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Why do some MG’s get sold for way higher than typical value?


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I was looking into RIA’s past auctions and saw a reweld Stemple M16 sold for 44K. Ruben was selling another Stemple reweld for 32K and his prices are typically on the higher end. When unrewelded M16’s can be obtained for around 38K, why would anyone pay this much? Is there something that I’m missing or is it just someone who got caught up in the heat of the moment? If you’re curious, just search “Stemple” in the May 17-19 auction.

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I'm new to this world, so I'm no authority, but I had bids in on a number of guns at the Bedford auction.  Most went for prices that boggled my mind, and I'd like to think that it's because of auction fever ... that "I have to have it now" mentality that makes the bidder forget about the value of the thing, or that pesky buyers premium.  Bidding in-person at live auctions seems to bring this out far more than online platforms.

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10 minutes ago, Uncle Zeek said:

I'm new to this world, so I'm no authority, but I had bids in on a number of guns at the Bedford auction.  Most went for prices that boggled my mind, and I'd like to think that it's because of auction fever ... that "I have to have it now" mentality that makes the bidder forget about the value of the thing, or that pesky buyers premium.  Bidding in-person at live auctions seems to bring this out far more than online platforms.

Yeah that’s my initial impression. Buyer had auction fever and forgot about the buyer’s premium and sales tax.

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Big auction houses also shill to get bids higher. There only needs to be 1 big spender to bid an auction up. As a seller you can put a minimum you will accept and they shill it to that price.  I assume if the shill wins it just goes to the next auction 6 months later 

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I'm in camp "money talks & BS walks". I don't think it's accurate to say that big spenders don't have any sense. This is an extremely constrained market and after taking time to research a gun, decide to buy, and seeing one available for 10% above market average, it can make sense to just buy now instead of spending months/year looking for the perfect sample at the perfect price.

Look at the cost of HK sears. A year ago you could have said "$45k is insane. These buyers have more money than sense. I want one but refuse to pay more than $40k". Now they're going for $50-55k. Meanwhile the person that had no sense last year has been enjoying their HK and sitting on $5-10k profit. And instead of spending another year scouring the boards for the perfect price, that buyer spent their time making more money towards their next purchase.

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Thompson’s are a key example of people having no sense. Auction houses see West Hurley guns go for nearly identical prices as USGI guns…why? Uneducated buyers want them because they are “prettier” than the others so they must be better guns 

 

HK host guns are just as bad. People who want shooter guns get sucked in by the HK fanboys who think the only proper host is a high 4 to low 5 figure HK host. They don’t understand that a good clone gun for half the money will do exactly what they will want. 
 

M16’s are the same way, people get sucked into the “Colt or nothing” nonsense and will pay way more than it should be due to “Colt is quality” which isn’t always the case. 
 

Prices come down to people jumping in without knowing the market, so called “investors” who are buying early and hoping the guns “mature” later on, or two idiots measuring their manhoods with their wallets. 

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I know little about Thompsons, but this is a timely warning as I've been debating if that should be my next purchase. I do know enough to know that I don't want a West Hurley but not yet enough to know exactly what I DO want. 

 

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3 hours ago, Abbey said:

I know little about Thompsons, but this is a timely warning as I've been debating if that should be my next purchase. I do know enough to know that I don't want a West Hurley but not yet enough to know exactly what I DO want. 

 

Lots of Thompson info here...

https://www.machinegunboards.com/forums/index.php?/forum/3-thompson-submachine-gun-message-board/

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As I’m sure you heard previously.  You can’t pay too much for a machine gun.  You can only buy it too soon. 
I bought an over priced guns 15 years ago as I kept missing deals.  Wish I had bought more at that high price point! 

Edited by pa123guns
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On 5/29/2024 at 1:10 PM, Abbey said:

I know little about Thompsons, but this is a timely warning as I've been debating if that should be my next purchase. I do know enough to know that I don't want a West Hurley but not yet enough to know exactly what I DO want

If you get a decent WH and or get a good gunsmith AKA Deerslayer, the WH is a good shooter for a decent price. Get GI internals and for 18-20K you will have a solid shooter fr many, many rounds,

Chappy

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I got a WH and have no qualms about it. It shoots like a Thompson looks like a Thompson and since I've already worked out the poor milling, it shoots fine. I got it for a decent price so I got it. When ever the subject of WH vs Colts, I think of HK clones vs real HK. 

Really it comes down why you want it and what it is for. I want a shooter and I know I won't lose money on it if I sell it later. 

Edited by Ryo
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On 5/30/2024 at 11:36 AM, ktrol90 said:

As you suggested, it is possible that the buyer simply got caught up in the heat of the moment and overpaid without without fully understanding the value of the item.

I just had a few bids on Morphy's for non-NFA firearms.   Didn't realize they have the the 'live auction' countdown format on their site like Ebay does.  So yeah, makes it easier to understand how things like the H&K's get bid up so high.

(I got outbid on everything but a single M1 Garand)

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I can provide examples of many of the above scenarios.

"You can’t pay too much for a machine gun. You can only buy it too soon."

This is one of my favorite quotes when it comes to machine guns. No matter how much you pay over market price it will be worth what you paid soon enough. I know a guy who bought an Uzi conversion years ago and paid 10K for it when it shouldn't have been more than 7-8K at the time. He's probably a very happy man today.

Concerning HK sears and HK hosts, I have both. And the guy who said clones are good enough to do what you want to do with them is officially a relatively knowledgeable individual. I have several German host guns for my HK sear because clones didn't really exist at the time I bought them. Today I have three PTR clones in the collection and they do exactly what I want to do with them. The best part is, they're currently available and inexpensive in comparison to the German made guns. Had I not had Vollmer convert a HK 93 to a 53 SBR back in the 90's I'd be hard pressed to buy one at today's prices. On that same note, I cannot imagine buying a HK 91 at today's market price and sending it off to be converted to a HK 51. Most people would say you'd be crazy to do that when a PTR equivalent is available for around 1200. My PTR 51 does exactly what I want it to do, it runs reliably and makes huge fireballs. I paid for the three PTR's what I would have for just one German HK host. I ended up with a G3K and MP5K host from PTR and all three run great!

Speaking of running great, a good friend of mine has a West Hurley Thompson. Because he sent it off to a qualified gunsmith the gun runs flawlessly now, just like a Thompson SMG should. People say the same thing about MK760 clones of the S&W Model 76. They can be made to run if you have the time, money and patience. A medium level of OCD wouldn't hurt either.

Commenting on the Colt vs clones and HK vs clones. I have three Colt M16's and one aftermarket clone M16. Guess which one gets shot the most. If you guessed clone, you'd be correct. I have it configured as a carbine so I can simply swap the buttstock and upper in a matter of seconds to the desired configuration. So going from XM177 to XM177E2 to 653 to 723 to 727 to M4 to M4A1 to MK18 etc takes less time to do than to read.

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Often overlooked is that probably 90% of the WH guns run out of the box and of the 10% that had issues, 95% of those have been fixed already.  Fixing open bolt subguns is just a hair tougher than fixing a richardson guerilla gun.

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Auction houses are in the business of making money, Big Money. They work to get consignments from people that have recently inherited arms collections and are in a hurry to turn it into cash. They also have a regular stable of wealthy client/customers they contact and pump up to bid on the items. Lot winners, customers pay too much and consignors take too little, while the auction house rakes in big profits as the middle man. They also use shill bidders to keep the price high and if the shill ends up winning, the house sells it later. On-line pre bidding requires you to put in your highest limit and the lot you want will always, immediately go to the highest limit, even if no one else is bidding against you. And yes, the auction houses all deny this and tell you that only the competition does this, not them. Sometimes a lot opens for bidding as soon as there is one bid it closes quickly. That means either the house wanted it to sell it later, or it was sold to a "favorite son". The consignor loses when this happens, and I've seen this often.

Typical auction will advertise the big dollars they got for a previous auction in order to lure the consignor. The reality: consignor typically gets 80 to 85% of the hammer price while buyer pays 25% over the hammer price. Net effect: the consignor gets 55-60 % of the actual sale price and buyer pays 40% more than its acually worth. But the good news for the auction is that the House reaps big benefits as part of their hype. 

Good Luck and keep bidding

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