Couldas, Shoudas…

One of the things old flatulents like me love to do is bore the hell out of younger folks with what they should—and sometimes shouldn’t—do. The reason we like to do this is because we want to help those younger folks not make the same mistakes we have made. As I look back on my life, I must admit that I have a boatload of regrets, most of which will not see the light of day here. But there are a few…

I should have bought more guns when I could. Here are just a few of the guns I could have bought when they were available, even if the price at the time seemed a bit rich:
1. Colt Python—The number of times I have walked by a brand new Python with a price tag less than $800 should possibly land me in jail. In terms of revolvers, the Python ranks up there with an original Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum (a little before my time) and the Freedom Arms single-action revolvers. These super-premium wheelguns represent the ultimate level of craftsmanship and accuracy. Today, a relatively pristine ’60s- or ’70s-vintage Python can easily command more than two grand.

2. Winchester 9422—When this beautiful lever-action rimfire came out they retailed for 125 bucks. Demonstrating the business acumen that has kept me at the poor house’s doorstep for all of my life, I stupidly thought they’d be made forever, and I could pick one up anytime. Today a decent shooter will fetch north of $800, and at this time of my life I have but one lever-action rimfire—a doggy Marlin vintage M97 that does not reliably feed from the magazine.

3. Any World War II military firearm—At the old Western Surplus store in Lawndale, CA, in the’60s there was an old wood barrel in there overflowing with Model 98 Mausers, each having a yellow price tag of $4 on it. They may not have been mint, but they were in pretty good shape as I recall and completely covered in cosmoline. Garands could be had for less than a hundred bucks; M1 Carbines were $59.95, and I recall Ithaca-, Remington-and Singer Sewing Machine-made1911s were less than 200 bucks. Need I say what they bring today?

I need a Grand!

I need a Grand!

4. Colt Commander—Oh shazzbad! How did I let this get by me? Must have been asleep for a decade…or perhaps hung over. This aluminum-framed 1911 is one of the easiest concealed carry pistols extant. Of course, I am referring to one from the 1970s or earlier. If you can find one that hasn’t been butchered now, prepare to lay out four figures.

How could I be so stupid as to not have bought one of these when they were available for less than $300?

How could I be so stupid as to not have bought one of these when they were available for less than $300?

There are so many more guns I should have pulled the trigger on, not because I could sell them for more now but because I enjoy shooting them all. The lesson here is: Buy ’em now while you can. You will regret it if you don’t.

And since most of my readers are guys—this isn’t a gun thing—I should have also bought a 1956 Chevy Nomad when they were $500. Today a rusty piece of sh…err…junk will lighten your bank account by about 16 or 17 grand; restored 70k and hot-rodded as much as 140k. While we’re at it I should have a’69 Chevelle SS396 in my garage and a CJ2A, as well.

As Old Blue Eyes—that’s Frank Sinatra for you kids—used to sing, “Regrets, yeah, I’ve had a few…But I did it my way!”

Dave Campbell
Dave Campbell began his hunting career with a spear off the southern California coast in the late 1960s. It did not take long for him to graduate to the gun on land. Campbell is the founding editor in chief of the NRA’s tremendously successful Shooting Illustrated magazine. In 2006 he also edited the iconic book of terminal ballistics, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter—A Definitive Study. He returned to his beloved Wyoming in 2007 as a freelance writer, though he usually refers to himself now as a “recovering editor.”
  1. Peter Caroline Reply

    Yeah, that really hurts. In the early 90s, Colt owed me big time for some freelance work, so I took a bunch of guns in payment. one of which was a nickel-plated Python snubby. I sold it at a profit, but nothing like it’s worth today. I used to buy M1 carbines for 20-something bucks back in the early 1960s. The new Inland M1 Carbine retails at $1049. I just reviewed it, and I’m going to keep it. Don’t get me started about original lightweight Colt Commanders or GI 1911s. At least I’ve still got my glass-bedded National Match Garand and my unfired Annie Oakley Commemorative 9422.

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