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What You Should Know About Fake Antique Guns At Auction

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
gun auction tips for selling guns and antique firearms

The concept of buying and selling fake guns is not unique to modern times. During the 1800s, this practice was not uncommon and it became popular in the 1900s. It is thought that the widespread practice of creating fake firearms to sell to dealers started after World War II. Whether you are a dealer or a buyer, it is important to know what exactly a fake is and how this issue can affect you.

Is a restored firearm considered fake?

The answer to this question isn’t as simple as it may seem. Some restored or repaired models can be considered fake simply because they contain so many modern components. Collectors often prefer to see firearms in their original condition, so they are willing to spend a large sum of money to restore them. Collectors will pay even more money to get a firearm that is actually as close to “from-the-factory” as possible.

The problem with restorations is that not everyone wants to or knows to explain the firearm is restored. This means that buyers run the risk of getting a fake or what they might consider a fake. The best way for buyers to avoid this is to make sure to ask the seller about the history of the gun. If you are going to an auction or other event where you cannot ask, look for any historical information provided.

What is considered fake?

Besides blatant fraud when a seller does not disclose that there have been repairs or restorations, there are many situations where firearms can be considered fake. Most of the time, these have to do with modifications like the situations below.

  1. A fake gun could be one that has been changed or modified to pass as an original. This includes making it look worn, used, and beaten.
  2. Changing a common firearm or gun model to look like a different one is considered fraud.
  3. Creating false documentation and historical information for a firearm means that the seller is trying to move a fake.
  4. By adding a modern engraving to an older firearm and saying it is original makes it fake.
  5. If a seller modifies the barrel, finish, or other feature to something more desirable, the firearm could be considered fake.
  6. Modifying a lower quality piece to look like a higher-quality model from the same brand is considered faking.

Sometimes sellers can get away with letting buyers know that firearms have been altered. But, if the goal is to get the same price or more as original or authentic pieces, that means they are selling fake firearms.

Are reproduction pieces fake?

This question is important because major gun manufacturers are involved. If large companies can create reproductions of in-demand firearms, can individuals do the same? For certain reproductions, like military pieces, many are completely against it. Within the market as a whole, reproducing makes creating and selling fake firearms easier.

Some buyers consider reproductions to be fake while others see the benefits of purchasing them. These include the following.

  • Being able to use pieces that look historical without harming authentic firearms.
  • Encouraging collectors and enthusiasts to enjoy the history of guns and firearms.
  • Providing affordable, functional, and beautiful firearms.

Which fake guns should I look out for the most?

If an altered gun or firearm is worth more than an original plus the cost of alteration, it is likely to be fake. When fakes first began to hit the market, Colts, Winchesters, and Lugers were common. Today, if a gun is considered collectible, it could be subject to fakery. Some have said that guns and firearms valued between $2,000 and $10,000 are commonly faked. Here are some other examples of pieces that have been known to be fake.


Some specific Winchester models are known for having been forged. It is said that a large majority of engraved Henrys and 1866s were actually engraved within the last forty years. It has also been reported by some collectors that standard Model 97 and Model 12 shotguns have been converted to trench guns.

Percussion Colts

These are some of the most reworked, artificially aged, or restamped reproductions in the industry. Walkers and the so-called “Wells Fargo” type Model 1849s are of the most concern for fakes.


For some collectors, these are the most likely models to be faked. This is especially true for those that can be changed in small ways, like by adding a stamp or altering a mark. For fans of Lugers and other auto-pistols, a membership with The National Auto Pistol Collectors Association can be beneficial. This group is dedicated to discussing and exposing fake firearms and guns.

Other firearms and guns

There are many other firearms and guns that are subject to fakery and alterations. They include military firearms, engraved guns, those with historical records or notable histories, early firearms, and double shotguns. Casings, holsters, and accessories are also faked within the industry.

Tips for spotting fake antique guns

Before going to a gun auction or sale, it is best to know how to avoid buying fakes. You don’t have to be an expert collector to do this. Here are some tips that you can use to have the most success at antique gun auctions.

  1. Remember that many fake antique guns will be based off more expensive pieces. They will come at high prices too.
  2. Other fakes will come at lower prices, especially if they are not subject to as much scrutiny as more rare models.
  3. Creating an entirely new fake antique gun is an expensive venture, so most fakes will be altered versions of ordinary models.
  4. Do research before every gun auction. This will help you to get to know the guns you’re interested in before you bid.

Antique gun auctions in the Texas Panhandle

If you are interested in buying antique guns and firearms at auction, call High Plains Auctioneers. We have a variety of events throughout the year, including estate, antique, and gun auctions. Give us a call at (806) 244-6776 or Send Us an Email for more information. Don’t forget to check out our Upcoming Auctions to see what we will have available.