Are Firearms a Good Investment?

Firearm prices began climbing in 2020 and continues through the first part of 2021. Some current gun owners may look at one or more guns they own, do a little research, and feel good about the fact that the going price may be 50% to 150% higher than they originally paid. Hey, it’s a chance to convert a gun to money. But few bought guns with a “big payday” in mind. So, when thinking about investing in guns, it is important to know: Are increasing gun prices typical? Who and what drives gun prices?

Investing in guns is similar to investing in coins, stamps, art, or anything that is “physical.” Most who buy these items do not think of the purchases as pure investments (like stocks, bonds, or real estate.) No, many think they are adding to a collection. They may only care about the value of an item for insurance or when they have a reason to convert it to cash. In my experience, most people who buy more than a couple of guns are collectors. I do not know many (any?) people who buy a gun as a true investment. That is, they never fire it, rarely handle it, keep all the original packaging, and invest in a storage area that helps maintain optimal humidity and temperature conditions. In other words, firearms investors keep the gun in “mint” condition anticipating a “big payday” at some point in the future.

What drives gun prices? As with all free markets, price is determined by supply and demand. Drilling further into the question, I think the gun market may simplistically be considered in two categories: Modern Arms for a particular use (e.g., home protection or hunting) and Collectibles (guns with some special background or desirability). Both are different gun markets with buyers and sellers that behave differently. Again, simplistically, the same major forces drive both categories: “News,” Product availability, and Purpose.

Who drives gun demand? Demand for Modern Arms is normally driven by the general public. These buyers are not interested in collecting firearms. They want a gun for a specific purpose. Once satisfied, these people will not likely purchase more firearms. A big driver is news (usually bad) that makes people become concerned for their safety. They want something for self-defense to feel secure and safe. That market is pretty big. There are many manufacturers of modern arms. By contrast, demand for historical or special firearms is normally driven by collectors. They are motivated by the same things that drive collectors of other “things” – rarity, condition, commemoration, provenance, and personal interest. Their purpose is to fulfill a collection goal. Collectors are always “in the market.” They patiently seek a particular gun and are ready to pay money (maybe lots) when one they want becomes available in a typically small market. Or, they buy because they believe something in the law may change that would render a gun unavailable.

2020: A Case Study. The past year has seen unusual strength in the gun market. I think there were three main drivers – the pandemic, violent protests, and the presidential election. The pandemic and the violent protests left many feeling uneasy about their personal safety. People of all ages became first-time gun buyers for the purpose of self-defense. Typically, these people were looking for one, maybe two, modern firearms to keep nearby “just in case.” Now that they own a gun, their purpose of feeling safe is satisfied. It is unlikely they will buy more. In addition, 2020 was a presidential election year. Typically, strong candidates with perceived “anti-gun agendas” will stir many people to anticipate gun restrictions. This can drive the public to purchase of modern arms. Collectors jump into the market too and make purchases “just in case” certain guns become illegal to sell (remember the 1994 “Assault Weapon” ban?)

So, the heightened demand for guns, especially modern handguns and perhaps some modern shotguns and rifles, drove prices very high as inventory sold out. In addition, ammunition availability dropped and, with it, prices spiked. If anyone has a modern gun to sell, now seems a good time. Lots of people ready to pay lots of cash.

Are increasing gun prices typical? What about historical or specialized guns? How about modern arms that are 10 to 20 years old? Or special commemorative pieces? Who is buying “collectible” guns? Collectors! For those familiar with this market, they know it is often finicky and unpredictable. Getting a good return (success!) in the collector market is all about getting the:

  1. Right buyer for the
  2. Right gun at the
  3. Right time.

Condition, provenance, popularity, and rarity are only some of the factors that determine the price for a “collectible” firearm. Frankly, a gun can be worth thousands to one person and nothing to another. The market for historic military guns can “shock” up or down based upon things like import rules and politics. Some reading this blog may recall that Mosin-Nagant rifles and Nagant revolvers imported from Russia 10 or 15 years ago sold for less than $100. Check out the prices now! Import bans curtailed supply and prices jumped. Likewise, if restrictions are lifted, prices will likely fall, maybe significantly.

So, l do not think investing in guns (buying with the purpose to sell at a decent profit in the future) is a good idea. I think the same about art, coins, stamps, and cars. These are great to collect and enjoy, but not to count on for cash in the future. Maybe there will be a day when a gun can be regularly sold at a nice profit, but don’t count on it.

Safely Re-holstering Your Handgun

Holster Safely, an article in the May 2020 edition of the American Rifleman (Richard Mann, page 40), raised the important point of training to safely re-holster your handgun.  Think back to any formal training you have attended.  What was the discussion about re-holstering?  Was it mentioned at all?   Properly re-securing your gun is a fundamental safety issue that needs to be taught and practiced.  An error while re-holstering can lead to death, as it did an unfortunate Milwaukee man in 2015.

Read an article in the American Rifleman covering the basics about safely re-holstering your handgun.

Will Keeping Magazines Loaded Ruin the Springs?

Do you store your spare magazines loaded (properly secured) or empty?  Many keep them empty in order not to reduce the “spring” in the magazine spring.  It makes sense.  A compressed spring over time would naturally lose its original shape, right?  Well, that thought has been a matter of long debate on popular sites.

Magazines Is it true?  Do springs in ammunition magazines lose their  tension if they are compressed for long periods of time?  The best video I have found answering that question is on YouTube: Guns Up Review – Magazine Springs.

What is the answer?  Succinctly, according to my research, a magazine manufactured by a reputable manufacturer stored in normal heat and moisture conditions will NOT result in the loss of magazine spring tension.  Watch the video and consider for yourself.

Be safe!

5.56 versus .223 Ammo — What’s the difference?

223 vs 556

So… many of us have heard stories about 5.56 and .223 caliber ammunition for our AR 15 rifles. Some say they are interchangeable. Others say you can use .223 ammunition in barrels marked 5.56. Still others say you can use 5.56 in barrels labeled .223. And some say they are not interchangeable at all!  So, is there a difference?  And if so, what are they?

The short answer is YES, there is a difference!  That should make sense to everyone since they have two different names.  Well, that’s not always the case (.380 Auto and 9mm Kurz are the same!) but it is this time.  So, what are the big differences?

While there are many small differences, the big difference is the throat of a 5.56 barrel is longer than .223.  So, what’s the throat?  It’s the distance between the end of the case and the beginning of the rifling.  The throat is composed of two parts, the freebore and the leade.  It’s here where the bullet “jumps” from the case just prior to engaging the rifling.  It’s also here where pressures are the greatest.  To learn more about the throat and the entire barrel, check out Wikipedia.

Ok, the 5.56 barrels have a longer throat (just about twice as long).  So what?  The longer throat handles the much greater pressures developed based upon the powder charge for 5.56 cartridges.  Therefore, firing 5.56 ammunition in a .223 barrel is not recommended.  In fact, the 5.56×45 mm military cartridge fired in a .223 Rem. chamber is considered by SAAMI to be an unsafe ammunition combination and is listed in the “Unsafe Arms and Ammunition Combinations” section of the SAAMI Technical Correspondent’s Handbook. It states: “In firearms chambered for .223 Rem.—do not use 5.56×45 mm Military cartridges.”

The short rule: DO NOT FIRE 5.56 AMMUNITION IN A .223 BARREL.  The pressures are higher than specified for .223 barrels.  However, you may safely fire .223 ammunition in 5.56 barrels.

For more information and finer details, read the American Rifle article .223 Remington Vs. 5.56: What’s in a Name?  You may also enjoy the Youtube video by the Ultimate Reloader LLC.  Both the article and video are very well done.

Be safe!

Cleaners, Lubricants, and Protectants

From time to time, my customers ask me what I use to clean and maintain firearms brought to me for service. There are many products for shooters to consider and try. I’ve tried quite a number, and settled upon a few that I use for both my guns and firearms I service for my clients.

Before going too much further, please know that these are my opinions only, and opinions vary! I receive no compensation or incentive whatsoever for products, tools, or techniques in this blog. Any actions you may take as a result of reading this information is at your own discretion.

First things first – let’s make sure we are “speaking the same language. I use three general terms when talking about this topic: cleaners, lubricants, and protectants.

  • Cleaners remove powder, copper, and sometimes plastic fouling. Powder fouling, of course, results from spent powder when firing a cartridge. It can be found almost anywhere in the gun. Copper fouling is the small amount of copper that is left in the bore after firing copper jacked bullets. Plastic fouling is sometimes found in shotgun bores, and is the result of heating the shotgun hull or, potentially, firing plastic shot.
  • Lubricants reduce wear on gun parts that occur when a gun is fired. Lubricants can sometimes “double” as a protectant.
  • Protectants a help avoid corrosion or other damage to a firearm that can result from moisture – either water or water vapor (as in high humidity conditions.)
  • CLP” products combine all three functions of cleaning, lubricating and protecting.

A word of caution. Always wear protective gloves (e.g., latex or nitrile gloves) when working with these produces,. Some are not very “skin friendly” and, over the long term, damage your skin.


Hoppes No. 9

To say there are many cleaning products on the market would be an understatement. One in particular, and the one I use extensively, is Hoppes No. 9 (pronounced “Hop-eez”.) This product has been used by shooters since 1903 and has earned respect of generations of shooters. I find it excels at removing powder fouling and does a decent job at copper fouling, too. One of the first steps I take in field stripping is to run a patch soaked in Hoppes down the bore and set it aside to “let it work.” Hoppes is designed not to damage any part of the firearm. If it unintentionally gets on something your don’t intend (e.g., the stock), simply wipe it off. Hoppes is also a protectant. That means if left on the gun (such as the bore or exterior of the barrel) it will help against corrosion.

Sweets 7.62 Solvent

Sweets is another cleaner I use from time to time, especially with Copper fouling. It does very well loosening copper from the bore in a relatively short period of time. Sweets is a powerful cleaner intended primarily for use in the bore. Sweets recommends it sit in a bore for no more than 15 minutes or so. Run a patch soaked in Sweets through a copper-fouled bore and let it “cook” for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, run a dry patch to see how it’s doing. A turquoise, blue, or green color on the patch indicates the copper fouling is loosening up. At that point, run a patch with Hoppes to remove the Sweets and let it cook some more. Running a dry patch at that point will take most of the fouling that is left.

I use a third CLP, Break Free, in aerosol form once in a while. It will foam and get into places not easily accessible without further disassembly. Once in a while I will squirt it down the bore to get the foaming action into the lands and grooves.It does a good job at lubricating and protecting, too.



My “go to” lubricants are Ballistol and Rem Oil. Ballistol has been around long time. It was invented in 1874 and has been produced in Germany since 1904. It is a blend of natural oils and is intended for use on all parts of firearms (and other things, too.) It is bio-degradeable and not harmful to skin. Ballistol will not “gum up” even in old conditions. It comes in aerosol and in liquid form. Ballistol is a great lubricant that also will work on powder fouling that may be remaining. It’s not unusual for me to clean a bore, run a patch of Ballistol for down the bore for storage. When I get the gun out again and run a clean patch, it often will have more powder fouling raised from microscopic parts of the bore metal.

Rem Oil

Rem Oil is another great lubricant I used in its aerosol form. A few quick squirts helps lubricate the action of the gun. On the market since 1913, Rem Oil has stood the test of time with shooters for generations. At one point, it contained Teflon, too. It may still, it is not listed as an ingredient. Re Oil dries quickly leaving a dry lubricant on the surface, This helps reduce fouling build-up (fouling loves to stick to wet surfaces more than dry.)


Ballistol and Rem Oil are the protectants I use. Ballistol does a great job as a barrier between metal and the air. For internal mechanisms, either Rem Oil or Ballistol in an aerosol form do the trick for me.

Wrap Up

Whatever product you choose to use, I recommend it specifically states it is intended for use on firearms. What products do you use? Why do they work well for you? Leave an comment and share you ideas. Thanks for reading!

Traveling During the Holidays? Know the Law

Planning on doing any traveling over the holidays and carrying a firearm?  Do your research prior to crossing state lines.  Despite several attempts at the federal level, there are no national laws governing conceal carry (or possession, for that matter) of firearms.  That’s handguns, rifles, and other weapons for anyone, with some limited exceptions for active and retired law enforcement.

Saying that the gun laws are a “patchwork” across the country is an understatement.  In certain states, it is very difficult to understand what is and what is not allowed, who many carry and who may not, and what one may carry and what one may not.  Think about magazine capacities – driving over a state line to go hunting with the wrong size magazine may result in an arrest and felony conviction!

A good place to begin researching guns laws is the NRA-ILA  page Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms (  The site contains information about federal protections about traveling with firearms and also provides details about each state’s own laws.  Be warned – this site is not the final answer on any questions you may have.  It is your responsibility to know the laws where you possess firearms.

Happy holidays!  Travel safely and wisely.

Loctite – Works Great! Which Do I Use?

I read this short article from Fusion Firearms and thought some of you may enjoy reading it as well.  We’ve all heard of “purple,” ‘blue,” “red,” “yellow, “and “green” Loctite, but what do those colors really mean?  Read this, you may be surprised!

LoctiteBob’s 1911 Tech Tip:

1911 Gunsmithing & Loctite.

Loctite adhesives have been used in many mechanical assembly applications for years. This is widespread through basically all industry sectors and the firearms industry is no different. Many old manufacturing methods such as staking parts have been replaced by space-age adhesives.

The biggest issue I see in many random 1911 services: folks don’t understand which type to use from the 100’s of products that are available. Or hearing “I used the green Loctite.” Which doesn’t mean much when there are 15 different Loctite with the color green and they all have different uses.

Well, I can make it simple and narrow it down to 3 Loctites that you should use.

  1. Loctite 242 or equivalent: For most sight screws, barrel threads, or screws that may be backing out on you from vibration. This adhesive is more of a “gumming” agent and you can also remove the screw with standard tools after it cures. This will work for most applications.
  1. Loctite 271 or equivalent:  For sight retaining screws, sight bases, sight dovetails etc.. that you wish to retain. This Loctite will generally have to be removed with the assistance of heat. Meaning you will have to use a small torch to heat the area and then remove the part loctite’d.
  1. Loctite 680 or equivalent: For pins, sight bases, sight dovetails, etc.. This Loctite is rarely use, but it still has some application retaining stubborn parts that continue to vibrate from where you want. You will generally have to remove the part with the assistance of heat just like the 271.

Note: Always clean all oil off the parts with alcohol or acetone before applying the Loctite. Follow the instructions on the Loctite bottle for proper cleaning and application instructions.

Cleaning Your Sig Classic Line Pistol

You’ve gone and done it – invested in a “top end” firearm from a renown manufacturer.  Shooting it feels great.  You want to keep it running smooth for years.  It all starts with basic maintenance, and that means cleaning.

The first, best source for cleaning instructions is the owner’s manual or other documentation from the manufacturer.  “Read the manual” really is the best idea.  It may highlight special steps that need to be performed or provide insights how normal wear should appear.

The Sig Sauer Academy produced a nice video on cleaning their “Classic Line” of pistols.  We know those as the P22X series such as the P220 (popular in .45 ACP and 10mm) and the ever popular P226.  Check out the video, especially if you own a Sig.  Maybe you’ll pick up a new bit of knowledge or affirm you are doing everything right.

Ruger = Great Service

A good customer of mine, let’s call him Jay, recently purchased a Ruger revolver from an on-line distributor.  We completed the transfer without any issues.  When Jay got the revolver home, though, he noticed the barrel did not seem to align with the frame.  In fact, he was hesitant to even put a round through it.

We discussed his options.  Since the transfer occurred and title had passed, the gun could not be returned to the seller demanding a refund or replacement.   Once title passes, the seller can accommodate however s/he wishes.  Or, he could go to Ruger and seek a warranty repair.  Jay went to Ruger, and that was a great decision.

Jay wrote:

I sent the gun to Ruger for warranty repair and just got it back today.

It’s perfect now.  The repair order says they adjusted the barrel, polished the gun and replaced the grips.  I think they replaced the frame or maybe the whole gun. The grips are different. The originals were plain and the new ones have a beautiful grain.

Obviously, Ruger stands behind its products and its reputation.  It’s great to hear that Ruger still holds these traditional values!  Kudos, Ruger!


Mid-Atlantic Humidity

Summer has arrived and with it the high humidity in our region.  For owners of older firearms, there is a danger of creeping corrosion damage caused by air-based moisture.  Once started, it can be hard to stop.  Prevention is a good way to go.  Using some type of dehumidifier and cleaning your guns at least every six months  should help avoid serious corrosion issues.

electric rod
Dehumidifier Rod

Many gun safes have a place to mount a dehumidifier rod that emits just enough heat to keep the temperature just above the dew point inside the safe.  This is a good way to go.  The drawbacks are finding a safe that will accommodate such a device and the cost of maintaining and electrical cost of running it.

Another option is a self-contained silica beads dehumidifier that is mounted inside the safe.  Once the silica is filled with moisture it becomes ineffective.  This is shown by the color of the beads turning from one color to another (e.g., orange – little moisture; to green – cannot hold any more moisture).   When this happens, simply plug the unit into a wall outlet to “recharge” the beads.  Once it’s ready, just place it back in the safe.

battery dehumidifier
Self-contained Silica

A third option is a canister of silica beads.  Similar to the self-contained unit, they are easy, pretty effective, and simple to install.   When the beads need to be recharged, the silica must be dried and poured back into the canister.  Drying usually means spreading the silica on a cookie sheet and heating in an oven for a period of time until the beads turn orange again.

disicant container
Canister of Silica

All of these options are good, but nothing beats a good cleaning, inspection, and putting a heavy coat of oil on metal parts every six months or so.  This practice helps you detect any new corrosion that can be easily addressed.  My dates are in the first week of July and the last week of December.  While this may be a little time consuming, it’s well worth the effort.  Discovering a gun with corrosion is never fun and leads to a good deal of time working to clean it up and stop its spread.