This is a very popular question. The reader should know a few things about Sweet Sixteens to identify their own Sweet 16 to determine value.
American Shooters have had a love affair with The Sweet Sixteen since it's introduction to the public in 1937. A Sweet Sixteen is the Lightweight Version of the Browning 16 guage Auto-5 Shotgun. Not all 16 guage Automatics are Sweet 16's; There is a Standard weight that was imported by Browning and stayed in the Auto-5 line from 1923 until 1964. The Sweet 16 was made in Belgium from 1936 until 1976. Sweet 16's were discontinued when Auto-5 Production moved to Japan in 1976. Browning reintroduced the Sweet Sixteen (Japanese production) in 1987 and was produced until 1992.
"How to tell if you have a Standard or a Sweet 16." All Sweets will be marked "Sweet Sixteen" on the left side of the receiver from 1949 and on. Prior to 1949, the easiest way to tell is that a Sweet 16 has a gold trigger and the barrel has three holes drilled through the barrel band; Standard 16's do not have these features. (If you have a Standard 16 ga and not a Sweet, keep reading)
Value will depend on which model of Sweet (Belgian or Japan) Condition, Originality, and age. "How do I know if I have a Belgian or Japanese Sweet 16?" The markings on the Barrel will identify place of manufacture, but if a barrel has been replaced, the serial number and code (on the bottom of the receiver) will help identify. You can ask for the age on WikiAnswers or go the Browning Web site to date your gun.
Pre-war Auto-5 Sweet 16's are very collectable in original condition. Recoil Pads and Poly Chokes will hurt the value of any Sweet 16. Guns made up until 1952 have the front trigger safety, and are not too popular as shooters. Most users want the cross bolt safety, therefore the earlier guns in less than 80-90% condition do not command the same prices as later Sweets.
All Sweets had round knobs until 1967 as standard. 1967 to 1976 had the flat or "square knobs". Many buyers are split on preferring the round knob or flat knobs. They both seem to sell equally as well.
So now if you have identified your Sweet, lets look at Condition. Up to about 95% of original finish, these guns should sell well based on the scale of the Blue Book of Gun Values. Above 95%, they really have been selling for premium prices the last several years. These prices for Belgian mint and near new guns have sold for double what the book value has been. Used Japanese guns are usually lower in value, but the mint Japanese guns match up to the Belgians in price.
So how much are we talking?
Older pre 50's guns in 80-95% would be appraised between $350-$700
Sweets from the 1950's - 1976 up to 95% typically between $450 to $900
Any Sweet that is near new (98% or better) to mint in the Box can command $1500+ in the right market. Some have sold as high as $2500, but this is for exceptional mint guns. A vent rib may help the price on an older model over 95% condition, but most of the 60's and 70's guns have vented ribs. It doesn't make that much difference in the sellers price.
So where does a Standard Weight 16 fit in? It's pretty close to actual Blue Book numbers, but the real mint guns drop off from reaching as high as the Sweet Sixteens. A 1960 mint in the box Standard might sell from $1200-$1500 while a MIB 1960 Sweet will sell for $500 or more - than the Standard.
Keep in mind that there are a lot of Sweets on the market, and whether you set the price or a Gun Shop appraises it for you, when it comes time to sell, it may take a while, especially for guns well used.
For more information on Sweet Sixteens, use the link below for Rare Sweet 16's.
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