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The latest Shotgun News has an article by Mike Venturino, in which he compares the prices of guns at their introduction, and what similar guns cost today. He pretty much limited the comparisons to "this new gun costs 33 times more than it did in 1880, and this one costs 18 times more than it did in 1914". What surprised me is that he didn't convert the prices to constant dollars. It's easy to see that a gun costing $16, 100 years ago, is one one-hundredth the price of one costing $1600 today, but what does that mean in terms of purchasing power? I wrote a similar article for a local collector newsletter, but I tracked the prices of guns over their production lives, and compared (via Consumer Price Index info)how much the guns actually cost the consumer, rather than just the price. I found the Winchester 94 has cost just about the same over its entire lifespan. The Colt Government Model has increased about 50% since the interwar period, and the latest Ruger Super Single Six is actually cheaper today than when it was introduced in the 1950's. It's also interesting that imported knock-offs of American guns (Italian cowboy guns, Chinese 1911's) cost about what the originals did in their day, but the American-made versions are now much more expensive.
 

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Good point, RickB. The costs need to be converted.

Do you have a list of the conversions you made? I'd be interested in seeing it. (I'll bet Ruger Blackhawks are also cheaper, in adjusted dollars, then they were in the early '60s.)


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For most of the production life of the Colt 1873 revolver (SAA if you don't know) the cost was about three (3) weeks pay. Now that SAA's are a custom shop item, I'd bet that ratio has changed and not for the better. LOL

You can not compare the price of a revolver, pistol, rifle or shotgun by just looking at the prices. You must factor in inflation and real purchasing power.

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Originally posted by RickB:
It's also interesting that imported knock-offs of American guns (Italian cowboy guns, Chinese 1911's) cost about what the originals did in their day, but the American-made versions are now much more expensive.
That is because 100 years ago there was an abundance of skilled yet cheap labor in America. That is why all the gun designs of the time (SAA, 1911, Luger, Broomhandle) utilized methods of construction that relied on hand-fitting of many of the internal parts. Of those, only the 1911 has successfully made the engineering transition to CNC manufacture to reduce costs.

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