Safe Queen

I think I’ve said before that I can understand why someone won’t shoot a particular gun — its extreme age makes it risky, its historical value, or maybe shooting it would devalue it from its “unfired NIB” value, to give but two reasons — but all I’m saying is that I sure as hell wouldn’t hold off from popping some lead downrange with it.

Here’s a prime example, from one of the Usual Suspects, of a presentation-worthy Browning Medalist target pistol:

(The link has all sorts of fine pics, showing the engraving and so on.)

Now Barnett wants $7,500 for this unfired beauty, but there’s something eating at me about it (other than the silly price, of course;  maybe it’s worth it — I don’t move in the Browning Collector Set circles, so I wouldn’t know).

A precision target pistol is made to be used.  All that smithing and careful detail in both its design and manufacture is completely wasted when it’s just going to sit unfired for 35 years in some guy’s safe, and only taken out to be lovingly wiped down (or shown off), then put back for another decade until, eventually, it gets sold.  I mean, WTF?

Sorry, I just can’t get my head around it.  And let’s be honest:  what might make the next owner not want to shoot it is the fact that he just dropped over seven grand on its virginal goodness.  We don’t even know if the thing is accurate — it’s precision is all potential, not actual.

All I can say is that it’s a good thing I haven’t yet won the lottery, because if I had, that Medalist would now be in my possession with its trigger pulled well over 500 times.  And if just the thought of that makes you get the shivers, we live in different worlds.

And if it’s too pretty to be fired, then I wouldn’t buy the stupid thing.


  1. Similar to the 15 mph speed limit at the club I shoot at which was set because someone complained the dust from cars was settling on his $5000 rifle.

  2. That is a lot of money for that pistol. I think you can find a perfect example, not engraved, for a lot less. It is just a manufactured product, after all.

  3. I agree. If you want a weapon to show off but not use, get a WWII officer’s katana, or a nicely-made halberd. Guns want to be fired.

    Besides, if somebody peeks into your window and sees a nice gun hanging on the wall, they might be tempted to steal it. If they see a 6-foot long axe, they’ll probably decide not to mess with you.

  4. Makes you wonder about the collectors’ married lives.

    …but lemme tell ya about my NIB Walther commemorative Swiss pattern P08, in .30 Luger. Too pretty to touch.

  5. Years ago I was visiting a friend up in Washington State and he showed me a few of his guns. He pulled out a Buffalo Bill Winchester 94 and handed it to me, I started to work the lever to make sure the rifle was empty and he caught my hand to stop me then he said the rifle had never been loaded, the lever had only been pulled down one time when he first bought the rifle and it was, is empty. He went on to explain that each time the lever was pulled it would show wear and he wanted to keep the rifle pristine and never intended to fire it. That rifle sold for new in 1969 for $129 and today (I looked it up) might be worth $900 because they made a lot of them. I also just looked this up $129 in 1969 equals $933.79 in 2020 so at the worst I guess it is a break even or something, it almost kept up with inflation. I have a few nice looking guns which were purchased to be used as often as possible no stuck in a safe to be pulled out every year or so.

  6. I have some queens but it is do to lack of range time. Nothing else

    Can’t shoot it don’t buy it

  7. A friend of mine likes iconic semi-autos. As a big James Bond fan he had to get a Walther PPK/S, and he’s found a Walther P38 and a Luger P08. Neither is a “safe queen”. As a matter of fact he picked up the Luger at a much better price than most because it’s a “Frankenluger”, where not all the important bits have the same serial number. He bought them not only to admire, but to take them out to the range and shoot.

    Safe Queens might be an investment, but they are NOT fun. If someone ever points to, or mentions a Luger, I can say”I’ve shot one of those. The tiny rear sight’s a real pain in the ass too. But it WAS fun!”

  8. Besides being a bit cheap, I’m hard on things. I can scuff up a new gun in nothing flat, so there would be no point in me buying a pretty safe queen. I would be glad to come over and admire yours though.

  9. I have a non-engraved version of that, and I can vouch for its outstanding accuracy. I actually prefer the deep blue of mine to the whatever that grey finish is on the Renaissance version. A sweet feature is that by manipulating the safety lever, you can safely dry fire practice, and by thumbing the lever, reset the trigger for the next dry snap. The adjustable trigger is very crisp. I’ve owned it for almost 50 years, and thousands of rounds fired. For nice guns like that, I take an old towel, fold it up and use it to set the pistol on at the range and at my cleaning bench. The result is, it still looks like new with no bluing wear on sharp edges or at the muzzle.
    BTW, the supplied screwdriver/sight adjusting tool is a POS. Never use it on the gun, as it doesn’t fit anything properly. I see the plain Medalist version like mine all the time on gunbroker for about $1,000-$1,400 with the case and accesssories.

  10. I have two “safe queens”:
    Two, consecutively numbered, engraved, NRA Centennial 1911’s, that I won in a lottery at a Friends of the NRA fundraiser for a single $100 ticket. Since I have about a half-dozen 1911’s that I use now and then, there is no need for these two to ever come out of the glass front, fitted, display case I had made for them by the furniture company that makes display cases for Colt. (just wish I knew how to post a pix here)

  11. I’ll confess to owning a couple of safe queens…like a cased pair of Gastinne-Renette percussion dueling pistols. Never shot them, probably never will. But most of the guns, even the originals, are shooters.

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