Changing the Definition of an Antique Firearm

Changing the Definition of an Antique Firearm

There has been talk that the Senate may change the year that designates an “antique” firearm from the current pre-January 1, 1899 to a “rolling date” that would be the manufactured date 100 years prior to the current year. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the bill in 2017 and it was referred to the Finance Committee in July where it apparently lingers to this day. Cassidy submitted a similar bill in 2014 that never left committee. Obviously, the current climate for gun control makes even Republicans reluctant to pass any legislature that may appear to be Pro-Gun. Email your representatives in Washington and ask them to follow up on Bill S.1541, a bill to modify the definition of an antique firearm.

What would this change mean for firearms collectors? Obviously, it significantly increases the number of firearms that would be classified as antiques and all the benefits that come with that.

Right now, the pre-1899 Winchesters carry a premium over the non-antique examples. That premium seems to be around 20%-25% or so. This is particularly noticeable on the Models 1892 and 1894 where the majority were made after 1898. One question is: Would the change increase the value of those Winchesters newly classified as antiques or would it remove the premium now enjoyed by the early examples? My guess is perhaps a little of both. I believe an 1892 rifle made in 1906 would likely see its value increase somewhat over one that is non-antique. And I would expect the “antique” premium on the earlier guns to diminish somewhat from the current level due to the increase in examples available.

The “rolling year” method, if passed, also results in some interesting situations. If the date was set at 1918, we know a firearm manufactured in 1920 will become “antique” in just two years. Gives one pause thinking how that might affect values, doesn’t it? Overall it would be an exciting change for collectors of antique firearms. Some of the best examples of firearms manufacturing were made in the golden years between 1900 and the Great Depression. WW1 Springfield 1903 rifles, 1897 trench shotguns, and Colt 1911 pistols would all become antique.

Call, write or email your representatives in Washington and tell them to help push this through committee!

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