A vintage Colt Python .357 magnum, considered by many the best-made revolver of all time, writes outdoors columnist Ted Peck. 

Crazy weather and limited outdoor options make today a great day to stay home and clean the guns.

Guns are a wise investment on several different levels, especially some of the older Smith & Wesson and Colt revolvers. Vintage Brownings and classics like the Model 12 Winchester pump shotgun are all better investments than precious metals.

With shotguns, some of the less common gauges like 16 and 28 can be valuable commodities. Even the tiny .410 can be worth much more than you paid for it years ago if the scattergun is in good shape.

My wife bought a Remington Express .410 pump from Dam Road Gun Shop as a Christmas gift for me back in 1987, the year this less expensive version of the classic 870 was introduced. She paid $99 for this gun, which has less than 100 shells fired through it over all those years.

Twice annual cleaning—okay, fondling—and storage in a humidity-controlled gun safe has greatly enhanced the value of this inexpensive shotgun over the years. Since this gun hasn’t even been fired over a dozen years, selling it seemed like a good idea.

The website www.Gunbroker.com is the best place for an accurate assessment of a gun’s value. For decades, a thick and pricey book—”Gun Traders Guide”—was the gun lover’s bible for relevant information.

But by the time this tome is printed and readily available, accurate value statistics can be nearly a year old.

A quick check of the website revealed that my cheap, little .410 had increased 400 percent in value! Odds are entry-level guns like that Remington Express won’t increase in value like precious metals hyped by TV pitchmen, but some older revolvers are literally worth their weight in silver if not gold.

Dumb luck led me to buy one of these treasured guns back in 1972. I was attending college at Southern Illinois University and was just married. The $250 a local gunshop was asking for that .357 magnum Colt Python was a fortune, even though the deal included a nice leather gun belt and 300 rounds of ammo.

“Few guns have increased in value as much as the Colt Python” said Mike Polenski, owner of the Dam Road Gun Shop near Delavan. “An older Python in good condition can bring as much as $5,000.”

A quick check of my Python’s serial number revealed this gun was built in 1968—just a couple years after Colt introduced this weapon.

“Many firearm aficionados agree that the Colt Python is the finest-made ‘wheel gun’ ever made,” Polenski said. “Quality and rarity are primary reason this gun is so valuable.”

The Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44 magnum, made famous in the Clint Eastwood movie “Dirty Harry,” is another much sought after handgun, according to Polenski.

When asked for a top-five ‘bucket list’ of sought after guns, Polenski named these two revolvers, a 16-gauge Browning Superposed shotgun, Belgian-made Browning automatic rifle, and “essentially any drilling you can find.”

A drilling is a three-barreled long gun with both shotgun and rifled barrels, primarily manufactured in Europe and still popular with the African safari set. Polenski said he has seen just two drillings in the 50 years he has been running the gun shop. An old drilling manufactured by Holland & Holland, which is still in good condition, can bring well over $20,000 at auction.

Most homeowner’s insurance policies only cover firearm loss up to about $1,000—for all of your guns. Membership in the NRA comes with additional gun insurance at no additional charge. Beyond this coverage, purchase of “rider” insurance policies for specific guns and storing firearms in a quality gun safe like those sold by Liberty gun safes can help secure both this valuable property and your legacy.

My Dad’s Browning A-5 shotgun hasn’t scared a pheasant in 50 years. Grandpa’s old side-by-side with Damascus barrels hasn’t been fired in almost a century.

Today, the man cave will be filled with memories and the pungent aroma of Hoppe’s #9 nitro powder solvent as each precious vignette of family and American history is cleaned and placed with reverence in that massive Liberty safe. Those weapons will be secure from all perils, with the Second Amendment and a personal love of freedom assuring the kids will eventually be able to hold this legacy.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc Peck will be doing seminars on river walleye fishing at the 48th annual Rockford Boat, Vacation and Fishing show next weekend. Show will be held at the Indoor sports Center, 8800 E. Riverside in Loves Park, Feb. 8-10