In case you guys haven't noticed I love old battle rifles. That said I have almost no idea what exactly makes one example worth significantly more than another. I get certain rare features and of course condition plays a role. I also get that bubbaing up an old rifle destroys a lot of it's value. Then it gets into some grey areas. Refinishing a rifle may destroy a lot or a little of the value, but if it's "restored" by a professional sometimes in can increase the value? Refinishing a stock in a non original finish will destroy some value and sanding is a no-no, but cleaning is usually ok, but sometimes frowned upon? My head is spinning.
In general I've left all my milsurps as received other than wiping off any cosmo they were shipped in. However, there are a few that I think could look a bit nicer with a bit of work, I just don't really want to hurt their value too much. What if anything do you guys do to maximize the looks of your old rifles without hurting their values? What do you look for when buying a milsurp and what do you avoid if possible?
Here is an example:
I've been watching this 1903a3 on GB. Looking at the photos it looks like the stock has been sanded at some point and possibly refinished and at least the receiver looks like it has been blued (pretty sure it should be parkarized) and I don't think the letters on the serial number should be white. That said it looks pretty good and it's cheaper than most (at least for now)
Then there is this one:
Which is in worse condition but looks like it probably hasn't been touched and is nearly twice the price (admittedly with no bids).