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to shoot... or not to shoot a collectable weapon

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Sven, Feb 22, 2003.

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  1. Sven

    Sven Senior Member

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    As documented elsewhere on THR, I recently inherited a rare old Winchester M1 .30 Carbine.

    [​IMG]

    View original thread on THR


    Today I was lucky enough to spend some time with Ed Silva of Miltech Arms, based in Northern California. Ed is a man who specializes in restoring weapons of of WWII, and has been working with them for more than 20 years.

    [Note: I saw his ad in American Rifleman and realized his operation was just up the road - gave Ed a call and am glad to have met him and hope to tell everyone here on The High Road more about his operation in detail, soon...]

    As a favor and credit to his goodwill, Ed detail stripped my weapon and gave me a thorough history of the carbine, cross-referencing marks with various books on the weapon and checking that it was in good condition.

    Here's his analysis:

    All parts are stock and the gun appears to be unfired, after sixty years of storage. The serial number 5670409 indicates that this was produced about 40% of the way through a batch of Carbines made by Winchester in 1944.

    The only dings to the stock are from storage. Moreover, Ed showed me that the edge of the chamber - when examined with a magnifying glass - shows no brass wear.... all that is visible are original tooling marks. These marks are removed during armory rebuilding - this is stock.

    As Ed detail stripped my new weapon and did a thorough inspection, his recommendation changed slowly from "shoot it, these guns were made to be used" to "you may not want to shoot this" to "dont shoot this" in the end, after examining all parts, headspace, etc...

    The weapon is bone stock, and unfired. Ed said that it is one of the finest specimens he's seen in his career - he seemed totally sincere in saying this.

    As the history of the gun's ownership is well documented and authentic, this really seems to be a diamond in the rough.

    When I told him what I paid, he told me I got it for a song and I may never be so lucky. ...and here begins the dillema.

    To wit, in the end, Ed recommended that I consider perhaps not shooting this weapon, as it has such collectable value.

    I guess, in a way, it is living history and the ultimate in scarceness.

    Is it right, I wonder, to not enjoy history?

    I'm reminded of the outrage I felt when I learned in the 80s that Japanese (and other) investors were buying old Les Pauls and Stratocaster Guitars and storing them, away from anyone who could enjoy them, just as pure investments - driving the price up in the process... not enjoying the instruments for what they were designed.

    Which brings me back to the carbine.

    I do not plan to sell this weapon ever - it would probably only be inherited by someone in my family.... so, I wonder: why shouldn't I enjoy this gun with live ammunition, while I am alive?

    Ed advised: "Well, you may not think you ever want to sell it, but you might." This is a good point but... I SOOOO want to shoot this weapon. I have new mags and fresh soft points...

    My question to you all is:

    Should I shoot - or preserve - this piece of history?



    ...maybe a few short test shots?

    :) :) :)
     
  2. pbman

    pbman Member

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    It's still a piece of history even if you shoot it, but if you can sell it any buy one at 95% condition. And make a good profit, i would do that. Or keep it and buy a shooter.
     
  3. Airwolf

    Airwolf Member

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    I sometimes see some wonderful example that just makes me drool thinking about it but I always pass on the idea.

    For me the idea of a gun hanging on the wall or in the safe that can’t be or won’t be shot would drive me crazy.

    My MN M-44 was in good shape when I got it. I cleaned it up, refinished the stock (just enough to take off the varnish and smooth out a few dings – I made sure to leave the cartouches and markings in place).

    I plan to do the same with the SKS I just purchased.

    The joy in firearms ownership for me is the possession of a fine machine (some with a place in history) but still something I can shoot without fretting over “ruining†it.
     
  4. buford1

    buford1 Member

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    If your sure you wont sell it. Than I say enjoy it.
     
  5. bean

    bean Member

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    I wouldn't shoot it. But I've already got one rifle that I don't shoot because it's old (late ninteenth century) and hasn't been checked out, so it wouldn't bother me as much as it would other people. If you want to shoot something like it, I'd get one that has already been shot and use that one while saving the other.
     
  6. Sven

    Sven Senior Member

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    Bean:

    Hello! Is it because the difference in value between 95% and 99% is so extraordinary, or sentimental attachment, or a wish to preserve history... or what that makes you hold back from shooting your gun?
     
  7. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Of course, the flip side of that would be watching the real-life versions of Bill & Ted put bumperstickers all over them and beat them around on stage for their inauguaral Wyld Stallyns tour. ;)

    I agree; to me, guns are made to shoot. I shoot every one of mine (which is why I don't buy certain kinds of guns). If it was documented as being completely un-fired/un-issued, I'd counsel against it, but it's merely a very pristine rifle that you intend to make only somewhat less pristine.


    If you can stand turning a $1,000 gun into a $750 gun, go 'head.
     
  8. Quantrill

    Quantrill Member

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    Don't shoot it! Hang it up or lock it away. You know that you always can shoot it if you want to. Buy another to shoot. Quantrill
     
  9. trapshooter

    trapshooter Member

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    I'm kind of torn. I can see both sides of this. If it's really unfired, I'd probably sell it to someone who has a burning desire for one in that condition, and buy a 99% blaster, as I'm not a 'collector'. I only buy guns that I intend to shoot.
     
  10. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Member

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    Sven, I am not in your shoes right now so it would be difficult to give advice. I do know that in my area the the M1 Carbines have risen about $200 in value this year. Matching shooter grades are around $750 give or take. Mix masters around $550. Your rifle will increase in value more if it remains as is. An unused bronze fishing lure just sold on ebay for $31,000.

    If you want a shooter look for an IAI as mentioned about $450 retail. I have two National Ordnance carbines made from USGI parts around the 1960's. I have $385 in them with 15 magazines. Lots of fun to shoot.

    My end call would be to leave this Carbine as is, as you have something that no one else or very few have. It is like having a bank account you can admire, hold, converse about, and will appreciate in value faster than any other investment.---------
     
  11. Matthew_Q

    Matthew_Q Member

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    Given what Ed Silva said about it... get it in writing... you could probably sell it for a nice chunk of change, and with his professional evaluation, collectors might trust his rep.


    I would NOT shoot the weapon. I would explore options into selling it for a handsome profit, and find a 'shooter' M1 Carbine if I really wanted one.

    OTOH, I have started collecting WWII battle rifles, and if I happened across what you did, I might keep it for my collection, but NOT fire it. Some day down the road, it may be worth much more!

    Congrats on the find! More pics if you can get 'em, please!

    M@
     
  12. LevelHead

    LevelHead Member

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    If it's worth more than you paid, buy another one and use the addition cash for ammo, another gun, training - whatever!

    just a thought.
     
  13. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    Yup. Everyone was mad at the collectors who preserved those guitars, but nobody was mad that Jimi Hendrix set 'em on fire. ;)

    I say it takes all kinds. And personally, I like to shoot what I own, but I'd probably put that one over the mantel and wait till I could get another. If it has absolutely no meaning to you as a collectible, then sell it unfired for the correct price and buy yourself a shooter and something else. Just remember that once it's gone, it's gone.

    When we closed out dad's shop, we held an auction. Dad was worried that he wouldn't be able to pay back the bank, so he put some of his personal firearms in as well. The only one that really bothered him (he's got so many he now uses the shop as a hardened gun room) was a Winchester M1 carbine. Not in the condition yours is, but dad's a Winchester nut. It killed him to sell that gun.
    We learned a valuable lesson about guns and auctions that day: people who buy guns at auctions are mostly fools. We actually left the shop tags on the guns to ID them, so the prices we'd been charging in the shop were marked right on each gun. Almost without fail, people paid at least $20 more. Often it was $50-100 over our price. If we'd been selling guns at those prices, we could have stayed open!
    Anyway, dad made enough to pay back the bank plus quite a bit--more cash than he'd ever had in a bank account at once. He hadn't needed to sell that carbine at all, and it kills him to this day. Every time he sees an M1 carbine he tells that story again.
     
  14. riverdog

    riverdog Member

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    I can't give advice on this issue, it's purely one of personal preference. As a collectors item, it's much better remaining unfired. Clean it with CLP and put it away. OTOH, how do you know it works?

    I would shoot it, but not a lot. A few years ago I found an unfired nickel S&W 27-2, complete with display case. I couldn't stand not shooting it just to ensure that it functioned correctly. I fired six rounds of a light magnum load I have and it was sweet. Then I put it away, knowing that if I ever needed too use it, I could.

    If I owned that carbine, I would run a couple mags through it just to satisfy my curiousity, then I would clean it real well (attempting to remove all signs of brass) and put it in preservation.

    We really need a "drool" smilie :)
     
  15. Yohan

    Yohan Member

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    It's not everyday you find such a historical gun as valuable as yours. As for the strats, who cares- If the Japanese people paid for the guitars, they should be able to do whatever they want to do. The gun is yours, so now the question should be- do you want to keep it in that great condition or should you use it. Once you fire it, it won't be the same. I think you should look into getting a nice glass case for it and display it. But, if you want to shoot it, go for it. I wouldn't choose the latter though.
     
  16. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    Yeah, personal preference, for sure. However, from a money standpoint, I think I'd do nothing with this gun, and go buy a used "shooter". You can always get your money back from a shooter, and you have "bought time" to think about what to do with the collectible.

    "New, unfired" makes it a true rarity. Much like a mint-state rare-date coin. Never be in a hurry to reduce the value of something.

    Art
     
  17. Yohan

    Yohan Member

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    it's a virgin gun- do you want to keep it as a virgin or have your way with it? First ensures that the gun is much more desirable, but the second is much more fun- Choices, choices :eek:
     
  18. ajacobs

    ajacobs Member

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    Please do not shoot it, it is a peice of history. While I would usually say guns are meant to be shot this is one of the exceptions. I second getting the evaluation in writing. It needs to be preserved. Would you have move joy shooting this pristine model than an iai model that costs 400 bucks knowing that you are depreatiating the value and the history with every shot?
     
  19. Topgun

    Topgun member

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    Sven....

    YOU are also a part of history. And YOU have been selected by chance or luck to be a recipient of a very RARE piece of history.

    You have the choice to preserve a rare piece of history in a condition that is original and "as-issued." Something that exists in such limited quantities that it almost demands that SOMEONE preserve it.

    We are all mortal and when we get a chance to become part of a chain of history as the owner of anything that is actually RARE just for its condition, it almost behooves you to preserve that history.

    It would be a shame to change the history of that gun. In my opinion, you could get another (or TWO for the value of that gun) to shoot.

    You solicited the advice of a professional who advised you not to shoot it. I would follow that advice.
     
  20. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    If this were NIB, then no...don't shoot it....but since it has been fired, shouldn't affect the value.

    I've got a number of collectible highly engraved guns....they've all been taken out and enjoyed....are they collectible? yes....but they are not rare enough to be Museum quality pieces.

    This topic is sort of like cars...do you faithfully restore an old car to showroom condition or make a street rod out of it? In terms of value, street rods are generally worth and enjoyed more. There are exceptions, no one in their right mind would turn a Duetzenburg into a street rod...there comes a time when the collectible (car or gun) goes to the next level....museum quality.
     
  21. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    First off, there probably is no such thing as an unfired military rifle. All the rifles are at least proof tested and very likely function tested before they are issued. Firing a few rounds through it definately is not going to hurt its value, as long as you clean it up afterward to prevent corrosion. I usually find well used military rifles alot more interseting than stuff that is unissued or NIB, simply because a used rifle may have been to Normandy, Iwo Jima, or the Chosin Reservoir, but the chances that a carbine has survived so long without any abuse at all for so long is pretty slim. I would say if the urge is overpowering, shoot a few rounds through it to satisfy that urge and then put it away somewhere safe. AS others have mentioned, if you want a M1 carbine shooter, there are plenty out there that are available.

    BTW: Nice rifle.:)
     
  22. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Get a letter from Ed as to his findings. Type it out and put it on a disc so he can edit and print it on his letterhead. Keep those papers with the gun.

    Then go out and buy a trasher you can shoot, bash & trash and have fun with.
     
  23. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    It's not as though this is a 1990's vintage Remington 700. It's a piece of history, as some have said.

    A true, unfired collectible should remain that way. It's our (your) gift to future generations.

    If you just have to shoot it, buy another one in good condition and sell this one.
     
  24. MountainPeak

    MountainPeak Member

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    After considering the content of your post, put me in the DON'T SHOOT column! I have a fairly large collection, but consider myself more of a shooter vs. collector. I do however have several, that will go to my granddaughter without my putting anything down range. On the other hand, I have a couple I probably shouldn't have, but I don't regret firing them one bit!:confused: To each his own, but the idea of selling for a profit and buying one in 95% is totally foreign to me. The choice for me is simple, to shoot or not to shoot! Sell-NOPE!
     
  25. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Member

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    When an expert tells me not to do something, I usually follow there instructions ;) If Ed says not to shoot it, then don't!
    Maybe see if Ed knows of one you can pick up (cheap) that you can shoot. THen you can have a show piece and a play piece.
     
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