The Blue Book
As a gun writer who is often in error but never in doubt, I gleefully rely on a broad range of sources that are better informed than I could ever hope to be. One source that I keep returning to again and again is the Blue Book of Gun Values, published by Steve Fjestad.
There are a number of books that give the values of guns, but this is the one everyone looks at first. It’s currently in its thirty-third annual edition, and it comes in at a hefty 2,500 pages. There are 1.5 million copies in print. It’s pretty much “the bible” for new- and used-gun prices, and almost every gun dealer has copy. It covers an extraordinary range of new and old rifles, pistols and shotguns. Just about all of the shotguns.
The gun descriptions are very brief, but they are enough to get you started. The important part is that each model of each gun has the used retail value listed for 100% condition, 98%, 95%, 90%, 80%, 70% and 60%. The opening section has numerous detailed color photos of graded guns showing and discussing how the grade rating was obtained.
I follow Winchester Model 42 .410 pumpguns a good bit and feel that the Blue Book’s prices are pretty accurate in reflecting retail pricing. Obviously for the rare collector models, prices are flexible, but the prices given for standard Model 42s are just about what a retailer initially would ask for them.
And that is certainly not a surprise. Fjestad acknowledges input and advice on gun models from a list of more than 200 experts, many of whom are on the retail or manufacturing side. Others are universally recognized as being knowledgeable. It’s a pretty impressive list of real pros and includes such luminaries as SSM’s own Vic Venters.
I find the Blue Book particularly helpful when I am researching a brand of gun and want to know the history of the previous models that led to the current one. For example, I wanted to know a bit more about the antecedents of the new Franchi Instinct over/under. The Blue Book had quite a list of the previous Franchi models imported into the US, running from the Aristocrat of 1960, various Falconets, Alciones, Veloces, Pritis and Renaissances. The comments are mainly based on what was available in the US, not the European market.
The book also has very helpful appendices containing the serial numbers of major brands, past and present proof marks of all the major houses, reference sources, periodicals, gun collector organizations and a trademark index with each manufacturer’s contact information.
The Blue Book of Gun Values retails for $49.95 in soft-cover format. You also can get it in CD form or use it on a subscription basis from the company’s Website (www.bluebookinc.com). It is published once per year, so it is always up to date. The Website also contains a number of interesting blogs, including Fjestad’s own “Lethal Blogger.” Fjestad goes to all of the big gun shows, and his comments are worth reading. The Website will show you how to use the expertise of the Blue Book’s staff to research a particular gun.
In addition to the Blue Book of Gun Values, the company publishes numerous other firearms reference books as well as references on guitars, amplifiers and pool cues. There is something for everyone.
The Blue Book of Gun Values is a lot more than what the title indicates. I couldn’t get along without it.
That’s all for now. Boots off. Beer open.