A few weeks ago I was invited to have a book signing at a large area gun show. I have only been to one gun show in the last ten years, but had a free weekend and took the organizers up on their gracious offer. On the second day of the show (Sunday) I at was at my table and a gentleman walked in and inquired if I might be interested in a Smith & Wesson M1940 9mm Light Rifle. These are very uncommon and rarely seen on the market. I had written an article on the weapon for American Rifleman several years ago and used the specimen in the NRA's National Firearms Museum to illustrate the piece.
Since the gun does not exactly fit my collecting criteria (post-Civil War U.S. military weapons) I never looked for one of these weapons before but sometimes the best things happen when you aren't seeking them. Anyway, to make a long story short, I told these guy I'd be interested in looking at it and he went back to his car and brought in a beautiful pristine S&W M1940 Light Rifle complete with the magazine (which are impossible to find "on the loose") and a factory sling in matching condition (which the NRA Museum's example lacked). We talked a bit and came up with a mutually agreeable price. He knew the gun was valuable so it wasn't a "sleeper" but neither did he expect to retire on the proceeds of the sale. The gun followed me home and is now safe and sound.
As events transpired I was scheduled to film some additional episodes of American Rifleman television a couple of weeks later. I thought it might be interesting to fire the gun for the program and the American Rifleman guys jumped at the chance. Even though the gun was mint, I didn't have any real qualms about shooting it but made sure it was cleaned very thoroughly after use. It still looks like it did when I bought it. For those who aren't familiar with the gun, below is a link to the article I mentioned above.
I won't go into detail here, but the gun was made under contract by S&W for the British government (hence the 9mm chambering) but it was never used. The weapon was beautifully crafted with the typical gorgeous S&W bluing on the finely milled parts. I've mentioned previously that the "good stuff" rarely shows up at gun shows any more which is true. On the other hand, sometimes you can get lucky. While one's chance of winning the lottery is akin to being struck by lighting, it is zero if you never buy a ticket. Maybe I need to start rethinking gun shows.
Link to American Rifleman article: