Military Guns & Swords

Many times military swords bear a mark of their maker.

For those who find military history irresistible, the collection of military guns and swords provides both personal enjoyment and sometimes profit. Whether the weapon selected involves an antique musket or a civil war saber, the search, evaluation, and finally collection of the items can seem like a wonderful treasure hunt. And it repeats with each new weapon collected.

Starting Out

To begin collecting, a person doesn’t just go out to the local military surplus and find a Revolutionary War rifle. First, the beginner needs to make a determination what guns and/or swords he or she wants to collect. There are so many periods and variations, unless a person is a millionaire, he or she won’t be able to come close to finding them all. Even some millionaires are challenged in completing their collections as well. Instead, many collectors focus on a particular period and weapon type. Some choose pistols, others daggers, still others swords and sabers. Each period generally provides a rich history not just in the use of the weapon but also the history involved in its production.

Swords Versus Guns

Is one weapon better than another for collecting? Not really. Much depends on personal choice. However, swords tend to be more prolific in earlier time periods since they served a more functional purpose prior to the automatic gun. During the age of single shot rifles and guns, particularly when reloading took a bit, a sword in close combat was very effective. Thus they are more likely to be found and they very likely were used rather than just owned for ceremonial purposes.

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Guns and firearms range from the early musketball range finders to automatic weapons of modern wars. Handguns frequently end up in collections because they are easier to manage, smaller, and can be displayed easier. Rifles tend to be sought by shooting connoisseurs, especially those who would like to restore an old rifle and actually use it at a shooting range.


One major difference between collecting firearms versus swords tends to be firearm laws. Regardless of how old a firearm may be, the owner needs to be registered as a documented gun license holder. This law can be found in all 50 states, with increased variations depending on how lethal the weapon is. In some cases, some automatic firearms are entirely outlawed from private ownership due to their lethal capability.

Purchasing firearms is restricted as well. Legally, military guns and any firearms can only be bought from a licensed gun dealer. Private sales are highly problematic, especially if the weapon doesn’t have documented history. In terms of modern age, military gun collectors are limited to weapons that have already been aged out of use by the military. Current grade weapons are not allowed to be purchased under most federal and state laws.

Finally any owned firearms also need to be registered. A collector can be arrested for having a firearm that is not documented. Swords, on the other hand, don’t have the above complications when it comes to purchasing and ownership.

Firearm Collector Tip

Given the laws on firearms, it helps a collector to have a federal license specific to collecting curios and relics. This type of license stays valid for a three year period and the application only costs a small fee. The benefit of having this kind of license allows a collector to buy military firearms made prior to 1968 via firearm distributors versus retail dealers. The price difference can be significant, leaving more funds for other collection targets.

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The Challenge of Sword Collecting

Swords by their nature are personal weapons. Their history includes historic manual craftsmanship and use. Because of these elements, swords jump and fall in prices depending on their history. Many times the challenge of finding military swords may not be so much the availability but rather being able to find a certain type at an affordable price. Particularly hard-to-obtain swords tend to be weapons that were held by famous military officers during times of war.