Tag Archives: Value

To Refinish or Not to Refinish, that is the Question.

On my page about Firearms Finishes, a question popped in from one of The Horde.

For those new here, The Horde are like minded Readers of MadOgre.com – and by extension as some have said, members of WeTheArmed.com.  I’ll leave that up to you to self-identify as you wish.   

Question:  “Enjoyed the article on the different firearm finishes. I do have a question to ask….
I have come across an old Colt 1911 made in 1913. The seller states it has been refinished with the NP3 finish. Even though it appears to be a professional job, I’m concern that it defaces the value of the gun. Does anyone know if this devaluated the firearm any? I appreciate your responses.”

That’s a great question and an interesting topic.   Here’s the Short Answer:  Yes. Unfortunately any time you refinish a gun, you basically ruin it. Investment wise. Pure collector value issue. However for a working gun, it’s just the opposite. It restores and protects, and in the case of a finish like NP3 – enhances it.  So it really comes down to what you want the gun for.

The long answer:  We also have to take into account the value and condition of the firearm, as well as it’s individual history.  Let me explain.  Let’s say you have a Winchester 94 that your Pops got you when you were a Wee Lad.  It’s your working gun, your truck gun, your ever year deer getting gun…   It’s worn and getting corroded and could use some help.  This gun might be a “Pre-64” example…. So off the cuff one would say, “No, don’t refinish it!”  However you have a lot of personal history with this gun and you want your kid to enjoy it too… and his kid.   Well, just the old Rub Down With Oil treatment isn’t going to cut it and that gun would get retired quick…. So maybe this example would be a good candidate to get a good refinish done.  Black-T or a good semi-gloss black Cerakote would be good choice for this.  Or, have a good gunsmith do a refinish with a Hot Blueing after some polishing up… So you can keep using it as you have been.

Okay, now say that same gun was your great grandfathers, well cared for, and is in really good condition…  It’s vintage was a lot older.  Well, in that case, it’s value could be quite high and such a vintage gun should be left as it is, or if you want to use it… Here, the decision is yours.

Now let’s say your great grandfather rode with Butch Cassidy and this rifle was own by one of Butch’s boys… or rode with Sheriff John Pope and ended would of Butch’s boys with that rifle.  Well, that gives that gun a much higher value than Book Value.  Of course – such value requires documentation to substantiate the history.  But let’s say you have that.   That changes things…. Refinishing that gun?  HELL NO.  That’s American History and should be preserved.   There will be Collectors looking for that gun.

Now there is another collector type out there… Blood Guns.  Weapons used by murderers.  I’m not going to go into that stuff… but those collectors?  They don’t even want you to clean it, so no refinishing for those guns.

Most modern guns though, mass produced, common types that are still in production… Refinish it however you like.  Really the skirmish line comes down to if it’s in production or not.   If it’s no longer in production – take a moment to think about getting it refinished or not.

Round Count

Let me start by saying this… Round count doesn’t matter.  When you bring in a gun to trade in, the store doesn’t need the full Biography of the gun.  We don’t need to hear the round count.  I don’t care that you only had 1 magazine fired through it.  You only fired 1 box so it’s practically brand new.  That’s all meaningless.  I had a guy that swore he only fired 3 rounds out of his Ruger revolver.  Doesn’t matter.  A.  People lie about that big time… and B.  Firearms don’t have Odometers on them.  Unlike the value of a Car, the value of a gun doesn’t factor the number of rounds fired.  Not at all.

What we do care about is CONDITION.  In fact, that’s practically all that matters.  Unless you have a gun that was NEVER fired and is in PERFECT and FLAWLESS condition, then maybe.  But that almost never happens, so it’s moot.    On just about any gun, firing some rounds is going to effect the condition a little.  Most guns go from 100% to 98% almost instantly.  After that, they could stay there for awhile at 98 for good long time of careful handling.  Most guns tend to be 95%.  This effects the value more drastically.

Now when you bring in a gun, and it’s 95%, say it’s worth X amount of dollars according to the book.  That’s the Max we could sell it for.  We have to make some money on that gun, so we are going to give you less than that.  About half, because we have to mark it up, but keep it less than a brand new gun by a margin that would still let the gun move instead of people saying “Well, I’d just buy the gun new.”  Don’t be offended if your baby doesn’t bring the big bucks you wanted.  It’s nothing personal.  And your beautifully crafted, bitter-sweet story isn’t going to raise the value either.  Come on, if the gun meant so much to you, why the hell are you trading it in?  Don’t be thick. If your Baby is worth so much – then sell it yourself.   You know you are going to take a hit on value if you trade it.  If we gave people what they wanted for a trade in gun – Used guns would cost double what New guns would cost.  We can’t sell a used gun that’s priced outside of it’s Book Value.  The store ends up sitting on them for years until they are finally marked down to Give Away prices just to get rid of the things.

So no, Sir.  I’m not going to give you twelve hundred bucks for your late Grandfather’s WWI Ruger Mini-14 with a Simmons scope on top.