For three days in September, thousands of the rarest and strangest firearms available to collectors were up for grabs by the Rock Island Auction (RIA) company in Illinois. The myriad collection of Colt revolvers, finely engraved Winchester rifles, tiny derringers, and other historical antiques or curiosities raked in $11.6 million in sales. Amid it all, five particular firearms managed to steal the show.
“Two sayings come to mind after Rock Island Auction Company’s September 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction: ‘The best never goes out of style,’ and ‘What’s old is new again,'” stated RIA in a press release on Wednesday.
Of course, what’s old is also expensive. How much would you pay for a prototype Luger, silver-inlaid Westley Richards shotgun, or a captured World War II German paratrooper rifle? Well, if you were a serious collector, somewhere well into six figures.
WWII German MKb 42(H) Assault Rifle with ZF41/1 Sniper Scope
|Model:||MKB 42||Type:||Machine gun|
|Gauge:||7.92 x 33mm Kurz||Catalog Page:||222|
|Barrel Length:||14 3/8 inch round||Finish:||blue|
Final price: $149,500.
The most affordable firearm on this list, the Maschinenkarabiner 1942 is widely considered the grandfather of modern assault rifles. A predecessor of the StG 44, the MKb 42 experienced a problematic design phase as the firearm often jammed or produced catastrophic failures, leading to a poor first impression for what was otherwise a revolutionary firearm. Only 11,000 were pressed into service late in World War II, many of which stayed in the factory. Due to their relative rarity and good condition, the MKb 42 is considered one of the most desirable of German firearms made during the period.
Learn more about this carbine below:
Historic C Company Colt Walker Model 1847 Revolver
|Gauge:||44 percussion||Catalog Page:||76|
|Barrel Length:||9 inch part octagon||Finish:||blue/casehardened|
Final price: $161,000.
This Colt 1847 revolver is not rare only because of its age, but because of its tour of service with the famed First Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers. Lead by Colonel John Coffee Hays, one of the earliest commanders of what would later become the Texas Rangers, the regiment earned fame and distinction in the war with Mexico.
“Known as ‘The Texas Devils’ the Texas Mounted Volunteers used their Walker Colt revolvers in a number of actions against Mexican irregular forces operating between Mexico City and Vera Cruz,” stated RIA historians. “Of the 394 Walker revolvers issued to the Texas Mounted Volunteers only 191 revolvers (of which 82 were serviceable) were turned in at the Vera Cruz Depot when the regiment was mustered out of federal service on May 8, 1848.”
Today, only 38 of these revolvers exist, and many are in the hands of private collectors or museums. Although the revolver almost certainly saw action during the Mexican War, it remains in remarkably good condition after professional repairs.
Pair of Precious Metal Inlaid Westley Richards .410 Droplock Shotguns
|Serial #:||18021||Manufacturer:||Westley Richards|
|Model:||Side By Side||Type:||Shotgun|
|Barrel Length:||28 inch solid rib||Finish:||blue/casehardened/ gold|
|Class:||Modern Long Gun|
Final price: $161,000.
Okay, so we’re cheating a bit here with not one but two unique 410 shotguns. Founded in 1812, the English gun maker Westley Richards excels in making sublime shotguns and rifles. The company is perhaps most famous for producing the Enfield rifles that were the British Army general issue arm for decades, but they have also garnered fame among hunters for their highly ornate and purpose-built firearms. Although this pair of shotguns may be too precious to take out on a hunt, there is no doubt that they will take center stage in any firearm collection.
You can see some of the engravings in greater detail below:
Prototype Bulgarian seven-shot “Baby Luger”
|Gauge:||7.65 mm Luger||Catalog Page:||N/A|
|Barrel Length:||3 1/4 inch round||Finish:||blue|
|Class:||Curio & Relic Handgun|
Final price: $161,000.
This rare Luger is believed to be one of three seven-shot baby Lugers to exist in the world, and it happens to be the one in the best condition. According to RIA historians, this pistol may have been constructed as a prototype under the supervision of Georg Luger himself, and possibly even hand-built by the designer.
FG 42 German paratrooper rifle
|Serial #:||02314||Manufacturer:||Krieghoff Heinrich Gun Co|
|Model:||FG 42||Type:||Machine gun|
|Gauge:||7.92 mm Mauser||Catalog Page:||214|
|Barrel Length:||19 inch round||Finish:||phosphate|
Final price: $299,000.
The Fallschirmjägergewehr 42, translated as “paratrooper rifle 42,” was used by German airborne infantry during World War II. One of the most advanced—and perhaps overly complicated—firearms in the Nazi arsenal during the conflict, it is suspected that only 5,000 of these rifles were produced. Most were eventually captured and destroyed, but some managed to escape into the collections of enthusiasts. This particular rifle was likely acquired by an American soldier and later transported back to the States.
“I can’t imagine a gun collection where this wouldn’t be one of the very top jewels of the collection,” said modern weapons historian Ian McCollum of ForgottenWeapons.com.
Need a history lesson on the FG 42? McCollum explores the background of the firearm in the video below:
All images courtesy RIA