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Thread: Price points: Revolver vs Autoloader

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    Default Price points: Revolver vs Autoloader

    So, this question is somewhat of a spinoff of AGL's discussion on "Are Guns An Investment" but inspired by a discussion with a friend yesterday evening. It appears to me (and at least a few others I know) that sellers, be they retailers or private individuals, seem to ask a higher price for revolvers than for autoloaders. There are exceptions, of course, and I understand this is a broad generalization.

    For the most part, I assumed that heavy caliber revolvers were selling at a premium here, in Alaska, because they were in demand locally, that those same revolvers (eg. 44, 454, 460, 500SW, etc.) wold sell much cheaper say, in Florida, where there are no grizzly bears to defend against. Yet my friends in Florida, and some other states in the southeast, agree that revolvers, in any caliber, sell higher than an autoloader (high end 1911's being the exception).

    What say you? Are the prices on AK List for popular Alaskan revolvers driven by local supply and demand, or is there some mystique about revolvers in general that commands a higher price? Or, conversely, is there something about autoloaders that inherently places them at a low price point?

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    Good revolvers are expensive. More than comparable autos. Probably because there are a lot more autos produced. Many, many more manufactured.

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    I believe revolvers are more expensive due to materials used fortheir construction and up here in AK we pay a little premium for the ones noted that are used for dangerous game defense.


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    Have you priced Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, or Les Baer lately?
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    Quote Originally Posted by boliep View Post
    Have you priced Wilson Combat, Ed Brown, or Les Baer lately?
    He does mention High end 1911s being the exception...

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    I really think a lot if the residual price is just numbers available, so supply and demand.

    ADFields has explained that something like large framed 357s don't sell for as much up here as down there because no one here wants a large frame 357.

    So there are probably a few exceptions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike h View Post
    I really think a lot if the residual price is just numbers available, so supply and demand.

    ADFields has explained that something like large framed 357s don't sell for as much up here as down there because no one here wants a large frame 357.

    So there are probably a few exceptions.
    The reverse of that has been my theory for years. I figured the heavy revolvers were spendy up here because we're up here. But I'm heraring from friends back home that even a 4" 357 revolver will go for more than a Glock 19.

    I would think there would be far more demand (especially in an urban environment) for the Glock 19.

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    But they make so many Glocks and similar autos. Look that the counters at Cabelas for example. There are like 4-5 counters for autos and a half counter for revolvers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike h View Post
    But they make so many Glocks and similar autos. Look that the counters at Cabelas for example. There are like 4-5 counters for autos and a half counter for revolvers.
    Which tells me there is little demand for revolvers. SO, with there being little demand, why such a high price. Usually it's the items in high demand, the really hot items, that command the high prices.

    I realize that manufacturers aren't producing many new revolvers anymore, but it seems to me that, after a century of production, the market should be flooded, especially given the low demand.

    To put it a different context, revolver should be the VHS tape of the gun world. (Yet, somehow, they're not.)

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    I bet people hang on to SW revolvers more than they do typical autos.

    With autos, maybe you're chasing the next big thing.

    With SW revolvers, you bought one because that's what you wanted. This probably applies to most medium and large frame revolvers from most manufacturers, but not so much small J frame stuff.

    Just a hunch, no data.

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    There are certainly regional differences in prices for different firearms. Probably more so for long guns than handguns. Much of the price difference in modern revolvers vs autos can be explained by the predominant method of making auto pistol frames out of injection molded plastic. A very "cheap" way to punch out a frame. Not a common practice in making revolvers, with the exception of the Ruger LCR's. Revolvers generally require more fitting, and hands on manufacturing methods, even with modern mfg methods. Plus, you have to drill and ream 5 or 6 chambers, and have them all line up pretty close. Many of the modern autos have internals of stamped sheet metal, cheap as well, in materials and labor costs. So, in the end, cost of making a revolver is going to be higher. And many folks, such as myself, are willing to pay a higher price for a well made revolver. Some semi-autos hold some of that fascination, but not many. Just speaking for myself here.
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    I am thinking gunbroker and etc would be the place to look for data. When I want a particular gun I look on GB to see what it sells for, and then look to see if a local shop has it. Generally they don't but if they do have it Fairbanks I can usually get it today from the LGS for about $20 more than I would have to pay if I bought it in GB and paid shipping and transfer and waited for the fool thing to get here.

    Lots and lots of Cowboy Action Sports (CAS) dealers in the US southwest. But because those guys are selling volume at low margin, the only people paying more than that aren't looking on GB before they buy. If i walked into a shop in say Conneticut or New Hampshire and saw an otherwise popular New Vaquero for $150 over the going rate on GB I might ask the owner of the shop about it, or not.

    I really have no idea what autoloaders "cost" though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    There are certainly regional differences in prices for different firearms. Probably more so for long guns than handguns. Much of the price difference in modern revolvers vs autos can be explained by the predominant method of making auto pistol frames out of injection molded plastic. A very "cheap" way to punch out a frame. Not a common practice in making revolvers, with the exception of the Ruger LCR's. Revolvers generally require more fitting, and hands on manufacturing methods, even with modern mfg methods. Plus, you have to drill and ream 5 or 6 chambers, and have them all line up pretty close. Many of the modern autos have internals of stamped sheet metal, cheap as well, in materials and labor costs. So, in the end, cost of making a revolver is going to be higher. And many folks, such as myself, are willing to pay a higher price for a well made revolver. Some semi-autos hold some of that fascination, but not many. Just speaking for myself here.
    Good comment, Bugs. SO that explains the cost of NEWLY manufactured, "current," revolvers. (BTW, I just today saw, for the first time, the S&W 69 5 shot 44 mag. MSRP $850.) But what about the glut of guns from the late 1950's onward? Why is a Ruger Security Six or S&W 19 $500 all day long on Gun Broker?

    And I can take a line from AGL's thread on quality and say that people are willing to pay more for a quality gun, but a 30 yr old gun of which there are hundreds of thousands out there...seems to me revolvers (especially 357's and 38's) should be the Mosin Nagant of the hand gun world. (100 of them in a barrel take your pick for a hundred bucks.)

    Maybe I'm crazy. (Keep your comments to yourself-peanut gallery. LOL)

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    I believe it likely has to do with the number of manufacturers producing guns and the number of guns produced. Everyone offers at least 12-30 versions of autos right now, a few manufacturers offer a dozen or so revolvers. Simple supply and demand combined with the complexity to produced as noted previously in my opinion.

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    I think it's a supply and demand thing... a lot on the demand side.

    Back in the late 80s, when LEOs were transitioning to autos in mass....you could ( and I did) pick up revolvers relatively cheap. I had several of the $100 Security and Speed Sixes and I carried a M19 for years that I got new for under $300.

    Fast forward 30 years and the market is chock full of autoloaders on the new and used market. Lots of them. The number of revolvers produced in the last three decades isn't nearly as prolific- so for the folks who want one, they better get ready to pay a little more. Modern autos are designed to be produced in a more automated fashion- no hand fitting of parts at all. Revolvers still require a bit of work by humans.

    High end 1911s have always been produced in lower numbers as well as target a more affluent market.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    There are certainly regional differences in prices for different firearms. Probably more so for long guns than handguns. Much of the price difference in modern revolvers vs autos can be explained by the predominant method of making auto pistol frames out of injection molded plastic. A very "cheap" way to punch out a frame. Not a common practice in making revolvers, with the exception of the Ruger LCR's. Revolvers generally require more fitting, and hands on manufacturing methods, even with modern mfg methods. Plus, you have to drill and ream 5 or 6 chambers, and have them all line up pretty close. Many of the modern autos have internals of stamped sheet metal, cheap as well, in materials and labor costs. So, in the end, cost of making a revolver is going to be higher. And many folks, such as myself, are willing to pay a higher price for a well made revolver. Some semi-autos hold some of that fascination, but not many. Just speaking for myself here.
    This seems the best explanation so far why revolvers are more expensive than semi-auto pistols.

    Higher material costs, higher production costs, higher labor costs AND only a few manufacturers cranking out wheelguns these days make polymer semis more affordable. Plus the "glut" of semis and manufacturers force a more competitive handgun market where prices are somewhat kept in check.

    This price difference can even be seen among semi-autos when comparing steel frame/steel slide 1911s against the Glock 21 (polymer frame). In general, you're going to pay more for the all metal handgun.

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    As far as old Sec sixes and S&W 38's and such, they are still relatively cheap on the market. M-10 38's can be had in the 300 to 400 range. Sec sixes are 4 to 500. One thing to remember, the guns haven't become higher priced, their value has remained constant. it just takes more devalued dollars to buy them. The purchasing power of the almighty dollar is at an all time low, and is, I am sad to say, destined to become even lower. AGL4Now understands this concept very well. our Government trading coupons are getting more worthless every day. be prepared to have to spend higher amounts of them for good stuff, such as quality revolvers and autos.
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    Also new SWs have locks, which adds a premium to prelock SWs.

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    In general revolvers are more expensive to manufacture than auto loaders, as seen in new gun prices due to both the time required to manufacture them and the smaller number of revolvers manufactured compared to auto loaders. Used gun prices are all over the map, but in general they are going to be a certain percentage of new gun prices.

    So, if your average new revolver sells for say $700, and your average new auto loader sells for $500, your average used revolver will say sell for $500 and your average used auto loader will sell for $300.

    As to preferences for revolvers, you have to look at the chamberings, you can't find an auto loading pistol in 44 mag, 45 colt or larger chamberings that costs less than a revolver.
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    One thing I learned in my search for an Alaskan worthy sidearm, was that new and used revolver prices were to close to justify. Unless the revolver had a long barrel, which I didn't want. I decided to purchase a Glock 20 for my sidearm while outside the human population areas. 15 rounds X 3 mags is better than anything else in revolver and I was able to get it all for about $200 less than a revolver.

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