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Old February 21, 2012, 08:59 PM   #1
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most desirable antique rifles

What are some of the most desirable rifles from a collector's point of view? Either rifles that are rare, or that have a unique history.
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Old February 21, 2012, 09:50 PM   #2
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1860 Henry

1874 Sharps..
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Old February 21, 2012, 10:25 PM   #3
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Not sure what qualifies as an "Antique".......anything that is no longer produced?

1873 Winchester.......1 of 1000

Model 52 Winchester Sporters
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Old February 21, 2012, 10:51 PM   #4
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In terms of interest, demand, and the resulting high prices, Winchesters take the prize. Mainly the lever actions: Models 1866, 1873, 1876, 1886, 1892, 1894, 1895, and a spattering of other odd numbers. If you would like a historical lever action, the 1873 is a good one to pursue. They made almost 800,000 of them so they are not rare, but a nice one will require $2000 or better. Well-worn but complete examples can be had for less. Interesting thing about the Winchesters is that they did not figure heavily in the US military and so they lack that aspect of historical importance. Among military arms, how about the US Percussion Rifle Model of 1841, also known as the Mississippi Rifle because of its heroic use by a Mississippi regiment in the Mexican War. It was the first American military percussion rifle. Then there is the US Rifle Model of 1861, the Minie ball rifle that was carried in greatest number by the Union infantry in the Civil War. I will also mention the one generally known as the "Trap-Door Springfield," The first cartridge rifle of the US Army, made from the late 1860s to almost 1890. It made the .45-70 famous and was used throughout the west in the late nineteenth century. These three selected examples are dripping with historical import and, since many were made, they are not especially hard to find. A general idea of price would be the area of $2000, and all depends upon condition. The Mississippi is probably the hardest to find, the Trap-Door the easiest and cheapest. Gosh, I could mention the Sharps Percussion Cavalry Carbine Model of 1863. About 4,000 were used by Union troops at Gettysburg. I was lucky to find one I could afford by virtue of its having been refinished. Generally, Sharps rifles are among the aristocrats of the collecting world and they command high prices.
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Old February 21, 2012, 11:04 PM   #5
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McShooty--good post. I'd add, original, documented "trapper" (aka baby carbine)--barrels 16" or less--variants of the Win 1873, 1892, 1894--are the rare of the rare (and most precious $) of the regular production levers. These are all Pre WWII. Very good to excellent examples run into the many and even tens of thousands $$. Since back in the old days you could have just about any combination of features you wanted on request, I'm not including special/limited orders or "one offs."

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Old February 22, 2012, 02:01 AM   #6
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Hello, gringpjosh. If your into target shooting, you might find the old time match rifles of the early 1870-80's Creedmoor style.. such as the Ballard, Maynard, Peabody, Remington, or Sharps long or mid-range models to your likeing. Then there is the facinating Schuetzen game...With single-shot rifles from Ballard & Stevens, remington, and Winchester.... but with a twist..custom barreled, and sometimes stocked, by such famous makers as Pope, Schoyen, Peterson, Zischang, etc.
Of course to have any value, the bores must be near to mint condition.
There were't alot of these match rifles produced, compared to regular production guns, & only the realtively wealthy of that time could afford supply vrs. demand will help keep value high.
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Old February 22, 2012, 01:05 PM   #7
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Winchester 52 sporters, Mannlicher-Schoenauer, Some Savage 99s. Pre WWII lever actions of various make and model. Those are a few from the top of my head.
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Old February 22, 2012, 01:21 PM   #8
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Not sure what qualifies as an "Antique".......anything that is no longer produced?
According to the BATF an antique is any firearm not intended or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar type of ignition system or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898) and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.

A lot of folks have been naming firearms that aren't antiques by any definition.
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Old February 22, 2012, 06:08 PM   #9
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Trapdoor Springfields

McShooty noted that Trapdoors might be a nice rifle to collect and I agree whole heartedly.

While they may not meet the ATF definition of "antique," they meet the generally accepted definition well.

There is quite a spread of models with many used on the Frontier by the US Army and also in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Often attributed to Erskin Allen, the master armorer at Springfield Armory, they were originally intended to use the surplus Civil War US Rifle Musket of 1963 as the basis in reequiping the US Military with a breach loader.

There are carbines, cadet rifles and infantry rifles and to collect all would be quite an achievement.

Basic rifle models are:

First Model conversion: 58 Rimfire
Second Model conversion: 50/70
1868: 50/70
1870: 50/70
1873: 45/70
1873 with 1879 modifications: 45/70
1884: 45/70
1888 Ramrod Bayonet: 45/70

Carbine and cadet model numbers generally mirrored the rifle nomenclatures, but not always.

There were also match Trapdoors made and many of these were awarded as prizes to top scoring soldiers in army rifle matches.

The Officer's Model Trapdoor is the holy grail for Trapdoor collectors. They were made to order for soldiers desiring a rifle between the cavalry carbine and the infantry rifle. Many have wrist mounted peep sights. Harrington and Richardson made a run of replica Officer Model Trapdoors for their 100th anniversary in 1970. The H&Rs now often bring high prices and are wonderful shooters. Reloading for them is not as dificult as for the original rifles with their three groove barrels.

With a good bore, a Trapdoor is wonderfully accurate and several of the above will hold two to two and a half MOA with well cast bullets, compressed load of black powder and the Federal 215 magnum primer in WW cases.

They are an absolute hoot to shoot out in the high desert and sage country of Western Colorado or Wyoming and shots at ant hills or prairie dog mounds many hundreds of yards away are not overly dificult once the range is known. A hit on one during the dry summer will bring a big cloud of dust and confirmation that your range estimations and wind call was on.

The 1879 sight and the Buffington sight of 1884 had the ability for adjust for wind. The Buffington sight is a marvel of ingenuity and accuracy and was no doubt the basis for the sight on the 1903 Springfield rifle of WW I and early WW II.
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Last edited by Scharfschuetzer; February 22, 2012 at 08:23 PM.
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Old February 22, 2012, 06:28 PM   #10
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Here are a few. Be careful. If you slobber and drool on your keyboard, you might be in trouble:
You're from BATFE? Come right in! I use all your fine products!
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Old February 22, 2012, 07:14 PM   #11
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Wow. "Spectacular pair of gold inlaid Winchester shotguns."
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Old February 23, 2012, 02:18 AM   #12
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long rifles

I'm thinking that a PA long rifle or Kentucky rifle, original in good shape, would be extremely valuable.
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Old February 23, 2012, 12:18 PM   #13
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You couldn't go wrong with an original Kentucky rifle and you might find one at a price the same or less than some of the items I originally listed. Scharfschuetzer that is a fine group of trapdoors, with Remington!
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Old February 23, 2012, 02:21 PM   #14
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Good eye Mcshooty.

It's a Springfield Armory US Navy model 1870 in 50/70. Great bore and finished in the bright. As it was made at Sprinfield Armory circa the Trapdoor 1870 above it, I thought that it might be nice to add to the other Springfields. It has the same rear sight as the Trapdoor 1870.

It is pretty much a mirror image of the Remington Rolling Block other than the military stock and I'm sure the US Government must have paid royalties to Remington to produce it.
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Old February 23, 2012, 02:29 PM   #15
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For what I am paying for pre 64 M70's, these rifles have to be very desirable.

Wish they were a little less desirable.
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Old October 10, 2012, 10:50 PM   #16
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Changing a Ball Carbine into a Centerfire?

Hi There,
First of all, does anyone know what a Ball Carbine is? It's one that was ordered by the Federal Government before the end of the Civil War but was not finished and delivered until 1865. Then it was cancelled. I've got one of the 1000 of them and I'd really like to find someone to make another centerfire block for the Carbine so I can shoot it without damaging the historic piece.

I guess I could call Strike again, but my last with him was probably when he was gettin in with Kirst and He did a really sad conversion on my 1851 Colt and even kept the original cylinder! The breach block isn't even secured to the frame so I think I happened to be asking for a conversion at the same time he was closing shop and going to a new partnership. Anyway, if there is anyone else that y'all know well, who could actually do something like that please let me know. If you want to see one, simply look up the Ball Carbine on the internet and you'll see one. It was a 56/50 rimfire so it's the same cartridge as the Spencer and with a tube below the barrel instead of in the stock.

Anyway, whatever knowledge that you have of it would be helpful and I'm still waiting for it since I bought it, so I thought I'd jump ahead, as they say, and get someone lined up.

thanks again,
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Old October 11, 2012, 02:16 AM   #17
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Finding historically significant firearms in good condition is not always easy. Many are extremely rare. So if I was looking for collectible firearms, I would look at verifiable true antiques. Volcanic rifles, Wesson rifles, original rifles made about the time of the Revolutionary War, etc. Civil War and later military firearms are actually fairly common, and there are lots of fakes.
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Old October 11, 2012, 09:16 AM   #18
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I would like to have an original flintlock longrilfe that is provenanced to have actually been used in the Revolutionary war by a Rifleman.
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Old October 12, 2012, 01:21 PM   #19
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Me too, rifleman, that would be the best. On another track, continuing to think about antique rifles that will be rewarding to own and increase in value for you or your progeny, I don't think you can do better than Civil War era. Interest and value is going to continue to appreciate for arms and accessories of this period. I personally can't afford pieces traceable to actual officers of the time. This just puts the cost out of sight for me. Neither can I pony up for something like the great Henry lever action, used by several Union outfits, but rare because of small numbers. There are many really good arms to be found that were made in larger numbers, however. Some suggestions: The 1861 Springfield rifle-musket, mainly a northern arm; the Enfied Model 1853, used by both sides; The Springfield Model 1842 musket (smoothbore), out of date when the CW began, but used because of the shortage of arms near the beginning of the war. Firing a buck-and-ball load, these were deadly in close range battles such as Antietam. For a repeating, cartridge rifle, there were many more Spencers used than Henrys, and they are much more affordable and easier to find. There are lot more that could be mentioned. Gotta say, though, that you have to be careful. There is doctored junk in this market and you need to be able to recognize and avoid it. That is a bit beyond my scope here, but sometime I will post a pic and description of a Spencer I bought, with discussion of why I think it is worth what I paid.
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