Am I just cheap or are gun kits expensive?


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Tallbald
February 3, 2014, 12:54 AM
I seem to remember that as a teenager the kits I saw in the 70's were, even relative to inflation, less costly. I have three Ruger Old Army's I really enjoy. But I'd like to try my hand at assembling a kit to have a trapper style .50 caliber pistol. Is it less expensive to order separate parts from a supplier like Dixie and get together a gun that way? I read stories of some kits having unhardened sears and frizzens, or missing screws and other parts. Just seeking opinions based on experience. Thanks as always. Don.

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BowerR64
February 3, 2014, 01:39 AM
I agree! when my dad built those he built they were like $20. difference but thats a $70. kit vs. a $90. complete ready to shoot gun. That dont sound like much but that was back in teh 70's $20. was alot more then it is now.

Now the kits are like $15. difference your going to spend more then that on the finishing suplies. I mean building a kit sounds like fun but wasting money isnt on a kit that i know darn well is bottom of the barrel parts.

The kit my dad built he had a hard time bluing so he went out and bought one. The quality of the one he bought is WAY better in quality then the kit.

crazyjennyblack
February 3, 2014, 02:11 AM
I think the kits are a bad deal. The rifle kits are $200 to $300, and the finished rifle usually only costs about $20 more. And I know that the parts that go in the kits are the worst ones, and so you're not really saving money at all. Pay for frustration? I don't think so! If they offered the kits for a reasonable price, I'd buy one. But... reasonable is about half the cost of the finished gun. If the kit for the Howdah pistol was $350 instead of $700 for the finished one, you bet I'd buy it! But at $625 for the kit, they can keep it.

StrawHat
February 3, 2014, 07:34 AM
Parts were less expensive in the 70s. I was buying Douglas barrels for about $75, now a good barrel is several times more than that. Same with wood, the stocks I used to get for $50 are now $200-$300.

If you are looking to get a quality rifle, there are a couple of sutlers who sell such kits. They also sell individual parts.

What style of rifle are you considering?

Patocazador
February 3, 2014, 10:06 AM
In the early 70s I made $17,000/year. A new 240-Z was $4200. When I retired, I was making ~$50,000/year and it had less buying power than the $17k had 35 years earlier.
But that's just one side of it. The kits available now are a rip-off and not worth the aggravation.

rodinal220
February 3, 2014, 10:20 AM
There are kits and there are "kits". Everything is more expensive now,look at what BP and caps cost now. If you are new to gun building or BP guns a kit from Lyman,old stock CVA or T/C because they require the least amount of skills and tools;most of the work has been done for you.

Now the "kits" from TOW or Jim Chambers are more of a collections of parts rather than a weekend project like the above mentioned kits. They require a certain amount of skills,investment in some tools and a TREMENDOUS amount of patience.

Look at what duelist1954 is doing on his youtube channel with his TOW "kit".

With these "kits" you can take $1k worth of parts and make a beautiful custom American longrifle or Fowler in skilled hands. Take your time,be patient,and you can have a great gun.

My first Jim Chambers rifle took me 100 hours to finish.


http://www.trackofthewolf.com/index.aspx

http://www.flintlocks.com/

Steel Horse Rider
February 3, 2014, 01:30 PM
I have completed 4 Pedersoli kits from Dixie and am happy with all of them. Two were flinters and two were percussion and other than what I feel is a lock design problem with the flint pistol have not had any problems. Were the kits discounted from the completed firearm enough to compensate me for the time and trouble? Probably not. Did I buy them to get a discount? No. I enjoy having weapons with a bit of me in them to someday pass on to my grandkids, nieces, or nephews and I believe they turned out much nicer than if I had purchased the completed weapons. As for those who seem to believe the kits are made up of the dregs and reject parts, do you have any evidence of that or is that your own infinite wisdom? I have not observed any evidence of defective or substandard components with the 4 kits I completed.

Loyalist Dave
February 3, 2014, 03:00 PM
Depends as well on what you mean by "kit". Some of the kits one simply polishes the metal and sands, stains, and finishes a stock. Those are also known as "guns in-the-white". You could go out and shoot them right out of the box in fact. Those are going to have the least advantage over buying a finished gun, unless you are doing your own "dress up" of the basic item.

Then there kits where different amounts of wood working is needed, but the basics, the barrel, the trigger and the lock, are already installed. You save even more money with those, but you have to have the time, and some skill. Depending on where you buy these, you may be upgrading to much higher quality components than you'd get in a factory gun or basic in-the-white factory kit.

Finally, there are simply "parts kits" or "builder's kits". You get the quality parts that you choose, and you are building the item. You can simplify a bit by getting a pre-carved stock, but you are still doing some inletting, and wood working, and the fancier the gun that you want, the more time and skill you will need.

True a few of the factory finished guns you only save a little less than $100 when you buy a "kit". However, for example, a Pedersoli bess is normally $1300, and a kit runs around $1000. I have ordered a "builder's kit" but with the barrel inlet, and a pre-carved stock, and I put the finishing touches on the lock and trigger plus the hardware. Cost me around $700, but the finished product would've cost me around $1200 as it's a plain rifle. Now if I had simply ordered the parts, and had I gone fancier, it would've cost me around $550, and IF I had the time and the skill, it might've been worth $2000 to $2500 when I was done.

LD

EljaySL
February 3, 2014, 05:02 PM
I have completed 4 Pedersoli kits from Dixie [...]. As for those who seem to believe the kits are made up of the dregs and reject parts, do you have any evidence of that or is that your own infinite wisdom? I have not observed any evidence of defective or substandard components with the 4 kits I completed.

The Pedersoli kits are very nice and require a minimum of work. Lyman's not too far off. On the other extreme is a bag of parts with no instructions and you never quite know what you're going to get... The good news is that there are reliable kit makers, as mentioned above. The bad news is you'll pay for that and I think everybody agrees it's not something you should do to save money, not if you value your time anyway.

zimmerstutzen
February 3, 2014, 10:34 PM
My first flinter was a kentucky pistol kit from cva, $29.99
I had a seaoned builder for a mentor anf the gun turned out far far better than a factory finish.
frankly if you think all you do is finish the parts, that is what you get

Tallbald
February 4, 2014, 01:47 AM
I actually would like a trappers pistol. Maybe if I just keep my eyes open I'll run up on a deal that can't be beat. I know I've occasionally heard of pawn shops and yard sales with stray kits bought but not even attempted. Don

StrawHat
February 4, 2014, 06:08 AM
rondinal220, you wrote (aka duelist1954).

What do you mean by aka? To many it is alias or Also Known As, neither of which applies as I am not duelist. He has much talent.

Mike OTDP
February 4, 2014, 08:58 AM
As others have mentioned, it depends on the kit. It doesn't help that there are few pistol kits, and very few that are top quality. I can point you to some kits that will let you assemble an outstanding rifle (Dunlap Woodcrafts would be my first choice), but nothing for pistol.

BigG
February 4, 2014, 09:28 AM
I seem to remember that as a teenager the kits I saw in the 70's were, even relative to inflation, less costly. I have three Ruger Old Army's I really enjoy. But I'd like to try my hand at assembling a kit to have a trapper style .50 caliber pistol. Is it less expensive to order separate parts from a supplier like Dixie and get together a gun that way? I read stories of some kits having unhardened sears and frizzens, or missing screws and other parts. Just seeking opinions based on experience. Thanks as always. Don.
Any of the guns that are worthwhile are expensive, imho. But considering that, they really aren't. The expensive guns are the ones you waste a lot of money on trying to "FIX" the faults but abandon later in disgust.

zimmerstutzen
February 4, 2014, 01:46 PM
1. The Italians and Spanish don't work for peanuts the way they did in the 1960's and 1970's.

2. Many of those production kits had 90% of the inletting done, hence 90% of the finished price.

3. CVA was a good kit compared to some from Ultra-Hi, Classic Arms, Marathon Arms and several others.

4. In the past year I have picked up several CVA kit Kentucky guns in various stages of finish, to re-work. Some guys never even attempted to sand off the shaper ridges. Just slapped some varninsh on them. The percussion guns aren't bad and most replacement parts are still available. Last Saturday, I bought a factory finished CVA flint Kentucky pistol for $80. I could part it out on an on line auction and make $50 They are easy to work on. Thin down the stocks and make them more graceful. Cut the stock back and make the barrel round and add an underrib to make a totally different looking mountain man pistol. Drill and tap for a touch hole, ream the barrel smooth to a 50 caliber, etc. Polish the lock plate, leave the barrel bright, stain the stock black with india ink, Add a larger bright steel trigger guard and get a totally different look. You imagination is the only limitation and parts are cheap if you decide to do-it-over. There are even a few things that can be done to improve the CVA locks. A pewter or antler nose cap, better sights, etc.

5. The trapper is front heavy and clunky. Handle one before you buy. There are things that can be done to change the way it balances, but personally I hate DST's on a pistol. (Single set fine) Get a friend to turn the barrel round, that will shave an oz or two off the front. Handle a TC Patriot pistol and a trapper. It seems like the trapper weighs twice as much.

6. A good kit with quality parts will mean a good barrel, breech, lock and trigger. Nearly as much as a rifle kit anyway. It is easy to take $400 in top quality parts and make a $200 pistol. I look at some of the "quality" pistols offered on the on-line auctions and see some glaring mistakes. Somebody put a great deal of work into the gun and still produced a mis-shapen thing.

Edventures
February 4, 2014, 02:06 PM
" It is easy to take $400 in top quality parts and make a $200 pistol. "

well put Zimmerstutzen, this is exactly what I was thinkin.

" the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts " aristotle
except when I am building a kit gun

frontiergander
February 4, 2014, 02:13 PM
Just takes the right amount of love to make a beauty.
http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm53/thepowerbeltforum/Custom%20shop%20Finshes/IMG_2049.jpg

I much prefer the CVA Hawken to any other production sidelock, so many barrels I can choose from and mount into the stock, just like I did with that Hawken above with a .58cal slow twist.

BowerR64
February 4, 2014, 06:19 PM
Is that the factory rear sight? it seems a little large:confused:

BowerR64
February 4, 2014, 08:09 PM
Do you see this quality on finished guns?

I mean is this even the same kind of wood? :confused:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=194503&stc=1&d=1391562541

frontiergander
February 4, 2014, 09:10 PM
Yep thats a factory adjustable rear sight off a cva hawken. The gent i built the rifle for wanted something like his tc sights and so that one went on.

Gaucho Gringo
February 5, 2014, 06:05 PM
I bought a CVA percussion cap .45 single shot pistol kit in the mid 70's for $19.99. I sold it at a yard sale in the 90's for $60.00. Wish all the things I bought did that well. When I bought it it took me an 1 1\2 hours of work to buy it. To buy the same kit now with 1 1\2 hours of work someone would have to be making aound $150.00 an hour and I may be wrong but I don't think too many of this forums members are making that. So yes kits are expensive nowadays.

Busyhands94
February 5, 2014, 08:13 PM
About two years ago I got a CVA .45 Tower pistol kit at an auction for $60 bucks, it was a pretty good lil' shooter and was pretty accurate for not having sights. Unfortunately I sold the darn thing. :( If I had that pistol now, I'd probably dovetail some sights into the barrel and use it for rabbit hunting.

Man I want another CVA Tower so much... WHY... WHY... was I stupid enough to let that one go?

Gaucho Gringo
February 5, 2014, 09:22 PM
Busyhands, using my work hours formula I figure you should be making $20.00 an hour to buy that kit. Adjusted for inflation my hourly pay in the mid 70's was greater than $20.00 an hour today. Unfortunately I and great many other people lost these good paying job in the mid to late 80's due to the fact the rich decided to screw us and had the political clout to do it. I went from paying 1\3rd of my income in taxes for 25 years to paying no taxes in the last 25 years because my income was so low. Tell me which situation you would rather be in. I feel sorry for your generation because you don't know anything else. You seem to be a talented young man but the economic situation is stacked against a blue collar worker.

Steel Horse Rider
February 5, 2014, 09:46 PM
That is odd, I make about 8 times what I made in the mid-1970's and I am still a blue collar tradesman...... No union either.

BowerR64
February 5, 2014, 11:42 PM
That is odd, I make about 8 times what I made in the mid-1970's and I am still a blue collar tradesman...... No union either.
This is kind of getting off topic but its not about making more per hour its that the US dollar doesnt have the same value it had back then. It has lost its buying power

Busyhands94
February 6, 2014, 01:03 AM
This generation is hard on this country boy. Luckily I've been able to work for guns, and that's a mighty pleasant situation. I split and stacked a few cords of firewood for my uncle and he gave me an old Marlin 336 is .30-30. No plastic or anything.

I too feel sorry for this generation, and I'm in it. Most my peers that shoot are interested in .300 Win mags and 5.56's. Nobody my age prefers a good old .38, .32 or .30-augh. Let alone blackpowder firearms. :(

Drakos
February 6, 2014, 07:19 AM
I have been a lurker for a while...Great forum!

What I do not understand is why does a Kentucky pistol kit cost as much, if not more, than a finished BP revolver?

There is less metal, the parts are much simpler and the wood and metal components are unfinished.

Just seems odd...

goon
February 6, 2014, 03:28 PM
The kits look like a horrible deal to me too. If I wanted a personalized muzzleloader, I think I'd just buy a complete gun that needed some TLC and refinish it.

StrawHat
February 6, 2014, 05:08 PM
Some folks confuse the "kits" available from Track of the Wolf, the Log Cabin and other top sutlers with the stuff available from CVA, Navy Arms and such. They are miles apart! I can easily spend the cost of a revolver on just the barrel alone from a good sutler. More for the barrel than for a whole kit from one of the others. It just depends on what you will be satisfied with for an outcome and how you want to spend your money.

goon
February 6, 2014, 06:05 PM
Strawhat - I'm talking about something like a Lyman kit for a percussion or flintlock rifle. They're not that much cheaper than an assembled gun in my area.

Now the kits offered for things like Long Land Bess from Track of the Wolf or from the Rifle Shoppe, those are different animals entirely.

BowerR64
February 7, 2014, 04:55 AM
Some folks confuse the "kits" available from Track of the Wolf, the Log Cabin and other top sutlers with the stuff available from CVA, Navy Arms and such. They are miles apart! I can easily spend the cost of a revolver on just the barrel alone from a good sutler. More for the barrel than for a whole kit from one of the others. It just depends on what you will be satisfied with for an outcome and how you want to spend your money.
Do these kits that you like or have built have the printing stamped all over the gun to claim its still their gun?

dprice3844444
February 7, 2014, 11:38 AM
Am I just cheap or are gun kits expensive?

both

StrawHat
February 8, 2014, 05:46 AM
Do these kits that you like or have built have the printing stamped all over the gun to claim its still their gun?
The barrel are marked with the name of the maker, other than that, I stampo my mark on them and the date.

Other builders have different methods of marking their pieces.

BowerR64
February 9, 2014, 03:24 AM
The barrel are marked with the name of the maker, other than that, I stampo my mark on them and the date.

Other builders have different methods of marking their pieces.
Do any of them offer a kit that isnt littered with stuff on the top or sides?

I just got one locally it looks alot like a kit but it doesnt have anything stamped on it sept the proof marks on the cylinder and i like it alot.

It doesnt appear to have been defarbed either because it wasnt ever finished. It looks like a raw steel gun put together then left to tarnish.

grter
February 22, 2014, 08:19 PM
"Am I just cheap or are gun kits expensive?"

No you are smart enough to see something is wrong.



Spare me the twinkle eyed facination of building it yourself.

Kits with custom parts and top quality hardware are great and a whole other story as far as I am concerned.

Crappy kits that cost almost as much as fully finished ones are a rip off and a total waste of something one can't get back, their precious time.

You might as well buy a fully finished one and improve it even more. I suspect unless you are planning on drastic alterations to original design you will get a whole lot of a better end product.

If you are going to sell me rejects from your junk bin and make me work my butt off to build something decent from them I expect a very good discount.

I don't see why these people feel like you owe them something more because you have the skills to do it.

The whole idea of kits besides the joy of building it (yeah right then buy a used junker and rebuild it. The parts are probably better too) is to pay for it with your time (precious) and labor.

If you happen to enjoy the work great but you shouldn't have to pay rip off prices because you do and the sellers feel they can.

That is my opinion on this topic.

Palehorseman
February 23, 2014, 07:07 AM
Pistol made for daughter several years back, came as a parts kit with quality parts and assembled very easily

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y92/TANSTAAFL-2/P1010005.jpg (http://s3.photobucket.com/user/TANSTAAFL-2/media/P1010005.jpg.html)


http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y92/TANSTAAFL-2/P1010003-1.jpg (http://s3.photobucket.com/user/TANSTAAFL-2/media/P1010003-1.jpg.html)

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y92/TANSTAAFL-2/Pistol.jpg (http://s3.photobucket.com/user/TANSTAAFL-2/media/Pistol.jpg.html)

With a little work on a used muzzleloader, they can be customized to give a unique look and feel

TC Hawken flinter picked up used at LGS, someone had put on a great shooting 32” .45 Orion barrel on it. Put on a hooded bead front sight and dovetailed in a fixed rear sight, played with the stock brass fore end, removed spur on trigger guard and refinished old style nicely figured walnut stock with pure tung oil.

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y92/TANSTAAFL-2/P1010366.jpg (http://s3.photobucket.com/user/TANSTAAFL-2/media/P1010366.jpg.html)

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