Gun Collecting and Grading

The William A. Jones Collection also contains many notable long arms. Here are three beauties (above). From top: pristine, unfired Jenks “Mule Ear” carbine; 320-caliber Smith & Wesson Revolving Rifle; brass-frame 1860 Henry repeating rifle with original cleaning rod still in butt compartment.

The William A. Jones Collection also contains many notable long arms. Here are three beauties (above). From top: pristine, unfired Jenks “Mule Ear” carbine; 320-caliber Smith & Wesson Revolving Rifle; brass-frame 1860 Henry repeating rifle with original cleaning rod still in butt compartment.

All grading systems are subjective. It is our task to offer the collector and dealer a measurement that most closely reflects a general consensus on condition. The system we present seems to come closest to describing a firearm in universal terms. We strongly recommend that the reader acquaint himself with this grading system before attempting to determine the correct price for a particular firearm’s condition.

Remember, in most cases condition determines price.

NIB—New in Box
This category can sometimes be misleading. It means that the firearm is in its original factory carton with all of the appropriate papers. It also means the firearm is new; that it has not been fired and has no wear. This classification brings a substantial premium for both the collector and shooter.

Excellent
Collector quality firearms in this condition are highly desirable. The firearm must be in at least 98 percent condition with respect to blue wear, stock or grip finish, and bore. The firearm must also be in 100 percent original factory condition without refinishing, repair, alterations or additions of any kind. Sights must be factory original as well. This grading classification includes both modern and antique (manufactured prior to 1898) firearms.

Very Good
Firearms in this category are also sought after both by the collector and shooter. Modern firearms must be in working order and retain approximately 92 percent original metal and wood finish. It must be 100 percent factory original, but may have some small repairs, alterations, or non-factory additions. No refinishing is permitted in this category. Antique firearms must have 80 percent original finish with no repairs.

Good
Modern firearms in this category may not be considered to be as collectible as the previous grades, but antique firearms are considered desirable. Modern firearms must retain at least 80 percent metal and wood finish, but may display evidence of old refinishing. Small repairs, alterations, or non-factory additions are sometimes encountered in this class. Factory replacement parts are permitted. The overall working condition of the firearm must be good as well as safe. The bore may exhibit wear or some corrosion, especially in antique arms. Antique firearms may be included in this category if their metal and wood finish is at least 50 percent original factory finish.

Fair
Firearms in this category should be in satisfactory working order and safe to shoot. The overall metal and wood finish on the modern firearm must be at least 30 percent and antique firearms must have at least some original finish or old re-finish remaining. Repairs, alterations, nonfactory additions, and recent refinishing would all place a firearm in this classification. However, the modern firearm must be in working condition, while the antique firearm may not function. In either case the firearm must be considered safe to fire if in a working state.

Poor
Neither collectors nor shooters are likely to exhibit much interest in firearms in this condition. Modern firearms are likely to retain little metal or wood finish. Pitting and rust will be seen in firearms in this category. Modern firearms may not be in working order and may not be safe to shoot. Repairs and refinishing would be necessary to restore the firearm to safe working order. Antique firearms will have no finish and will not function. In the case of modern firearms their principal value lies in spare parts. On the other hand, antique firearms in this condition may be used as “wall hangers” or as an example of an extremely rare variation or have some kind of historical significance.

This article appeared in the 2010 Standard Catalog of Firearms. To get your copy, click here.

NM Collector Software

This gun collecting series brought to you by NM Collector Software.


Recommended books for gun collectors:

2010 Standard Catalog of Firearms. Click HereStandard Catalog of Firearms, 20th Edition.

Gun Digest 2010, 64th Edition

The Official Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices 2010, Rifles, Pistols & Shotguns
5th Edition

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