Category Archives: Lessons

The “Magic” of Layaway… How I have nice things.

layawaySo over the years I have accumulated a few items that have very high value.  Many people have assumed I must have a high debt load because of it.  It’s actually the furthest thing from the truth.  Other than my house, car, and about $500 in miscellaneous credit card debt, I own everything I have.

So how does layaway work?  You find a place that offers it.  I’ll use a local gun store as an example because it’s my hobby and most common interest.  Let’s say they have a $700 Ruger SR1911 I want.  I don’t have $700 available cash at hand most of the time.  But if I have 1/3 of it, or about $235, the shop will allow me to place a deposit and then pay on it as I have the funds available over the next 90 days.  This allows me to budget for making the rest of the payments, and to have a great item without having to either go into debt or have all the money right then right there.

Most places offer 90 days, some will go out to six months or even a year, especially for high-dollar items.  Just remember to read the terms of the agreement, that you’re entitled to a refund if you can’t, for some reason, pay it off in time, and that you’re dealing with a reputable shop.

Enjoy your new item, that you own, outright.

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On Bereavment, Dingoes and Firearms Values

Anyone who knows me knows that I take a lot of pride in knowing the value of a firearm, or in knowing how to find out what it is.  If I list something for sale, it generally sells quickly, and at asking price.  I really have taken a lot of effort to learn what guns are worth, what they’re selling for, and what the latest trends in popular and classic firearms are.  I developed this knowledge after, well, being screwed pretty badly because I didn’t have it.

When my father passed away in December of 2010, he didn’t leave a huge cash estate.  He had a lot of tools, and a lot of firearms.  He also had no burial insurance.  Because of a lack of knowledge, I ended up selling a LOT of firearms for MUCH less than they were actually worth.  Not so much out of desperation, as out of ignorance.  You see, when you’re looking to sell firearms quickly, the Dingoes come out of the woodwork to “help.”

At that time I knew what a Blue Book was, but I’d never owned one, and certainly didn’t have one.  Since my father had quite a few firearms he’d collected over the years in his safe, new in the box but never fired, a friend recommended I deal with a small dealer who was a friend of theirs from their church.  Now I’ve been around guns my whole life, but usually, up until that time, I bought new from dealers or used from dealers in gun stores, and very rarely did any research beyond “good price from good place.”  I trusted that this small dealer in Stark County would give fair value, and provided him a list.  He came back with prices, with what sounded like a reasonable explanation at the time…  “Even though they’re new in the box and unfired, they’re used guns, they are like a car, as soon as they leave the dealer, they lose a lot of their value.”  I’ve since learned that, yes, it’s not a “NEW” gun, but they don’t lose HALF of their value by having been sold and tucked away.  This dealer ended up with some fantastic deals on some very nice firearms because I trusted him, and he talked a good game.  Just an example, he got a new, unfired, Ruger Mark II Stainless Heavy Barrel .22, all original paperwork, box, the lot, for $175.  He was a Dingo, and I was a bleeding lamb that was cut from the herd and slaughtered.

There are many honest people and dealers out in our communities.  There are also a lot of dingoes.  They will do anything possible to get a fantastic deal, and will lie and cheat to make it happen  There are tons of resources available to tell you what the ACTUAL value of a firearm is.  The Gun Traders Guide and the Blue Book of Gun Values will tell you the average prices a firearm has sold for in the past year based upon it’s condition.  They will also explain how to assess the condition of a firearm to get an idea of the value.  There’s also a nation-wide website called Armslist that is composed of real people and dealers selling firearms.  A quick search will give you an idea of the current asking price of a firearm both locally and nationally.  Keep in mind these are asking prices and tend to have a factor built in to them based upon the knowledge that a buyer is going to haggle the price down.  You can also seek out a reputable dealer who has a reputation for dealing square.  A dealer isn’t going to give you full value, but an honest one will tell you what your firearms are worth on the private market and what they can give you for them and still make some money when selling them.  Again, they should be upfront about that fact.

If you need to sell of firearms in a crisis the worst thing you can let happen is for people to know that you’re IN A CRISIS.  It brings out the Dingoes in droves, and they will take advantage of your emotional state to attempt to get the firearms for as little as possible and you still feel like you got some fair cash for them.  It’s much better to either wait, involve a friend to help verify pricing, or do the research yourself and sell them off slowly for value.  Learn from my mistake.  I did.

A few Dingoes made a lot of money off my father’s dying because we felt a need to desperation sell, and were led to people who make their living off buying during other people’s grief.  It’s fair to say that, in many cases, my lack of knowledge, trust, and feeling like I had to raise money quickly, resulted in several of my father’s firearms being sold for 40-50% below actual value.  I have since armed myself with the knowledge to never have that happen again.

On CCW firearms…

MouseGun_Group_DSCN1475

I was recently involved in a conversation on a discussion forum at my friend Adam Litke’s Facebook page for his company, Shield and a Sword Academy.  I felt that the information was worth sharing with others because I managed to give a short, succinct, detailed answer that quite a few people found informative.

Carry guns are totally a compromise.  I’m somewhat old school. Function over form, as much power as you can manage, and figure out how to tuck it away if you have to.

The average person, however, is much more driven by easy of conceal-ability and price. There’s a different mindset between “gun guys” and a person who just wants to be able to protect themselves. Another thing to consider is that a lot of people think you need to arm yourself to “go to war” in order to carry. In my mind, a carry gun is most often a “last stand” weapon and should be adequate to meet the ‘rule of 3’s.’ (The average self defense scenario happens in less than 3 seconds, at 3 feet away with 3 shots fired.)

My personal preference, due to the fact that I can’t wear restrictive clothing or anything that puts long-term pressure against my body, is for either a Walther PPK/s or my wife’s J-frame Smith and Wesson 642 Airlite .38 special. For a last stand, .380 or .38 special is more than adequate. Even .32 ACP will suffice from me to you in a close fight, given the right ammo. If I were to absolutely KNOW I was going into a situation where I has a huge probability of having to defend myself, my Para p13.45 .45 ACP would be on my person loaded with Golden Saber’s or HST’s.

There are so many factors in carry weapons to consider, function, features, price, power, but the only one that matters to begin with is this… Is it a hassle to carry it to the point that someone will think about making a compromise and NOT carrying it? If it is, it’s the wrong weapon for that weapon. A .22 mouse gun you’re comfortable sticking in your pocket EVERY TIME you walk out the door is worth more than a $2500 Kimber 1911 that someone lets sit because they have to go through gyrations to conceal it.

At the end of the day I feel it’s important to educate people on the best option, encourage them in any way we can to seek out the best options for them, and then support them and teach them how to use what they decide to carry. The gun you have is worth 1000 of the one you don’t.

Why I’m Anti… Decal, that is…

A long long time ago, a kid I knew was 18 years old and loved competition car audio…  He spent countless hours, and tons of money, building a fantastic stereo system, with JL subwoofers, MB Quart door speakers, Rockford Fosgate amps, a Clarion cross over and head unit and toys and bells and whistles galore.  Everything he bought came with a beautiful sticker, which he proudly affixed to the back tinted glass of he Toyota Corolla station wagon.  He even had a large JL Audio sticker across his tinted stripe on his front windshield.  I had a pretty cool system, too…  One day we went to the mall and parked in the parking lot.  It was busy, so we were horribly close to the doors.  When we came back out a few hours later his back window was smashed out, his equipment was all gone, up to and including the head unit from his dashboard.  My car, which had an equal amount of equipment in it was sitting there unmolested.  That day I learned a valuable life lesson.  DON’T ADVERTISE.

I see stick figure stickers of family’s on cars and vans all the time.  Even including names and sports and hobbies.  Sometimes, the family has a vanity plate of the family surname, too.  Wow, to me that’s just arming any pedophile assailant with too much information.

Even as a member of the National Rifle Association, and owning many items that have come with stickers, none will ever grace my vehicle.  Not so much as a pro-gun bumper sticker.  I might need to go into a rest area to relieve myself, or park at a store, when something is inside that someone might find of value.  I also won’t put political ads on my car, as I have no desire to take a chance that the police officer who just pulled me over for 3 over happens to like the other side.

Not advertising, in this case, is a very smart decision.  Think about it.