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Hello all. I thought I would move a conversation I am having among friends into a wider (and more experienced) group.

How well does custom work or a custom gun hold its value in a resale? Yes, I know this varies tremendously considering the type of work done and by whom. Lets first assume that the smith has a national reputation and would be recognized as someone who does quality work by folks who know 1911s and is still living. Also assume the gun is in good order and has a relatively low round count (couple to few thousand) Now for a couple of different scenarios:

First. A $700 base gun with $500 worth of customizing including the usual reliability and trigger work. Minimal parts change. Night sights. Owner costs of $1200. Resale?

Second. Same gun as above but with parts change (trigger, hammer, sear) and frame modifications (front strap, mag well, beavertail) so that the customizing is around $1000. Owner costs $1700. Resale?

Third. A full house custom costing $3000. Resale?

Does custom work lesson the depreciation of a used gun on the resale market? Or does it suffer from the same or worse rate of depreciation? Is there a rough % depreciation? Does it ever appreciate (work done by a smith with a large backlog/retired)?

Thanks!

Dan
 

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in my world Colts hold the line better then anything when "tuned up" and a stock Colt is better than money in the bank. i've found that even a brand new "Custom" by one of the "Big names". losses cash value as soon as the ink is dry on the transfer forms.
 

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I would say it depends. A lot depends on WHO built it, and can it be proven? Having original detailed invoices with descriptions of who did the work and what the work consisted of would help. Even so, i've found that values vary like anything else. It comes down to how bad the seller wants to sell and how much the buyer wants it. I will usually consider a deal decent if I pay about the price of the base gun getting the custom work for free on a used gun. As has been said many times, used guns depreciate just about as fast or faster then cars once you get them "off the lot". Without some sort of proof of who did work, this all goes out the window. Not knowing this cuts into values even more. The best bet if you're going to lay serious bucks into custom work yourself is to have it done right and keep it forever!

later,
AJ
 

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$700, $900, and $1500 respectively (if you're extremely lucky). Guns are meant to be shot, not sold! (Shhh... no one tell the 'smiths that, though!) :)
 

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Custom work by somebody the customer has heard of tends to retain its value very well. I sold a Burns-customized Delta Elite for about what I put into it (cost of base gun plus parts & labor), and I had to wait all of about 24 hours for a buyer. "Semi-custom" guns tend to lose a couple hundred bucks for being used, but nothing crazy like the 50%+ depreciation you hear folks with no experience in the matter come up with. ;)

Have an unknown do the work, and the added resale value will be nil. And naturally, if you modify a genuine collectable (e.g. a pre-war Colt National Match), the value will fall like a rock as a result. But if you have a fairly high-volume gun modified by somebody with a real reputation, you won't get hosed like some ignorant folks claim. Of course, you will have to wait longer to sell a full-on custom job for $3,000ish, simply because there are fewer people out there who can afford that much... but that would apply to any $3,000ish firearm.
 

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I have seen the semi custom Baers, Wilson's, etc go for 30% less than retail with less than 500 rds through them. That is a pretty big savings for what I would do to a new gun in a weekend.

High volume custom price? I don't know. I know I wouldn't spend the same for a custom with a 15K round as I would for a new custom. You would have to find a motivated buyer for that. But every now and then you get someone who just has to have whatever you are trying to sell.
 

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If the 'smith in question has a very long wait list for current projects (ex. Richard Heinie), then there will be some folks who will pay a premium for a "used" custom today, rather than wait many years for one to be built for them.
 

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I would agree with most observations that the name of the smith is important. But the concept of getting your investment out at resale time is iffy at best. Sure there are exceptions but it is not the general rule.

Most parts are available to anyone. So having so-and-so part is not a huge advantage. The work competed on the gun and by whom can matter but not always.

Having a "named smith" blend the grip safety and thumb safety is really not going to add much value. An accuracy and reliability job may add some. A total custom job put the gun into a unique market for which there is not a huge demand.

My opinion is that mostly I will be really lucky to 60% of my investment back out of it.

Case in point: I have a ton of money in a BHP done by C&S. First rate parts, accuracy and reliability. I will never get my money out of it. But I have a shooter that will last a couple of generations.

I have noticed that Dawson guns hold their value. Same with Kodiak. But you are talking about $2.5-3.5K, speciality guns with a unique market.
 
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