Gun Depreciation: Everything You Should Know (With Data)

Figuring out the value of possessions that you consider valuable is difficult because it seems like everything has a different set of depreciation rules. Depreciation of the value of a gun, though, is simple and pretty easy to understand once you know the rules.

In general, new factory-produced firearms depreciate about 15% when they are purchased. After that initial depreciation, guns generally hold their value for the next 15 years while only losing an additional 1% per year. Guns that are 15 years old generally don’t lose any value until year 50 when they start to appreciate about .5% per year.

While this is true of common mass-produced firearms, custom-made firearms with specialty features or limited editions may hold their value much better. Also, if firearms are sold during a boom time like during Covid when guns were hard to buy, there would be no depreciation. Historical guns can appreciate significantly and become very valuable.

In this article, we will discuss how gun value depreciation works with new and older guns, other factors that affect the depreciation of a gun’s value, and more.

New Firearms

Generally, guns depreciate 15-25% when purchased. After that, though, their value stays fairly consistent for at least the next 15 years. Common guns do not hold value very well, because they are usually very easily available to the general public. Because there is a large supply and not a lot of demand, they do not tend to be as expensive to purchase and they just are not as valuable as other guns can be. If you maintain this type of gun well, it will still have that initial depreciation in value, but you should still be able to get 75-80% of the original value when selling it.

When a gun is bought used, its value will most likely not depreciate from what it was when you bought it, because the 15-25% only happens when a gun is bought brand new. As long as it is maintained well, it should retain its value well. Buying used guns brings up several other questions. Questions like, “Is the buyer giving me a good price,” “Are they selling me a good gun,” and “What is the actual value of the gun they are selling me,” are all very common. Remember that one of the biggest contributing factors to a gun’s value is its observable condition.

If a gun has lots of scratches and dents, is dirty or rusted, or just looks like it has not been given the proper care, then it will definitely have less value than the same gun that looks like you just pulled it off a shelf at the store. Guns generally retain 75% of their original value, so take that into consideration when buying a used gun as well. You do not want to be paying full price for a gun that is not worth its full price anymore.

Taking a step back from common guns and looking at less common ones is a good way to see the difference between depreciation and value. If a gun is custom-made, has specialty parts, or is a limited-edition model, it will hold its value much better than a more common model of gun. They are unique, so they are more valuable. Because there are fewer of them in the world, they automatically are more valuable to potential buyers.

Though it may seem unfair to those who aren’t accustomed to gun value depreciation rates, people with a more seasoned knowledge of the topic understand that even if they have a very nice, never-been-shot rifle on their hands, they’d be lucky to get 75% of what they paid for it when selling it. (Source)

15+ Year-Old Firearms

New guns lose 15-25% of their original value, but then they stabilize until the 15-year mark. At this point, three different things could start happening.

First, the gun could just retain its current value. This is probably the most common occurrence. If this happens, and you properly maintain your gun, it should not be hard to help it keep its value up until it is 50 years old.

Another potential option is that your gun could lose more value. In this case, this is probably because of factory recalls, or the fact that you may not have maintained your gun very well.

The last option is that the gun’s value could begin to appreciate. This may be the result of the gun’s production being discontinued by the manufacturers, making it harder to get for other potential buyers, and thus raising its value and price.

When your gun starts to get older and begins hitting these milestones, it is imperative that you maintain it so you can keep the value up. You’ll be grateful for the maintenance time you spent when your gun’s value does finally appreciate a lot. At this point, if you do decide to sell, you’ll realize that the time you spent made the difference between selling a high-value gun and one that was barely worth anything. (Source)

Factors Involved in Depreciation

There are many factors that contribute to figuring out how a gun’s value is depreciating or appreciating.

  • The quality of workmanship. This one affects the gun’s value in a major way. It can go without saying that guns are more valuable when they are made well.
  • Connection to historical events/wars. Historical significance is always a big selling point when it comes to things like guns, furniture, or other old knickknacks. Can anyone else imagine the plaque on the wall that says “This gun may have been held by George Washington’s cousin’s daughter’s nephew.”
  • Being discontinued. When a gun is discontinued, their presence in the world automatically becomes more limited, and thus, harder to come by. Because of this, the gun’s value tends to start appreciating, unless it was not a very popular gun to begin with.
  • The age of the gun. When a gun is past 50 years old, chances are that it is worth something. And not just something – if it’s in good condition, it’s probably worth a lot.
  • Care and maintenance. This should be an easy one to remember because it affects the value of everything. Remember this simple principle: If you are nice to your _________, it will be nice to you. You can insert almost anything in that space and have the statement ring true (friend, car, spouse, gun, food…). This phrase will save you tons of money in the future if you live by the rule.
  • Condition. The condition that your gun is in is also necessary to consider when figuring out its value. If it can not shoot anymore, obviously it is not as valuable as one that can (unless, due to its age, it is supposed to not shoot). If it is dented or rusty, it is obviously not as valuable as one that is in pristine condition.
  • Haggling with the seller. While this does not change the actual value of the gun, it could change the price you have to pay for it, which is always nice. Sometimes, sellers (and even buyers) will not know what the actual value of the gun is, which allows people that know the real value to haggle the price in their favor.
  • Customization and accessories. This is not surprising, because if special edition and specialized guns are more valuable, then of course guns that have been customized are more valuable than your typical gun also. Another way to raise the value of your gun is to pair it with other high-quality accessories.
  • Factory recalls. If a piece of your gun has been recalled by the factory, and it hasn’t been fixed yet, then the value of the gun will suffer. However, if it has been fixed, then it shouldn’t be a problem. People will still be wary of buying used guns that have had factory recalls issued on them, though, because it’s hard to tell whether or not the recall was followed.
  • Technology. If you have a newer smartphone or television, they have many more features than ones that are even one year older. Guns are a little different in this way- they do not change very much from year to year. However, if the tech does change for the better, the gun does tend to be more valuable. A gun’s value also rises if it’s old enough to be antique.
  • Manufacturer and model. The manufacturer and model of the gun is also an important thing to consider. When the manufacturer is more well-known, and the model is well-made, the value of the gun appreciates. This is similar to many things that consumers buy on a daily basis: shoes, clothes, furniture. When the manufacturer is well-known, the products tend to be more expensive. (Source)

Depreciation in Hard Times

Money makes the world go round, right? Well, that is only true when everything else is still working. In times like the COVID-19 pandemic, almost everything was affected in one way or another, even the value of guns. When guns were sold during the last couple of years, they were harder to come by, because shipping and almost everything else was being messed with in some way. Because of this, the value of guns was higher, because the demand was higher.

Many people have said that guns that were bought during the pandemic do not have the initial 15-25% depreciation that is usually standard for guns. In times of war and other types of conflict, the depreciation and appreciation of a gun’s value are also affected.

The economy is also very influential on how a gun’s value appreciates or depreciates. In times of economic struggle, like the Great Depression, or, even more recently, in 2008, the value of guns dropped drastically, because the soaring economy plunged into a nosedive. Since then, the value of guns, homes, cars, and more has had the opportunity to appreciate substantially.

Depreciation and Politics

You would not think that politics would affect the value of guns, but it definitely does. This is because of the different political parties’ viewpoints on gun control. Firearms tend to become more valuable while Democrats are in office because they tend to hold more restrictive gun control views. Conversely, when Republicans are in office, firearms tend to become less valuable, because Republicans are known to be less restrictive when it comes to gun control. In fact, many Republicans don’t believe that gun control should be implemented at all.

Because of these differing views, depending on who is in power, people tend to buy guns more or less. They want to buy as many guns as they can before a possible implementation of gun control in the case of a Democrat being elected, and they know that guns will still be around in the case of a Republican being elected.

An example of this in action is the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. The value of guns leaped to new heights. Some people reported values to rise more than 158% since his election.

The value of a gun is also affected by inflation and the economy. Interestingly enough, inflation is loosely tied to politics, so this is another way that politics affect a gun’s value. The value of guns (and many other things) tend to follow inflation patterns. (Source)

Depreciation and Pop Culture

Pop culture is also very influential when calculating a gun’s value. Remember when you used to watch television when you were younger, and you would see your favorite characters using something or wearing something, and you’d want it because you thought it was suddenly cool?

The same principle exists for adults and guns. When we see a certain type of gun in a movie or one of our favorite TV shows, it instantly becomes cool. For example, when “The Walking Dead” became popular, the value of Colt Pythons skyrocketed, purely because they were used in the show. A similar occurrence happened when “Saving Private Ryan” came out, but this time, it was with M1 Carbines and K98ks. Mosins and SKSs had a similar rise to fame after internet forums declared that they were the best ever.

The same thing probably even happened when “A Christmas Story” came out way back when, and Ralphie wanted a Red Ryder air rifle. Again and again, we see the power that pop culture has over the consumerism of people all over the world. This has such an effect on the value of so many products, especially guns. (Source)