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It is an unpleasant task to think about; especially when you realize that someday, your heirs might be presented with a collection of your favorite weapons, tools and other related items about which they know very little. Think about it. Besides your guns and ammo and all the intimate details you know about them, what do your heirs know? Do they know where you bought them? Do they know how much you paid? What they're worth? A multitude of questions, really.

Frankly, I have what I think is a large collection that I hesitate to describe in numbers because of the 'optics' bias of our media and government. Each and every one legal and purchased or obtained legally, but there is still the media stigma of "horde, cache, arsenal, etc." you sometimes see in the news.

I've been collecting for over three decades, and for my own purposes developed a spreadsheet of important information about them Type, S/N, date purchased, from whom, cost, and anything else I wanted to tell whoever inherits them needs to know. In fact, I've linked each item's pertinent information to pictures, manuals and receipts in the database I keep on my computer. Even for the several items for which I have an extensive documented provenance all of this is on a CD I regularly update (see figure 1 as an example of part of it)

Text Font Line Software engineering Document


I've pretty much always kept both paper and computer records (one reason is today's gun store receipts are often printed on that thermal paper which definitely fades over time). So I scan them and then put them in several binders in transparent pocket holders. Each binder labeled, each file on the computer under folders that indicate receipts, manuals, parts items, trivia and related items. Now retired, I spend a good part of my day arranging, researching, cataloging and sorting just to keep up.

I thought I had it all covered: all what I described thus far; I even established a Gun Trust and Gun Trust Account for my heirs I even have my silencers listed in them so there won't be any transfer problems later on. All covered.

What I finally realized a few months ago was that all of the extra gun tools, fixtures, accessories, etc. I've purchased over the years had value too, but taken by themselves by a novice who is presented with them knows absolutely nothing about them they can be lost. For example, figure 2 shows all of the Garand-related tools, gauges, etc. I've accumulated over the years. They don't look like much, but the total cost for them is substantially over $500 the cost of a decent gun.

Tool Metalworking hand tool


There are other guns, and many, many more things like this I have for my collection (e.g., for the M1 Carbine and other US Military rifles), and they all need to be kept away from the garage sale $1.00 tag category (or less). An example are the Garand barrel and receiver wrench - the best there is in my opinion, and very expensive. I used them to rebarrel three Garands and they have lots more use left in them. Sight pushers? There is the MGW collection for individual pistol makes and their new universal set which also has the cost of a nice weapon. 1911 sight installation? There's a tool that cost over $300 made to install front blade sights....and many more. There are even custom tools that I've ground, welded and fashioned for different screws and metal on some of the guns I have.

The point of this article is that there is a substantial investment I've made over the years that has nothing to do with serial numbers or actual weapons. Just thinking back over what I've spent on gauges, tools, add-ons, sights, etc., I'm guessing the cost could be as high as 20-25% of what I spent on my entire collection. Frankly, it all needs to be handled just like the guns I have, because I'd roll over in my grave if my wife or daughter thought this or that tool was just junk and sold it for 50 cents. You all know the old joke about your wife selling your whatever for what you told her you paid for them instead of what they really cost.

So, here are my recommendations:

1) Take care of the legal related stuff receipts, costs, pertinent information establish some line of transfer (via a Gun Trust or Will). Educate your potential heirs on what you own, what items and tools, gauges, etc. you have for them. Spend at least a day or more going through it all with them.

2) Just like your weapons, your tools and gauges, fixtures and add-ons need to be tracked and tagged or marked. Figure3 shows what I use regularly. Label maker for anything that it will fit, stamp set, paint pens and sticks, and small envelopes and tags (you'd be surprised how little they cost on Amazon).

Tool Office equipment


3) For items that are difficult to mark or tag, invest in some tubes and caps. I use ULine tubes to hold any number of items that I want to track and be able to see what's what see figure 4. The label maker produces a durable, near-permanent identification source in my opinion, too.

Tool Metal


4) For most any new weapon, there are things that you'd like to change about it. Night sights, new add-ons, new rubber pistol grip, sling doodads, rail accessories, etc. You usually put on the new stuff, and the OEM stuff goes where? Thinking about it, "how would your heir return the weapon to it's original condition in that original packaging (save that too!)" Mark all the OEM stuff and save it. It has value, too.

By any stretch of the imagination, this article isn't the be-all and end-all of it. There's lots more. This is just one small portion of what I think aficionados need to bear in mind and I hope it helps.

For future consideration, there's ammo and storage, training and practice, licensing (CCW) and a host of other things. And, don't even get me started on Prepping.
 

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That's true, but you have to realize that any NFA 1934 Tax Stamp items you own have to be part of a legal trust with identified trustees and have been acquired in that manner. Otherwise, you get into an illegally owned item. Simply gifting or willing such item will not do.
 

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And I thought I was OCD. Actually Barry, you took the words right outta my mouth. As many on the KTOG forum know, I am a log keeper. At one time I even kept a running count of rounds through each weapon. Fairly accurate to this day. As time went by and the collection of weapons, associated items and/or tools, custom items or upgrades, increased, I fell behind on some of this, or at least, realized I'd left something else out. The more time goes by, the farther behind I get. This task like most, seems daunting on this side of it, but isn't nearly as bad once you get started. And it is an important one. The more you can do before your time ends, the less confusion and loss your loved ones will incur later on. The best advice I can give is, as much as you possibly can, do it all as you go. It's always easier that way, and one tends to be more accurate and forget less. Good luck with the inventory. Your loved ones will thank you further on up the road.
 
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