By Dan Shea

The summer doldrums are past now when our community slows down the shooting events and most people deal with vacations or family. September usually is a time of rebirth in the "Class 3" or "NFA" community, when we start going to the Fall shoots and planning what we need for Christmas for ourselves. (You can tell your loved ones that a renewal to SAR is absolutely the perfect gift, after that cherry Colt 1921 Thompson under the tree...)

In any event, there's a lot of doom and gloom talk in the economy, and a lot of readers are saying their budgets for guns are low. However, we're seeing a lot of sales out there, people are taking advantage of the items offered, and while there might have been some dips in sales prices here and there, others are going up. Colt M16s are seeing a rise in price, and good quality Curio & Relic original guns are holding their own in value. If you weren't lucky enough to "Short the Market" and make beaucoup bucks on the collapse of stock values, then maybe it's time to fill out the cheaper end of your collection. Scratch that itch in a more modest way, so to speak.

I've touched on this before here: if you're reading this magazine, you're a special breed. You're into military type firearms, and probably collect in one of the branches of interest. If your budget has gotten very modest, you still need to satisfy that built in collector's habit. I suggest for the interim, while you wait to get flush enough to buy a transferable machine gun, concentrating on accessories is a good way to go.

Even if you're flush, the most fun in collecting is usually doing it before everyone else is. It's a heck of a lot cheaper then, too. A number of my friends and I started collecting machine gun magazines many years ago, and it was ten bucks here, twenty bucks there, and you learned and accumulated interesting pieces. When you get bored with them, you can always properly identify them and sell them for more. In July, overseas, I was at a militaria flea market looking through a crate of AK magazines. About ten bucks each, and suddenly there was a neat one - a "Bosnian Boy Scout"... got it for ten bucks. The Bosnians impressed a large fleur-de-lis into the sides of the AK magazines when they put the ribs in, and these are interesting and unique magazines as well as pretty rare. I might have been doing some larger deals on weapons as part of business, but that magazine was just a happy thing for the magazine library. I also found a 20-round Chinese Type 63 (68) magazine recently, in a pile of AK mags for fifteen bucks.

One thing that is happening out there is a lot of the more advanced collectors have been filling out their collections. They have the MG34, MG42, MP44, etc., etc., and don't get excited until an Mkb42h or FNAB shows up. But this is a self-perpetuating collecting group as long as we keep passing the knowledge and passion on. The late Herbie Woodend once said to me at a militaria show in the UK, "Look around ya, Dan'l, we're all graybeards!" I would have taken offense except, well, he was right. It's incumbent on all of us in this community to keep the fire alive, and to pass it on. That means taking people out to shoot but it also means taking the time to teach them about the firearms and the history. I got into this with MACs and M16s and was quickly seduced into Thompsons and Maxims.

I guess I can't help but also say that it means teaching them about where their Rights came from as well. The schools certainly don't do it. We're coming up on what is probably the most important election in the United States in many years, and most Americans aren't aware of the roots of their Freedoms. I keep hearing about the "Right to Happiness"... and continually have to quietly explain that it's the "Right to the Pursuit of Happiness" which is a much, much different concept. You have the Right to try, and the Right to fail. You also have the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, which shall not be infringed. We've certainly come to a place where "infringing" is an everyday occurrence, but we're making some headway. It would be nice if there was a magic wand and we could just vote in Constitutionally savvy people, and clean this up. Probably not going to happen though, so we might as well dig in for the long fight and take back our Rights piece by piece. See you in the voting line!

- Dan

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V14N2 (November 2010)
and was posted online on February 24, 2012


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