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I've heard some folks (of the 40-something age group or older) say that handguns were cheaper "back in the day", figuring for inflation and an equivalent model. Also that they seemed to be better made with fewer problems.

I'm 47 years old and bought my first firearm in 1985, and my first handgun (a Springer Milspec 1911) in 1993. I recall that it used to be if you wanted an AR-15 it was a Colt since they were pretty much the only game in town and the same could be said to a large degree of 1911's.

So to you older (sorry, "mature") folks, think guns were actually better made in the past or is that just our fond memories or preception talking? And were they a better deal dollar-wise?
 

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Perception is reality.
Actually today's firearms are probably priced lower than back in the day (counting inflation). Just once I would like my salary to keep up with inflation.
 

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The difference in price in U.S. goods is largely inflation, and uncompetitive manufacturing costs. I did a bit of research into gun prices, and foreign guns - Italian single actions, Philippine 1911s - cost about what U.S.-made weapons cost thirty years ago. Some makers - Ruger, for instance - have been able to hold the line through relocating some of their facilites, and using advanced manufacturing techniques, but the Connecticut River Valley makers are charging 25%-50% more for their products - in real terms, relative to the cost of living index - than they did 30-40 years ago.
The major deterioration in gun quality, in my opinion, is in finishing. We used to get beautiful, polished blue and nickel finishes, and now, even on very expensive, high-end guns, we get, well, paint. Even if you accept that the high-tech finishes are better at resisting wear or rust, they cost next to nothing to apply, compared to a professionally-polished blue or nickel finish. Some aftermarket finishers are charging $200 or more to blue a gun, so imagine what it saves a gun maker to not have to employ skilled polishers. And, give a little thought to why Colt's "name" is worth $100 more than Springfield, when you look at the finishes.
Mechanically, I think guns are more nearly identical (comparing two guns that came off the same production line), which means they can be identically good or identically bad. But, if all the high-tech CNC machines are correctly programmed, and materials of the proper kind are used, etc., guns should be better now, than ever. Still, you have companies cutting costs, and not to make the product better, and that can scuttle any improvements in the process.
 

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slater:
That s an interesting question you posed...Let's see
1971..Colt combat commander $125.00.
Browning High power (Beg.) $ 129.00
Browning Challenger 22 ( Belg) $ 120.00

They don't even make them as nice as the browning Challenger or Colt woodsman..Period!...

The rest quite frankly are better now..Not so much in fit or finish but in standards of usability. Sites, etc. Is a standard Colt Commander worth $650 or better?..That's such a subjective thing..I find it hard to pay out that kind of money for handgun simply because of what I paid out almost 40 years ago.. My perception is obviously skewd because of it.. But anything past $800 you do have to ask , is it worth it?...

Just my two cents

Be safe:cool:
 

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Once upon a time, it was pretty much standard to purchase a 1911 and immediately send it off to a pistolsmith for the installation of decent sights and a decent trigger. These days, there are several flavors that are good-to-go right out of the box--ranging from the "production customs" of Wislon, Baer, Brown, Nighthawk, and similar to the value-packed entry level Springfields, S&W's, and Kimbers. The truly custom pistolsmiths are turning out work that far surpasses anything that came off the benches of the oldtimers. THESE are the "good old days" when it comes to 1911's.

Cost is relative. In an era of $40,000 pickup trucks and $100,000 "starter" homes, quality firearms are still an awesome value.

Rosco
 

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Ah yes, back in the day. I remember it well, not long after I finished school which required a three mile trek, uphill both ways, through two feet of snow, in nothing but a loin cloth.:)
Ya could buy as new 03/A3s out of an oak barrel for $50 each at Jared's Outdoor n' More. S&W Model 29s went for way over list thanks to Dirty Harry and a new 1911 might, or might not work all that great out of the box. For that matter, although they might have a nice looking finish, it wasn't unusual to send new Smith and Wessons back for various problems, which might or might not get resolved.
I also was working for about $2 an hour.
The other fellow called it about right, cars on average are around $30k I would guess. Around here I doubt you can even buy a lot for a house for $100k. Guns are a steal in comparison to most other consumer goods and certainly are among the best in holding their value.
As best I can tell these are the good 'ol days, right now.
 

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Two words: Colt Python... :)
 

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About 40 and a couple of years ago... my first handgun, a
Smith & Wesson Model 18 4" Bbl. square butt with magna grips.
it was $78 in a blue cardboard S&W box.

I was 14 and had saved about $40 and dad matched me + a simple belt
holster with a thum strap secured by a snap basket weave.

S&W doesn't offer a like gun these days.... a 4" 617 isn't the same with it's
full length underlug and the rubber grips. On the gun auctions
they're not m cheap... but comparing it to the Consumer Price Index isn't
the same with the new prod. methods and materials.... I'm not saying t
the Model 18 had a bright polish but it was better than the flat blue of a 28.
 

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S&W revolvers were definitely made better back in the day, no ugly locks, and a fantastic blue finish. Prices seemed more affordable back in the 70s and 80s as well. Back then I didn't consider a S&W revolver expensive, but I do now.

Colts have always been expensive, especially Pythons and Gold Cups, the company's top of the line guns for many decades. Prices on Pythons and Gold Cups were always just out of reach for me. They do hold their value better than just about any production gun. I believe the standard Government and Commander pistols are made better now than they used to be, except for the blued finshes of course.

I've managed to add a Gold Cup to my collection. Now about that Python...
 

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These numbers are now somewhat dated (I did my research in '97), but converting the asking prices to constant (1984) dollars, the price for a Colt Government Model went from $298 in 1938, to $477 in 1993. The real, out-of-pocket cost of the pistol increased over 50% between '38 and '93. The Single Action army cost $422 in 1960, versus $893 in 1991 - again in 1984 dollars - more than doubling in cost to the consumer in that span. At the same time, the cost of the Ruger Single Six remained almost constant. $235 in 1953, and $200 in 1992! That's the way manufacturing is supposed to work. You pay-off the equipment, the workforce becomes more experienced/efficient, and costs go down, with the price dropping at the same time.
The Walther PP, though it didn't change at all during production, rose in cost from $262 in 1953, to $693 in 1992!
If you look at what the U.S. government paid for Colt service pistols, from the M1860 right on through the M1911A1, it was about $20 per unit. Despite the advances in design, and the cost of developing new technologies, the price of a first-class service pistol was the same for almost 100 years. What does Uncle Sam pay for a M9? $600?
 

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With the exception of my obscene 1911 habit, I had more "buying power" after paying my bills 20 years before my retirement. In other words, I was better off as a rookie than as a Lt. twenty years later in the dollars of the day.
 

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cost comparison

Consumer price index calculator:
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

http://woodrow.mpls.frb.fed.us/research/data/us/calc/

I bought a used Colt Combat Commander in March of 1978. It cost me $230.
According to the calculator, the equivalent cost in 2007 would be $727.

In April of 1977 I bought a Colt AR-15. It cost $340. Adjusted for inflation, today it would cost $1157 (I just paid $1100 for a slightly used A3 last spring)

Looking at Gun Broker.com and GunsAmerica.com, those prices seem to be fairly consistent over time . . .
 

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As an owner of a production shop I can say with great certainty that modern methods of machining (CNC) are capable of making many times more parts in a day than manual machines, even if the manual machines are "Semi automatic", meaning that they have hydraulic or cam driven feeds that are programmed. (Caveat; in a few cases that's not true, screw machines still make small turned parts faster than CNC's I believe)

Then there is flexibility, a small manufacturer that can afford 50 machines that are semi automatic is limited in the variety of arms they can make in a given time since changing processes is a huge and tedious effort. If a manufacturer has 50 modern machines each one can be changed over in hours or even minutes, and the whole line changed in days or less. Quality being the same of course. Ford said "any color as long as it's black", well, we say now "whatever the customer wants this week, as soon as possible". Consequently we have a huge variety of guns available. The rub is always the natural tendency to cut corners, plastic and MIM parts are a great example, I read recently that one maker of 1911's doesn't pin their ejectors in, they glue them.
These are the reasons we have guns that are relatively cheap both in cost and in some cases in quality today relative to some other purchases and items we deal with. The CNC's help make quality parts faster, and the bean counters make cheap parts appear in our guns with the willing help of uninformed buyers who don't object.
 

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Two more words: Colt Series 70 Government Model:biglaugh:
On May 1976 I paid $303.46 and walked out the door with a brand new Colt Mark IV Series 70 Gold Cup National Match. I still have the gun and the receipt because that was a lot of money back then.

Now I'm buying pistols in the $2,000 range and while I can afford it a lot more than I could that Gold Cup way back when, but it's still a goodly sum of money to spend on a firearm.

Quality costs, but once you've found the quality range you're comfortable with, then no matter what the price, no matter how it savages your income, if you want it you'll find a way to get it.
 

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Cost is relative. In an era of $40,000 pickup trucks and $100,000 "starter" homes, quality firearms are still an awesome value.
Roscoe, in most areas, a "$100,000 starter home" is a mobile home! :) I don't know whether inflation should have quintupled the price of a firearm or not. I do know that my father paid $236, in the late 70s, for Gold Cups.

I bought my first car in 1964. Sporty little Corvair (terrible car) Monza. Drive-out price? $2150.
 

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30 years ago.

I can remember when the ruger 10/22 first came out and I believe that was well over 40 years back ,,It retailed for $99.95 and that was with a walnut stock. They are just alittle over $200 today, so IMO they have not went up at all. Plus we cannot go back in time, if we could,,,, I would not be on my second marriage!!!!!!
 

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Monza

Roscoe, in most areas, a "$100,000 starter home" is a mobile home! :) I don't know whether inflation should have quintupled the price of a firearm or not. I do know that my father paid $236, in the late 70s, for Gold Cups.

I bought my first car in 1964. Sporty little Corvair (terrible car) Monza. Drive-out price? $2150.
yup ur right on the c orvair, but if you had put it in the garage back then, you could have today bought a really nice car. They sure increased in value, especially the contvertible. They were a terrible handling and even dangerous car to drive back then to.
 
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