How Much Is It Worth?
"I was browsing the local gun store today and looked at an old S&W Victory model .38 special. The gun locks up tight, however, it is very beat up from the outside, the blue is almost entirely gone, the grips are bad, and some dufus engraved his name into it. (poorly)
What would you say a gun like that is worth? They were asking $299 but I think that's too much, I might go back and make an offer. I've been looking for a gun in exactly this kind of shape to fix up...but I'm thinking it should be under $200. Am I wrong?"
First, make certain it is originally a .38 Special and not one of the converted British Victories.
Assuming it is originally .38 Special, and assuming it has no function issues, a beater Victory Model is worthwhile as a functional firearm. If it still has the original grips and lanyard loop, it can be an interesting addition to a revolver collection. Not all guns have to be pristine. Sometimes it's nice to just hold a scarred up old gun and wonder about the stories it could tell.
Several years back I purchased a battle scarred and reblued Victory Model that had a bent trigger guard binding the trigger. It had diamond magnas on it, and the lanyard loop was long gone. I fixed the trigger guard, put on some appropriately scarred Victory grips and a lanyard loop. I enjoy shooting it, it's reasonably accurate, and I don't have to worry about devaluing the gun if it gets knocked around a bit. To me, that has value.
I paid $150 for it. I've had a lot of fun with it, it shoots decently, and is reliable. It's also historical. To me, that is worth $150, perhaps a bit more now. Later on, I found a nicer Victory Model for $300. I bought that one too. I still have them both, but the one I brought back from the brink is the one I prefer.
At this time, in my opinion, $300 is too much to pay for the Victory Model you describe. $150 is more like it, maybe $200 if you are in a S&W deficient area. In time, it will be worth $300, but it's going to be quite a while. If you want the gun, try to talk the seller down to a more reasonable price. Wait him out if you have to. If you have $300 and want a Victory Model in better condition, you can likely find one fairly easily. Whether the revolver in question is worth $299 is entirely up to you though. On a gun like this, the gun has no absolute value. It is only worth the price the seller and buyer agree on. You, or another buyer, will be instrumental in making that determination.