them". It is pure artwork to restore those old guns. An art to be appreciated and enjoyed. Not lamented.

February 15, 2012, 11:40 PM
This comes up every winter on a couple of motor vehicle forums to which I subscribe.

I figure my usual answer will fit here as well, whether agreed to or not.

The right or wrong of it is in the point of view of the current owner. If a PO has mistreated a firearm according to a potential follow-on owner, that prospective buyer should pass on it. I generally view with resentment the near socialistic view that anyone has a right to say that whatever I chose to do with one of my possessions, be it a motor vehicle or firearm is subject to the whims of some second party elitists.

My own personal issue is with folks like the character at the "Big Reno Show" who joyously dismantles recently purchased collector rifles right at his tables in order to fill his parts bins. I can twist & shout, shake my fists and generally engage in hissy fits all I want but he bought them, he owns them and it's really none of my business.

It's my own personal joy to have people line up to point out what I've done wrong to a car or motorcycle from the point of view of a "True Believer" collector.

451 Detonics
February 16, 2012, 12:18 AM
You may not believe it but the Mona Lisa has been restored several times to make it look as good as it does today, without that care you probably wouldn't even be able to tell it was a painting of a woman.

Restoration when done by a company such as Turnbull enhances the value of a firearm in most cases. My feelings on a quality restoration are the same as the way I feel about sporterizing military guns, if it does not have any historical significance with accompanying providence to prove it then I see nothing wrong with it. I wouldn't sporterize Pvt Yorks 03 he was issued in basic nor would I restore a 1895 owned by Theodore Roosevelt. But a common run of the mill gun without a history...go for it!

February 16, 2012, 12:42 AM
I am going to cross the grain here...

It is a gun, does it shoot? can you use it for what it was meant for?

To take a gun to Antiques Road Show and have it judge to justify a a $45000 insurance value on it; one knows what to do.:banghead:

But a Winchester model 94? spend the money and get it in proud owner shooting shape.

I think about my guns the way Jay Leno thinks about his cars. Some are perfect as the day it was built, some are hot rods,,,,

February 16, 2012, 06:49 AM
I prefer original patina over a restoration 99% of the time. This is a change from 15-20 years ago.

February 16, 2012, 08:21 AM
How did the gun come into the hands of the person having it restored? What does he want it for? Does it have a history that is documented?

If it was previously modified, abused, neglected, it has no collector value in the pre-restoration form and restoring it to shootable or at least presentable form enhances the value. If it has most of the original finish still intact, it *might* be worth something to a collector if it is a significantly rare or desirable gun to begin with. In that case, restoration might detract from the value.

If the owner wants a rifle to shoot, restoring it to shootable form will enhance its value to him.

If the gun has a unique history that is documented, condition is irrelevant at that point and it should be seen as an artifact, not a gun any longer.

February 16, 2012, 09:12 AM
To me it all depends on the firearm...........

February 16, 2012, 03:23 PM
What I really hate to see is old Winchesters that have been buffed to a Weatherby like mirror finish and tossed in a bluing tank.
While the guy was busy engine turning or gold plating the hammer & trigger.

The last gun show I went to, I saw more 1890's & 92's like that then rusty ones.

As for Turnbull type restorations?
I think it will be the wave of the future if you want to own one.

There are only so many "collector grade" original old Winchesters still out there that are not already in collections.


February 16, 2012, 04:08 PM
You may not believe it but the Mona Lisa has been restored several times to make it look as good as it does today, without that care you probably wouldn't even be able to tell it was a painting of a woman.

The Mona Lisa is a woman?!? She's mighty homely, lol.

My opinion is, if you buy a gun just to collect, then leave it alone. But, if you're buying it to shoot, then by all means, "restore" it if you want to.

February 16, 2012, 04:20 PM
What I really hate to see is old Winchesters that have been buffed to a Weatherby like mirror finish and tossed in a bluing tank.
I agree but I think most folks lump them all together, for the same reason and that's a completely unfair assessment. If what you want is an original Winchester 1886 in all its Deluxe Sporting Rifle glory with a color case hardened receiver in new condition, your options are a wee bit limited. A restoration will be a hell of a lot less expensive than a 100% original gun.

Although Turnbull does turn those out built on new Miroku guns with the half cock restored and the safety hole welded up.

February 17, 2012, 09:41 AM
I have a recently purchased Marlin 1894 made in the late '70s early 80's. It looks like it got run over by the truck that delivered it to my FFL. I sure as hell am not going to let rust and crap get into the scratches all over it so it looks like hell, and I am sure as hell going to restore it.
I recently had an opportunity to buy an old Winchester '94 that was well cared for and had that "old gun" patina but was still cared for and in firing condition. I would not have restored it because it was working fine and in fine condition.
To me restoration means exactly that, if a gun was abused and is beat to hell I will restore it, if it is well cared for it won't need it.

February 17, 2012, 01:25 PM
This question (or argument) is quite common among guitarists as well. I view restoration a little differently, I guess. If the gun (or guitar) is perfectly functional or the only work required is repair to make it functional, I'll leave it as it is, and make the necessary functional repairs. I like seeing the various scars the gun has earned over the years. Rusting and pitting falls under the catagory of 'funtional repair' to my way of thinking, but wood re-finishing does not. I don't know why I feel that way, but I do.
I like hotrods as well as the next guy or gal however, and will turn a '98 Mauser into a sporting rifle at the drop of a hat. My name is not Bubba, by the way and I was raised by an old-school rifleman who taught me the correct way to sporterize. But I guess that is for a different thread. Sorry.


Jim Watson
February 17, 2012, 05:39 PM
There is a lot of different work being done and discussed lumped under the heading of "restoration."

Turnbull claims complete authentic restoration to as new appearance. Some of the 1911 purists say he overrestores their guns, but he fooled a collector's association with a fancy grade Marlin. They had authenticated it as pristine original until he recalled having worked on it. So they pulled its certification.

The late Bill Adair did great work on 1911 and similar, for about 1/5 what Turnbull charges. But he is gone and nobody to replace him.

Larry DelGrego's work on Parker shotguns was the first restoration that I knew of to be socially acceptable 40 years ago. His son continues his work.

David Chicoine says most of his work is "refurbishment." He seldom tries to make a gun look new, he goes for a old style factory refinish level of detail. An 1890 gun sent back to the maker in 1930 is his example. The overbuffed 21st Century Colt "Royal Blue" is NOT what he is talking about.

You can get a nice refinish on a common gun that does not rise to the level of restoration or factory rework. The local shop doesn't HAVE to buff it mirror bright with no regard for how it used to look. Rounded corners, washed markings, and dished holes need not be standard equipment.

I am having guns with smoke and water damage from The Incident run through a decent local shop. All but one blue are of factory quality and some of the stock finishes are better.
I have a couple of cowboy guns that did not have much finish to start with, I hope they can be made to look good but not gaudy.

February 18, 2012, 08:59 AM
I reckon it depends on if the rifle lived in Granddad's closet, in his barn, or in the trunk of his Buick.
My Grandfather left his 1907 Model 11 Remington in the trunk of his car back around 1980. It trashed the side it was laying on and the florida heat created a minor crack in the stock. Needless to say I restored this shotgun and use it today for trap.
There is a correct time to restore certain guns but for the most part I leave them alone if I'm concerned with collectors value.

February 18, 2012, 06:00 PM
I do a good bit of Restoration work on old military stocks. I do my best to hide the repairs and make the stock look like it should.
Sometimes just cleaning one up is all that is needed.
When it comes to restoring a firearm you should ask yourself some guestions.
#1 Will it raise or lower the value of the firearm?
#2 Would you be happier with the firearm if it was restored?
#3 Will it cost you more to restore it then it will be worth, once done?

Here is a post I did on a Remington 514 that I picked up for $30 as a parts gun, but I ended up restoring it.

February 18, 2012, 08:34 PM
CraigC is right on the money about the English. They regularly have their guns refurbished and think nothing of it. I'm pretty much the same to some degree. I won't own a beat up gun, but I've bought a few. That means they were sent back to the factory for refurbishing.

You should have seen the Python I had. Paid $450 for it and there was only about 60% of the blue left. It went back to Colt. I actually sold that one a few years ago for $1200. There were a few that didn't want it because it was refurbished but I'm glad I didn't have to deal with people like that.

I refurbish guns but only by the factory or places that are reputable. Some I've seen done locally I wouldn't give $.02 for.

February 19, 2012, 01:23 AM
It should only really be done if the firearm has no significant historical or collector's value in its present condition, and only as long as it's done properly and tastefully.

February 19, 2012, 07:49 AM
My dad has a 1956 Model 94 that's never even had a round chambered. It's what I would call a 100% gun. He even still has the original two boxes of Winchester ammo he bought with it. What is that worth? To me, it's a rifle. To a collector, who knows?

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