Buy Antique Guns With Real Historical Significance
If you want to buy antique guns, you’re getting into a rewarding pastime that offers endless fascination and enrichment. As with any endeavor, it pays to be educated in the subject before parting with your money, so study the following information to know how to successfully buy antique guns that will add value and quality to your collection.
What is an Antique Gun?
United States law defines an antique firearm as one in which the receiver was manufactured prior to 1899. Most examples are either muzzle-loaders or fire-antiquated cartridges. When you go to an auction to buy antique guns, keep in mind that the value of antique firearms typically lies in their historical significance more than in their performance, because many of them are less powerful than modern weapons, especially those made before the advances in metallurgy and smokeless powder in the last decade of the 19th century. Those built from 1890-1900, however, are often on par with modern weapons in terms of power and range. Antique guns fall into two broad classification: muzzle- and breach-loaders.
Antique Muzzle-Loading Weapons
The first firearms were extremely simple in design and operation: the user poured powder, wadding and projectiles down the barrel and compacted them in place with a metal or wooden rod, and then pointed the weapon in the general direction of the target and a lit flame to a hole in the barrel. This ignited the powder and fired the charge. Over time, more sophisticated ways were developed to ignite the powder, including matchlock and flintlock designs.
In early years, the preferred ammunition for muzzle-loaders came in the form of loose pellets, much like the ones found in today’s shotgun shells. Accuracy was primarily a matter of luck due to the smooth bores of these weapons, so when used in warfare, troops generally fired mass volleys all at once in order to maximize the odds of hitting the enemy.
Over time, loose shot and smooth bores gave way to rifled barrels and bullets made in specific calibers. An early example of this type of weapon is the legendary Kentucky rifle, also known as the American long rifle. These guns played a major role in the American Revolution, giving rebel marksman a decided advantage over British soldiers, most of whom carried smoothbore muskets. For the first time in firearms history, greater accuracy was possible.
During the 19th century, muzzle-loading guns gradually lost popularity to breach-loading models and weapons that could hold multiple rounds. The US Army was a slow adopter of the new technology, as evidenced by the fact that most troops on both sides of the Civil War carried single-shot muzzle-loaders. This began to change when President Lincoln saw a demonstration of a breach-loaded rifle that would revolutionize firearms history.
These early firearms sell for widely ranging prices that depend on the gun’s condition and time of manufacture, but they are highly valuable antique items that a worth a good deal of money.
Antique Breach-Loading Weapons
In 1860, an American inventor named Christopher Spencer developed a rifle that held seven metallic rounds, each of which contained its own powder charge. He presented his new weapon to the army, which promptly turned it down, but Spencer eventually gained an audience with Abraham Lincoln, who was so impressed with Spencer’s rifle that he ordered several thousand of them for the Union troops.
These early breach-loaders suffered from a number of limitations: the powder used for the cartridges generated a great deal of smoke, which made it hard for the soldiers who were firing them to see who they were shooting. Eventually these problems were corrected, and breach-loaders dominated weapons production for the rest of the 19th century and into modern times.
Determining a Gun’s Age
Be careful when you buy antique guns, because oftentimes a weapon that is called an “antique” is anything but. Scam artists will alter weapons to make them appear older than they really are in order to price-gouge antique gun enthusiasts, so educate yourself about what to look for to determine whether or not a gun is an antique or a fake. The methods used to deceive those who want to buy antique guns include the following:
- Altering a modern reproduction to make it look like an antique. In recent years, some Italian gun makers have built look-alike versions of Civil War pieces. These replicas are identifiable by plates that are attached to them which specify their manufacturing dates, but scam artists remove these inscriptions and claim that the piece is an authentic Civil War heirloom.
- Making an aged weapon appear older than it actually is. Scam artists will scar wooden stocks with acid to artificially age it, or add brass tacks or butt plates to give the item a more vintage appearance. While experts can differentiate between a genuine piece and a fake, less savvy collectors are sometimes deceived by this trick.
Protecting Yourself from Counterfeit Antiques
It can take many years to build a knowledge base about gun history, metallurgy, gunsmith services, and how to identify non-genuine antique pieces, so if you are new to the antique gun world, protect yourself from scam artists by choosing to buy antique guns from honest, established dealers only. Dury’s Gun Shop has been in business in the San Antonio area since 1959, and is well known as a trustworthy dealer of firearms new and old. Our staff includes highly trained, knowledgeable experts who inspect every weapon we sell to ensure its quality and authenticity. When you shop at Dury’s you can be assured that, if we identify a firearm as an antique, it is a genuine piece.
Dury’s Gun Shop has a great line of used hunting rifles, used Colt handguns, and other firearms at unbeatable prices, and everything we sell is backed up by our famous lifetime warranty. Browse the selection here on our site, and then place your order with confidence.
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