Background - My Ranger M34 Single Shot .22 Rifle
One of the coolest old firearms in my collection is a single-shot Ranger M34 that was passed on to me from my grandfather. I believe it was made in the early 1930s. Here is an an advertisement for a similar Ranger single-shot .22 from that era. Can you imagine being able to buy a rifle for $3.49!!!
Today, single-shot .22 rifles are still not terribly expensive. They have some advantages when it comes to teaching young people to shoot. With a single shot rifle, you have to slow down, make sure you are in a good stance, get a good sight picture, exercise breathing control, exercise trigger control, and hold steady to follow through and let your bullet leave the barrel.
The Eternal Question: Should I refinish my rifle?
I'm in a quandary about my single-shot .22 Ranger. They aren't very valuable monetarily. But, the family connection in the rifle is strong. I'm very tempted to clean up the stock and the barrel by removing any external rust from the barrel and refinishing the stock. It would make for a nicer shooter and preserve the rifle for posterity. However, you could argue that every nick and scratch tells a story. It's a tough call.
Conventional wisdom in the gun magazines is that refinishing and particularly re-blueing a firearm destroys its value as a collectible. However, it might be okay to refinish firearms that aren't considered valuable or likely to grow in value. Finally, there are a few people on gun forums who have the perspective that the firearm belongs to you and you can do with it what you wish.
My grandfather was a very practical man and I don't think he ever really collected anything for sentimental reasons. If he thought it would preserve the firearm and keep it a useful tool, he would probably have it refinished. Alternatively, if he really thought he needed a firearm, he would probably just go out and buy a new one.
It seems like there is a pretty good chance that I'll go out and some sort of Birchwood Casey kit and try my hand at improving an old firearm.