Collapse bottom bar

Guns & Ammo Network

Sixguns & Sagebrush

My Worst Gun Trade Ever

by Bart Skelton   |  February 21st, 2012 27

Sometimes you’ve just got to get rid of something to get something else in return. It seems that such transactions rarely work out for the best, at least in my case. Sometime back, I was attending a local auction. For the most part, it contained the typical mish-mash of old goods that someone didn’t want anymore, but didn’t have the heart to take to the dump. Yet, amongst the old lamps, worn out tools, and fake Persian rugs were a few old firearms. In picking through them, I found a little gem – a Winchester Model 1894. The cool part was that it was a deluxe model, takedown, with half-octagon, half-round barrel and a special order front sight.


Some brilliant mind had dreamed up the rifle needed sling swivels, and fitted the old gal with a fore end cap with swivel that was made for a round instead of octagon barrel. They had fired the rifle with such fittings, causing the ill-fitting cap to split the deluxe grade fore-end. Further, the would-be gunsmith set the rear swivel into the deluxe-grade stock with sheet metal screws. Finally, the old ’94 must have had a little surface rust on the receiver, prompting its owner to take after the original bluing with steel wool, polishing it to a shiny finish.


Even with the blemishes, the rifle was spectacular. After getting the winning bid, I took the old girl home, then set to making things right with it. Some months later, I had a wonderfully restored deluxe Winchester.


Not being satisfied with such a fine long-arm, my mind started wandering into the trade mode. An old gun-trader friend passed through town headed to Arizona from a gunshow in Texas. He stopped in just to taunt me with a passel of Colt Single Action revolvers. Catching my eye was a 4 ¾ .38-40 with pearl stocks – case coloring was fabulous, and it had that look that screamed “original”. The more I handled the sixgun, the better I liked it (even though pearl stocks aren’t my favorite). I finally could stand it no more, and inquired about a trade for my deluxe Winchester. After some haggling, a deal was struck.


I got home with my Colt and was thrilled with the trade. Not long afterward, I had a conversation about the swap with my old friend, Lance Olson, the noted Iowa wildfowl conservationist and firearms expert. Olson tongue lashed me good for what I’d done.


“That was probably one of the rarest Winchester rifles in existence you just traded off, you #$%#,” he said. “You could’ve bought a sack full of single actions with what that thing is worth, even restored!”


And he turned out to be right.


I still love my .38-40, but I’m still kicking myself over the deal. I sure hope the old cliché “live and learn” applies to me.


Have you ever made a gun trade you wish you could take back?

  • crowell33

    Yes! Last year I traded my Savage 111 .30-06 for a Glock 17. The moment I did it, I regretted it. Even without the AccuTrigger or AccuStock, that Savage was twice as accurate than my Remington 700. I still miss it and regret to this day I made the trade. I'm such an idiot.

  • Guest

    Get in line with the rest of us.

  • Bob Horton

    Just about all of them. I look in my safe and see what I've got and then remember what I had. What was I thinking?

  • Don

    Back in the 70s I was a huge S&W and Elmer Keith fan. I was constantly looking for a Triple Lock in .44 Special. One day in a small sport shop I found a Colt New Service Officer model in .44 SPL. It featured a 7.5" barrel, front sight adjustable for elevation, rear for windage and very nice checkered original grips. Got it for a song. It was a great shooter and the action was as slick as any gun I had fired.

    Took it to a gun show and ran across a 4" Triple Lock in .44 SPL. I couldn't control myself. Traded even up for the Colt. Took the Smith home and went to shoot it. It threw almost as much lead to the sides as it did to the front. Upon closer examination, there was a huge gap between the barrel and cylinder and it appeared to have had the barrel shortened and not professionally. In those days, finding a good pistolsmith was pretty hard and I ended up selling the gun for parts.

    I still kick myself for ever letting that beautiful Colt go.

  • Tampa Tony

    Thanks for opening old wounds!!! Years ago I bought a used Smith and Wesson Model 13 revolver, 3-inch blued. It had the original wood grips and original finish, somewhat worn, maybe 75%. Other than that the gun was mechanically like new. I should have just gotten it refinished and fitted with modern grips. It would have made a great carry revolver. Instead I traded it for another gun, and I haven't been able to find another good quality model 13 since. I can't even remember what gun I traded it for, but I will always remember the great S&W 13 that I let get away.

  • dostires

    It's hard to see through teary eyes but I will try to finish this……..back in the early 80's I was a proud owner of a Remington Model 700 in 270 that was just perfect for me. I also owned a Colt Diamond Back in brand new condition that fit my hand like a glove. Both firearms shot great and looked great! Well this is where the story goes bad, I was young and had some debt that needed paying soooo I gave up both of my babies to clear the debt which added up to about $200 at the time…………….live and learn!

  • Lopaka Kanaka

    I had a S&W Model 19 357mag with a 6 inch barrel wich I purchase new in 1970 for $150 and I let it go for $250 in 1985 and till today I could kick myself for selling my love for it. I had a 1911 A-1 45acp Colt in 1970 which I purchased used for $100 and did a lot of up-grade with new barrel, trigger, springs, new grips and traded it off to my brother for his 1985 Ford LTD. No brains when you make deals you can't have back. I know what it's like to sell or trade off one of your guns.

  • Alan_T

    Late at night when all is still and the only sound is that of a ticking clock , I lie in a cold sweat . You know the kind of night I mean , the kind where you can't sleep and old memories haunt you like restless ghosts and as I lie in that cold sweat , I weep for bits of my soul that I lost when I betrayed my friends and let them slip away into the hands of some *&#%$^#&^@% ! ! ! ! ….. I WANT MY GUNS BACK !

    • Bugsy Blackpowder

      I'm right there with you, brother. It cuts like a knife.

  • Chris

    This is why I never sell my personal guns. I will just pass them down to my kids when I no longer want them. And yes I have a lot of guns because of it.

    • LEVI

      Amen! I don't sell my guns. If I don't like it, I put it in the safe and save up for the next one on my list…. somehow though my list outgrows my wallet.

  • Charlie

    When I was in Alaska I found a pre-64 Winchester Model 70 in .338 Mag. used it to take 3 big moose, I was then transferred to Sacramento then got out of the AF. Came back to NC and took one whitetail with it, blew a LOT of meat off that deer so I found a fella who had a 336-C and traded. Every time I see a Model 70 I just cringe.

  • Kildlawyrs

    I NEVER sell any of my guns. No regrets.

    • Scott Nelson


  • mike

    too many to count my good sir.

  • Likitis

    H&K 45acp, found a 9" barrel. Was an incredible automatic either way!! WHY????

  • don

    back before the Clinton ban on "assult" rifles I sold a marlin lever action 30/30 and a lever action .22lr. so i could buy a SKS that were way overpriced at the time. loved the .22lr one of the funnest guns i have ever shot
    . still regret that one. was 20years old then. i guess it's as they say "young and dumb"

  • Lou

    Yep. I traded a smith and Wesson model 686 with a 6 inch barrel with less than a 100 rounds fired for a mountain bike in 1992 and to this day I tear up just thinking of her. Life can be so cruel indeed.

  • blackpowder

    I have given to kids, have never sold or traded. Have bought a few from people who just had to have that new dingle/dangle if the price was right. Felt kinda guilty, but hey they named the price.

  • Sandspur6

    4" Model 29 made in 1958. Mint condition with beautiful "coke bottle" grips. Took it to the 1978 Houston gun show, just to show it off. Wound up trading it for a Model 19 and $200.00 boot. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • Wayne

    I lost two 6" Colt Pythons in a pawn shop 30 years ago. I was one day late. STUPID! Don't never pawn your guns people.

  • Seadog

    I started my "shootin" when I was a young man in the Navy. I met a guy on the ship(now my life long friend), who introduced me to shooting handguns and reloading. I will be forever grateful. I needed a gun that my wife and I could both shoot and fit our hands comfortably. My buddy had a Browning Hi-Power that he was willing to sell with reloading equipment(Lyman 310 tool). We were both happy with the deal for a while. A few years later, I began to prefer revolvers, if no other reason, I didn't have to hunt for my brass. By then, I had acquired a couple of revolvers and had my eye on something else, and now I can't even remember what that was. All I remember was that I traded my Hi-power to get something less memorable. Years later, my life-long Navy buddy and I will still kick ourselves. We both wish we had it back. Now, he's acquired another HI-power of the same vintage(early 70's) and I acquired one from the late 70's. Whenever we handle our "new" HI-Powers, I'm sure we always remember the one that got away.

  • tintman

    a buddy of mine sold me a s and w .44 mag. it felt like a .38 special when you held it . i did'nt think much about it when i sold it for 300 bucks i found out later the gun was a mountener special edition smith. it was titanium. the gun was made for hunting bears as a side arm. turns out my friend i sold it too took it to a gun show and sold it for 3000 bucks. now i have too take a little cry now!! sniff sniff

  • Clay Mark

    I traded a late 70s model 700 7mm with wood stock ,custom bolt, 3lb trigger pull and a 50mm Nikon scope 3x12x50 for a model 70 .300 mag with a synthetic stock and redfield 3x9x40 scope …. and all because I got mad at my 7mm for a bad shot I took at a 6pt bull elk that got away……. I want my rifle back

  • Don Allred

    My "trade I wished I had never made enabled me to buy a Glock 19 after giving my Glock 17 to my son for HS graduation, but took away my S&W 317 .22lr with a 3" barrel (weighed about 11oz.). Now those 317's sell new for over $600. I'll probably never have another.

  • Lawman

    Yep, add me to the list. I traded a Winchester Model 94 30-30…for a car, in '82. First firearm I ever bought, my dad had to get it for me even though it was my money that paid for it. i was 16 yrs old….that car broke down soon after I got it (weep). I sold a Colt trooper .357 in '92, for 250.00 I sold my Ruger .41 mag with the reloading die for 400.00, in '93. I traded my Ruger Security Six .357 for Savage '06, in '84. I thought I could get another Security Six, surely Ruger would not quit building them??! Yeah, they are still around, but much more difficult to find now than then. At the time all of these "deals" seemed like such a good idea. Evidently it has taken me a long time to learn. I just hope I have now.

  • Ed ONeill

    You guys are making me tear up, thinking of all the stupid trades and sales I made.

back to top