1958 Surplus Guns; Cheap for Good Reasons

1958 Ye Old Hunter Surplus Sale Ad
1958 Ye Old Hunter Surplus Sale Ad

By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)-The above ad is from 1958 Guns magazine(pdf).  In constant dollars, one dollar in 1958 would be worth about $8.36 today. Let's see how the 1958 prices look in 2016 dollars.

Total of prices listed for the four rifles, $41.76.  If you bought all four at once, they only cost $27.84 total. The equivalent in 2016 calculates at $232.74.

These rifles were far from “excellent” or “like new”, which is why they were so cheap.

Some excerpts from Group A, top to bottom: “All guns practically complete“, “You can see light through the bore”, “worn, but serviceable“, and  “fantastically inaccurate“.

You can understand that rifle buyers of the time were less than impressed. I recall two things when thinking about buying such a rifle during that era.

First,  putting a scope on these “treasures” would have cost more than the rifle. Second, finding sporting ammunition would be difficult.

The rifles were shipped COD, Railroad Express, which, in much of the country, could increase the cost 50% or more.

1958 Ye Old Hunter Surplus Sale Ad Continued
1958 Ye Old Hunter Surplus Sale Ad Continued

 

The best lever action rifle of the time, the Savage 99, was going for $113 in 1958.   A new Model 94 Winchester cost $80.  As late as 1965, your could buy excellent condition Model 03A3 surplus rifles for $29.95.  That was “your pick” out of a barrel at the hardware store. They had much nicer peep sights, with lots of after market stocks available. They were chambered in .30-06. I still have one that was sporterized.

1958 Ye Old Hunter Surplus Sale Ad Continued 3
1958 Ye Old Hunter Surplus Sale Ad Continued 3

Total for four rifles in group B, purchased separately, was $48.80. If you bought all four at once, the price was $32.50.

That would be $271.70 in 2016. Here are some excerpts from Group B, above: “complete in every detail and fully functional” tempered by “horrible condition”; “complete firing condition”; “magnificently fair condition”.

The Mosin Nagant was going for $9.95 in 1958, in only “fair” condition. That, according to the calculator translates to $83 in 2016.

Mosin Nagants are fun rifles, and generally accurate.  Most people can remember the last big imports of Mosin Nagants.  There may be more to come, with a Trump administration.

I have seen a smattering of surplus rifles out in the woods. They tend to be used for a few years until the owner could afford something better. A next door neighbor took a big buck a quarter mile from my brother's house. He used a Mosin Nagant. He was 12, the rifle about 50.

I have bought and sold lots of rifles over the years. I have enjoyed it immensely. They are a cheaper hobby than automobiles, scuba diving, or skiing.   Guns values tend to keep up with inflation. They are a store of value, but not a great investment.

If you are considering them as an investment, an index fund on the stock market does better, does not take up storage space, and is not as subject to theft. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was about 580 at the end  of 1958.  It hit 19,000 in 2016, a 32X increase.

As with most collectibles, the best reason to buy old guns is the enjoyment you get from them, seeing how they work, shooting them, and thinking of the history involved.

 

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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Jim Hamilton
Jim Hamilton
1 year ago

In 1958 I ordered the .43 Remington Rolling block for $5.58. I still have it today. It did come with a bayonet. It was for my 13th birthday.

Thom Paine
Thom Paine
3 years ago

Being a dyed in the wool gun crank of many eras it used to bother me to no end when my Father in law would tell me about $10 Mauser 98 rifles . And it still bothers me …. CRAP in fact is all I can say, because I’d about kill to be able to travel back in time to by a few dozen Krags and Springfields. Egyptian .43 caliber rolling blocks are now around $700 from what I last saw… Yeah I’d take a few of them too I reckon . Drat, I missed that boat …

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

I bought one of the .43/11mm rolling blocks at the Ye old Hunter store in Alexandria Va. for $13.00. It was packed in cosmoline. I tore it down and refinished the rifle to like new Condition. Ammo was $1.00 for twenty round with old primer, $2.00 reprimed. Today they cost $4.00 for one round.
It shot a 12 point buck with it in 1964 and still have the rifle.
The only mistake I made was not buying all the ammo they had.

hijinx60
hijinx60
3 years ago

This ad and the comments make me long for “the good old days”.

Colonialgirl
Colonialgirl
3 years ago

In 1961 I bought and British Enfield 303 at a department store opening for only $9.00 Pick which one you want out of the bin. (I STILL have it). It is in excellent condition and an accurate shooter. At the time I could also buy 303 Mil Surplus ammo for 4 or 5 CENTS a round.

Jackson Scott
Jackson Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Colonialgirl

The good days are truly gone.

Bill
Bill
3 years ago

One thing should be said about the above gun ad. In 1958 we could buy guns through the mail without background checks or 4473 forms or stupid FOID cards, yet crime was low. We lost the ability to buy through the mail with the 1968 GCA. That is for Those of us old enough to remember when our country was freer than it is today. Back then if you wanted to start a business all you had to do is hang a shingle. Today you have to jump through hoops of regulation just to start a samll business or improve… Read more »

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill

, I concur, and moreover Trump and Co, and the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress owe us big time. Now, is the time to push for repeal of the National Firearms Act (NFA) and the Gun Control Act (GCA) neither of which have ever prevented or solved a crime. Both Congressional acts are just a burden on the law abiding! No Second Amendment, No Second Term!

Vanns40
Vanns40
3 years ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

I remember being able to walk into the local hardware store in MARYLAND, pay cash and walk out with a 357 derringer and a Remington shotgun! Yeah, I am that old and at one time Maryland actually was the “Free State”!

Pete
Pete
3 years ago

Dean, according to this website you’re a little low on your up-to-date value of the dollar. http://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/inflation.php?amount=100&year=1964. One of you is right.