- home
Or sticking one's nose in someone else's business. Reading the Superposed post reminded me of an incident that happened a few years ago at a famous gun shop that I have done business with in the past. And they always dealt fairly with me, I felt. On one occasion I happened to be looking at a Standard Grade .410 Superposed that had the price of $1600.00. I thought at the time that that was ridiculously cheap and asked the salesman for the date and when he told me, I realized it was a salt gun. (gasp!!) He broke the gun open and showed me the (pretty bad) pitting inside the receiver and said that it was only due to the gunpowder someone had used. Other than that, the gun was in about 99% condition. But since I didn't want a salt gun (and after realizing that the salesman was being partially honest) I decided to pass on the deal. As soon as I walked over and sat it back in the rack, a gentleman standing next to me had seen me looking at it, picked it up and after looking at it for a few seconds, he mumbled something like, "Wow a .410 Superposed for only $1600.00!!" Then he walked over and bought it. (He didn't hear my conversation with the salesman). I always wondered if I had done the right thing by never saying anything to him. As I drove out of the parking lot and I watched him putting it in his car, I could only picture someone pointing out that he had bought a rust bucket and imagined the sick look on his face should he ever find out. What would you guys have done in my situation? Would you have stopped him in the store and informed him what he was buying by whispering....psst....psst...? Would you have said something to him in the parking lot after he bought the gun? Or would you do as I did by just minding my own business? What do you think guys? Did I do the right thing?
We all have the right to laugh behind the other guy's back and tell our friends. The bony finger before the sale is damned inconvenient if you value your relationship with the dealer and the blabbing in the parking lot is downright mean.

Then again, if, through my own ignorance, I was about to stuff up in a really expensive way, I'd hope someone could set me straight...
A little goodwill can go a long way.

"after realizing that the salesman was being partially honest": let me be "glass-half-empty" - the salesman was being either partially dishonest or plain ignorant.
Posted By: Anonymous Re: Ethics/doing the right thing?................ - 08/21/07 06:07 AM
If by "ethics" were still talking the traditional definition-honest, trustworthy, doing right- I going to say that the right thing to do is make certain the fellow buyer has all the right information. Perhaps once you told him he'd say "its still a deal" and buy the gun. But to stay mute to keep a relationship with the seller pawning off damaged goods, that doesn't seem ethical in the traditional sense? I know we live in a time where "looking out for number one" has become the standard and "greed is good" has become the battle cry. But I'm old fashion and poor and I just can't get use to things like illegal immigration being good for us or the notion that the Bill of Rights meant that if some other person can put your property to better use you must fork it over. I guess I just stopped evolving? I don't like people who use handicap parking illegally either! Go figure me?
I would've told the guy.
What you said and the way you said it.
Bravo !!
Whenever a question arises about personal responsibility, I ask myself "Who am I? The answer comes easily in each circumstance: I'm a father, husband, brother, colleague, responsible citizen, fellow gunner in a gunshop, etc. The obligation is clear. A shop that always dealt fairly with you should not be displeased with a customer advising another about a gun, one way or the other.

A gunshop is a clearing house of merchandise. The people in the aisles are customers like you. Dealers may be more or less knowledgeable than some customers about their guns. If a common call of caring is subordinate to future callings in the shop, you get what you got, Jimmy: an itch worse than a missed shot.
If this was an easy one you wouldn't have asked us. I do see the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" component to the situation and it's not clear cut to me.

Early in life I learned butting into other people's business without being asked is rarely the right thing to do unless something serious is involved. And a superposed doesn't make it as serious in my book.

The buyer knew enough about the gun to recognize the price was too good to be true, and jumped on it anyway. A guy with 2 G's to drop on impulse without checking a thing?

If it was a working young guy buying a broken down pump for more than Wally World sells them new, I'd be more inclined to butinski.
The guy probably bought it because he thought if he put it down it would be sold in an hour.

We are all assuming that the guy who bought the gun would want to hear it might be a salt gun. He might have been angry at you for telling him the bad news. He also might have thought you were sorry for putting it down and was hoping the bad news would make him walk away so you could buy it. I've seen it happen.

Generalities do not fit every situation. Even the ones that many on this board live by. Your best bet in this situation was what you did.
Mind your own business like a good American that you are. Trust me, your countrymen know good education is expensive here.
I'm buying 30" 'Superposed' Magnum with 76mm chambers for wildfowling. You can bet I know how to buy a real good one.
It's quite obvious, the guy paid the the clerk a few bucks to tell you it was a salt gun so you'd put it down. Conspiracy theory!
Builder hit the nail on the head. He was afraid to put the gun down. The guy knew about salt guns and knew exactly what he was doing. Now he is at home with some fine steel wool and oil, repairing the damage and looking for some salt free wood. He is one happy camper.
Pitting inside the receiver should not have been from salt wood, maybe you mean along the side of the receiver. The salt wood pitting that I have seen was contact areas of the stock and the metal of the receiver and tangs.

Sounds like the dealer had already heavily discounted the price of the gun to reflect the problem of the salt wood. When ever you come across a bargain like this you need to look real close for the reason.

Personally I would have asked the buyer if the seller had shown him the problem before the sale. I am sure that you could have quietly done this without making a major fuss. If the seller is honest he will take no offense. If not you will get screwed by him on some other deal in the future. There are too many decent dealers and far too many decent guns to not do the right thing. Who knows what the buyer might have done if you told him before the sale. He might still have bought the gun and been just as happy because he got a bargain even with a few warts. Now years later you are wishing you had done differently or at least wondering if you should have. Life is too short to not be proud of your actions and deeds.
What is a 'salt gun'?

On ofering advice: I do it if I am asked or if I happen to be in aconversation with someone over a gun I will make observations and expand on them if asked.

I have seen people get quite upset if offered advice they have not asked for - often because they think it an affront to their own experise. It is a tough call. Sometimes people buy guns I woild not buy - but maybe they have reaons of their own for buying them. I know I have bougt plenty of guns in the past that people thought I was mad for buying - but I had my reasons.

Actually, I see it every time I go to an auction, I price guns up and bid accordingly and often shake my head in wonder at what people pay for things because they have not done their homework.

I think you have to call each case as you see it. I think you did that and your conscience can rest easy.
Not an affair to interfere with. Anytime I've stuck my hand in, both dogs bit me.

I have difficulty following your posts at times jagermeister. I understand good education expensive, but maybe mine not good enough to understand post. Explain better, please?
Small Bore brought up a good point. Are we going to holler across the room every time a bad gun at an auction is bid higher than we think proper??
I have to wonder why the buyer didn't think to ask you why you decided to take a pass on a gun he thought was such a steal that he bought it at "first touch". Frankly, unless you're asked for your opinion and/or expertise, the transaction between store and the other man was none of your business.

While it's difficult to see someone make a misinformed mistake, the ethical problem was not yours. Perhaps the store salesman didn't have an ethical problem either. He did, as you stated, open the gun up for your inspection which is how you knew it was a salt gun in the first place. The fact that he didn't identify the actual reason for the corrosion correctly is inconsequential...the damage was not hidden from those who asked.
Bottom line - "stupid is as stupid does"
Forrest Gump
Unfortunately, whether anyone cares to admit it or not, ethics tend to be situational. All one can do is what they think right, and live with the result. It is morals that hopefully don't vary!
Just a humble opinion..
My best to all
"Let the buyer beware."

If he had entered the store 5 minutes later you would not have been there, he would have still bought the gun and you would have a clear conscience. You certainly could not stay at the store and warn everyone that the gun was a salt gun.
Timing cannot be your guide.
I've learned over the years "that just about everyone, when it comes to guns, cars, fishing, hunting and so on" is an "expert" when it comes to giving advice and you might be, but the "stranger" doen't know that. On the other hand who are you to give unasked for advice and chances are you would look askance at someone doing the same to you. There are of course very knowlegable people in all aspects of their "hobby", but if you might be standing next to one it is rather difficult to tell (is he for real or just full-of-it)? The bottom line, don't give an opinion unless asked for-this in many instances includes friends and relatives-it can easily becomes mis-interpreted. Most people on the other hand are very appreciative of your opinion if given when asked. --- John Can.
No one takes well to a know it all constantly spouting off about his expertise, so I tend to stay out of such situations. However, if it is obvious someone is being taken advantage of, I will speak up, and let the individual decide what he wants. The dealer always gets mad, but so be it. I don't want to do business with someone like that anyway.

The example was raised of the used pump gun being sold for more than Wally World sells them new. I see that all the time, and let it ride. If a guy doesn't care enough to shop around a little for a commodity product, he deserves it. On the other hand, I was at the Louisville gun show a couple of years ago, and was looking at the table of one of the really big, well known national dealers. Some guy came along, grabbed a W. Richards from the table beside me, and exclaimed " WOW, a Westley Richards for only $6500!!" The dealer, standing right in front of us, didn't say a word and only gave him a big grin. This was obviously a guy who had an interest, but was so new to the game he was still uneducated. The dealer knew exactly what he was doing. There was no way I would let the a** possibly do that to someone, so I simply turned to the guy and said "It's not a Westley Richards, it is a different maker." The guy said "Really?", the dealer looked like he was about to bite a nail in two, and I walked off.

You have to play the cards as they're dealt. There's never one answer.
I see what both sides are saying. However, anyone who drops $1600 on a gun without closely examining it will get screwed from time to time.

Also, what if he DID know it was a salt gun and still thought it was a good price? I would think that the gun described- depending on how bad the salt damage was, would indeed sell for more than $1600 today.
Originally Posted By: eightbore
Small Bore brought up a good point. Are we going to holler across the room every time a bad gun at an auction is bid higher than we think proper??

I think this is a superb idea. Lets get into the habit of saving people from making grave mistakes. I know that I wish a few people had saved me from making buying mistakes in the past. Suppose every time you see a mistake about to happen you/we shout out a warning. Then when people are use to us saving them by these shouted warnings then we can use this to warn them into not buying the guns we like and want. This would depress auction prices to the point that we will have to carry twice the number of empty gun cases with us to carry all our great, cheap buys home. Brilliant Eightbore.
Hi all, something like this happened to me. I was at our local big sporting good store and overheard the salesman giving this guy a line about an E-collar. Everything he said was way off, won't get into details, but the one guy was about to buy it. The sales guy left and I told the buyer about the collar. He was surprised and left. So much for that. BTW didn't even get a thank you from the buyer, oh well.

All the best!!

IMO .... any seller that will do that to someone else will one day try to do it to me. I think I would have said ..... I decided against this one because "I think" it may be a salt wood gun. If the guy knows and buys it any way it's his decision. If he asks the salesman he can judge the answer for himself. I understand the rules of "Caveat Emptor" and "Protect yourself at all times" ..... but I don't want to do business with someone who has them hanging on the wall!

All gun dealers, good or bad, have to somehow liquidate bad guns as well as good. Ethical dealers price their bad guns down where they should be priced. I don't think they should be expected to go further than that in warning the buyer. When we see an underpriced gun on a dealers table or rack, we should be extra careful. Obviously we are always careful when the item is priced on the high side. We are buying the gun, not the dealer. Bad dealers and auctioneers sell good guns as well as bad, so we occasionally find it neccesary to do business with them.
Originally Posted By: Small Bore
What is a 'salt gun'?

Small Bore,

It is a manufacturing defect that Browning admitted to and is well known here. They burned the remaining stocks.
A dealer certainly should be knowledgeable about it and up front with any potential buyer of a salt gun.
Here is an article about it that includes a test to determine if the wood was indeed salt dried.


I think the fact that you are questioning your own actions says alot. You could certainly have said something in the parking lot. The buyer would have been able to turn around and walk back in, if they choose. Some times it is not what we say or do, but rather what we failed to say or do.
It was not an auction, where you expect things to be moving fast and furious. The buyer did an impulse purchase.... They might have listened and again, they may not have.

Thank you Pete. Most interesting.
I think all boys need to learn sooner rather than later to study all their decisions before finalizing them. Dropping a couple hundred on a salt gun is cheap enough for the learning experience. (My dad's favorite saying related to this was "Don't play pool with strangers".) The ones I feel bad for are the widows or aged who wander into a gun dealership with some firearms to sell and a total lack of knowledge about current values and practices. I have irritated more than one dealer by telling such a person they needed an appraisal before making decision to sell and giving them a referral to an honest appraiser. Equals in a deal where one gets stung a bit don't bother me much. I hate it when an unequal gets totally screwed.
Probably like someone else said, 'if ya don't wanna come back to that store, say somethin.' There are a few people, myself not being one, that can convince someone that they are doing a less than ethical thing and still end up being their friend. My wife gets away with this on many occasions.
Apparently smallbore doesn't "Dig" B-25s. Someone has pointed out that we are all experts or experts in the making. Jon has questionned the source of oxidation inside the u-channel of the frame described by Jimmy. I have seen two salt-era guns besides mine. One from which I ran--not walked--away had oxidation travelling onto outside of frame at intersection stock shoulders. The second, from which the wood had been removed, also showed corrosion on the face and shoulders of frame, sides of tangs, hammers, springs, inertia block, forend iron and both barrels (all the points of intimate wood/metal contact plus) but no corrosion in the barrel cradle of the action. Could be the real experts are the guys like myself who actually buy them. Having heard there's a fire across town is not the same as getting your skin blistered. I stand by my answer to Jimmy on his first trial balloon on this topic: "Why would you rain on the guy's parade when he hasn't asked for a weather report?"

I have many times wished the looker ahead of me would put a gun back in the rack so I could buy it. The buyer ahead of me, may see something that is unacceptable to him, but just a little bit of fixing for me and no big deal. What is the answer? It depends on how it is given and how it is received. If I tried to save the world from making mistakes, I wouldn't have half the things I own.
When he picked up the gun and said "Wow only $1600", what would be wrong about saying "Yeah, its a great price. I would have bought it if it wasn't a salt gun." If he asks what that means, explain it. Don't tell him its garbage. Just let him make a more informed decision. It might be his dream gun and a discounted one is all he could afford, in which case he would still buy it. Personally, if he wanted to talk about it I would ask a question of the dealer to bring him into the conversation about the condition of the gun. Keep it friendly. The dealer would no doubt point out the low price and why he thought that was fair. If the dealer got angry that I discussed guns with a customer he's not someone I want to deal with anyway. I hope if the situation was reversed someone more knowledgable (and there are plenty) might do the same for me.
I agree with Bob so long as the overture comes before the arias and the opera ain't entirely about self-validation. Buttinskis frequently have agendas or too much spare time and not enuf entertainment.

One also has an ethical behavior responsibility to a "worthwhile dealer." If I were a dealer, I wouldn't want others to use my store, where I'm paying the rent, to criticize my inventory to prospective customers.

To use the WAL-MART situation mentioned above, it doesn't seem ethical to stand in a gun shop and advise customers they could purchase the same gun, or case of ammo, less expensively at the WAL-MART across the street.

When in someone else's place of business, we each have the responsibiity not to detract from that owner's income. If you think the merchant's prices are too high, just leave.

On the other hand, it does seem proper to use a BBS like this to inform fellow shooters of a dealer than cheats his customers.
Good point. Yeah, Jimmie, who is this crook who sells .410 Supers for $1600. By the way, do you think he could be talked down a bit???
WOW...what a great post/thread. I learned a lot form this one. Thanks guys.
A few other things I might also mention: First, the other guy/buyer knew I wasn't going to buy the gun because I had already taken it up to the counter to inquire about the serial number and I had put it back on the rack. So he knew I wasn't going to buy it. I couldn't quite remember the serial numbers/dates on the .410 models like I could on the 12s. So I asked and as soon as the manager told me the date of manufacture, I realized it was a salt gun and passed.... Second, the manager of the store was who I talked to. At his age, he had probably been in the business for forty years or more. He is very well known to people who frequent this store. Also, he knew it was a salt gun. I felt that he opened the gun and showed me the pitting, (which was all around the firing pin and down along the inside of receiver)so he could say he showed me the pitting- but he wasn't exactly honest about why it was there....Third, I could tell this guy/buyer wasn't very familiar at buying guns. He didn't really open it, inspect it before he took it up and bought it. He just picked it up, gave it a quick look up and down, said "Wow, a .410 Super for only $1600.00", and then went over and bought it. I didn't think it was my place to stand there for ten minutes and tell the story of how Browning had to dunk there guns in the water in Germany. And we were within earshot of the manager and he would have heard me and surely have gotten upset. Plus, I didn't want this guy getting mad at me and telling me to mind my own business and throwing a fit because I insulted the gun he wanted to buy and I tried to make him look stupid. (I usually think things like this out before I speak and he had already grabbed it and gone. Maybe I took too long to decide whether or not to say something) I have had that happen to me before and it causes hard feelings sometimes. I would probably want someone to tell me, but others don't always act the way I would. So, I just let well enough alone. Besides, in a situation like this, he got it cheap, and with the cost of adding new wood and having it fixed if it needed repairs, he still would have a gun worth what he had in it. Who knows? After five or six years, maybe he is still happy with it. Thanks for your opinions, guys.
Does Ed1 get out your way, Jimmy? By now, he's probably handed the popgun to Ed2 for a scrubup.
No good deed goes unpunished!! However I would have stuck my neck out and blurted the truth anyway. Probably regretted it but just can't help it. David
The devil is in the details of situation as well as in the much-lauded but danger-fraught application of the moral imperative. Despite my favorite local dealer taking 20% on consigment sales, I would not hesitate to critique condition of a consigned gun (in that store) (if invited to do so by either another customer or salesman) (which frequently happens) but I would pass by on the other side when store-owned. The hangtag and some experience tells me what to do when. Also I wouldn't be running about telling everyone who will listen that a grade I Super manufactured in the salt years is suspect for "over-seasoning". If it ain't got the wood, it ain't got the rot. A grade I of any era that's mouldering away has been salt-water hunted and put away wet.


OK. I can't stand it and have to say something. First, if the gun was sold a couple of years ago, that was a fair price. You know the dealer and I don't but many longtime dealers have little knowledge of certain segments of the market much as certain gunsmiths have no experience with certain guns. Keep in mind that if ethics ia a system of morals, then it should extend to all indviduals. That would mean that if we walked into a shop and and found an "O" frame VHE 16ga. in 80% condition for $600. it would be incumbent on us to inform the dealer that the 16ga. is no longer undesirable, SxS"s now have a following and that if he would raise the price by three or four hundred percent we would then buy the gun. Not.
Considering the buyers haste in purchasing, it is reasonable to assume that he felt he was taking advantage of the situation. You did precisely the correct thing by not intervening.
A .410 Browning Superposed about five years ago should have sold in the $3000.00+ range, QTRHRS. That is why I suspected a salt gun right off the bat at that price. I know this because about that time I bought a Grade 1 20 gauge Super for $2000.00 and felt that was a good price for a 99% 20 gauge. Now they are going in the $3000.00 range.
Jimmy, was the stock highly figured or strait grain?

It wasn't really highly figured but it had a nice piece of wood on it. Closer to straight grain.
Ned Schwing, The Browning Superposed , pp.246-7: "As a general rule, higher grade Superposed guns are more likely to have salt cured stocks than Grade I guns. This is due to the scarcity of highly figured French and American black walnut, making the need for high grade wood greater."

However, to give the blanket phobia its due, Schwing also states that the problem ". . . affected at least ninety percent of all stocks for all Browning firearms [including amazingly Hi-power hand grips] for the years 1967 through 1969." His sources Harm Williams and Val Browning who might be expected to know if anyone would.

The article on the Salt Gun has solved a 40 year old mystery. My father bought a pair of Winchester Buffalo Bill commenoratives after a western trip in the mid 60s. Both sat in their boxes in the closet for 30 years or so until I got them.

When examined, the rifle was immaculate but the carbine was ruined. The butt stock was discolored in the tang area and both tangs were seriously rusted. Functional but now ugly.

Left a bad taste about Winchesters which I suspect was well deserved.

1968 Salty[?] Super. What a mess!
I've got to get out of New York State...the ethics where you guys live is light years better than here...

Many years ago, Stephan Cobb pointed out (to me)a couple of well known doublegun collectors/horse traders who think nothing of bluing damascus guns and selling them at gun shows. Especially Bakers, Lefevers, and early Ithacas.

At the same Syracuse gun show, a dealer paniced because suddenly a 20ga Superposed was missing...someone radioed security at the door and they watched as he carried the gun out the door before stopping him. When confronted the man replied, in front of the owner, that he was a Buffalo police officer, and that he doesn't buy $2000 guns without taking them outside in the light to inspect for cracks. The dealer got the gun back and the ..... was excused.
I don't think that's peculiar to any one state, it's anywhere you want to go. There's sleaze and decency mixed across the board.
JW - I thing QTRHRS expressed my position very well - what he said. I suspect that you would have more likely gotten a rebuff from the buyer than thanks, plus you would have ticked-off the dealer. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!" Especially when you don't know that what you know is only a little knowledge. This buyer must have thought he had a bargain (seller getting less than fair market value) spotted and made haste in his escape with it before the dealer realized the mistake. The dealer seems to have appropriately discounted the gun. Had the buyer been a bit more "honest" or a bit less sure of his knowledge, he would have asked - you or the dealer and all would have been clear. As it was, his bargain was only a fair deal.

I can't see any reason why you would feel guilty for this. Same thing happens in all types of commerce every day.

Please forward that mess of a Super to me. It will be tough, but I believe I can press it back into service!

That's very generous, Ken. Having had to put a new lock block in it and resolder the aft 3" inches of rib at the scarf, I'm tired of all the expense so took pix of the scurvy thing as a lesson to all and put it out for the trash pickup I wonder if the truck has gone yet?

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