So, you want to become a collector?

Started by Krazong, May 08, 2024, 07:52 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


Becoming a firearms collector is not destined for everybody out there.  If you want to become a firearm hoarder, where the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality or historical significance, then becoming a firearm collector is not for you.  Rather get dedicated sport status and license your "lots-o-guns" that way.

Now don't get me wrong, I am a dedicated sport shooter myself and do not see anything wrong with sport shooters.  In fact I personally think sport shooting will enhance your firearm skill level a lot if you are competitive and shoot a lot.

Your first step to becoming a firearms collector is to decide what type of guns you intend to collect.  You can only collect firearms which falls into a specific "theme"  Let's say for instance you like "Small arms used by the British during ww2", then this can be the perfect theme for you.  There are a lot of  different types of  guns used by the British during that period.  If you want to widen this theme, then think of "Small arms used by the Allied forces during WW2" or  even "Small arms used during WW2" and include the Axis powers as well.  Yes, you can also have multiple themes covering a myriad of countries and periods.

Before you can become a registered collector, you would have to apply for membership at any one of the accredited collectors associations out there.  All of their membership requirements might differ slightly, but will work roughly the same way.  As part of the membership, there will be a committee which will ask you some questions with regards to your chosen theme and field of interest.  This is to see if you have at least some rudimentary knowledge about your chosen theme.

As a new potential member you will most likely only be approved as a category D  collector.  This means that you may add any semi automatic handgun, revolver, manually operated rifle or shotgun to your collection up to maximum numerical limit of (I think) 6 firearms.  This is also normally the starting category for junior members which is not yet 21 years old but have a desire to own and start collection guns.  Keep in mind that there is not a minimum age limit to become a collector.  Approval of members are normally at the sole discretion of the collectors committee.  All collectors are normally expected to grow their collection in time.

Once you have demonstrated your added value to the community of firearm collectors you can move up to category C status.  This will remove the six firearm numerical limit.  If you want to collect "restricted" firearms which include firearms like semi automatic shotguns and rifles, then you need to have category B status.  Moving up in status might require approval from the committee and another verbal meeting with you.  Catagory A status is required for "prohibited" firearms which include stuff like grenade launchers and fully automatic firearms. (expect a lot of safe inspections from the SAPS for cat A status)

Before we go further, it is not a requirement to have a "walk in safe" to become a collector.  You also do not have to start off with a huge collection.  Your collection also does not have to be expensive.  If you have a passion for collecting "vest pocket pistols of the gangster era" then by all means go and collect Baby Browning / Colt vest pockets if you want.  They are not all that expensive.  Yes you can have multiple examples of the same type of gun in your collection.

Each firearm you intend to collect needs it's own S17 license. The collector firearm does not have to be de-activated and can be used any place where it is safe and legal to do so.  This implies that you can legally go and shoot it at a shooting range.  You are also legally allowed to hunt with your collector's firearm and should the need arise, you can also use it in a self defense scenario just like any other firearm.  You may have some more explaining to do as to why you shot the intruder endangering your life with a .55" Boys anti tank rifle, but that's on you.

Your collectors association will need to endorse the firearm you intend to license before you can apply for a S17 application from the SAPS.  This is done in the form of documentation you have to submit for your specific firearm, which will also double as the  motivation as required by the SAPS for the application.  This document is signed by the chairman of your association.  This document will contain information as to how this firearm fits into your collection, history of said firearm, collectable properties etc.

Just like you have to maintain your dedicated sport status, you also need to be a "member in good standing" with your collector's association.  This implies that you would have to attend a certain amount of meetings / functions / shoots / exhibitions from your collectors association every year.  I personally find the functions from my own collectors association to be extremely informative and exciting.  My son and I attended an information session about the MG42 in April 2024 and it was awesome!

I personally find it exciting to attend collector's meetings...

We collectors normally go for quality instead of quantity.  Typical example is this P08 Luger below.

From the image we can deduct that it's in really good condition, not refinished with matching serial numbers all round. (ok ok, we would have to strip it to confirm matching serial numbers)
The documentation part of this application included the fact that it was made in 1938 and the S/42 marking was the code given to the Mauser factory during WW2 so that the allies would not know where this gun was made should it be captured.  It was replaced by the Walther P38 due to the cost of manufacturing.
A lot of research needs to be done before you can apply for the firearm as a collector.

Us collectors normally don't refinish any firearms, but would rather keep it in it's original condition.  An original 303 British Lee Enfield in original condition is worth a lot more (to me) than the same 303 fitted with a modern telescopic sight. If you can find the No.4 Mk.I* (T) variant, now that would indeed be a true collectors piece!

If you have any questions regarding the collector's process, feel free to post in this thread and I will attempt to answer to the best of my ability.


Nice summary Krazong! Couldn't have done it better myself.  ;D


Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience.


Thanks, most interesting. If my toy budget was in better shape or had realistic prospects of improvement collecting would be something I'd love to explore. As a military history geek there are very few artifacts that are of more interest to me than the firearms used in the conflicts of the periods I'm interested in.