Friday, March 6, 2009

Guns and Ammo as a hedge against hard times

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Hard times and good times, people look for ways to save wealth. I'd like to say 'save money', but too often money (cash) is only an illusion of wealth. During times of inflation a savings account earning a few percent interest can result in a loss of capital. Saving 'money' can mean losing money.

But... you may say... how can earning interest on money in the bank mean we are actually losing money? It works like this.... We deposit money in the bank. In our case, dollars. On the day we deposit that money, we might be able to buy a gallon of milk for $3.00. We begin earning interest on that money on the day we deposit it, and lets be generous and say it's 5%. In a year, even with compound interest, we are only going to have about $3.15. If, in that same year, inflation has driven the price of milk to $3.50 a gallon, we have lost about 10% to the inflation factor, even while our 'money' earns interest in a savings account.

Money (or cash) is not wealth, it's just a representation of wealth, and subject to manipulation and the effect of economic factors. The milk.... it's a gallon of milk. It's not a good long term repository of wealth, but at least you know where you stand with it. The same can't be said by so many folks who had their wealth 'invested' in 401k plans, and have seen their wealth diminish by 50% since the One took office.

It can be worse... inflation can turn rampant, and many a nation has been brought to its economic knees by triple digit inflation. In every case, heavy debts and overheated printing presses turned that countries cash to toilet paper, and sometimes did so overnight. Cash, especially the American dollar, has long been thought to be a nearly perfect play on security. After all, cash is cash! The problems begin when the government that backs that cash becomes unstable, or loses the trust of those they deal with and govern.

Some people store wealth in valuable metals, such as gold and silver. Since history was first recorded, these have been regarded as stable investments and wise ways to sock away the egg money. While stocks and nations can and do fluctuate, gold retains value, as does silver. I suppose, if one had a large amount of wealth to tuck away, buying gold and silver might make sense.

The problem with precious metals is not buying them, nor in storing them... not really. It's in spending them. During good times, turning them to cash means dealing with a broker who takes a cut. Sometimes a ruinous cut. During bad times, when cash has lost much of it's value, finding people who will trade goods and services for precious metals can be tough. Not many people anymore know what an ounce of silver is worth, nor do they really care to trade their labor for a lump of metal. Likewise, buying a truckload of produce with an ounce of gold can be difficult.

There are, however, other forms of metal not so precious just now. Not silver, but aluminum. Not gold, but steel. Not platinum, but copper and brass. All these cheaper metals turn into their own kind of precious when worked into firearms and ammunition. In these value is stable in ways that gold lovers only wish their store house of wealth was.

As an example, allow me to present a decision I made today....

In this pay period I had a few hundred dollars not already aimed at bills. No debt pressing at the moment, I still understand the future must be looked after and spare money should not be simply blown away in a moments folly. I am not one for shopping sprees, buying crap useful for nothing but sucking up floor space and emptying checking accounts.

Ordinarily, that money would be click/dragged over to a savings account and tucked away as ones and zeros on the bank balance. Maybe at a measly few percent interest, but saved none the less. But... with quite literally trillions of new dollars being pumped into our flagging economy by the Obama administration, inflation is beginning to rear its ugly head. Is a savings account based on 'dollars' the best way to store wealth just now?

I had an opportunity to buy a different kind of precious metal as an investment, and it made sense to do so. That same $200 which might have been dribbled into the savings account, instead bought me a Ruger p85 9mm with two magazines. Knowing they have recently sold for much more than that on Gunbroker.com, my investment earned a return the second I took possession. Not one or two percent, but nearly fifty percent immediately.

While the p85 is not a firearm I ever really desired owning, that doesn't effect it's value as a store place for wealth. Knowing it's not gold nor silver, it does have something better than both those metals... it's useful. I can use it, over and over again, and it's value won't go down while I do. Better than that, it's easily recognized wealth that's commonly desired, most especially when times go bad. The farmer that might not care to trade a side of beef for my ounce of gold, is far more likely to willingly make that swap with the Ruger as his price.

In good times.... even the best of times.... firearms retain value better than any bank account, and better than most other store places of wealth. As an investment, looking for return, firearms bought used at good prices almost invariably outperform the stock market, hands down.

Ammunition, bought inexpensively, can serve just the same. A case of Chinese 7.62x39 I once bought on sale was later traded (unopened) for a rifle worth five times what I paid for the ammunition. 8x57 Mauser I paid $2 a box for by the case lot, sold a year later for twice that.... and all parties were very happy with the deal.

As a way to squirrel away wealth.... firearms and ammunition are hard to beat. In good times or bad, quality used firearms bought at the right price will always be a solid store house of wealth, and a good investment. When I look at this Ruger, I don't see a new shooty toy, but instead I see $200 turning into $300 overnight, and next year maybe into $400, and the year after... maybe a side of beef.

In fact... I have a very nice Ruger P85 to sell. It features a stainless slide and two magazines, and has been factory upgraded with a MkIIr decocker/safety. The first $325 takes it... (g). (plus shipping to an FFL).



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