To Restore, or Not to Restore?
Looking over your collection of lever guns and single action revolvers you may often ask yourself, “Are any of these classics worth restoring?” Perhaps what’s really being asked is, “What’s the true value of preserving this piece of history, with all of the stories and mysteries embedded in its wood and steel?”
Through his years of collecting, exploring and conducting expert interviews, author Terry Wieland has done a commendable job of helping his readers understand the ins and outs of firearm restoration. In doing so, Terry equips the collector with powerful knowledge for when it comes time to answer the key question: To restore or not to restore?
Thankfully, the magic of social media has recently reminded us of Terry Wieland’s good work, some of which was conducted nearly a decade ago. We’ve picked up a few of his articles to share with you here. One article is “Restored to Life” at GunDigest.com, and the other is “The Gun Restoration Controversy” at ShootingTimes.com. While these articles touched on some controversial topics when they were first published, we feel over time they’ve become valuable tools for gun collectors and shooting sports enthusiasts. Wieland offers key topics and questions for your consideration, while also overlaying fascinating historical context that can help you decide if restoration is right for your particular firearm.
Our hope is that Terry’s perspective, along with our own insights and resources, will help support your decision to restore or not to restore. What are your thoughts? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.
As always, please count on us to be your trusted resource. We’re at your service. Contact us with any gun restoration questions you may have.
Want to See More Stories Like These?
This installment of Restoration Resources appears in our Shoot History e-magazine. If you'd like to see more stories like these while learning about classic firearms preservation, head over to Shoot History. Be sure to hit the subscribe button while you're there.
I feel the decision to restore is up to the individual. In my case, I sent a low 4 digit serial # 1911 Government Model (it was damaged and a train wreck) back to Turnbull for restoration. I’d let the piece sit around in a safe for over 10 years, unable to enjoy it and thinking: “restoration — yes or no; should I or not?”
The correct answer — for me — was YES !! I’ve now got it back after a long wait and it’s beautiful!! I am completely “at ease” with my “yes or no” decision on restoration and can enjoy the genius that was John M. Browning.
I’m an old guy and I’ve always chuckled at how it’s 100% O.K. and desirable and sometimes necessary to restore an automobile or airplane and often add exponential value to the item ….. but it’s not O.K. (in the ‘experts’ opinion ) do the same with a historical, collectible firearm. One that was a “train wreck”, just to mention a certain 1911 that comes to mind …
Thanks for weighing in, Mr. Hart! We really appreciate your trust in us, and we’re so glad you’re happy with the way your restoration turned out.
I have a Winchester 1886 mfg in1881. The gun is in excellent shape, shoots great, and functions perfectly. The previous owner refinished the stock, and blued the barrel. Let’s just say a good job, but not Turnbull Quality. I would like to go the other way, and try to get it to it to look it’s age you might say. Is this something that can be done.
That’s probably not a project we’d be able to help with. I’d recommend just taking it out in the woods and helping it along to age it back from its current condition on your own.
I really enjoy seeing the great work that yall do.
Thank you Britt. It’s our pleasure.
I have an 1873 Winchester rifle sn 34922 in fair condition,shoots good.there is no bluing .the wood is in very good condition.would it be better to leave as is or have it restored ?
That’s a tough one. It could go either way. I’d recommend sending a message to us directly with more information/photos of the rifle so we can give you a better idea of what it might cost to restore and what it might be worth after restoration.