Antique Gun Collection Guide

The antique gun collection market has experienced immense growth over the past centuries. Previously, seasoned outdoor people and wealthy historical figures dominated the niche. However, as the market continues to expand, it now accommodates even less experienced gun handlers who even collect vintage firearms for joy. 

Aurum Teutonic

Do you want to diversify your gun portfolio? Investing in antique guns could be a great way to earn more cash, especially if you intend to buy historical guns for value addition and not for self-defense or hunting only. With the price and demand for these rare pieces on the rise, it is predictable that anybody aspiring to enter the market is likely to make a fortune. It’s rare for gun metal to lose value over time.

However, while the antique gun collection and selling is a promising venture, it is only straightforward to a seasoned collector. New people entering the field need to understand all the aspects surrounding antique guns, including identification and valuation. Therefore, this article provides a detailed guide for anyone looking to invest in antique firearms. 

What Are Antique Guns?

Colt Python

Before getting started with antique gun collection and selling, it is crucial to start with the basic question: what are antique guns and why do people collect them? 

Simply put, an antique gun is a gun manufactured more than 100 years ago and has a long history of significance to match its price. These are also known as collectible firearms and most people use antique guns for display purposes. 

However, there are some exceptions to what makes an antique gun. For example, while most antique guns are over 100 years old, some are less than 100 years old but their rarity and historic value make them a collectible piece. 

Browning superposed midas

Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act also define antique guns differently. According to the Gun Control Act, antique guns are firearms manufactured on or before 1898. These include firearms with matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar types of ignition systems. 

On the other hand, the National Firearms Act defines an antique gun as any firearm not intended or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional centerfire with fixed ammunition. What remains common in both definitions is that the firearm should be manufactured on or before 1898 to be an antique gun. 

Why Do People Collect Antique Guns? 

A few factors make antique guns valuable to most people who intend to keep them. These include: 

  • Antique guns are expertly made and have unique features that make them last the test of time. 
  • They have a long history of relevance behind them. For example, if a famous person used an antique gun during a war and or for self-defense. 
  • These firearms are rare and only famous and wealthy people own them. As more people become interested in these rare pieces, their prices continue to skyrocket, attracting more antique gun investors. 

Types Of Antique Firearms

Aurum Teutonic

You will need to understand the different antique types available and the best-selling brands to become a successful antique gun collector. Antique guns are available in many categories.  These are the four primary types of antique firearms to consider:

Western Firearms
Thompson rifle

Western firearms are probably the first set that comes to mind for most antique gun collectors. One of the reasons for this is that most of these firearms are from prominent manufacturers such as Winchester and Colt. 

Western firearms are limited to specific regions and periods. For instance, most of them were manufactured between the 1870s and 1910s. They are also common in cowboy films, resulting in unmatched cowboy obsession. 

Military Firearms

Firearms used in major conflicts and those belonging to prominent people also attract higher interest among gun collectors. Although military firearms are not limited to specific regions and periods, they were common during major wars such as the American Civil War, World War I & II, and the Vietnam War. 

Most antique gun investors look for military firearms because of their higher prices and their European and American historical connections. However, the expansion of the collectible gun market has seen military firearms from other conflicts such as the Gulf War also receive much attention. 


Antique handguns also hold a special place in the collectible gun market, although they do not have the same cultural significance as historic long guns. For example, the most expensive antique gun ever sold at auction was the single-action army Colt revolver for $6.03 million. The gun was used to kill the infamous outlaw, Billy the Kid. 

Colt Single Action Army series

Although these handguns are not common among famous figures conflicts, most antique gun collectors are ready to pay millions to have them in their possession. Popular antique handgun categories include: 

  • Antique pistols featuring chambers integrated into the gun barrels.
  • Antique revolvers featuring revolving cylinders with more than one chamber and barrel for firing. 

Muzzleloaders are firearms that use black powder and are loaded from the front of the barrel. However, in the antique gun community, antique muzzleloaders are short guns loaded from the front. 

Muzzleloaders use the oldest firing technology. The user must pour black powder down the gun’s barrel before shoving a projectile. They then light a fuse and wait for the explosive reaction to launch the projectile. 

However, even after the manufacturers invented self-contained projectiles, people still looked for muzzleloading rifles and loaded them. That means an older muzzleloader will attract more antique gun collectors, thus increasing its price. 

Popular Antique Gun Brands To Consider

If you want to make good money in antique gun collection and selling, you need to consider best-selling manufacturers, including 


Colt firearms produced during Samuel Colt’s lifetime (1830s – 1860s) are among the premier antique guns to collect. An example of the most sought-after antique firearm is the Colt Single-Action Army revolver. Also known as the ‘peacemaker’, this iconic long-barrelled weapon was released only after 1872 and was common among lawmen and outlaws across the United States. 

Colt python 1976

Image source:

The first Colt SAAs series can sell between $5,000 and $50,000 depending on the location and historical relevance. For instance, the Calvary Colt Single-Action Army revolver produced in 1877 is currently valued at $30,000 at auction. 


Winchester Repeating Rifle Company came into existence during the post-war period. The company is best known for its repeating firearms that attract higher prices at auction. An example of popular Winchester antique rifles is the Winchester 1873 lever-action rifle or the ‘rifle that won the West’

Winchester 1873 model

Image source:

Most antique gun collectors love Winchester repeating rifles for their long-lasting features that allow them to stand the test of time. They are easy to customize and fit different needs. 

Also, while Winchester antique guns attract higher prices due to the company’s reputation, you can get affordable Winchester collectibles in the lower price range. For instance, while the Winchester 1886 rifle was valued at $1.25 million, the Winchester 1873 was sold for only $3,450. 


Deringer pocket pistols are also great options for people who want to protect themselves from daily dangers. The notable Philadelphia gunsmith Henry Deringer released his first pocket pistol in the 1820s. However, the infamous pistol won the public interest in 1865 when John Wilkes Booth used it to kill the then US President Abraham Lincoln.

Image source:
Deringer pocket pistols sell at a fair price at auction, usually between $500 and $2000. Their compact size and single-shot to quadruple-shot design also make these antique pistols a must-have for outlaw enthusiasts.

However, after the assassination of Andrew Lincoln, more companies began replicating these infamous pistols. This presented stiff competition to the Deringer company, causing it to lose its market control.

Smith & Wesson

Horace Smith and D.B. Wesson founded Smith & Wesson and turned it into a stalwart firearm manufacturing company. The company produced its first gun in 1852, which was a series of firearms with self-contained projectile capabilities.

Smith & Wesson

Image source:

Smith & Wesson antique guns may not have the same awe as their Colt counterparts. However, they still have their respectable place in the collectible gun community due to their reputation. An example of the popular Smith & Wesson antique gun is the 1907 long-strap model 3 listed for over $12,500 at auction.

What To Consider When Buying And Selling Antique Guns

The antique gun collection is a profitable niche with millions of gun enthusiasts interested in tapping in. With several centuries of gun making, everybody wants to own a rare firearm rich with a long history of usage.  However, that is only true for seasoned gun collectors who can identify antique guns easily.

Getting started with an antique gun collection requires you to consider the factors listed below and value your gun appropriately. At most times, you will need to see the gun in person, although you can get some information from the antique gun specialist:

Know How Much Finish Is Left

Knowing how much finish is left is one of the primary factors that determine the price of any antique firearm. Since some guns have dark-tinted finishes, it means any deterioration will lower its final price. Therefore, look for guns with better finishes as their values are certainly higher.

Is There Any Restoration?

The introduction of modern versions of any legendary weapon will also impact its price. So, check if there is any restoration history or replacement of any part of the gun.

Is It Still Operational?

A fully operational antique gun will attract more bidders and will sell at a higher price than a faulty gun. Some gun collectors prefer buying non-operational antique guns and modifying them. However, as a new collectible gun investor, always look for operational ancient weapons. That is true if you do not have enough resources to restore non-operational guns.

MBA Associates Mark
Make Sure It Is An Antique Gun

To ascertain if you are collecting an antique gun, you may want to look at its date of manufacture. Remember, the current National Firearms Act’s definition of an antique firearm requires that it should be dated back to before 1898. That means any gun manufactured after that period is vintage and not an antique gun.

Generally, the older the gun, the higher the price. However, this depends on factors such as its current working condition, rarity, and provenance.

How To Value Your Antique Guns At Auctions

With all the factors in place, it is now the time to sell your antique firearms at leading online antique gun auctions. But how do you get the best value for your gun?

If you intend to sell your collectible guns for the first time, you can consider the following valuation tips:

Check Popular Gun Auction Marketplaces

Popular gun auction sites list hundreds of collector firearms every year. These can be the best places to check when estimating the prices of similar guns. However, you should also remember that prices of similar guns may vary depending on factors such as;

  • The make and model
  • Condition or remaining finish.
  • Age.
Visit Trusted Gun Shops

You can also visit a gun shop to check the price of an antique gun at hand. This is especially true if you need more information about the gun besides what you already know. Although, you are likely to get into conflict with the shop if they like the gun and want to buy it at a lower price.

Employ The Services Of An Appraiser

If you have enough resources to invest in antique gun research, you can pay an appraiser to provide you with the most accurate gun information. They will also do all the legwork for you and get the best value for your antique guns.

Verdict: Is Investing In Antique Guns Worth It?

Investing in antique firearms is a confusing idea to most newbies. Although the market is less volatile than other investment options, it also comes with its set of obstacles. These include changing gun regulations, cultural and logistical challenges, and the rarity of these guns.

However, the antique gun market continues to skyrocket despite the barriers. That is because more people now value the historic significance connected to these rare pieces and would do anything to own one.

Therefore, as promising as it is, anyone planning to invest in collectible guns should start by understanding the market to avoid pitfalls. They should also seek professional guidance to make the right approach and reap more fruits from this ever-growing venture.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This won't affect your purchase price.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we may receive a commission. This won't affect your purchase price.