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I found this article on American Rifleman recently. Interesting reading. Quick summary; author was helping a guy who intended the rifle they were working on to be kept in pristine shape. Author discusses the hard-earned scrapes and scratches on his firearms, and how they speak to him.

Of course, the article ignores the possibility of using some firearms in challenging environments, while reserving others for more careful treatment. You can have a sunny days only rifle/handgun right next to one that gets dragged out in rain, sleet, and pumice fields.

I guess that's my approach; I have a couple of firearms that are in fantastic shape, and I'd hate to be responsible for abusing them, even superficially.

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And some that came to me with some battle scars, and I actually value them more because of those battle scars.

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I've bought a couple intending for them to be knockaround guns, but even when I do that I tend to err (if it is an error) on the side of babying them to keep them looking good.

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When I'm starting with a gun that's in great shape, that first scratch/scrape sure hurts, I know that.

How do each of you view this? "Keep them as perfect as possible?" "They are just tools, kick 'em around as needed?" "Little of column A, little of column B?" Specific stories and photos encouraged, of course!
 

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I think there's a big difference between using them or abusing them. I use mine for their intended purpose and if a scratch or holster wear should occur well so be it. I am careful not to bang them around or put them up against each other in the safes. I also wipe them down after they're used before putting them away. The jewels of my collection are kept in gun socks.
 

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I have only a couple of firearms that are what some would call "nice" looking one example being a Henry. 357 Big boy, after purchasing the Henry I've had a few family members and friends wonder if I planned to keep it pristine and not use it I only buy or own firearms that I intend to use, I took a nice deer with my Henry this year and plan on taking it on many hog hunts in our FL swamps. I like the way it looks now and if I scratch it or nick the wood it just means that I was out enjoying myself.

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Well my motto is, "If it doesn't have a scratch, then it isn't mine."

Guns I use for competition and hunting, look like it. most of the time they were used for both.

Maloy
 

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When you buy a gun, make up your mind. Is it a shooter or collecter?

If it's a collecter, then put it away.

If it's a shooter, then don't expect it to stay pristine.

When you use them, things happen and that builds 'character'. Every nick, scratch, dent and ding has a story behind it.

Like the others said, I don't believe in abusing a gun.

You don't throw down that much money for one to treat it like crap. If you do, then it will let you down when you need it so take care of what you have. Properly maintain it. If it gets wet, then wipe it down and get the water off before rust sets in.

On the other hand, I'm not sweating the scuff on the barrel caused by a rub or a scratch.
 

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Mossberg 500, batter. Benelli O/U, baby. Unless they have sentimental value I don't think twice about leaning a shotgun or rifle against a fence post wrapped in wire (generally just when going through or over). That doesn't mean they don't get thoroughly cleaned and oiled, but I don't spend much time worrying about the finish.
 

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While I do have a couple of guns now and I may look at it as a collection, there are no safe queens in the lot. The only exception is my Dad's old 1911 which has more well earned scratches than any other gun, but it's being saved for future generations. Whether it's for hunting, carry or just plinking, everyone gets shot. The more often the better. When I go to the range I usually take four or five with me and try to alternate what I take to the range, carrying or hunting.
 
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I can understand collector grade firearms that are meant to be kept pristine forever. Outside of those, firearms are tools. Nobody keep their favorite wrench or screwdriver in a protected case in perfect condition. While I get the need for things like precision mics and calipers, common hand tools don't require that level of protection. Why? Because they're tools that are designed to be used, and used frequently. Sure, you wipe the grease and grime off of them before you put them away, but there's no need to prevent marks from using them. Guns are no different.
 

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Nobody keep their favorite wrench or screwdriver in a protected case in perfect condition.
I think a comparison to a several hundred dollar torque wrench or similar investment would be much more appropriate. If you walked into a garage and the guy replacing your camshafts has a torque wrench at the bottom of a pile of other tools, what would you think? Or more approrpiately, once I've spent hundreds on a tool like that, I'm going to take darn good care of it.

Yes, they are tools, but they are expensive tools and when cared for properly, they can be handed down through several generations.
 

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I enjoy my firearms by using them. No abuse. Other folks enjoy theirs by owning and admiring them, and that’s ok. And there are still others that undoubtedly do both.
 

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I think a comparison to a several hundred dollar torque wrench or similar investment would be much more appropriate. If you walked into a garage and the guy replacing your camshafts has a torque wrench at the bottom of a pile of other tools, what would you think? Or more approrpiately, once I've spent hundreds on a tool like that, I'm going to take darn good care of it.

Yes, they are tools, but they are expensive tools and when cared for properly, they can be handed down through several generations.
average common use firearms are in the 200-750 dollar range. That would be on par, toolwise with Husky, craftsman, etc. the 1000+ dollar stuff would be like MAC, Snap on, etc. Your High end stuff like Mitutoyo and Starrett would be the tools on the collectors arena. and Yes, I would trust a mechanic replacing the cams with a torque wrench from the bottom of the pile of his tools because I would have to really trust the mechanic before I even had him work on my vehicle. It's no different than a shooter using a Taurus 1911 outshooting someone using a Wilson combat 1911. It's the skill of the craftsman, not the tool.
 

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For some it's just a tool, for others they tell a story. This little 650 was a present from my wife for my birthday. After taking it to the range i got some kind of chemical on it that attacked the bluing. I decided to reblue it myself, which turned out.... interesting. To others it might look like a failure that should be redone professionally, but to me it's a wonderful gift from the love of my life, and a first in trying a different type of project, which makes it irreplaceable to me


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I typically buy a firearm with the intent to shoot it. A few get scratches - especially the first parkerized finished 1911 I field stripped and left the "idiot scratch" just under the takedown pin. I also dropped my parkerized ATI 3" 1911 on our cement driveway when I took a tumble shooting basketball will one of the son - that took a gouge out of the frame just at the top of the frame. With that one, I felt bad. I took a file and filed down any sharp edges so that the edges of the gouge blended with the frame. Then a simple matter of using some "gun black" - looks like a large barreled magic marker with black ink but marketed as a gun finish touch up marker. That gun black works pretty well for small nicks and scratches - it can be difficult to spot it unless you look closely.

So, in line with the OP 's query, I don't feel a need to baby any gun I purchase. I've always been pretty on edge with scratches and dings on my truck but i realized that was useless when I took it off road and deep into the woods a few times. Fortunately, the finish (silvery looking) doesn't highlight scratches - maybe b/c it is the same color as the underlying aluminum body?
 

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Anyone owning a firearm knows whether damage done to the gun(s) they own came from abuse, neglect, or honest knocks. Life happens. Guns are tools or sporting gear. I agree with the idea that I wouldn't own a gun that I thought was too valuable to shoot, but I darned sure won't damage a gun through not taking care of it.
 

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"Baby 'em or Batter 'em?", There's a lot of space between the two.
 

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I'm in the "shoot'em" group.

Now I'm not saying I'd pack the Diamondback into outback, but shooting it at the range isn't going to put enough wear on it to matter much down the road. I'm a shooter not a collector. I go a little crazy owning any gun and not shooting it. It actually bothers me. I get no satisfaction merely owning anything.

I understand some guns are so valuable that it costs you some to shoot it. So what? It all depends on what you paid for it. If you score a 98% Python for $500 you won't lose anything shooting it. Not that there's not an "opportunity cost" doing that but you're not going to actually lose anything. If I were to luck into something valuable at a ridiculous low price I'd probably shoot it if it had already been shot. If it was truly pristine unfired and very rare I'd sell it and spend the money on other things. But some valuable guns aren't rare at all. They might be scarce because they've all been sent to the safes, but not rare. If I got a good price on an unfired Python I'd shoot it...I promise you.

Because there's another "opportunity cost". NOT having the opportunity of shooting it. Using the "Python" example there's lots of "safe queens"... a much smaller number are actually shot. Pythons are not rare by any stretch of the imagination. But shooters that use them are. Depends on which "rare" you want to collect, the gun or the experience. Anybody with the coin can own anything they want. But they aren't really spending anything if they just preserve it.

In the late 80's I walked into a sporting goods store in Houston. There in the gun case was an 8" Python laying it it's extremely beat up styrofoam box liner. I asked to see it because the price tag was well below retail. Lo and behold....a "Python Target", the .38 Special version. I bought it. The price was the original retail which was almost 10 years old at that point. Well...8 or 9 years maybe. In the inflation of the time it looked cheap.

Everybody told me I was crazy to shoot it. I'm glad I did. That was the most accurate revolver I ever owned. But ultimately it proved way too heavy for offhand use. If there had been such a thing as "revolver benchrest" I would have won with that thing. But I got to the point where I was no longer that interested in shooting from a rest and wanted to shoot offhand only. So I sold it at a profit after about five years and bought something else.

I don't miss it. I don't regret shooting it. Not one bit. How many guys do you know that put a few thousand rounds through a Python Target? That's experience is more valuable to me than whatever the gun would be worth now.
 

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My old Mini 14 is battered but not abused. It's been in my farm tractor and my pickup trucks. It aint pretty anymore but it works every time I pull the trigger.
 

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My guns got a lot of use, hunting and range use, and they still look new. However, the newer guns with the "Krylon / Rustoleum" finishes look well worn after a few cleanings. As long as they function as designed, I'm OK with the look of external slip-shot workmanship.
 

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While I like to keep my firearms looking good, I also like to carry and/or shoot them, hence why I tend to prefer Stainless Steel over bluing, because if you scratch Stainless Steel you can just polish out the scratch.

That being said, as of late I've grown more attached to my older, more expensive, and nicer-looking firearms, so now I prefer to carry cheaper, less pretty, and less expensive firearms.
Here's an anecdote to explain why... A couple of weeks ago I was doing some shopping, the store was extremely crowded with folks shopping for Christmas, and to make matters worse, the store had been completely rearranged, so I no longer knew where to locate anything and it was taking me much longer than usual. Well, as you can imagine, eventually nature called and in the time it took me to get to the restroom it was urgent, so in my haste my holster slipped off my belt took a little tumble to the tile floor. I hastily picked it back up and secured it, but later on I discovered that the finish on the rear of the slide had a small blemish where it had come into contact with the tile floor. Fortunately, I was carrying my SW40VE, so all I had to do was grab a scotchbright pad and scuff up the blemished spot a bit to make it blend in with the rest of the bead-blasted finish on the stainless slide. It still looks a bit shinier at the point of contact, but I don't really mind because the SW40VE isn't exactly a looker, although I do appreciate its aesthetics in a rugged, utilitarian sort of way, so being a bit scuffed up only adds to its charm.
If I had been carrying my PPK/S, then I would have been upset by it and would have to work much harder to polish out the blemish.
 
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