Do high end custom guns truly appreciate?

Discussion in 'General 1911 talk' started by Yoemen66, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Jul 6, 2014
    Yes, the quality of gun builds overall has improved.

    If you want an answer to the OP's original question, look at the increase in value (if any) of Armand Swenson, Pachmayr, and other, long-gone 1911 builders.
    Roehl, DRD and EvolutionArmory like this.
  2. EvolutionArmory

    EvolutionArmory Well-Known Member

    Sep 9, 2011
    I agree with this. The attention to detail that current smiths are putting forth compared to a couple decades ago is way higher. Way more hours go into one.

    Parts are 100% better as well.

  3. Roehl

    Roehl Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2019
    Based on what I see, I feel that overall I wouldn’t consider it as an investment. The overall return on your investment would be pretty low. It’s a lot like buying antique cars. You can’t predict how the market is going to react in 10 years or however long. Some will appreciate but most wont. There will always be a new customizer who will be the new flavor of week. Buy what you like so you won’t have to worry about it. However, right now you can make money on anything.

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  4. TexasRedneck

    TexasRedneck Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2011
    It's like anything else - it depends on what you pay for it. Dad always taught me - "You make your money when you buy it. Anyone can overpay."
  5. bladeandbarrel

    bladeandbarrel ISO The Very Best 1911's

    Apr 6, 2019
    I own guns by most of the "top" makers. Swenson, Hoag, Pachmayr, Nastoff, Liebenberg. Etc etc etc. Some of the new guys too! My take on this is that primo examples of classic gun builds from top makers will always be desirable. Always. I can sell a primo example of a Pachmayr Combat special with all the best desirable features in great shape for $6K all day long. 10 years ago these were commonly found at around the 3K mark. That doubling of your money isn't a great rate of return when you look at traditional investments....but guns are more than an investment...they are a source of pride, fellowship and enjoyment. If you buy really nice guns and take care of them, you are really just parking money. They can be a risk-free place to keep a little "cash" that you can shoot that is quite tangible thanks to the internet.
  6. Humbucking

    Humbucking Well-Known Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    if you are looking for ROI, stick with real estate & stocks;)
    Austin_TX likes this.
  7. TPC

    TPC Active Member

    May 5, 2017
    Several people have touched on the real issues, so it really depends on how you define it. If by "investment" you mean that it will be worth more in dollars than you paid for it, then yes they go up in value. If you mean that if you actually calculated the rate of return against purchasing power of a contemporary dollar and then compared to other traditional investments, then they do not hold up very well...usually.

    And there is a window of time when they can be wildly more valuable, then the "market" falls out as times and tastes change. The Colt "snake" revolvers are a current example. You couldn't give them away for a good portion of the 90's and early 2000's. Those that had them sung their praises, but they were not "investments". Due to exposure in certain media in the last few years, they went through the proverbial roof. Everyone and their uncle wants a Python or a Diamondback, and they sell for stupid money right now. And without doubt, in a few years the interest and the market will go away and pricing will stabilize.

    A maker who is considered the shiznit right now might be mostly forgotten 20 or 30 years from now. I have seen builds by Hoag, Behlert, Swenson, etc. sell for less than a used Les Baer in the current market. The average gun buyer doesn't know who they are and doesn't care. Should you find the right person who is dying to buy one, you might get a premium. However, when you shuffle off your mortal coil and your relatives are selling off your stuff, it might be more likely that it is sold to some 20-some year old behind the counter of a gun store for not much more than beer money.

    There are some guns that probably qualify as true investments. English best grade double rifles, 1st generation Colt SAA revolvers...sure. They will keep going up in value as fewer and fewer are available on the market. But a custom 1911? A savvy financial adviser would likely tell you to invest somewhere else...
  8. bladeandbarrel

    bladeandbarrel ISO The Very Best 1911's

    Apr 6, 2019

    You should let us know where all those used Swensons are for less than a used Baer. Last decent one posted here was $5200 and sold same day.
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  9. TPC

    TPC Active Member

    May 5, 2017
    Believe it or not, I bought one on GB 2 years ago for $1350. The seller, a gun shop in Arizona, didn't know what it was and sold it as is. And that is the point I was trying to make. A 1911 aficionado would likely know and price accordingly. The general market doesn't know and doesn't care in the day and age of tupperware high capacity stuff. So you might realize a premium if the right person sees it.

    And it doesn't necessarily have to be that old. I bought a Nighthawk Heinie PDP on GB last year for $1600, and the gun was still in Nighthawk's catalog for $4200.

    As you clearly know those older makers, I am not claiming that you will find those builds on a regular basis for cheap. Lord knows if that were true, my safe would be packed to the gills! I will say that many, if not most, of the best known names of yesteryear are forgotten today. People used to fork out real money for the work of Sadowski, Chow, Moran, Bill Davis, Jungkind, Starks and so on. A few names are still known and will command a premium, but not many.

    So perhaps a better way to put it is, who knows which of the current wunderkind will be remembered 30 years from now? Yost? Burton? Chambers? Rogers? I honestly don't know, and I seriously doubt anyone else can say for sure either. That does not lend itself to an investment strategy...
  10. cundiff5535

    cundiff5535 Chambers Custom Owners Club

    Apr 1, 2013
    I’m in agreement with this 100%
    colrhino likes this.
  11. Bender

    Bender Supporting Addict Supporting Addict

    Aug 15, 2011
    A few variables that may skew the appreciation. The builder and the style. A classic styled build, such as a Burton, will always be in style. Some of the more modern styled builds may fall out of flavor in the future.

    My opinion, a solid build by one of the top ten will always appreciate
  12. *Double Diamond Colt*

    *Double Diamond Colt* Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2020
    I talked to a good friend of mine that has worked in a very high volume gun store for 20 yrs .
    He said the guns he gets in with the names people recognize. Wilson , Night hawk, Les Baer go from $1200 to $1800 .
    He said his customer base just wont pay premium money for guns they have not heard of and its a specialized market that dose not appeal to the majority of gun buyers .

    He said old military 1911s hold their value better and are easier to sell but still a specialized market .
    IMO I would think to really make money on your investment you would have to have a gun from a builder that really seperated himself from the pack , not easy to do with a 110 yr old design .
    I dont buy them for investment anyway let the people selling them off after Im dead have that headache of worring if they are getting top buck .

    I have made it pretty easy anyway 90% of mine are Colt so if the whole world goes to spit and there is no internet to look up what gusmith made what when The Colt 45 will always have value
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
  13. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Jul 6, 2014
    What TPC is accurate. Most LGS employees today would not recognize a hi-quality firearm if it bit them repeatedly. They sell junk to Know-Nothing customers who know even less.

    In the last 3-months I bought 2-collector 1911s from gun stores who had no idea what they were selling at such low prices. Nowadays, most 1911 owners do not know who Armand Swenson was or heard of Pachmayr. As the older 1911 owners die, their survivors sell-off their prized guns for pennies on the dollar. Look for the those gems; they are out there.
  14. Greg Derr

    Greg Derr Custom Pistolsmith Supporting Addict

    Oct 3, 2011
    Quality firearms have always been a good investment. And with some states like California and New York limiting their sale it has only helped values. Take a look at the Python Market, Registered Magnums and the pre war 1911 market. Custom 1911’s by known makers are also going up. If you bought a USMC 1911 three years ago, you tripled your investment. I know many here are shooters but it’s always in the back of most minds, how much can I get for this gun in a few years? It’s just natural that values will go up, it’s just figuring out which ones will go up faster.
  15. henryt

    henryt Well-Known Member

    Aug 7, 2020
    This thread reminds of the old
    The old joke applies -- "I am afraid after I am dead, my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid." Heirs and Assignee's often do sell prize guns for pennies on the dollar. I bought a table of shotguns at an estate sale/yard sale for $35 each a few years back. I did tell them that they were worth more as they were neighbors. I still have the Winchester Model 12s.
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  16. bladeandbarrel

    bladeandbarrel ISO The Very Best 1911's

    Apr 6, 2019
    It is clear to me

    Your friend is out of touch. One of the easiest collectible handguns to sell at a premium is a high condition military 1911 or 1911A1. There is a large market of collectors seeking these guns.

    I am not sure that the prices of what certain guns sell for in a brick and mortar store is really all that relevant. Specialty guns like custom 1911's (pre war colts, smiths, lugers, etc etc etc) are always better sold on nationwide auction or through known dealers or on enthusiast/ specialty forums. technology has enabled collectors, more than ever before, to locate guns for their collections.

    I own a devel 1911. There are less than 25 ever made.
    Should I consign it to a local gun shop or sell it on gunbroker where one sold for 15K last year?

    People who own unique, nice things need a game plan/strategy on how to best dispose of them in case of emergency. Too often, owners and families take the easy route.
    FWoo45, TPC, Uncle Bob and 3 others like this.
  17. *Double Diamond Colt*

    *Double Diamond Colt* Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2020
    Also many of those prized guns never hit the showcase they are quickly scavenged up by gun shop owners for next to nothing or salesmen have a list of friends they call and turn the stuff over .
    My buddy just texts me the BAT SIGNAL that translates to get here now I have something good
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  18. *Double Diamond Colt*

    *Double Diamond Colt* Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2020

    Totally agree if you want the most out of your weapons a game plan and proper marketing is important but circumstances alter cases and sometimes the unexpected happens leaving your family with things to dispose of .
  19. bladeandbarrel

    bladeandbarrel ISO The Very Best 1911's

    Apr 6, 2019
    yes but this is easily addressed with friends and family. Just my .02.
  20. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Sep 22, 2017
    Your prices are a bit off. In 1980-81 a series 70 was 600 bucks new. Add serious work, that makes them a 1500 pistol in those days. Go compensated and that's more.

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