Market Trends in Military Gun Collecting

The import of military surplus firearms has slowed to a trickle, with only a handful of bolt-action rifles coming in. The ubiquitous Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 finally disappeared from wholesaler catalogs in late 2012.

The import of military surplus firearms has slowed to a trickle, with only a handful of bolt-action rifles coming in. The ubiquitous Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 finally disappeared from wholesaler catalogs in late 2012.

From the re-election of Barack Obama and push for new gun control following the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting, to the United Nations push for small arms disarmament, there’s no shortage of geopolitical and economic forces shaping trends in military gun collecting. Phillip Peterson, editor of the new Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 7th Edition, gives his take on where things are heading.

The 2012 re-election of Barack Obama has basically extended the buyers market for firearms that had started when he was elected the first time, in 2008. Manufacturers continue to struggle to fill demand for new handguns and semi-automatic rifles.

AR-15 style rifles like this are still in demand following recent attempts to ban them.

AR-15 style rifles like this are still in demand following recent attempts to ban them.

After the mass shootings that took place in 2012, the administration and national media have been on a crusade for another “assault weapon” ban, and bans on high-capacity magazines. As we go to press it looks as though the bans have little chance of getting passed by the U.S. Congress. But the surge in demand continues.

The collectible firearms market has dropped a bit as many buyers are purchasing the new guns they fear are soon to be banned. As we gathered pricing data of realized prices from auctions, internet sales and some observed traffic at gun shows, it is clear that there has been a slight drift downward in the selling price of collectible military firearms. The biggest hit has been in what I call midrange collectibles in the $250 – $750 range.

My read on this is that the working-class segment of collectors and accumulators are the ones who have been affected the most by the economy. Fewer new collectors are entering the market and the more common items have fallen in price as the existing collectors already have them. There are fewer sales to “noncollector” buyers of old military guns who were buying those items in the past because they were cheap.

The import of military surplus firearms has slowed to a trickle, with only a handful of bolt-action rifles coming in. The ubiquitous Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 finally disappeared from wholesaler catalogs in late 2012.

These Russian rifles had been retailing for about $125 with a sling and bayonet.  It does not take long for prices to climb once an item disappears from suppliers’ listings, and the 91-30s quickly have jumped to the $200 – $300 range.  There are now no surplus rifles that can be bought for under $100, a threshold that has been approaching for several years.

With the United Nations pushing an international treaty limiting the small-arms trade, it is unlikely any new imports of military surplus will hit these shores. Poorer nations are being pressured to destroy surplus small arms and ammunition by granting them financial aid in exchange for destroying their old guns.

This Market Trends is an excerpt from the new Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 7th Edition.


Resources for Military Gun Collectors

Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 7th EditionThe Standard Catalog of Military Firearms, 7th Edition

Gun Digest 2014

Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values

Gun Digest 1944 – 2013 3-Disc Set

Gun Digest the Magazine

2 thoughts on “Market Trends in Military Gun Collecting

  1. Bigamont

    Actually, he is basicall correct. The cheapest you can buy a Mosin at Classic is $130. You would need to add shipping and your FFL dealer cost on top of that. To purchase one at a retailer or Gun show is difficult at less than $100. They imported millions of Mosins so they have not dried up. But, look at a Shotgun News from 10 years ago. SMLE for $70. Masuers for $ $80 ets. There are no more Mausers and SMLE, as well as, a host of other guns available that were 10 years ago.

    The ” Firearm Owners Protection Act” signed by Regan on May 19th, 1986 at the suggestion of the NRA banned the further production of full auto weapons for the exchange of importing used military weapons again and not having to sign for ammo.

    Well, no more military imports thanks for our president Hussein. I would gladly exchange purchasing ammo with a signature if I could have full auto!

  2. tommyt654

    Only problem is he’s incorrect as many rifles are being sold now at sites like Classic arms for $99 and slightly more. Once again another firearms dealer gets it wrong and reports incorrect information. Their are plenty of available used military rifles out there for relatively low cost ya just have to know where to look for them. Perhaps this was more of an attempt to keep the price overly inflated by some who have a lot of inventory on hand. But they are still plentiful and cheap, I can purchase plenty of 91/30 or T-53’s all day long in the $99 to $125 range

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