The interest in collecting black powder replicas is growing. In a
recent edition of Gun Journal there was an article about collecting
replicas. Also in the September edition there was a two page article
about the Colt Signature Series. At the NRA 1998 Annual Meetings and
Exhibits in Philadelphia where Colt Black Powder Arms had a booth,
separate but near the Colt booth.
A short history of these arms
might be of interest. About 1955 a number of black powder shooters began
importing black powder replicas from Europe. Probably the first
production replica was offered by Turner Kirkland of Dixie Gun works in
1955. A typical Kentucky rifle was manufactured to his specifications in
Belgium. Right after him Val Forgett of Navy Arms brought out a copy of
a Remington percussion revolver which was produced in Italy. Sales
surpassed all expectations and quickly surpassed supply. Soon, other
firms entered the replica business and introduced other models.
Another source for replicas was customer shops in the United
States.These businesses produced higher quality black powder arms on a
limited bases similar to custom cartridge rifles made to individual
specifications. Black powder arms became such a big business that even
the major firearms manufacturers jonied in the action. Colt brought back
several of the principal Colt percussion designs and Ruger introduced a
replica stainless steel percussion revolver.
There are several
reasons for the collector/dealer to become interested in black powder
replicas. Black powder shooters are well advised not to shoot their
originals because of safety reasons. Also if an original antique is in
fine enough condition to shoot it is quite valuable and even a minor
broken part or scratch on its finish would significantly decrease it
value. The answer is to shoot a replica of the rare antique.
Another reason to deal in replicas is the growing popularity of
a new game, Cowboy Action Shooting. Why shouldn't the participants get
their gear at the DACA show?
Replicas also work for the
beginning collector who does not want or can't afford to invest in an
original. Also there are a growing number of people who collect replicas
for their own sake. Some of the early replicas are already 45 years old.
It should be considered by all as a legitimate area of collector
interest. Finally as with antique arms, replicas can be bought and sold
without regard to fedral gun laws.
The same standards of
condition are used for replicas as for modern arms. Since the guns use
corrosive black powder the bore should be carefully examined before
purchase. All percussion guns should be tied to keep people from dry
firing them. It takes only a few snaps to destroy a nipple. If possible
one should get the operating instructions with the gun. First it makes
the gun more sellable and second if the buyer has the operating
instructions and hurts himself the dealer would be less liable.
Finally John E Traitor's book Antique Guns, the second Edition,
has a very good price guide for replicas. It is interesting to note that
several replicas are listed in the above book for $65.00 which are the
least valuable while the most valuable is a Dixie Arms Pedersoli.
The Dallas Arms Collectors Association, Inc
P.O. Box 704
The page designed and maintained by Adam and Kerry Wright