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Old February 16, 2015, 03:22 PM   #1
Chaz88
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Is factory refinish detrimental to value?

It seams like it is universally understood that a refinish on a desirable gun is generally detrimental to value.

Is this also the case if the gun is sent back to the factory for the refinish?

I ask because I have a S&W or two that do not have bad finishes but I have considered having them restored to like new by S&W. Am I throwing away money if I do this?
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Old February 16, 2015, 04:09 PM   #2
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My understanding is "yes it does" if it is a collectible firearm. Although it is generally less so than a non-factory refinish.
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Old February 16, 2015, 06:14 PM   #3
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Unless your guns are extremely rare models, they have no "collector value" per se, so refinishing won't hurt
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Old February 16, 2015, 06:25 PM   #4
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Just a heads up... I don't know what their backlog situation is right now but I sent in a Model 19 revolver to the Springfield mothership for rebluing and a couple of minor repairs and it took about 7 months from first contact to return of finished gun. I was OK with it because they were fairly upfront with the timeline involved... Just relating my experience with it. (This was first initiated about a year ago.)
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Old February 16, 2015, 06:39 PM   #5
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If you decide to do it, it should be for your own personal satisfaction. I don't think you would recover the cost when you trade or resale it.

Personal satisfaction is worth a lot to me.
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Old February 16, 2015, 07:13 PM   #6
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If you don't plan on ever selling them than go ahead and have them re-finished, because if that's the case it will be worth more to YOU refinished if that's what you desire. Although if it's a super rare gun I wouldn't touch it, because that's just sacrilege.
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Old February 16, 2015, 07:20 PM   #7
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In the "Grading Criteria" section of the Blue Book of Gun Values (23rd Edition), the author opined "...if anyone other than the factory has refinished the gun, its value as a collector's item has been diminished, with the exception of rare and historical pieces that have been properly restored..." If you should have the factory restore the finish of one of their firearms, it is important that you save any documentation as evidence of provenance in terms of value to future collectors.
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Old February 16, 2015, 09:04 PM   #8
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IF the refinish is either done by the factory or by someone like Doug Turnbull, then values can even go up............if done by some garage gunsmith, then values tend to plummet.......
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Old February 16, 2015, 09:49 PM   #9
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This is a quote directly from the book "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson":

"Any refinishing will generally diminish the value of a guns as compared to one with comparable original finish. However, among S&W collectors, a gun that has been refinished at the factory will bring a price somewhere between original finish and a non-factory refinish."

I have a S&W .38 Hammerless 4th Model which was shipped from S&W on Nov. 2, 1901. It has a "Star" by the serial number on the bottom of the butt, and a date mark on the left side of the frame grip (under the original hard rubber grip). The separate mark, date mark, indicates the revolver was refinished by the S&W factory in May 1929. The above information was verified by a S&W Letter from Mr. Roy Jinks. I can assume they still mark refinished guns the same way but am not certain.
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Old February 16, 2015, 10:06 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the good replies. I had not heard of the S&W mark for refinished guns. It is a good idea and I will be looking or it if I run across one that is claimed to be refinished by S&W.

I have never sold or traded a S&W revolver so I guess a refinish would just be for me to look at. On the other hand I do like the idea that my guns will always retain a level of value, if I should ever need to sell one. Nothing I am looking at refinishing is overly rare, yet. But they are not making them pinned and recessed anymore.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

No spelun and grammar is not my specialty. So please don't hurt my sensitive little feelings by teasing me about it.
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Old February 17, 2015, 06:39 AM   #11
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My Model 10 is being refinished as I type this. Not at S&w. Didn't want to wait 6 months or more. Bought it knowing it would have some wear and when I got it, it just kept bugging me. There's a shop right near my work that does excellent reblueing so it's being done there. Friend of mine had it done there and it looks brand new.

model 10's are never gonna be collectable so I didn't care. Yeah, I'll have more in this gun than had I just bought a nicer model 10, but selling the one I have to help fund the new one was out of the question since I was gonna lose money on selling the old one since I had to pay for shipping and transfer.

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Old February 17, 2015, 08:31 AM   #12
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You shouldn't need to refinish it unless you handled the gun or, God forbid, actually shot it. You should preserve the gun in in the original box (one of those vacuum sealing systems for food works well), and store it in the back of a climate controlled gun safe.

Unless you have a super rare collectible model, I wouldn't worry about it. I don't worry about lowering the value because i don't plan on selling many guns anyway. My grandson will have to live with the fact that he inherited a bunch of old used guns.
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Old February 17, 2015, 08:51 AM   #13
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Some people like beat-up guns. I like pretty guns. I also like collectible guns. While there are some guns I wouldn't refinish, there are many I would. People will tell you that a refinished gun, even a nicely refinished one will destroy the value. That's a load of crap.

Don't believe me? Well, here's a Colt 1911 mfg in 1913 restored to original. http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=468419459. Someone bid $2,000 for it. I'd pay $2,000 for it.

Last edited by Skans; February 17, 2015 at 09:15 AM.
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Old February 17, 2015, 09:10 AM   #14
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I would, too.
But a pristine 1913 would be worth much, much more.

Mr Moeller does nice work, comparable to the late Bill Adair.
That job cost at least $1350.
What did a 1913 worn enough to consider restoration cost? More than $650, I bet.
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Old February 17, 2015, 09:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
But a pristine 1913 would be worth much, much more.
It would be. But, I've never seen one and I've seen quite a few pristine collectible guns. I would imagine that a 1911 manufactured in 1912 that is unrestored and looks like the gun in the link above would cost 10X that much....if you could even find one.
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Old February 17, 2015, 10:20 AM   #16
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Is factory refinish detrimental to value?

The short answer is yes, and , no...

There are two basic kinds of collectors, those who just want a certain gun, to check out, maybe shoot, and will take any finish (paying accordingly), and would like the best finish they can find, to get the model they desire.

These are the people who are very happy with a mismatched, refinished "shooter" Luger, for example, because it costs about half the price of the "good" ones, and it's a Luger!!

The other kind of collector wants a specific gun (make, model, caliber, features, etc.,) with the best condition original finish available. And to get that, they pay a premium price. A valuable rare gun with worn finish can be worth more to a collector (because its the original historical piece) than the same gun looking like new from a refinish.

Even a factory refinish diminishes the value they will pay, not because of the quality of the work, but simply because it's not the original finish.

To these kinds of collectors (and they are the ones that set the collectors price market), a factory refinish lowers the value of the gun, BUT, does not lower the value AS MUCH as the same work done by anyone else. The same goes for nationally recognized top quality restoration services, like Turnbull.

As an illustration, imagine 3 collectible guns, all looking like new. Gun#1 is all original, never used, been stored in the box since it was bought 70 years ago. This one would get 100% the going price.

Same gun, refinished by the factory, 75%
Same gun, refinished by anyone else 50%

(not to scale, really just an illustration)

And of course the rest of us who "collect" for use, we care about how they work, first, and how they look, afterward, usually. But we do care how they look, and so, get the worn finishes reblued.

A good reblue on a "working gun" doesn't hurt the value, and can improve it. IN fact, a factory refinish can increase the value of a common gun over a non refinished gun with a worn finish. Of course, 80 years down the road, when that common gun is rare and collectable, that refinish will hurt the value to a serious collector, so, pay your money, and take your chances,


Oh, that that trigger job and those aftermarket grips that fit your hand? Collectors won't pay for them, either. Quite the opposite, in fact.
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Old February 17, 2015, 11:22 AM   #17
Jim Watson
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If you have a working gun that you want to improve the looks of, go ahead and get it reblued. You will never recover the cost and your grandkids will curse you for reducing its collector value when they go to sell it. But who are you trying to please?

Mr Turnbull asserts that the resale value of his restorations of desirable guns will be greater than the price of the worn gun plus the cost of the restoration. Maybe, maybe not. And I said "desirable" guns. I don't think a handsomely redone Iver Johnson will bring much. Although there was this H&R USRA with little remaining finish that I looked at...

I saw a 1911 pictured that had been sent in for a factory refinish and called a restoration. It looked like a new gun except for the old style roll marks. It did not look like it did when it was new 90 years ago.
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Old February 17, 2015, 01:54 PM   #18
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With serious collectors any refinish reduces value by 1/3 to 1/2.

The really serious collectors have no interest in refinished guns at all.

Refinishing instantly turns the gun into "shooter grade." With most guns the real world value is reduced by some degree. Means you spend X amount to refinish the gun and when done it is worth less than before you did it. You spend money to lower its value. Of course a well done refinish (factory, Ford's or other well known shop) will have less affect than will a poorly done job. But value is ALWAYS reduced.

IMO refinishing is a losing proposition 95% of the time. If you want a new looking gun then go buy a new looking gun. It will be cheaper than making an old looking gun into a new looking gun.

If you have sentimental interest in the gun and don't want another one, and you want it to be new looking, and you don't give a damn about financial considerations then go ahead. It's your gun. Or, if the gun is in such bad shape and utterly devoid of original finish that it needs refinishing to protect it from further damage then it should be refinished.
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Old February 17, 2015, 02:25 PM   #19
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"...if anyone other than the factory has refinished the gun..." Only if the thing is a collector piece to start. Even then it'll change the available market. Most collectors don't want refinished firearms of any kind.
Makes no difference on a run of the mill firearm. No calling it BNIB though.
In any case, the Blue Book of Gun Values isn't a reliable source for values of anything. It reflects averages for all over the U.S. with no regard for local conditions.
"...and it took about..." Pretty much the same through any well known smithy. Busy people.
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Old February 17, 2015, 03:02 PM   #20
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Quote:
There are two basic kinds of collectors,
This is were I have to disagree. If only there were two kinds of collectors, answering the question of whether to refinish or not would be easy. There is a range of collectors with a range of tastes and a range of discretionary money.

Owning a pristine, original 1911 made in 1912 will likely be an impossibility for me. But, I might be able to afford one that has been expertly refinished. And, I would be quite happy with it. In fact, I would rather have one that is expertly refinished, matching and original parts (as the one I referenced above) over a 70% condition or less of the same gun that hasn't had its finished touched.

Yet, I had to pass on the Chromed Borchardt C-93 that I might have been able to afford - who knows if it could have been refinished correctly, but I couldn't stand looking at it.

I would also rather have a Colt-refinished '57 Python than that same Python that has lots of finish wear. Yes, it would be worth at least $350 more for me to have the nicely refinished one.

I'm just not as averse to expertly refinished guns as others may be. I see value in them, and I might consider paying more for such an gun than for the same thing which shows all 100 years of wear and tear.

Then there are some guns I don't want to see refinished, like an old 1st Gen Colt SAA 45. I don't know why, but I like to see some honest wear on these guns. Maybe its because its too easy to find one just like it being made new by several manufacturers.
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Old February 17, 2015, 03:26 PM   #21
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I have had a number of guns conventionally refinished over the past few years, gradually salvaging guns with smoke and water damage.
Most don't look original but they sure look better than they did after the fire.
Dollar value went from good to nothing to medium-low. But I have the use of them.


"Serious collector" is something subject to definition.
I think Saxon Pig meant the kind of collector who studies his field and pays for originality in the best available condition. I remember when the nice Colts, Winchesters, and Lugers had retreated into museums and big collections, leaving the serious student of moderate means with guns advertised as having "10% original finish in protected areas."
That process is well under way in other areas, giving us the $2000 army surplus 1911 and the discovery of low production variants of the Mosin Nagant. One big difference is that the buyers are not as serious students as they used to be and there are some egregious fakes being sold.

But there are also people buying guns who want them to be unusual or scarce and to look nice as well, even if that means "restoration." The intellectual collectors look down their noses at such people and the gunsmiths they do business with, but they are paying serious money which is just as good as the students', good enough to support Mr Turnbull, several other high end restorers, and a bunch of shops of moderate to dismal ability.
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Old February 17, 2015, 04:48 PM   #22
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From the op:

Quote:
I ask because I have a S&W or two that do not have bad finishes but I have considered having them restored to like new by S&W. Am I throwing away money if I do this?
What guns are you considering having redone, how old are they and what is their condition?

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Old February 17, 2015, 05:20 PM   #23
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It ought not affect the value of a shooter grade gun

Refinishing will help protect the firearm and probably bring it back up to the value of a similar gun that didn't get abused.
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Old February 18, 2015, 01:20 AM   #24
Chaz88
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Quote:
What guns are you considering having redone, how old are they and what is their condition?
The two I am thinking of now are both nickel a Mod 29-2 8 & 3/8" and a Mod 19-2 4" but I have others that I might look at later. Most are similar vintage N frames. Neither one of them are in bad shape. It is mostly that even a little nickel wear looks much worse, to me, than moderate wear on a blued gun.
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Old February 18, 2015, 08:55 AM   #25
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Nickel does look worse when worn.

Bottom line: Your guns, your money, your decision.

Me? Well, look at some of my guns. I got them cheap due to condition. They work fine and spending money to refinish would be a loser. A couple of them were purchased for less than what it would cost to refinish them.

The Trooper is the only one of the blued guns I don't know for sure is an ex cop revolver. It may be. They all developed "character" through honest use. To me, it's a part of their charm. The appearance is a part of their story.

The Cobra is nickel plated and it's peeling badly in spots. But it's not new, and it will never be new again. I just shoot it or carry it and don't fret about it.










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