Gun Prices Back In the Day



  1. Triangulating between several different offerings there, I’d reckon the date of this catalog was in the late 1920’s.

    Using 1928 as my benchmark year, $100 in 1928 is equivalent to $1482.05 today.

    So those guns you’re seeing for around $50? Those would be costing $700 today.

    As I continue to rant at people: You keep thinking that you should be able to buy a quality gun for under $1K, when inflation is eating away the value of your money for buying anything tangible. My parents bought their first car together for $3K – an International Harvester Scout for less than $3K.

    Today, you’d pay at least $30K for that vehicle. I don’t know why people keep expecting quality guns to cost less than $1K.

    • Dad was a bookkeeper for local hardware store. He said in 1927 he bought a Winchester Model 12 16 ga thru the store for ~$27. When i was small he let me clean it after each bunny hunt. Still remember that Hoppes #9 smelled better than any perfume – ever. Collect and research pre 64 Winchesters. Finding selling prices for firearms back then easier said than done. Your Sears catalog is good. Does it have a date?

    • “I don’t know why people keep expecting quality guns to cost less than $1K.”

      Because math and analytic thinking isn’t taught anymore, so we’re stuck with a population that doesn’t understand the causes or effects of inflation?

      • That, and we have two generations of over-preening, entitled people who have been told that they’re terribly smart, brave and talented, when they are none of those things.

        And not only is math no longer taught, the female teachers in elementary education admit, in a large majority, that they are “scared” of mathematics and arithmetic. It’s disgusting to hear teachers admit to being “scared” of math. WTF? What is there to be scared of? It’s like saying “I’m scared to conjugate a verb!” And yet, female teachers cater to each other over this hysterical nonsense.

    • OTOH, inexpensive rifles are better now than they were then. My LGS is selling Savage Axis II rifles in .308 for $423 with the scope mounted. That’s ~$28 in these dollars, or less than the price of a Winchester 1894 in the above flyer.

      Now, is the Axis II a “quality rifle?” I doubt it’ll be an heirloom. OTOH, if you’d put an Axis II on the shelf next to the 1894 in 1920-something, there’s no question which rifle would’ve been seen as a better venison-getter.

      • It is more accurate (pardon the pun) to say that barrel quality for bottom-grade barrels is higher now than it was back then. That’s it.

        The new rifles often have worse triggers (in that many of them are “lawyer-proof” and have horrible trigger pulls) than older rifles. They appear designed for the “once a year hunter” market, and shoot well for a few shots, but I’ve noticed that some of the lower-grade rifles have barrels that heat up very rapidly. This doesn’t make a big difference in applications where people are shooting a few rounds to get sighted in, and then a few rounds every hunting season, then the rifle gets cleaned and put away. Truth be told, that covers a large segment of the centerfire rifle market.

        But for varmint hunting, target shooting, etc – I’ve had several people ask me why their barrel is getting “so hot, so fast,” and I don’t have a good explanation when I look through the bore scope.

        • Improved optics since 1928 isn’t nothin’ either. I’m sure those scopes on the Savage Axis came from some PacRim lowest bidder, but they beat the ever-loving heck out of the buckhorn sights on an 1894.

          And yes, I suspect that a huge portion of the centerfire rifle market averages less than a box of ammo per year.

          Good comments on barrel quality. Thanks.

  2. I would love to get me hands on a old scout,rust free,can move on with the rest power train ect.

    Actually any 4×4 from the 70’s backwards works for me,also,the muscle cars.

    • I grew up in the North, and when I moved to Arizona in the mid-90s, I kept seeing these funny old SUVs around. They weren’t Jeeps, but looked a little like Broncos. I was enough of a car guy that it was strange to see something just totally unidentifiable to me. I finally got close enough to one to read “Scout” off the back. I talked to my Dad about it, and he knew all about the International Harvester Scout. His report was that they rusted out very quickly on salted roads and had been extinct in my old AO for some time.

      I don’t see them around AZ much anymore either.

    • Then I would look for one from the southwest, Texas, California, etc.

      Cars of that vintage were consumed by rust very quickly in the upper midwest, northeast, etc. In the 60’s and then in the 70’s, they used to lay rock salt down on roads in the winter with glee and abandon, and it would eat cars alive. People who had to drive often in the winters could see their car disappear in as little as three years in those days.

      FWIW, I remember my old man griping about the vacuum-powered windshield wipers on the Scout. I believe that IH went to electric wipers later on in the 60’s. Vacuum-powered wipers, transmission shifters, etc were a “thing” back then in automotive engineering, but thankfully, this fashion didn’t last long. The reason why the accessories were not powered more often by electrical power was that those earlier vehicles had a generator vs. today’s alternators, and generators produced very uneven voltage output, depending on the engine RPM. Anyway, unless you get a screaming deal on an early 60’s model, I would be looking for a Scout from the mid-60’s onwards – I don’t know when the change happened from the first model to the second model with electric accessories, but I’d look for that second model. I’d also look for the I-6 engine instead of the V-8. In that day, inline-6’s were “the” engine for ease of repair and utility applications from Detroit, pretty much no matter the marque. I believe there was a version of the Scout that had a turbo’ed I-6 engine back then – I remember as a youngster guys were very impressed with the fuel mileage and power of that engine on the highway. Back then turbo’s/blowers were a “scary” option for car buyers, because they were seen on almost nothing outside of racing, aviation engines or Detroit diesels. Today, we have people buying Fords with dual turbos on them who can’t even tell you what a turbo is or what it looks like.

      • “FWIW, I remember my old man griping about the vacuum-powered windshield wipers on the Scout.”

        My Dad had the same complaint, though he never owned a Scout. I believe the cars in question were old Beetles. He said it was lots of fun when you had your windshield wipers on high to push off all the water that a semi was throwing at you, then as you put the hammer down to pull out and pass the semi, your vacuum would drop and your wipers would slow down just as you pulled into the opposing lane.

  3. Off topic, but it looks like no one ordered the Cops to evacuate East Precinct in Seattle, at least no one from the Chief of Police down will fess up to giving an order to evacuate.
    That says something about the Seattle PD and how it is run, no?

    • Watching the Seattle woman mayor and the Seattle woman CoP snipe back and forth at each other has been an embarrassment. It’s like Mean Girls at the level of a major American city. I imagine that Putin and Xi are having some pretty good laughs at our expense. And who can blame them?


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