When is it Time to Cull the Herd?

How many guns is “too many?” Well, how many is “enough?” That depends, right? If you’re a typical gun guy, the answer might be that something like this is a good start:

And, conversely, the answer might be an empty room, if you’re the spouse who sees the gun room as the mistress (a bad miscalculation: he would not leave you for getting jealous of a mistress) or one of these people, jonesing for gun bans:

(You have to wonder how many of those are Single Moms Demand types after the usual ultimatum: “Either the guns go, or…” Experience teaches that the guys are generally happier with the guns).

For the rest of us, the right answer might be: “Just one more!” Or “just a few more!”

Over the years, we’ve observed an interesting phenomenon. The guys who build amazing collections are not gun hoarders, and they don’t mind letting one, or some, go, for a purpose. We’re nearer to hoarders, and we have safes cluttered with junk that came in as auction bycatch, or guns that are more interesting because of the circumstances in which we acquired them, than due to any particular strength of them.

And guns do tend to accumulate. After a recent buying spree, we’re still trying to get everything corralled in the inventory, and we have enough money tied up in guns that it’s a part of our Solvency Statement, which is a bit like a personal version of the accounting statements that firms and non-profits must make periodically.

For example, we have more in guns than we have in any individual stock or mutual fund. And so it factors into wealth management and estate planning.

It would be irresponsible to leave a messy estate, so it’s probably time to cull the herd. Nobody else will care about the memories that come with some junker or other, because those memories will be off in the afterlife. (The good news about the afterlife: if either the moslems or we Christians are right, where we’re going there’s no moslems).

And it’s probably better to balance the portfolio… as we’ve written before, guns are a lousy investment. We’re just ready to delude ourselves and remember only the ones that did appreciate, and forget how many years it took them to do so and what the same cash would have done in an index fund.

So it’s time for inventory again, and then it’s time for some of the chilllens to go make their way in the cruel, hard world with some new hoarder collector.

And that runs up against a hoarding trigger: With a couple of exceptions for junkers and good trades, every single gun we’ve sold over the years, we’ve come to regret.

Plus, if we sell only junk, while we improve the quality of the collection overall, we don’t really free up much money. One of the things we have is a Jennings J22. (It was bycatch in a six-firearm auction lot). It’s missing a part, but if it costs $25 for the part we still have a $25 gun. Another is a pretty little Italian .25 that has an … interesting … safety. In the fire position, the gun fires. And in the safe position, it fires. (Well, it clicks. With this result on a function check, we’re not inclined to put real cartridges in the thing). If those Italian engineers had put 1/10th of the effort into function that they put into styling… but then, we had a Fiat in the family, once, too, and we’ve listened to Ferrari owners complain about build quality, and seen a drawer full of broken M9 locking blocks.

Plus, we either need to buy another safe (and down that road looms the spectre of, what happens when you’re out of “where to put safes”?), or free up some space.

You know, for the guns we’ll buy with the money from these ones. You gotta keep the portfolio balanced!

14 thoughts on “When is it Time to Cull the Herd?

  1. Alan Ward

    You should be like Mother Nature. Let the old and the weak fall to predators.
    Take the Jenniings or the faulty .25 to a gun buy back event. Then turn the gift/ prepaid cards into Ammo or plane parts.

  2. Joe

    Can’t remember if I’ve said this before or not. If I have feel free to delete it.

    In the early 80’s I worked in a camera shop which mostly dealt in very high-end kit. As in there was only one place in the country that sold more Leicas than we did.

    So they had their 75th anniversary and produced a bunch of gold-plated cameras to celebrate. As we sold a lot of them, we got to buy three of the things (At thousands each).

    The last one got bought by a Japanese collector who flew first class from Tokyo to Edinburgh, Scotland. Which already dwarfed the crazy price asked for the camera. The gold-plated Leica R3 was electronically a copy of the Minolta X7 – except that since Ernst Leitz of Wetzlar was owned by Wild of Switzerland who were a NATO contractor (which meant they could only buy stuff from other NATO contractors) they had the chips made by Ferranti (Who were in the process of going bankrupt for cause) and they weren’t very good, to put it mildly. And the electronics most certainly weren’t radiation hardened.

    So this guy shows up prepared to pay silly money (As in buying a new Rolls Royce silly) for this camera.

    We’re about to open the box to show him the camera when he stops us. Apparently breaking the seal would destroy the collectable value.

    So we get into a taxi and head for the X-Ray department of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (It’d have been faster to walk but tourist) where he gives them the price of any Japanese camera new to X-Ray the box (Which would have destroyed the electronics) to show there was a now non-functional camera inside.

    That sort of collector I will never understand..

  3. Aesop

    If that were the Rec Room hereabouts, there would be no such herd-culling.

    Merely a decent pause to reflect on where to put the squadron of Spad S.XIIIs and adjoining aerodrome.

  4. Tennessee Budd

    I made myself a resolution recently: if I buy another motorcycle (I presently have 5), I must sell one of the others. So far, it’s kept me from adding another, because each one I have has its particular niche, its specialty. I’d have to find a model I’ve been wanting for years, & then decide which of my mechanical loves to part with to obey my own diktat.
    I’ve not yet made any such resolution concerning firearms, but then, they take up a lot less space, and I don’t have to put license plates on them.
    Being childless & 52, I have begun to give thought to what will become of the weapons when I clock out. Fortunately, I have a young soldier & a young Marine in the family, & am evaluating them as possible heirs. What will become of the bikes (not to mention 4 rollaway boxes full of tools)…that’s another matter.

  5. Dienekes

    Guns have not only been a multifaceted hobby for me, but a major component of my working life. But as the days dwindle down, herd reduction makes sense. The awkward thing is that when some of those cool guns I couldn’t live without at the time spent 99.9% of their time in the dark… Lurking in there are a couple of very decent engraved guns–but no one within miles could or would appreciate them properly. And then there is the knowledge that the time I have left to use even the well worn favorites is limited. I haven’t been able to shoot the M1s and the M1A for quite a while, just because I can’t use irons anymore. (Thank God for light, handy ARs and good optics!)

    This saying goodbye to pieces of your life is no doubt necessary and salutary, but kind of hard to get used to. Oddly enough, I think I’ll be relieved to have less stuff around.

  6. Steve M.

    Ecclesiastes 9:11. “……but time and chance happenth to them all.”

    It’s never a bad idea to refine the collection. Regardless of age, we do not receive much in the way of advanced notice for our departure. Preparation for such certainly assists in remaining loved by the loved ones we leave behind. Too many folks do not consider what lies ahead and their lack of concern for the future tends to mire the present for those they leave.

  7. Eric W.

    I need to cull my herd, but I need a tutorial on what paperwork is needed to do so legally and properly. Does anyone have such documentation?

  8. The Old Man

    If you are planning on culling a shooter-grade M1 .30 cal carbine please leave a message on my blog. I trust your opinion WRT value and I have an FFL friend who would facilitate the transfer. TYVM.

  9. Ray

    My wife told me I should sell my guns. I told her she went before they did, and if she didn’t like that she could get a divorce lawyer. She hasn’t said another word about it in ten years.

  10. RSR

    Big thing about owning guns is to ensure that somewhere you identify all of your caches throughout the home (this for any valuables actually — know someone who found a couple tens of thousands of dollars in junk silver coin a crawlspace of home he purchased a few years back), but for guns particularly that has familiarity with and knows how to properly unload and make the weapons safe… Had a family member pass, and found a couple weapons with the safe off and rounds in chamber… Snagging the trigger on something or pulling intentionally could have added another heartache to the family at the worst of times…

    Regardless, if taken care of guns hold value — much moreso than most tools actually. And they put automobiles, boats, and other such toys to shame in their ability to keep and maintain value… Basically, I’d equivalent them to gold and silver. And guns are much more liquid than ammo in my experience even the latter will be worth much more if/when shtf…

    As to when to sell — when you don’t have time/ability to clean them and keep them in condition, or can’t store securely…

    Myself, I limit most of my purchase to needs or niches — once filled, I either sell my existing when I upgrade or on rare occasions keep for cool or sentimental value… As many of my purchases are needs based, I also get a pretty hefty investment w/ each weapon system in the way of spare parts, mags, and other items surrounding the original purchase so in the event I decide to go a new direction, it’s a pretty big reversal of opinion.

    If you’re selling guns, perhaps put a sales page at the top of your blog w/ the home, gun design, and best of links. Right now is a buyers market so if you can afford to wait ~3 years, you can probably get a stronger price for your sales. Nevertheless, I’m sure many readers here wouldn’t mind paying a small premium to get what the items they’re seeking, and help to support this blog.

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