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Old January 1, 2017, 12:11 AM   #1
Willy_lou_81
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Need book to learn about collecting WW2 firearms

I want to invest in some good WW2 guns for my collection in the coming years like an M1 carbine, Luger, M1903, 1911, etc. Unless I desperately needed the funds would pass them down to grandkids. I dont want to get ripped off from counterfeit.

Is there a good book out there that shows what to look for, what to avoid, etc? Thanks and happy new year!
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Old January 1, 2017, 11:39 AM   #2
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I don't know of a single book that covers what you are looking for but Craig Riesch has put out a pretty good series on US Military rifles you might want to take a gander at.

From there you can move on to the more pricy but more in
depth books.

Here is a good list to start from Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...=+Craig+Riesch
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Old January 1, 2017, 12:05 PM   #3
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Happy New Year!

I don't know of any ONE book that covers everything you are going to want to know.

Generally, there are two kinds of books, those that cover everything (or nearly so) in general, and those that cover a specific thing (like US rifles or the Luger, etc) in more detail.

Some are written for everyone mildly interested, some are written by collectors, FOR collectors. If you are going to collect WWII arms, you should build not only a collection, but a library along with it. First, so you have reference and research material, and second, if these guns are intended to be passed down through the family, having books and documentation about what they are (and what they are worth) can be important to preserving your investment.

Good books (not cheap) give you good, (usually) solid information about everything concerning the guns, EXCEPT current market values. Due to the modern era, collector interest, and market pricing changes too fast for any book to keep up with. However, published prices (note the DATE of the book) can give you a useful reference point. For instance, knowing that a 1936 s/42 P.08 in fair condition was worth $750 and in VG condition worth $1500 in 2006 (copyright date of Standard Catalog of Luger) gives you no idea about where today's price range is, but does tell you some useful things.

WWII stuff hit a bubble (all historical arms do, and go though several as time goes on), with the 50th anniversary of the war, another with the popular success of entertainment (movies, etc), which rises and falls (slightly) over time, usually never quite going all the way back down, even when interest wanes.

That $29.95 GI 1911A1 in the late 50s became a $300 GI 1911A1 in the early 80s and then became an $800 GI 1911A1 after Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, etc....

In a bit more than 20 more years, we'll be looking at the centennial of WWII. Expect EVERYTHING WWII to jump in value as interest peaks.

One book to have in your library is Small Arms of the World (Smith & Smith). It has a lot more info than just WWII stuff, covers everyone, and all the major arms used, and some of the minor ones, and even some of the rare prototypes. Also has operating and field stripping instructions for all the major types.

This will give you a decent overview of all the combatant nations arms, from handguns through machineguns, and give you an idea of how large a field it is. From there, you decide which way you want to go, get an example of everything you can is one way, get specific guns (maker, type, markings, etc) another. Or getting an example of all the US rifles, another. The possibilities are huge, and entirely up to your interest (and your wallet )

I just sold one of my WWII rifles to a friend (he begged for it ) a rifle that had been hanging on my wall for 30 years, that I paid $75 for, brought me $450. Now that $450 might not buy as much as the $75 did then, but I FEEL like I made money...

Lots of folks here on TFL have a lot of information (some of it is even right!) and we're happy to share and help.

Good Luck, and enjoy!
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Old January 1, 2017, 04:52 PM   #4
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Have you considered Mike Venturino's book "Shooting World War II Small Arms" which is produced by Wolfe Publishing. I don't have this book, but I do have several of Mike's books in his old west firearm series; they are enjoyable to read, and comprehensive in coverage.
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Old January 1, 2017, 07:53 PM   #5
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I agree as others have said that there is no one good book to find all the information. There are individual books for each individual firearm that will give you a good idea of what is real and what is not.

My advice is to take it one firearm at a time. For US military firearms (M1 carbine, 1903, etc.) post questions on the CMP forum.

If you find a possible firearm listed for sale, post questions about it before making a purchase. This is a slow but sure method.
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Old January 2, 2017, 02:46 PM   #6
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It's best of you pick a country or era and specialize some. And read some real history books. A 1911, for example, is a W.W. I pistol. A 1911A1 is W.W. II.
Helps if you know how to recognise refinishing(good and bad) too.
However, it has gotten to the point that nearly any W.W. II vintage milsurp is worth a pile of money. Even DP rifles. Caused assorted companies(Gibbs, Century, et al.) and individuals to start building/assembling the more desirable firearms out of scrap receivers and parts bins. Also causes some sellers to try and sell stuff in poor condition for better condition prices.
You need to know the production history of whatever firearm you're looking at buying. For example, 99.99% of all M1 Carbines were arsenal rebuilt after W.W. II, and weapons techs then(and now) did not care who made what part(said parts being made by hundreds of small shops all over the East coast) and that none of the original makers made all the parts. Means that almost every so called 'original carbine' was made that way by somebody with a lot of time and money. No such thing as an 'All matching parts' Carbine either.
The other one is guys trying to sell "All serial number matching parts" M1 Rifles. No such thing. Parts numbers in M1 Rifles are part drawing numbers that have nothing to do with serial numbers.
As mentioned, there's no one book. You need a bunch and books are expensive. Start by reading everything you can out of your local public library.
"...the centennial of W.W.II..." The centennial of the U.S. entry into W.W. I is April 6, 2017. Our guys were about to kick the Germans around at Vimy Ridge then.
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Old January 3, 2017, 03:34 PM   #7
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The value of WWII arms increased appreciably in the years surrounding the 50th anniversary of the end of the war in 1995, and the release of Saving Private Ryan in 1998.
Guns in excellent condition are all going to be suspect, concerning originality.
I follow mostly M1911s and M1911A1s, and there are a lot of them going for $2000-$3000 on gunbroker that are absolutely ripped by collectors on 1911forum for their incorrect parts, evidence of refinish, fake box, etc.
Stripping M1 Carbines and rebuilding them with "correct" parts became quite a hobby for some, using M1 Carbine collector books as guides, so there are a lot of fake, "original" Carbines out there, too.
It's a two-way street, as those using the guide to look for originality, bump heads with those using the same resources to fake originality.
Caveat emptor.
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Old January 3, 2017, 05:44 PM   #8
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My advise - stay away from anything advertised as "collectors" item. Unless you're a true specialists, and reading a book or two will not make you one, there's no way you can judge a $800 Garand with a Winchester receiver from an "all correct" Winchester Garand going for $2000. Having seen two 70 year olds nearly come to blows at a gun show arguing about the shape of a Winchester op rod (supposedly there was some change some time during WW II that made the op rod not "correct" for the receiver), you just don't want to go there. Same for condition, in the US originality is king, and if you can't tell if it's been reblued you are gambling $2000 on that 1911 that might be worth $1000 or less. Add to that the fact that US military guns were routinely refurbished using mixed parts it's unlikely any gun you see today is actually "as issued".
German guns are a bit easier as they were always hand finished and this required all parts numbered to the gun. So "numbers matching" is a requirement for a higher value. The problem there is markings, ebay is filled with fake WAA etc stamps that you can use to make a $1000 Luger into a rare $3000 price tag SS fake.
Currently, I would price your standard WWII guns (functional, decent shape, no collectors features) as follows.
Arikasa/Turkish Mauser/Carcano up to $300
Lee-Enfield Nr 4 Mk 1* $400 (many variation, don't fall for jungle carbine fakes)
P17 $500
P38 $600 (be aware of German post-war P1 with Al frame, worth less)
03A3 $600
k98 numbers matching, original chambering $750
M1 Garand $800
M1 Carbine $800 (many reproduction out there)
1911 US Property $1000
08 Luger, numbers matching $1200
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Old January 3, 2017, 06:45 PM   #9
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Luger estimate is low, more like $1500-1600. I'm not a fan of WWII Lugers since they were in the process of being phased out by then.

P38 and 1911 estimates also seem low by 40% or so depending on the P38 variation.
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Old January 3, 2017, 11:48 PM   #10
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There are a goodly number of Lugers around for less than $1500 if you are willing to settle for one in average condition. $1600 should get you a pretty decent one, but beware of ones that have been polished, reblued, and generally worked over.

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Old January 4, 2017, 03:30 PM   #11
mapsjanhere
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I put my estimates intentionally at the low end to give a "safe to buy" price. There sure are much higher valued guns out there, but you're getting in the "you need to know what you're buying" range.
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Old January 6, 2017, 11:01 AM   #12
spacecoast
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Luger shooters for around $800 - available.

Numbers matching (as specified) - not many around for $1200.
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Old January 6, 2017, 01:53 PM   #13
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A few points about "levels" of collectability. There are several levels or classes of condition, some more desirable to some people than others.

There is the "accuracy" of the piece, by which I mean all parts are there, and are the correct parts the way it came from the factory. This we'll call "original condition".

Then there is "issue condition" which means the gun is correct in all parts as issued & used. You could call this historically correct condition if you like. This can be the same as original condition, or it can be different.

The US has, historically had the policy of maintaining its arms with the most current parts available. An example of this is if a 1911 needs a replacement part, the repair will most likely be done with a 1911A1 part. Finding a gun with parts from different models is ENTIRELY HISTORICALLY CORRECT.

However, it's not as desirable to collectors as the same gun still having all the same parts it left the factory with. SO, that gun brings a higher asking price.

German (and some other nations) numbered several of the parts to match the gun, but not ALL the parts, only certain parts. Lugers are most noted for this, many even having magazines numbered to the gun. Normally its the last two digits of the serial number. Not all are visible on the outside.

Then there is the condition of the finish of the gun.

And, whatever documented history (papers, etc.) there may be.

THEN, one gets into things like specific markings (which is where the fakery comes in, mostly), and lack of same.

For example, take two AC 42 P.38s, one which has an import stamp, and one that does not. The import stamp (importer's name & address) means the gun was imported into the US after the war.

Lots of wartime production guns are so marked. The lack of an import stamp means the gun could be (probably is) a wartime capture & bring back. This puts it in a slightly different historical class, and does affect the price a serious collector will pay. If it has the actual capture documentation still with it, that adds to the value.

Some people collect these arms for their historical significance, and want as perfect specimens as they can get, and the pay for that. Others (myself included) care a bit less about that, we want a complete functional period correct piece in decent condition.

I've got a 1936 s/42 P.08. Beautiful gun, looks new. Yes, it was clearly refinished (and not completely matching) but all markings are crisp and clear, and it cost me less than half what the unrefinished gun in the same condition cost. That fill my "itch" for an actual WWII era Luger. To a purist, its not good enough, because it was refinished. (the seller told me it had been refinished "during the war, by the factory", but those stories are worth nothing unless there is physical documentation to back them up.

Buy the gun, NEVER buy the story about the gun, unless there is proof.
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Old January 6, 2017, 07:26 PM   #14
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There are so many speciality books on fyre-arms. I have all of Canfields books (autographed too) as well as books by Charles Pate. I have numerous books on the K-98 and still waiting for Deiter Stortz to do Vol IV on the Mauser. If you look at Broomhandles, there are books that are from $100 to $350. Fyre-arm books tend to be speciality items and once out of print, soar in value (until there is a generational die off of collectors).

If I had to have one book, it would be H. W. B. Smith's Small Arms of the World. At least you will learn how to use it, disassemble and reassemble it as well as some of its history.
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Old January 6, 2017, 09:13 PM   #15
James K
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One interesting note on age: Most of the modern books on WWII era guns cost more today than I paid for the guns, sometimes a lot more. And sometimes the books by "experts" say one thing and the guns say something else; I believe the guns.

Jim
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