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.
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.