Many rely on gun shows as their primary source for pistols. Gun shows attract many exhibitors, dealers, collectors and buyer/sellers in one place and create somewhat of a gun "superstore". While the quantity of handguns generally accepted to be collectible might be great at some major gun shows, the percentage of those guns that are truly original and correct is normally very low.
I attend numerous gun shows and auctions each year, as do many collectors, seeking to find that needle in the haystack to add to my collection. But because I am a purist collector, I generally am only seeking to find pieces I believe to be all original. Most gun shows turn up very few pieces that truly are collectible by the standards of originality and condition.
Here are two beautiful pistols that might command high prices if sold at many gun shows across the country. Nice, original finish and all correct 1918 Colt M1911 pistols in this condition regularly sell for more than $5000. A nice, original 1937 Colt Navy M1911A1 like this might sell for for $5-6K to the right buyer. An all original 1937 M1911A1 Colt Navy, in the same condtion, may sell for 3-4 times that amount. But, are these pistols all original? All the parts are correct, according to the best reference books and information provided on the best Internet gun sites by knowledgeable and experienced collectors. The contrasting colors are correct, Barrels, magazines, stocks are correct. These pistols look great...but they are not all original. While some of the parts are original finish, others have had their finish restored. Pistols like these are routinely misrepresented as original and sold at high prices.
Allowing someone with more knowledge and experience to inspect a pistol you are considering to purchase or sell is a wise decision. While reference books and Internet sites might describe how to inspect and tell what to look for, that is not the same thing as having an experienced collector actually do an inspection on a specific pistol.
If considering a medical, legal or financial matter of great importance, most of us would seek out an experienced profesisonal for advice. I personally prefer to deal with an experienced surgeon, attorney or CPA, rather than someone who has just read the books or even completed some of the training. I want a trusted professional with a good track record. The same principle applies when purchasing a collectible pistol. Why take a chance when help is available?
At most gun shows I attend, I look at several M1911 and M1911A1 pistols. I also inspect other USGI pistols and revolvers, as well as commercial Colt Government Model pistols made 1912-1970. The majority of guns I inspect have had parts changed or have been permanently altered by refinishing. However, most of those pistols are misrepresented by sellers as original finish and correct. A lot of fellows end up leaving the shows with handguns they believe are original, only to find out later they are not.
Periodically, great pistols surface at gun at gun shows. One of the Singer pistols shown on this site surfaced at a gun show in 1992 in northern Ohio. It had been won in a poker game in France at the end of WWII by "Doc" Andrews. Another excellent piece I acquired at a gun show is an O.S.S. issued Colt M1903 that still had the original military purchase receipt showing a Major buying the pistol in China after WWII in 1946. One must be equipped to buy and verify the authenticity when the right pieces surface.
Before making a final decision to buy or sell a collectible handgun, you can bring that handgun to my table or arrange to meet. I will inspect it and offer an opinion and provide a signed report of the inspection. You may check our Events calendar or contact me through the site to see shows we might attend or to make arrangements to have a pistol inspected.
Prices range from $35 to $100 for most pistols (except Singer) to field strip and thoroughly inspect the visible parts of a pistol and offer my opinion as to the originality of finish and whether or not all parts appear to be correct and original to the piece. With that service, you will receive a signed report of the inspection.
More detailed assessments are available in the Collector Grade M1911 & M1911A1 Descriptions Solution we offer, and often fall within the same price range. However, to provide a photo CD and detailed written description, I must have the pistol in my possession for a few days. Our local 01 FFL dealer handles all firearms transfers for pistols shipped in/out for inspection.
My goal with a Gun Show Inspection is to level the playing field and allow you to buy with more confidence. While the cost of an inspection might seem high to some, normally the savings associated with most inspections I perform greatly exceeds the price of the inspection.
Every weekend, countless collectors pay $2000-$3000... or more... to buy $600 to $1000 refinished pistols...thinking they are original. Don't be one of them. Contact me for more information or to schedule an inspection. Let me provide the information you need to help you get what you pay for.