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Interest in black powder replicas is rising


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
DeSoto, Texas 75123
(972) 223-3066

The page designed and maintained by Adam and Kerry Wright