Investment firms across the country for a generation have recommended buying precious metals such as silver and gold as a hedge against inflation. However, what should be evaluated alongside that in investing in steel and brass.
Let us look at a theoretical example. The retirees looking to claim their Social Security benefits this year at age 66 would have been 18 years old in 1964. Say that young person had $20 to invest. He could have bought about one half ounce of gold or a WW2 surplus M1 carbine for that price. Today that little throw away warbaby carbine would be worth $850-900 and the half-ounce of gold right at $812.
Used to be you could buy a working Boys Anti Tank Rifle in this country for $98. Times have changed.
While that is an example of a long-term investment, let us look at the twenty-year turn around. In 1992, the United States was awash in $99 Russian SKS Type 45 rifles. I should know, I bought five for five one hundred dollar bills with the dealer absorbing the tax. He literally had pallets of them. They were fresh from the importer, greased in old commie cosomoline thick as Stalin's grandma's eyebrows. They cleaned up and shot well. Over the years, I have whittled these five away in trades until just one remains. A quick look around gunbroker and gunsamerica shows that to add another one to my collection is right around $500 with shipping. That is the same price I paid for five of them in 1992.
In the early 1930s you could buy a Colt 1917 .45ACP for $21.95 and have it shipped to your house.
Therefore, you do not want to wait twenty years to see a recoup, let us go five years. In 2007, I bought a Belgian Herstal Browning FN Hi-Power SFS for $350 brand new in the box with three magazines. The dealer had a hundred of them that sat there for months. Looking around today online, I can find three for sale; the cheapest one is $799 in used condition.
Tips for picking your investments
Just because something is seen as being inexpensive, it is not necessarily cheap. Case in point, the M-1 carbine in 1964, the Russian SKS in 1992 and the FNH SFS in 2007 were all inexpensive firearms compared to the competition of the time. It used to be that if you brought an SKS or M1 to the range the 'real' gun guys snickered at you. However, in all three of those cases mentioned, the guns were not cheaply made and time has borne out the investment. Therefore, the lesson that investing in well-made firearms that are current 'deals' is a smart move.
Two M1 Garands for $134.00...sign me up!
On the other side of the equation, stay away from poorly made firearms. Take the infamous Rohm revolvers of the 60s and 70s. These bad boys were pot metal pop guns that pretty much defined a Saturday night special. While they have undoubtedly saved a few lives, they have a horrible reputation. If you bought a Rohm RG for $10 in 1965, odds are you may get someone to pay you $50 for it today-- if it works. When you factor in inflation, you probably lost money on the deal.
Ammunition, just like firearms, can be a proven investment. Back in 1992, alongside those $99 SKS's were pallets of 7.62x39mm chicom ammo. Packed 1300 rounds deep inside a wooden crate, these were brass-cased rounds that shot beautifully. At $99 a crate, I bought a couple and burned through them. Wish I had bought a couple more. Today a similar quantity of lower quality steel cased ammo is 2-3 times as much for a smaller amount. This same example can be replayed with 8mm Mauser, 30.06, 5.56, or just about any other common caliber.
With ammunition, proper storage is everything. Keep it in a cool dry space with a constant year round temperature. Desiccant packs that absorb moisture are helpful with this. Best bet is climate-controlled storage in your indoor sealed safe inside a surplus military ammo can. I have shot pre-1920 military ammo and 1950s commercial ammo in the past year that has been stored fine with no issues.
Bottom line, it is hard to state that money spent on smart firearm and ammunition inside your budget is a waste. Feel free to forward this to your wife.