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Old 04-08-2018, 07:38 AM
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On a recent post I read about a gun for sale out in Arizona and it got me thinking about getting myself a shooter grade SS target S&W . I would like to know is that something you guys do or suggest anyone else does ? I know some firearms are just too valuable even for parts to chance shooting .I hope someday to be a collector / investor and I will sell off many of my shooters to buy a small collection of handling with gloves and thinking about the good old days type guns but I'm not there yet as now in semiretirement these are my good old days .So is buying a S&W SS target as a shooter something I should pursue or are they too valuable to shoot or too expensive to replace / repair / fabricate parts that eventually break and wear ? Also what kind of money should I expect to spend on a " shooter grade " firearm if such exists in your opinions .I appreciate and value your opinions and have learned much reading your posts as always thanks in advance for shareing your knowledge .
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:21 AM
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It's a personal preference. From a collector's standpoint, yes. If it's for plinking, choose wisely. Find a few for sale nearby your location. Take a good, hands-on look at a few. Only advice is to watch out for the put-together with parts that do not match and watch for poor condition.

If you're looking to shoot a few hundred rounds per week on a steady basis then consider a K22. If it's just for the antiquity and fun of it, the single shots are nostalgic fun I think.

if you purchased wisely, choosing a nice condition of 85% and up ( the better the condition, the more it will prove to be a secure purchase).

e.g. the 1891 / 1st are tough to find in the higher condition grades, then the 2nd model near the same. There seems to be more 3rd model (perfected) single shot pistols in better condition than any others.

With the Straightline / 4th, I've only seen perhaps 2 in all my years that were less than 90% condition and very few without the box. These are usually in much better condition.
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:25 AM
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The question I ask myself is why would I want a gun I do not shoot? Wall-hangers and "white glove" revolvers do nothing for me, so if I buy it, I will shoot it. Half the fun of owning antique and vintage firearms is learning all about the history, function, accuracy, and mechanics. Shooting is essential in learning about all four. I shoot Model 1 - 1 1/2 - 2 - 3 S&Ws. I shoot 22 Ladysmiths, Single Shot, HFTs; 32 SA, DA, & Safeties, as well as 38 SA, DA, Perfected, & Safties. I shoot pre WWI 32 HEs, 32 Winchester HEs, 38 HEs, 44 HEs, 45 HEs, 455 HEs . . . whew . . . Hey, maybe the key is to have one or more of everything and that way, you won't wear any of them out!!

Every time I go out to the range to shoot my muzzleloaders, Sharps, military bolt actions, or shotguns, I take along some oldies & goodies with a handful of ammo for each. If I owned a gun I did not shoot, it would have little meaning to me and those I have unwisely purchased and not shot got sold. Do I have some safe queens - yes, but they also go to the range.

Bottom line is that I can only speak for myself and everyone will have to make their own decisions, but shooting them has opened up my understanding of the history, development and function of firearms that, for me, I would have never understood by reading or sitting around and looking at them . . . or worse yet, buried in the back of the safe to never see the light of day.
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Old 04-08-2018, 11:36 AM
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In my opinion, "Shooter Grade" guns are the best way to begin collecting. This might sound blasphemous to purest collectors, but I've found it lets me really get to know a model. I can shoot it, handle it, and enjoy it without the fear of a minor ding that might result in major $$ loss.

With many of the "Shooter Grade" guns I've bought, after I've spent some time with the model, I've later bought a "Collector Grade" to tuck away as a pristine example (or two...). It's like test driving a model / design, before deciding whether it warrants the heavy investment of a Collector Grade gun. And, while the Collector gun is great to admire, the Shooter holds a special place in my heart, and that's the one I go to first to really use.

Even if it's going to be a Shooter Grade gun for me, I still think it's prudent to insist on correct assembly, good condition examples - I avoid "put together", abused, or Bubba modified guns. Never buy a gun you have to make excuses for. THE box is nice, but not a requirement for a Shooter, in my book. The correct grips are very nice also, but sometimes that can be overlooked in a Shooter and remedied later.

This approach has served me well with early revolvers, and even more importantly with single shots. As Sal alluded to, 1st & 2nd model S&W single shots are hard to find in correct, good condition Shooter grade -- and harder to find parts for if you plan to shoot it. The 3rd model SSs are more plentiful, and I see some good deals on them frequently - They make a great 'gateway' single shot (if they were good enough for the Olympian shooters, they should be good enough for me).

In the western states, I've located a few 4th model Straight Lines, in what I'd call Shooter Grade - good condition, very functional, no metal box / accessories. We often shoot 2 or 3 gun matches with visitors to our ranch. Each shooter get 5 shots with a 3rd model Perfected, a 4th Model Straight Line, and maybe a K-22 Outdoorsman. Great fun and a great way to learn the intricacies of the different models. I won't tell you which my favorite is...
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Old 04-08-2018, 12:05 PM
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Not really knowing where to start, I'm simply going to play off your post.

"-----thinking about getting a shooter grade SS----.": Forget it!! Shooter grade guns are by definition in poor condition---defined here as scruffy in appearance, but mechanically sound. Poor condition guns depreciate in value----remain static at best. High condition guns appreciate in value. Pretty much everything we spend money on either gets eaten or wears out---and has to be replaced. Pretty much everything we spend money on can be replaced. They ain't making any more of these guns.

Shooting these guns: They were made to be shot. The chances of breaking something are slim. The only thing I can see wearing out is the latch (assembly) on a top-break. I've heard of such--never seen it---and am inclined to think it would come about more from abuse than use. It seems unlikely these guns were ever subjected heavy use or abuse just because of the nature of the beast-----you can't shoot them fast.

All that said, I've fired some of mine on only two occasions; so I don't know what I'm talking about. The first is a completely customized/reconstructed 2nd Model which was fired to check/confirm a repair/replacement---a much modified and subsequently cracked hammer. It worked. The second was a marathon test session with three 3rd Models (standard/early Olympic/late Olympic to determine comparative accuracy---25 rounds through each gun).

Does anybody do this? One (late) friend of mine did. He started off with a "put together" 2nd Model with a 6" barrel. He ended up with a more "put together" outfit---the 6" .22 plus two more barrels (a 6" .32 and a 10" Olympic (.22)----and shot the snot out of all of them. Everything worked fine/nothing broke/wore out-----and he shot some fairly warm handloads of .32's.

Given my penchant to err on the side of caution, I'd follow Sal's advice for heavy use-----get a K-22---which I realize is not even remotely what you're talking about doing.

As to the value/cost of a shooter grade gun, I don't know---never bought one---never will.

Bottom Line: Life's short, so if it feels good, do it! (It's only money.)

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 04-08-2018, 06:12 PM
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I think that this issue has been discussed here more than once. I really believe that it is up to the collector.

Gary, that is your position and it is a free country. There are some folks however, that just like having a given model or example thereof that is in NIB or near mint condition. Their money, their choice.

There are stamp collectors that would never think of using one of their uncirculated stamps to mail a letter. Its real value is the fact that it has survived all of these years unused even though its original purpose was to mail something. Some folks feel the same about their safe queens.

To a collector of safe queens, firing one of their guns is sacrilege. To a shooter, keeping one in a safe feels the same.

I guess that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.
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Old 04-08-2018, 06:44 PM
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I shoot all my guns, decided when I started collecting that if they cannot be fired, I would not buy them. I have five S&W SS pistols, a H&R USRA SS, a Colt Camp Perry, & a Belgian copy of a Stevens Lord SS pistol. None are pristine safe queens, although two have Pope barrels & one by A O Niedner. All are fine mechanically & go to the indoor range a several times per yr. firing 15-20 rnds. thru each. I use Quiet & CB ammo in the Smith's, standard velocity in the others.
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Old 04-09-2018, 04:10 AM
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I appreciate you guys responses
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Old 04-09-2018, 08:52 AM
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Though not a collector, I fully understand collecting as a hobby. I can see (someone else) keeping an unfired safe queen in pristine condition...because of the emotional satisfaction it gives. I do not see the practical side and certainly don't understand it as an "investment" unless it is historically unique.

The most I've ever paid for an individual handgun is in the neighborhood of $3000. How much of an investment does that represent? My basic, run-of-the-mill trap gun cost me $5,000 and I shoot it 10,000 times a year. My buddies shoot their $25,000 trap guns 10,000 times a year. I have a classic car in the garage that is worth maybe $10K. I baby it. That's emotional, not practical. I have $80,000 "invested" in 2 vehicles in the driveway. In a few years, they will be worth less than my trap gun. Good thing I didn't buy them as an investment.

Again, unless it's one of Billy the Kid's 100 handguns, I say "shoot 'em and let the kids sort 'em out when I'm gone!"
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Old 04-09-2018, 05:51 PM
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Some of the folks here have spoken, shall we say, less than enthusiastically about the value of our toys as investment vehicles. I sat and stared, and wondered. I wondered if I should argue the point. I wondered how I might make a point without arguing. I decided not to attempt to make any point---to just tell a short story about my own experience with some guns---guns which would accurately be described both as collectible (because there are a lot of folks who collect them)---and guns which are at the same time as common as dirt.

There came a time (1999) when I couldn't find any of the S&W's I was hunting. It was discouraging--depressing even. I was hitting a lot of the big time shows, and coming home empty handed. Every time I walked in the door the Boss Lady asked, "Did you get anything?" She got the same answer every time. I was moaning and groaning about this to a Ruger friend----BIG TIME Ruger collector, who said, "Why don't you start collecting Rugers?" I had a soft spot for Rugers, having had some in my shooter days when I couldn't afford S&W's---and started my Ruger collection right then and there---left his table with a spiffy little Bearcat.

Now we jump ahead to 2007. My S&W collection is coming along, and my Ruger collection is complete----"Old Model Single Actions"-1953 to 1973---all of them in all calibers and all barrel lengths---34 guns total---all the same as the Bearcat---spiffy. I have no idea how much money I spent---other than not a whole lot, because most of them didn't cost very much. If I had to guess, I'd say maybe $15,000----call it $20,000 just for the sake of argument---in spite of the fact this isn't an argument.

So here I am in early 2017. I'm happy with my Ruger Collection, but I'm not head over heels in love with it anymore. I pack the whole mess up, jump in my little car, and head for David Carroll's digs. "Dump 'em.", says I. We speculated about what they might bring. Low to mid 40's was the consensus. Well, that's not too shabby, is it? Nope---and it was some wide of the mark too. By the time all the smoke cleared, they fetched low to mid 50's----and that for sure is not too shabby!!

If you have any interest in such things, you might want to look into the time value of money over that period of time. I mention that only because it's my favorite investment (or was)----being that it's risk free. On second thought, you probably don't want to look into that-----it's depressing.

Ralph Tremaine
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by rct269 View Post
Some of the folks here have spoken, shall we say, less than enthusiastically about the value of our toys as investment vehicles. I sat and stared, and wondered. I wondered if I should argue the point. I wondered how I might make a point without arguing. I decided not to attempt to make any point---to just tell a short story about my own experience with some guns---guns which would accurately be described both as collectible (because there are a lot of folks who collect them)---and guns which are at the same time as common as dirt.

There came a time (1999) when I couldn't find any of the S&W's I was hunting. It was discouraging--depressing even. I was hitting a lot of the big time shows, and coming home empty handed. Every time I walked in the door the Boss Lady asked, "Did you get anything?" She got the same answer every time. I was moaning and groaning about this to a Ruger friend----BIG TIME Ruger collector, who said, "Why don't you start collecting Rugers?" I had a soft spot for Rugers, having had some in my shooter days when I couldn't afford S&W's---and started my Ruger collection right then and there---left his table with a spiffy little Bearcat.

Now we jump ahead to 2007. My S&W collection is coming along, and my Ruger collection is complete----"Old Model Single Actions"-1953 to 1973---all of them in all calibers and all barrel lengths---34 guns total---all the same as the Bearcat---spiffy. I have no idea how much money I spent---other than not a whole lot, because most of them didn't cost very much. If I had to guess, I'd say maybe $15,000----call it $20,000 just for the sake of argument---in spite of the fact this isn't an argument.

So here I am in early 2017. I'm happy with my Ruger Collection, but I'm not head over heels in love with it anymore. I pack the whole mess up, jump in my little car, and head for David Carroll's digs. "Dump 'em.", says I. We speculated about what they might bring. Low to mid 40's was the consensus. Well, that's not too shabby, is it? Nope---and it was some wide of the mark too. By the time all the smoke cleared, they fetched low to mid 50's----and that for sure is not too shabby!!

If you have any interest in such things, you might want to look into the time value of money over that period of time. I mention that only because it's my favorite investment (or was)----being that it's risk free. On second thought, you probably don't want to look into that-----it's depressing.

Ralph Tremaine
For a fella not trying to make a point you make a good point .I guess if I buy a gun for investment I should treat it as an investment from the outset or more importantly buy it from the outlook as an investor therefore I would be more likely to actually make a return and do everything in my power to at least not devalue it on the other hand if I buy a gun to shoot and take care if it there is the chance of it increasing in value .Generaly most blue collar guys ( I am very blue collar but raised around people with lots of common sense) don't get that ok the gun didn't get more valuable the money became less valuable and occasionally you may beat the money getting less valuable thing but rarely .I appreciate your input not just from a gun standpoint but a financial standpoint also as the way they are printing it well they rarely print all of it anymore they just enter it into tne computer and click there it is so I guess so etching I have read that you have posted many times but truly today " it is only money " I wonder how many people know just how correct you are about that .
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Old 05-19-2018, 06:50 AM
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FWIW, I own both. Shooters and safe queens. To a gun, I would have to say (including my long guns) that EVERY one has gained in value. Have they kept up with inflation? I can't really say for sure because I haven't done a study on that. I can say that since I have a poor ability to hang on to cash like Christmas clubs or savings accounts, since I have never sold one of my guns, I have more value or at least my heirs will have more value in my guns than they will find in my savings account.

Again, FWIW.
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