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Learning Firearm Care and Appraisal With A NRA Senior Curator

Learning Firearm Care and Appraisal With A NRA Senior Curator

This winter's Great American Outdoor Show features more than 200 seminars and demonstrations from the leading experts in hunting, fishing, archery, the shooting sports, and so much more. One such expert was Doug Wicklund, a senior curator at the NRA National Firearms Museum who hosted two seminars any firearm collector would be eager to hear.

In Caring For Your Guns, Wicklund discussed firearm preservation, a topic he could probably teach in his sleep after spending the past 30 years looking after the thousands of firearms in the NRA National Firearms Museum's collection. So just how do you care for a gun? The best approach is to use your common sense. If your gun is dirty, clean it. If the gun is wet, dry it off. (In both instances, don't forget about inside the barrel.)

But when we're talking about storage, you should strive to keep a gun somewhere warm, but not too warm, and dry, but not too dry; think 70 degrees fahrenheit and 50% humidity. Now that's a pretty hard climate to find, which is why collectors should regularly inspect and clean their firearms even if they've done nothing but sit in a safe since that last time they were touched.

During his presentation, Wicklund went over many examples of firearms donated to the NRA National Firearms Museum that had deteriorated to different degrees through improper storage. Guns stored in areas that are too moist will see their metal rust and delicate parts like wooden stocks will bloat, distort, or even rot away. Conversely, guns stored in places that are too dry will see their sensitive parts crack and break off.

Whether you actively use your firearm to hunt or compete, or it's a collectable meant for display, smart care of your firearm will keep it in excellent condition and prolong its life.

And a properly stored gun is just one of the points Wicklund touched on a couple days later in What Can Make Any Gun Valuable, his seminar on the various ways a gun is appraised.

If you're looking to sell one of your firearms, there are number of things to take into account when determining its value. What is the gun's condition? Is it a popular or rare caliber/gauge? What type of finish does it have? Does the gun have any historical significance? Do you have the factory letter? Is it sporting any accessories? Two of the most varying factors Wicklund lists are the time of year you're selling and your physical location. 

"A Stainless steel gun won't really move as fast in places like the midwest," Wicklund gives as an example. "If you're down in the Florida or along the coast where salt air can be an issue, a stainless steel gun is much more sought after."

There are also many manufacturer-specific details that can affect a gun's value like whether it's a pre-lock Smith & Wesson, pre-bankruptcy Colt, pre-warning Ruger, or pre-'64 Winchester, to list a few. 

Gun values can also be affected by legislation. Firearms in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York that have grandfathered legality due to specific bans are going to be very valuable.

Like in his other presentation, Wicklund went through several examples from the NRA National Firearms Museum collection to demonstrate how a gun's value can be affected both positively or negatively.

"We had great crowds are both seminars," Wicklund said. "The Great American Outdoor Show is such a good venue to connect with people who are interested in firearm collecting but may not have as much experience. I'm definitely looking forward to going back next winter."

Have any firearm-specific questions for Doug? Send him an email at [email protected] or give them a call at (703) 267-1602.

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