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January 4, 2021

1911 Pistol Prices & Trends - Past 6 Years

By Emily Robinson

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2021 CMP 1911 Pistol Sales Starting

By now you have probably heard the exciting news that CMP is accepting orders for the second time on a shipment of 1911 pistols early 2021. M1911 and M1911A1s contain a significant amount of military history and are considered some of the most popular handguns around.

After the first round of CMP shipments there was controversy over the pricing. Many people believed the prices were far too high and others were confident that the history and significance were well worth the cost. CMP will begin accepting orders on January 4th and with the date is finally here Rock Island Auction Company decided it would be the perfect time to evaluate pricing trends for M1911s. With the correct data on hand and analyzing trends over the past few years you can determine what a fair price is on one of these favored pistols.

U.S. Military Items Continue to be popular in the collecting world and Model 1911s definitely hold a special place in martial collectors' hearts. For many, they encompass a sort of nostalgia for their prominent role in war history. The dependable pistols were part of numerous government contracts are were the trusted sidearm for members of the military spanning from 1911 to the transitional models that began in 1920, and finally coming to an end in 1985. Demand for these prevalent pistols continues to grow, so let's examine how it affects the price of M1911s in today's market.

The sale prices of M1911s were recorded, compiled, and analyzed in order to help collectors and firearms enthusiasts determine if they are getting a good deal on their 1911. Before we dive into the numbers here is how the data was prepared.

  1. All extremely rare and desirable M1911s and their results were not included in this list in order to avoid skewed results. This included the exclusion of manufacturers such as Singer, North American Arms, and transitional models.
  2. To make the information most relevant to collectors, all 1911s included must have had a condition grade of "very good" or higher (7+ on a scale of 1-13, pictured below).

3. Sample sizes of 40-50 lots were chosen for each data set.

4. Multi gun lots were excluded since the price could not be credited to a single gun.

5. All prices include a 15% buyer's premium to show the actual cost to own the 1911.

6. Commemorative pistols were also excluded from the data sets.

The pistols analyzed came from the manufacturers Colt, Remington-UMC, Remington Rand, and Springfield Armory because they were manufacturing at higher numbers than those by other makers. We only looked at the sale prices from past Premier Auctions and single gun lots in order to focus on condition ranges most desirable to collectors. Below is what we found regarding M1911 prices at auction going back about six years.

These prices are probably looking pretty high to you, but as we stated before that is because these lots consisted of higher condition ranges. So to make it more comparable to the CMP condition levels we also looked at M1911s from previous auctions with the condition range 2-7 (see chart above for reference), with all other factors remaining identical. The trend of increase still coincides despite the lower rating and smaller sample sizes. These numbers are shown in the chart below.

Data Set 1 (2015-2016)

Over this time span, and all the others, there were a total of six Premier Auctions.  During 2015 gun sales hit a new record in response to the new gun executive orders that were put into place by President Obama on December 4th. For some this was surprising because despite the length of time the orders were debated they consisted mostly of more background check requirements and not many of what one typically expects when "gun control" is discussed. Whether it was first time owners or veteran gun owners, the increase in gun sales recorded by the NICS demonstrate, there was an increase in the demand of firearms during this time. 2015 and politics could have possibly set the standard for the gradual increase of M1911 pistols.

Source: FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System

Gun sales did not slow down once 2016 hit either, in fact gun sales reached another record high that year based on the number of NICS background checks. Politics contributed to these numbers once again. Although there were no gun restrictions, it was an election year, which typically plays a part in the increase of gun sales. With gun control being a hot topic between Hilary Clinton and President Trump during the political race of 2016, it is surely something to consider.

Data Set 2 (2017-2018)

Although gun sales in general decreased slightly (based on NICS background checks) during this period, M1911 prices continued to rise. Even with a lower overall condition rating in this data set, there was still a slight increase in sale prices. In November 2018 the first CMP 1911 pistol shipment took place and after CMP received 19,000 requests to place an order on a 1911, it was obvious that the demand for these military surplus gun was still high. CMP's supply of only 8,000 M1911s made it impossible to fill everyone's requests, which is proof that such high demand and not enough supply could have very well contributed to the steady increase of M1911 prices. It could be that the low supply and high demand led to more individuals purchasing collectible M1911s from other sources, even if it meant for a slightly higher price.

Data Set 3 (2019-Now)

The upswing of M1911 prices continued through the next two years as well. This time much more apparent with an approximate 18% increase. Gun prices have absolutely surged during 2020, which RIAC can attest to with its record breaking year. In fact, based on NICS background checks, the national sale of firearms this year broke the record previously set in 2016. 2020 experienced numerous mitigating factors such as a nationwide pandemic, a highly anticipated election, looting, and protests. With what is being labeled as a "dumpster fire" of a year it is no surprise that many citizens wanted to feel safe and prepared.

Whatever the sentiments, the result was the purchase of more firearms. There has been a large increase in first time gun owners and gun purchases, which has led to an ammo shortage and the rise of gun prices. The ammo shortage goes to show that when you can't find something, it is likely going to be more expensive when it is finally available. The demand for the military handguns has not slowed down in the slightest over the years and we do not see it plummeting anytime soon. This year and its unprecedented events has played a crucial role in many things, including the upsurge of gun prices.

You may be asking, "Does the increase in M1911 prices and demand mean the supply of the beloved pistols is starting to dry up?" Although a logical question, we do not see this as the case. Rock Island Auction has not seen a decrease in the amount of M1911s in auctions and there is nothing to indicate a slow in the supply in the near future.

Model 1911 Pistol Sold in our 2020 June Premier Auction

Future M1911 Prices

Although information is limited and many are just hypotheses as to why the prices of M1911s have risen over the years, the data concretely indicates that they are gradually increasing. We have seen and increase of 32.67% over just six years in M1911 prices it is not likely to go back down. Popular gun genres, like this one, tend to keep setting new price points instead of backtracking.

The trends could be from political races, new collectors, or just the love for military items. Whatever the reasons, the beloved Model 1911 shows no signs of weakening gun prices nor a decrease in interest. If you have your own theory, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.

These gun prices and data can give you an idea of what to expect to pay if you plan on purchasing an M1911 pistol. Subscribe to the weekly Rock Island Auction newsletter to receive new gun blogs on the latest prices and trends. Using the extensive data from our past auction catalogs, we look at the values of popular guns like the Colt Python, the Browning Hi Power, the M1 Garand, the Mosin Nagant, and more.

See our website to shop our selection of military firearms and M1911s. If you have any questions regarding consignment, registration, or comments please contact us.

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