Firearm Collecting

Collecting – Wikipedia : ‘The hobby of collecting includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining items that are of interest to an individual collector.’

Collecting firearms can be an exciting and rewarding pastime for gun enthusiasts.
Whether a simple hobby or life-long pursuit, the elation of finding and acquiring a piece that you have been searching for remains the same.

One of the most endearing attributes of collecting is that a firearm or collection need not be rare, old, expensive nor large to have value to the collector.
This means that in the pool of available firearms, one never knows what might be desirable or not, creating an even playing field between collectors.

With an unfathomable range and variation dating back to the 15th century, firearms make fascinating subject matter with almost countless possibilities for interesting and diverse collections.

Collecting firearms for a private collection is one of the motivations and official categories for applying for a license stipulated by the South African Firearms Control Act.
This type of license is designated as a Section 17 license and is valid for 10 years.

In order to apply for a collector license, one needs to be a member of an accredited collector’s association (accredited and recognized by the Central Firearms Registry).
There are many collectors associations in South Africa, usually distinguished by their geographical location.


Each association has its own management policies and procedure for applying for membership, but this usually requires a detailed motivation for wanting to become a collector, as well as a specific description of one’s fields of interest.  

Part of this includes defining and proposing specific collector themes which outline the type and range of firearms that one wishes to collect.
Themes are required to ensure that one only collects firearms that fit within a particular field of interest, and also that collections are limited to finite quantities, so that collectors do not simply hoard any guns they want in unlimited numbers.

An example of a collector theme would be: ‘Military issued handguns used by Allied forces during the Second World War (1939-1945)’.
Collectors can have more than one theme at a time and can also apply to expand existing themes once they have been completed.

There are three categories that stipulate what types of firearms can be collected:

Category C: Handguns, bolt-action rifles and manual shotguns
Category B: Category C guns plus semi-automatic rifles and shotguns (restricted firearms)
Category A: Category B guns plus fully-automatic rifles (prohibited firearms)

All new members start as Category C collectors with Category C themes, and over time one can apply to progress to Category B and eventually A.

Once a theme has been approved, the association will use this definition when determining the collectability of a proposed firearm.
If the firearm fits within the theme, they will supply a letter of endorsement which must be included with the Section 17 license application.       

One is also required to have a Competency to Collect certificate.
This can be applied for after becoming a member of a collector association, by submitting an Application for a Competency Certificate (SAPS517) and including the collector’s association membership certificate.  

Becoming a certified collector opens up the door to acquiring all kinds of wonderful and interesting firearms that might not be suitable or possible to license for self-defense or sporting purposes.
So if you’re interested in the historical or technical attributes of firearms or simply just love the look and feel of a particular model, collecting may just be for you.

A friendly word of caution; once you start, you may not ever want to stop.

Send me an email at:

Are you a certified collector on the lookout for a particular firearm or theme of firearms?

Send me an email with the firearm or list of firearms that you are looking for and I will keep my eyes open for these items and let you know if anything becomes available.

Alternatively you can send me your themes  or a description of the types of firearms you are interested in, and I can  contact you if I come across anything that matches those criteria.

To help make my searching and recommendations more accurate  and meaningful to you, please can you also include details such as what condition (of the gun) you are willing to consider, as well as your budget or price range.

It never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes out there when searching for something special or rare, and I won't know what to be on the lookout for unless I know what you are after.