Phillip Peterson has come out with the new 2020, 9th Edition of his price guide the, Standard Catalog of Military Firearms: the Collector’s Price and Reference Guide. The 9th edition is almost identical to the 8th, 2016 edition except for a grayish-like paper and less clear photos. It has the same format, photos, and page count. In the 8th & 9th editions, the pages are numbered identical. Each edition has 544 pages, the book is soft cover, and has excellent binding that has never cracked. Even my first and second older editions have held up well to use. However, there is a night and day difference between the 6th, 2011edition and the 9th edition. The 2011 edition has has better paper and clear photos. The quality contrast must be due to different printing companies. There seems to be a decline in the quality of the paper and photos in the 9th, 2020 edition. Granted I just got an off the press issue at $28, list price is $36.99. But, I was surprised at the indistinct, grey tone, fuzzy photos. They appear like cheep photo copies of the old edition, reprinted in the new edition. There is a noticeable difference between the 8th and 9th edition’s quality in photo clarity. They look like cheep newsprint photos. Maybe I got a lightly printed copy on bad paper? It ruins the value of the many great photos. But I have many editions to view photos. The photo quality as well was paper quality has been declining since the 6th & 7th editions. So much so, it is best to obtain a 2011, 6th edition on the cheep to see nice clear photos on white paper.
From what I observe, there are few changes to the content other than the values. The main additions seem to be accomplished within the layout and framework of the 8th edition. There seems to be additions to the bayonets, holsters and some magazines, clips, and enblock mannlicher clips. Likewise values have been added to most, but not all. Bayonet views and there values are a strong point. The author added bayonets in the 4th edition, some pistol magazines in the 5th, and many holsters in the 6th edition. It is odd that only a few examples of the more common pistol magazines are shown. I guess Peterson could not obtain views of the many magazines. Examples of all rifle or pistol magazines are not shown. It is a good show, but rather an incomplete attempt at the magazine listings. The authors strong point is the many more holster examples provided. Values are provided in a range, for example $25-100.
Firearm retail values for both pistols and rifles are presented by conditions ranging from new in the box to poor. However, most are listed by four categories ranging from excellent to very good, to good, to fair. So Peterson's new update is not showing crazy prices. His book lists RETAIL prices. His listed values seem pretty accurate. The book seems to be "right on " in his estimated values- not to high, not too low. At Wi gun shows, it seems to be the end of the line for cheep military surplus rifles. Indeed, I see less and less milsurps at Wisconsin gun shows. Most military firearms seem to be found at specialized on-line dealers or fancy auction houses. The Second Golden Age of surplus firearms has terminated. Prices be crazy. There has been a drastic jump in value and a decline in the quality of specimens at gun shows. In the 9th edition, Peterson has a good number of price increases, but not all firearms have price changes, some are stagnant, none have gone down in value. Some have just topped out value wise; the demand has become soft as prices rise. Many rifles just sit on the tables due to such high prices. I think they have just hit the top value that people are willing to pay. Less new collectors are seen at shows. It seems I always see the same old-guy-over-50 group looking for surplus firearms. We might be losing the new collectors due to high prices.
Here are a few example of the price differences between the 8th and 9th edition -a comparison from 2016 to 2020.
The had to find, common French rifle, the Berthier 1907/15, page 102
2016 Ex 450, VG 350, G 250, F 150
2020 Ex 500, VG 400, G 300, F 150
The Enfield No. 5, Jungle carbine, page 230
2016 Ex 650, VG 500, G 350, F 175
2020 Ex 800, VG 600, G 450, F 250
The common import Mosin 91/30, page 310 , see the value increase!
2011 Ex125, VG 100, G 75, F - 6th edition
2016 Ex 250, VG 175, G 150, F -
2020 Ex 350, VG 250, G 200, F -
The M1 Carbine Inland, page 453 ——STAGNANT
2016 Ex 1800, VG 1250, G 800, F 525
2020 Ex 1800, VG 1250, G 800, F 525
The 6th, 2011 edition of Peterson’s book is a jewel because of its clear photos and the contrast seen in price values over the last 10 years. For some reason the 9th edition lacks clear photos, yet it is still a great guide.
2011 on left, & 2020 on right
WITH THE EYE YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE. It appears less noticeable in the camera shot. Paper is grayer and details in grip checkering and pistol embossed lettering is less clear in the 9th ed. shown on the right.
Although some may just hang onto the 8th edition for its clear photos (prices did not increase that much) and bypass this new edition, Peterson’s guide shows many views of military pistols with their holsters and the rifles with their bayonets. His guide is full of photos. Sometimes there are so many photos that it is difficult to find the value line because it extends onto the next page, likewise, the photo of the item may be found on a different page. This can be confusing if you do not know what the item or bayonet looks like. A non firearm person might have a confusing time attempting to match a photo with the price because the information can be spread out onto another page ---a slight weak point to the guide. However, this occurs generally only a few times when almost too much photo background information is provided. I am amazed at how compact and well organized the guide is, most likely in an effort to keep size & price down. I just wish they utilized a better paper, its grey tone may be what is producing the unclear photos in this new edition. Knowing what I know now, cheep paper and not that much new information other than a rise of $50 -200 in some values, i'd go for the 2025 edition and just keep using my 8th edition. One knows a dealer is going to offer approximately 50-60% of the firearms value. Most people at shows do not even want to buy at the 2011, 8th edition listed retail prices. Remember something in mint condition, rare versions, or bring backs with papers will always be in high demand and command top buck.
While the prices seem to have topped off (generally stagnant, values the same in both editions), on real collectable items like the .45 auto, P38 pistols, M1 carbines, or the Mauser K98 there are lots of quality B&W identification photos and identification advice to help one look up a fair market value of the many different versions. Generally, the firearm descriptions are very detailed and he provides information on when certain items were imported. Peterson states what the more common import marks are on a piece. Prices are separated for import marked examples and the non import marked, also matching specimens. All this information is the same in both editions. A person should own at least one or the other edition. It is a primary price guide. Just remember there are many factors in price determination: regional differences, auction bidding wars, import marks, rifle condition, repairs or modifications, reproductions, mismatched parts, disturbed by aggressive cleaning or stock refinishing, and FFL transfer fees.
If you do not own the 8th edition, it is best to obtain the 9th because you can use Peterson’s guide to identify a firearm if you came across a specimen you are unsure of. The format is clear, generally the price information line is located directly below the firearm photo and its descriptive paragraph. Prices range from Fair, Good, Very Good, to Excellent. Peterson's grading system is clearly listed/stated on page 10.
However NOTE not strict NRA standards
The first 14 pages of the book are a strong point that covers nomenclature, market trends, the grading system, class III weapons, veteran bring backs, capture papers, import marks, and matching numbers and how these factors effect pricing. Other strong points are the 14 page Appendix listing C & R firearms, and the huge 28 page Index arranged by country then the firearm name/types.Standard Catalog of Military Firearms - Value info on military arms can be hard to find, and this is an excellent resource. They don't necessarily use the standard NRA condition definitions.