When it comes to Collecting Old Guns, History is Part of the Fun

1960, 1976 and Today

In 1960 (the year I was born), Elvis was tearing up the charts with "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" and "It's Now Or Never", while Chubby Checker was doing "The Twist" and Floyd Cramer released his smash hit piano instrumental, "Last Date." Man I loved that guy's piano style. He could make that keyboard talk. Another keyboard banger, Fats Domino was singing "Walking To New Orleans" and "My Girl Josephine."

1960 and 1976 guns
1960 and 1976 Guns

And in 1976 (when I gained so much freedom with that thing called a driver license), I attended my very first outdoor concert at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The headliner was a fairly new band called Aerosmith and they had recent hits with "Sweet Emotion" and "Walk This Way." There was not one, but three opening acts; Rick Derringer performing "Rock-n-Roll Hootchie Koo", Black Oak Arkansas playing "Jim Dandy" and Gary Wright, "Love is Alive" and "Dream Weaver." What a show!

1960 and 1976 guns
1960 and 1976 Guns

So there's a musical backdrop of when these two random guns from the collection made their appearances. One is a 1960 Smith & Wesson Model 17-1 and the other a 1976 Colt Cobra. As I sit here at the keyboard admiring them and contemplating what I will say about them, I can't think of one new 2021 song to reference. I'm getting old.

Willie Nelson wrote a song in 1960 that Billy Walker recorded in 1961 called.... "Funny How Time Slips Away."

1960 Smith & Wesson
1960 Smith & Wesson

This blog post is more about the future of gun collecting as a hobby than it is about these two guns. And truthfully, it may be about people growing older. I had to attend a graveside funeral service for an old friend today. As I drove some distance home afterwards, I had a time to relect on the past and evaluate the future as well.

Steve McQueen shoulder holster
This Vega Holster Quickly Molded Itself to my Cobra

History has a way of repeating itself. My great, great grandfather fought in the Civil War and survived. But in 1918, when that Spanish Flu Pandemic killed so many, it took his and my great, great grandmother's lives, one month apart. Almost exactly 100 years later, here we are going through another pandemic. Hopefully, the worst is behind us.

1960 and 1976 guns
1960 and 1976 Guns

Four or five short years later, Colt stopped making that Cobra. Smith & Wesson did not discontinue the Model 17 until 1998, but brought it back later in a new form called "Classic" and it's still in production. These old revolvers, the originals, truly are classics just like the music of their time.

It was about the time that Colt stopped making the Cobra that I went off to the Army, became an armorer and developed my life-long interest in guns. I've had different hobbies over the years and have been through phases where I had less and more time to devote to my gun hobby, but it's always been there. The Pandemic of 2020 and 2021 has provided an opportunity to spend time with my guns and the blog.

This thing called "the internet" changed my hobby!

Steve McQueen shoulder holster
One of My Favorite Shoulder Holsters

During the 1990s and early 2000s, I enjoyed going to the gun shows immensely. Back then, there were more of them and when you went you could often come home with a really nice gun or two at good prices. As the years went by, it seemed as though those gun shows became fewer and fewer. And the gun prices went higher and higher.

This thing called "the internet" changed my hobby. And like most things in life, it has a good side and a bad side. The good side is, you can find just about any gun you are looking to add to the collection. The bad is, you will likely pay more for it and you miss out on that human contact. The chance to talk, share information and swap stories is not the same in an online forum as it used to be at the gun shows.

Steve McQueen shoulder holster
Steve McQueen shoulder holster

1960 meets 1976, and here we are in 2021. What does the future hold?

There will be future generations of old gun enthusiasts like you and I. I'm sure of it. Will they know the kind of atmosphere that surrounded the local gun shows of the past? I have a feeling they will have that experience, just not the same. I think gun shows are becoming bigger and regional instead of smaller and local. Small, local gun stores are closing their doors. The landscape is changing.

One thing's for sure. These young whipper-snappers won't have good music to listen to, or good guns to buy, unless they're classics!
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Even After Forty Years

These Old 1970s Colts are Still Some of my All-Around Favorites ...

The old Smith & Wesson target revolvers from the 1950s have taken a prominent position in my collection. I have very few guns that aren't either a Colt or Smith. Heck, the only Walther that turned out to be a "keeper" is the one that was made here in America by Smith & Wesson.

"In 2020 my collection began shrinking in numbers, but going up in average individual values."

Author with Colt Cobra in Shoulder Holster
Author with Colt Cobra in Shoulder Holster

Currently, there are three of the Smith & Wesson target revolvers in the collection. I gave three away. I have two of the Cobras still, and likely always will. Over the years I've sold or traded away a lot of guns, and there were a few that I later wished I had back. Well, four come to mind. But that's all part of building the collection that you want, and in the end, you can't take them with you.

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