[Study] Best Value-Holding Pistols: It’s an Investment!

Ever tried to convince yourself or an exasperated significant other that the gun you just bought is an investment?

Scrooge McDuck
It’s an investment!

It’s certainly true that some handguns can hold their value (or even become more valuable!) as time passes, but knowing which guns best hold their value can be the difference between a safe full of junk or a safe full of gems.

Our team crunched data from GunBroker.com and various manufacturer sites to come up with the ultimate list of the best value-holding pistols around.

We’re going to talk a little about what sets certain guns apart and why they maintain their value, and what guns our research has shown keep their value for years to come.

Stacking Coins
Stacking Coins

What Makes a Gun Stay Valuable?

It’s common knowledge that things that get used tend to depreciate in value–including your guns. However, it’s also possible that your gun may appreciate in value, too. It’s a lot less common to sell a gun for more than you paid for it, but it’s not unheard of.

There are several factors that help certain gun types or models keep or gain value–despite wear from use or the original price paid.

Original Packaging and Documentation

Collectors and enthusiasts love getting the original packaging, receipts, user manuals, and other documentation that came with the gun in the first place. Not only can it be a fun peek into history, but a like-new handgun in the original box will command slightly more on the market.

Smith-and-Wesson-K-22-Outdoorsman-Revolver-With-Original-Red-Box_100834244_51511_17FA718F7E680172
*drool*

Popularity or Historical Significance

If I asked you to name an iconic spy gun, does James Bond’s Walther PPK come to mind? 

What about a handgun that was carried into battle by thousands of servicemen, and remains a popular defense weapon to this day? Oh, you’re thinking of the Colt 1911? Us, too.

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond with His Walther PPK
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond with His Walther PPK

While we hate to say it’s a popularity contest, certain guns do maintain their value better because of their position as a military sidearm or a pop culture icon.

Rarity

Demand drives the price, so it’s not surprising that rare guns command higher prices, even years after production. This isn’t a key indicator, though, since there are plenty of models, like the 1911, that maintains their value, despite being produced widely.

Condition

While it’s true some rarer guns will still command staggering prices in even the worst shape, your average gun will not. Like-new and well-maintained handguns keep their value much better than beater guns of popular models. 

All that remains of what was in the safe after a house fire
“Like new”

Like most people, collectors want the best quality weapon they can get their hands on.

What People Will Pay

And the bottom line is–a handgun is only worth what someone will pay for it. The market varies a lot, and with it, so does the value of your gun

Best Value-Holding Handguns

Now, the part you came here for–let’s talk about the best value-holding handguns our research has uncovered.

Before we get into them though, let’s talk a little bit about how we determined which pistols maintained their value best.

We started with the MSRP for these guns. Admittedly, the MSRP isn’t the most accurate measure of a gun’s value, and changes over time, but we figured it’s a fair enough starting point. 

Obviously, the MSRP of a model manufactured in recent years is going to be pretty different than the MSRP of the same model manufactured decades ago, so keep that in mind.

We gathered our data on market prices by searching through GunBroker.com, since, as we said, handguns are only worth what people are willing to pay for them. 

Gun Broker
Gun Broker

We looked at hundreds of soon-to-close GunBroker listings to see what the general trends were, how many bids they were attracting, and the range of prices listed, then distilled it all down to the numbers you’ll see below.

There’s a pretty wide variety of prices out there, depending on the quality of the gun, the seller, and of course, features like aftermarket upgrades, engravings, and premium finishes.

So, without further ado, the pistols that hold their value best!

1. Glock 17 and Glock 19 (All Generations)

It’s probably no surprise that the original Glock 17 and its more compact sibling, the Glock 19, are number one on our list. They’ve been on the market for nearly 40 years, and have remained popular since their introduction.

Glock Gen5 G17
Gen5 G17

The G17 was created in response to the Austrian Armed Forces’ search for a pistol to replace their WWII-era Walther P38s. Initially, the polymer handguns weren’t well-received, but after some revisions, the G17 was accepted for use by not only the Austrian military, but also the Norwegian, Swedish, and British armed forces.

Glocks are popular among civilian shooters for their light weight, great durability, strong reliability, and, of course, how easy they are to build, modify, and upgrade. 

Glock 19
Glock 19

The G19 is regularly used as a CCW due to its compact size, but both models are trusted by shooters for self-defense, used for ranges and competitions, and found in gun safes across the country.

Glock lists the MSRP of the Glock 17 at $599. On GunBroker.com, we found them going for anywhere between $350 and $1,250, but most fell in the $499 to $550 range. 

500
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Upgraded models could be found for more than the top end of our range, but for standard models, we’re pretty confident that you’ll pay close to the current MSRP for a used Glock 17.

Glock 19s have a similar MSRP–$599 to $647–but tend to stick to a tighter range of prices. We found them pretty commonly in the $499 to $549 range. As mentioned, upgraded models went for more.

570
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Sig Sauer P226

We mentioned above that a common factor in determining which guns hold value is their use by military forces. In the case of the Sig P226, this is only partially true–while the P226 completed all the test protocols to win the U.S. Army’s XM9 Service Pistol Trials in 1984, it ultimately lost out to the Berretta M9.

Sig Legion P226
Sig P226 Legion

Despite not winning the contract, it was clear to shooters that the Sig P226 was a winning design. Double-action firing made this handgun ready for defensive situations, and Sig only continued to improve on the versatility and “to hell and back” reliability the P226 was known for.

Now, the P226 has been adopted by some of the world’s most elite military groups, including the Navy SEALs, Poland’s GROM, and the British SAS, and the Secret Service, to name a few.

There are a few variants of the P226 out there that remain especially popular, including the P229 and the P226 DAKR.

The MSRP on a Sig P226 is listed at $1,411. While we found them listed on GunBroker for as low as $420, most listings were priced in the neighborhood of $1,199–just a mere $212 down from the MSRP.

3. Beretta 92FS, M9, and M9A1

While there are some slight differences between these three models, they are all pretty similar and all command about the same prices in the used gun market.

The Beretta 92FS is the result of updates made to the Beretta 92 in response to military testing. It was picked up by the U.S. Army in 1985 and designated the M9 (which is the model that beat out the Sig P226 for the Army’s contract). It’s also a favorite ofJohn McClain.

Bruce Willis Beretta 92FS
Yippie-ki-yay, indeed.

The M9A1 is a further evolution of the design, created to accompany servicemen and women into modern battlefields. It features improved tactical features, standard sand-resistant magazines, and other design changes to help it keep up with the needs of the military.

Both the 92FS and the M9 are listed with an MSRP of $675. GunBroker listings price the 92FS between $400 and $600, but most listings tend towards the $600 end of things. The M9 commands a bit higher prices–$548 to $639. 

548
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The M9A1’s MSRP is $775, according to Beretta’s site, and it does maintain a slight lead on the other models when we checked out GunBroker. We found it there for anywhere between $499 and $678, but most listings were in the higher end of that range.

4. Colt 1911

Another iconic weapon that’s spent plenty of time on the front lines, Colt 1911s tend to hang onto their value well. And not only do Colt-manufactured 1911s perform well on the market, but so do custom manufacturer’s offerings.

M1911
An Original Colt M1911, the 1911 That Started It All

Introduced in 1911, this handgun is the oldest on our list and was in service throughout the U.S. armed forces right up until the mid-80s, when it was replaced with the Berretta M9.

Despite the age of the design, the 1911 has stood up well to the test of time, and remains an immensely popular favorite among shooters of all levels.

Colt lists the MSRP of 1911 Governments at $899, and Gunbroker had quite a few in the $850 range, meaning these guns do tend to keep their value. We even found one 1913 manufactured 1911 going for $3,300, and other earlier models also going for several thousand dollars.

900
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Seems like it’s time to take a look at Grandpa’s gun safe!

As we mentioned, there’s a lot of companies out there building 1911s, some well, and some… not so well. Among the most respected custom manufacturers of 1911s, you’ll find Dan Wesson, Ed Brown Custom, Nighthawk Custom, and Wilson Combat.

Dan Wesson Bruin
Dan Wesson Bruin

We figured we should take a look at some of their offerings, too.

Starting with Dan Wesson, we can see that the MSRP on their 1911 A2 is $1,363. We found it on GunBroker for $1,200.

Ed Brown Executive Elite 1911
Ed Brown Executive Elite 1911

An Ed Brown Custom 1911 retails for $2,995, but can be found on GunBroker for anywhere from $1,649 to $2,699–it’s worth noting, though, that these do tend to run towards higher prices in this range.

Nighthawk Custom lists their 1911 Talon model for $3,499. It can be found on GunBroker for $2,100 to $3,250, but averages about $2,800.

Nighthawk Firehawk
Nighthawk Firehawk

Wilson Combat’s Classic 1911 is listed for $3,140, but we found it on GunBroker for $2,649.

Limited Edition Wilson Combat Commemorative 40th Anniversary CQB Elite
As Practical as It Is Beautiful

As you can see, a lot of little factors, like manufacturer, model, caliber, and others can make a big difference in not only the original price, but the resale value–especially for a widely imitated gun like the 1911.

6. CZ 75

The CZ 75 was the flagship model of CZ’s handgun line, first coming into production in 1975. Since then, it’s spawned a number of derivative models, and has been employed by law enforcement agencies, militaries, and security agencies the world over.

CZ 75 Profile
CZ 75

As we said–getting picked up for use by a military or law enforcement agency is almost a surefire way to tell which guns will hold their value.

When we looked up the CZ 75’s MSRP, we found it listed at $631 on the company’s site. GunBroker sellers are offering CZ 75s between $510 and $633, averaging about $570. These may not be worth the biggest chunk of change, but considering they only lose about $60 off their MSRP, we think they’re worth it.

549
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. CZ 75 SP01

Did we mention that the CZ 75 spawned a bunch of great derivative models? In case you missed it, we’ll say it again–the CZ 75 SP01 is a great new addition to the CZ 75 family, and we’re not surprised that it holds its value as well as its older siblings.

CZ 75 SP-01
CZ 75 SP-01

Like the rest of its family, the CZ 75 SP01 is pretty popular with law enforcement and military, but it’s also trusted by some World Champion shooters, like Adam Tyc and Angus Hobdell.

CZ lists the CZ 75 SP01 at $700, which is just a smidge about the price of the original 75. GunBroker tends to place the 75SP01s somewhere between $515 and $599, but they’re pretty commonly listed at about $580.

Best for Production Competition
715
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

8. Browning Hi-Power

The Browning Hi-Power is a collaboration between Browning and FN, and was in continuous production for 82 years, before being discontinued by Browning (don’t worry, though–it’s still in production under license).

Modern and WWII Hi Powers
Modern Browning Hi-Power Mark III with World War II Era Hi-Power

Compared to its contemporaries, the 1911 and the Luger, the 13-round capacity was practically double what others offered. The Hi-Power was adopted by more than 50 countries’ militaries, making it one of the most widely used guns on our list. 

Because Browning had sold the patents for the 1911 to Colt, he had to design a completely new firearm while working around the 1911’s patents. When the 1911 patents expired in 1928, a lot of the design restrictions were lifted and many of the 1911’s features were incorporated into the striker-fired handgun.

Because Hi-Powers are so popular, there are a ton of them on the market. That doesn’t mean that they’re worthless, though–far from it.

The most recent MSRP for Hi-Powers was listed at $1,119.99. GunBroker offers some as low as $515, but some as high as $1,800. You can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000.

1520
at Guns.Com

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Like 1911s, early production models can be worth thousands of dollars.

9. Walther PPK

If you’re a U.S. citizen and you want a James Bond gun, you’ve got a few choices–an imported Walther PPK/S (which is just a smidge bigger than the PPK to get around the 1968 Gun Control Act), an Interarms manufactured PPK or PPK/S, which were made in the U.S, or one of the brand-new reintroduced PPKs or PPK/Ss that are being manufactured at Walther’s Texas plant.

Elvis Presley's Walther PPK
Elvis Presley’s Walther PPK

PPKs did go out of production for a bit, but have since come back and are being manufactured in the U.S. We found that the last MSRP listed for the older models of PPK/S was $990, while the reintroduced PPK/S is going for about $749.

Older PPKs and PPK/Ss can befound on GunBroker for somewhere between $450 and $1,000, but most commonly in the neighborhood of $700. These prices hold true for the Interarms manufactured PPKs as well.

630
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

More modern PPK/Ss can be found between $400 and $700, which isn’t that far off the older models.

10. Walther PPQ M2

The Walther PPQ is a polymer pistol adapted from the design of the Browning Hi-Power, specifically with law enforcement officers in mind. The preset striker and “Quick Defense” trigger make this gun quick to fire. It also has a short trigger reset to make rapid follow-up shots possible.

walther ppq vs p99c
Walther PPQ (top) vs. P99C (bottom)

It’s often compared to another popular polymer pistol, the HK VP9. Like the VP9, the PPQ features interchangeable grip backstraps to accommodate a variety of shooters, and the ambidextrous, intuitive controls make this an incredibly easy gun to shoot.

The Walther PPQ is listed at $649 on the Walther site, but can be found between $400 and $600 over at GunBrokers. It’s pretty common to find them priced right around $570.

11. S&W Model 29

The first revolver on our list, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 is a double-action six-shooter that was once billed as the most powerful handgun in the world (and it was, if you don’t consider custom calibers). 

It was introduced as a sidearm for hunters and popular with law enforcement, but the Model 29 was thrust into the spotlight as “Dirty Harry” Callahan’s weapon of choice in the movie Dirty Harry. After that, gun stores had a hard time keeping it on the shelves.

dirty harry make my day
Go ahead.

The enduring popularity of the Model 29 has only served to increase its value over time. The earliest models, dating back to the mid- to late-50s, can command thousands of dollars in good condition. S&W cites the MSRP at $1,169.

Our check of GunBroker turned up listings anywhere between $500 and a staggering $4,000. On average, expect to pay or ask about $1,000.

Dirty Harry Approved

12. S&W 642 Airweight

The second (and last) revolver on our list is also a Smith & Wesson product–the 642 Airweight. It’s a variation on the S&W 42 Airweight, and this teeny little gun is a great CCW or back-up gun.

Smith and Wesson 642 (5)
S&W 642 Airweight

The small J-frame is compact and easy to grip, which means it’s easy to handle and easy to conceal. It’s a double-action with 5 rounds, so you can trust it to have your back.

Smith & Wesson lists the MSRP at a mere $469, while GunBroker has it in the $330 to $649 range, depending on the age and condition of the particular handgun.

13. Sig Sauer P320 M17

Last, but not least, is the Sig Sauer P320 M17. It’s the civilian version of the M17, and closely follows the U.S. Army’s specifications. Now, this one is a bit of a hypothetical, but if we’ve noticed a pattern, it’s that guns picked up by the Army for use hold their value well.

The M17 is a formidable weapon designed to operate in the military theater
P320-M17

The P320 M17 is pretty new to the market, coming out in 2017, so it’s a bit early to make predictions on how well it’ll hold its value, but we’re feeling pretty confident that it will.

Currently, Sig lists the P320 M17 at $762, and it lists for $600 to $650 on GunBroker, which is right about where we expected it to be.

To Sum It All Up…

Phew! That’s a lot of numbers!

If our data is correct, though, these 13 handguns are among the best of the best when it comes to maintaining or even increasing in value. 

You can buy with confidence, knowing that you’re making an investment–or at least, appease your significant other when a new gun shows up at your FFL.

Do you have any of these pistols? If so, what did you pay when you bought it? Tell us in the comments section! Ready to shop? Check out the best places to buy guns online.

21 Leave a Reply

  • xtphreak

    It's amusing that the picture posted as a Colt 1911 is in fact a Taurus PT1911!! I have one and I love it, despite all the Taurus haters out there.

    1 week ago
    • xtphreak

      Oh, and following the link with the pic of the Taurus takes you to a Walther REPLICA of a 1911, in 22LR no less. Great research.

      1 week ago
      • David, PPT Editor

        The link has both a Colt and the Walther, we'll check the picture!

        1 week ago
  • Dvdschleg

    Great list of guns and a well thought-out article. I recently looked at the Sig P320 but opted to buy the Glock G34. Although I’m very happy with the Glock (which I think will also hold its value), I am gonna make the Sig my next purchase. “But honey, they hold their value really well....”

    1 week ago
  • reacher 25

    I have both the Browning High Power and the Glock 17. Paid R3000 for the Browning in 2014 and R11500 for the 17 also in 2014. The R stands for South African Rand as I live in South Africa. The Browning High Power belonged to my Grandfather.He bought it in 1975.I bought it out of the estate as he didn't specify it in his testament. Great article thanks!

    1 week ago
  • Lon

    I'm a revolver guy, and I agree that you can't go wrong with either of the choices you listed. The only addition might be a Colt SAA in .45 LC.

    1 week ago
  • Chad

    Good article, you can’t go wrong buying any of these pistols recommended above. Just don’t overpay, don’t be afraid to negotiate.

    1 week ago
  • William

    Purchased a Browning high power sport in 1972 for $151.50 & yes I still have it. Also purchased a colt mark 4, series 70, national match in the mid 80's in for $450.00. How about my colt anaconda 6in 44 mag acquired nib in the late 80's for $650.00. I didn't buy them as collector investments but to enjoy. When people ask are firearms a good investment I suggest they buy what they are interested in & enjoy them, if they go up in value it's a bonus.

    1 week ago
  • CinciJim

    Picked up a new Sig P229 Legion a couple months ago for $1199, and a new PPQ M2 for $440, 2 weeks ago. Bought the Sig locally, the Walther online (paid an additional $20 to transfer the PPQ).

    1 week ago
  • Neal

    I also ask why no Kimbers?

    1 week ago
  • Gene DiGilio

    I paid $495. for my Glock 17 Gen 3, new in box in November 2018. I paid $795, for my Colt Govt Model 1911, new in box in April 2019.

    1 week ago
  • Andrew

    Good list, though I'm surprised that the USP didn't make the cut. I've got 2 of the pistols in the list (P226 and CZ-75) that are practically neck and neck for my favorite handgun. I doubt I'll ever sell my Sig, since I managed to find an all original (packaging and everything) W. German P226 for a ridiculous $400 at my LGS.

    1 week ago
  • Will Stone

    Good job, but you missed a few really awesome handguns that should be in your top 5.

    1 week ago
  • T. Algren

    Why no Kimber weapons?

    1 week ago
  • Will "Rebel"Carrell

    How about the FN 5.7 bought the actual IOM model with double curved trigger guard for 900.00 five years ago and the last one I saw for sale on unbroken went for 2500

    1 week ago
  • Ben

    No SW 14-3? The tack driver 38’s have gone up in value. Not sure why it isn’t listed. My 2 cents.

    1 week ago
  • Mike

    No colt python? Bought mine in '76 when I joined the local pd. New,6in blued was 250.00. Used seems to run from 2500.00 on up based on condition. Trying to figure out a future value of anything is always a crap shoot. Good article.

    1 week ago
    • Kevin B.

      I believe the Colt Python demands such a high used price is due to the fact it is the revolver Rick Grimes uses in AMC's TV series The Walking Dead. Nevertheless it is a very sweet revolver.

      1 week ago
      • Pogo

        The python was selling at stratospheric prices long before zombie shows. Besides an early Colt SAA, the Python has been the best collector revolver investment for decades.

        1 week ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Mike, we focused mostly on guns you can still readily buy!

      1 week ago
      • Mac

        Wow great article,everything in this is true. In my local gun shops the guns that always hold their value are Glocks,Colts,HK,CZ,and Berettas.Usually used their $50-$75 off retail.

        1 week ago
New to Guns ? Check out our beginners guns video course. Start Now