The RGA-86 barged into my consciousness in late June when I received notification that a Gunbroker seller I follow had created a new listing (item 777422487). As a casual collector of flare launchers I knew I must own this jumbo revolver and it was intriguing that little more than a one paragraph Wikipedia page could be found on it’s history. In the Gunbroker description the RGA-86 was billed as never imported and that the one listed was the only one in the country. With flare launcher prices climbing in the last couple years I felt that it was easily worth a couple thousand and bid on the auction but someone else jumped on the $3,900 buy it now. Oh well, win some and lose some.
The funny thing was that it wasn’t long before the seller listed a couple more. (listings 779994152 & 780492278) This time they dropped the claim of only one in country but kept the bits that the RGA-86 was never officially imported and that the unit being sold “somehow” made its way here insinuating it was still rare. Second one sold for $2,395 and the third for $1,924. I would love to hear what that first buyer thought of his $3,900 “only one in country” purchase when the seller had them for half that price a couple weeks later. Now as of the first week of August it turns out there are a dozen different sellers on Gun Broker with them and several regular online dealers as well.
In a discussion on Subguns.com well known and reputable importer Bob Bowman revealed that he had passed on the lot of 300-400 RGA-86s several years ago when Polish MOD had surplussed them and is the only lot he is aware of which has come to market. Though Bowman didn’t see a market for them, at the time, due to the difficulty of importing 26.5mm flares apparently Stacy Prineas of Redmond-based arms importer, P.W. Arms Inc did.
Various bits of information gleaned from online dealers and sellers on Gunbroker seem to indicate that PW Arms imported approximately 300 of these launchers. This also gives me the impression that the initial seller on Gunbroker was, at best, not particularly truthful. Based on recently completed auctions (781223726, 780738392, 781408470, 780781237) my impression is that $1,600 is probably a reasonable price point at present time with auctions starting above that point receiving little attention.
It will be interesting to see if the RGA-86 follows the trajectory of the RV-85 in the marketplace. When the RV-85 first hit the marketplace in late spring 2010 it was truly something new for flare aficionados. It’s heavy duty design was more like a beefy 4 guage shotgun rather than the cheap lightweight flare pistols which could be had, at the time, from a number of dealers for $40-60. The RV-85 initially hit the market in the form of unissued kits that came in the box with a number of accessories for $300. By summer 2010 the dealers were down to lesser grade used or incomplete RV-85 kits with the price down to $169 and by late summer they were all gone. In 2014 I started noticing RV-85s on Gunbroker selling for $500 where they seemed to stay for the last few years despite some very optimistic sellers asking well over $1,000. My favorite seller has been listing the same RV-85 for what seems like a year now and is asking $1,500 in bitcoin. In recent months there has been a consistent uptick in RV-85 prices (auctions 775215439 & 776979428) seeming to be holding close to $800.
Although they number of RGA-86s imported by PW Arms is roughly half that of the 600 RV-85s brought in by TGI is also safe to say that the number of people willing to pay well over $1,000 for for a giant flare launcher is also smaller. My suspicion is that now that the claims of RGA-86 rarity have been proven false the price will fall pretty consistently to the $1,500 range until they dry up and it will be at least a few years before that very first Gunbroker buyer sees them selling anywhere close to what he paid.
Check back in a week or two when I will have a hands on review of the RGA-86.