Let me make a shocking confession: After thirteen years in the gun business, most guns bore me. I can walk through a gun show in thirty minutes without my pulse rising above the resting rate. Oh, look. A table of Glocks. There's a bunch of SIGs and some Kimbers. Hooray, it's some Taurus revolvers.
It gets hard not to feel rude when one can't work up a proper level of enthusiasm over a friend's new acquisition. I mean, I'm happy for your new Ruger SP-101 or Ed Brown Kobra, but I'm having to fake the oohs and ahs because I've seen a dozen of them and I can pick up the phone and order a dozen more. This is what has caused my interest in the types of guns that still hold fascination for me: Old S&W revolvers, rare old military rifles, and true custom 1911's. These are different in that you can't just pick up the phone and get one whenever you want. You're dependant on the vagaries of chance and your patience and your skill in tracking. It's the difference between ordering a hamburger at Mickey D's (or even a great steak at an expensive restaurant) and hunting for your own food.
The acquisition of a current production gun has no drama to it any more, at least for me. I know they're out there, and all it takes is money and a phone call and it's mine. It's different with the old and the rare. That Ross rifle that wandered into the shop the other day, the first I'd ever seen in real life, was the heart-pounding equivalent of the biggest Boone & Crockett buck you've ever seen suddenly strolling into your sights one day in the woods. It was the same sensation with the Affordable .44 Special Hand Ejector. You know Mbogo is in the brush someplace; you've heard tales of him but never seen him, and then suddenly he's right there in front of you. Is your bank account a big enough caliber to bring him down? Or are you going to have to let him get away and hope that someday you'll run across him again when you're packing a checkbook with a few more foot-pounds? By contrast, the nicest current production Les Baer or HK is tied to a stake, just waiting for you to take your shot. It doesn't seem... sporting.
I was joking with the guy who bought the Ross that the reductio ad absurdum of all this becomes "catch-and-release" gun collecting. Since so much of the thrill is in the chase, why not just take a picture of the gun next to a stack of hundreds big enough to show that you could have bought it if you'd wanted to? I don't think I'll ever get quite that zen-like in my gun collecting, but it's an amusing thought nonetheless.