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These Are the Most Expensive Guns Ever Sold at Auction

By Samuel Stebbins,
Published in 247 Wall St
Silver-Plated-Colt
An estimated 45% of American households own at least one firearm – typically for the purposes of protection against crime, target shooting, or hunting. And for only a few hundred dollars, most Americans can purchase a gun well suited to any one of those tasks. (These are the 22 best selling guns bought online last year.)

But for a small subset of Americans, gun collecting is a hobby. Every year, firearms that are notable for their historical significance, artistic merit, or both, go up for auction. Though these guns can often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, many of them find buyers with both the interest and the financial means. In the past five years alone, more than a dozen firearms have sold at auction for anywhere from $750,000 to over $6 million. 

Using data from a number of antique firearm auction houses, including Rock Island Auction Company, Christie’s, and James D.Julia, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most expensive firearms sold at auction since 2000. Firearms are ranked based on their inflation-adjusted sale price. Not available at your local gun store, these firearms are often decades or even centuries old and have passed through the hands of many previous owners. Despite their age, some of the most sought-after pieces have been preserved in near-perfect condition, and though by no means state-of-the-art, they can still function reliably, should the need arise. 

These firearms include flintlock pistols carried by founding fathers such as Alexander Hamilton and Gen. George Washington during key battles of the American Revolution. This list also includes revolvers once owned by former U.S. presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. A smaller selection of these six- and seven-figure firearms were owned by influential foreign leaders, like Napoleon Bonaparte and Simon Bolivar.

But the majority of guns on this list are iconic for their association with America’s era of Westward expansion. Rather than an affiliation with political leaders, these guns are notable for their rarity, craftsmanship, artistry, or law enforcement and military officers who carried them. These guns include several revolvers and lever-action repeaters made by Colt and Winchester, brands that are still manufacturing firearms. (These are America’s 24 biggest gunmakers, ranked.)

Here are the most expensive firearms ever sold at auction. 

23. 1891 Colt Cavalry Model Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $775,790
  • Price paid at auction: $763,750 (August 2022)
  • Firearm chambered in: .45 Long Colt

This Colt revolver was sold by Rock Island Auction Company in August 2022 for over three-quarters of a million dollars – more than three times the upper limit of its estimated price. Manufactured in1891, this revolver is extremely rare, has never been fired, and is near mint condition. According to the auction house, it is the finest known example of its kind and includes a gold seal letter of authentication.

22. U.S. Cavalry Model Colt Single Action Army Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $786,075
  • Price paid at auction: $763,750 (May 2022)
  • Firearm chambered in: .45 Long Colt

This Colt Single Action Army Revolver was issued to a member of the Seventh Cavalry in 1874 during the American-Indian Wars. It is believed to be a battlefield pick-up in the aftermath of the Battle of Little Bighorn – in which Lt. Col. George Custer was routed by the Lakota and other Plains Indians. The revolver’s connection to the battle, considered to be one of the most lopsided U.S. military defeats of the era, commanded a price of over three-quarters of a million dollars when it was auctioned in May 2022.

21. Theodore Roosevelt’s Smith &Wesson No. 3 Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $923,030
  • Price paid at auction: $910,625 (December 2022)
  • Firearm chambered in: .38 Long Colt

A rare and iconic firearm in its own right, this particular Smith & Wesson No. 3 Revolver was shipped to Col. Theodore Roosevelt on May 12, 1898, the day he left for San Antonio, Texas, to train with theRough Riders. Most No. 3 revolvers were not chambered in .38 Long Colt caliber — the standard U.S. service cartridge at the time — but Roosevelt’s was. Whether or not Roosevelt carried the firearm in Cuba during the Spanish-American War has not been established.

20. Winchester Model One of One Hundred Model 1873 Lever-ActionRifle

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $960,872
  • Price paid at auction: $805,000 (November 2018)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44 WCF

The One of One Hundred model is among the most sought-after versions of the Winchester 1873 lever-action rifle. Shipped from the Winchester factory between 1876 and 1878, this rifle is one of only six from that period known to be in existence. And though it was carried down the Amazon River by its original owner, this rifle remains in good condition and fetched over $800,000 when it was sold at auction in November 2018 – equal to over $960,000 today.

19. Cased Colt No. 5 Texas Paterson Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,017,975
  • Price paid at auction: $805,000 (May 2014)
  • Firearm chambered in: .36 caliber

In May 2014, Rock Island Auction Company sold a Cased Colt No. 5 Texas Paterson Revolver for $805,000, or over $1 million in 2023 dollars. The sale price was driven by the gun’s rarity, condition, historical significance, and materials – which include silver bands and an ivory grip. This particular firearm has a 9-inch barrel, consistent with 180 units purchased by the Republic of Texas to arm its navy. The Texas Paterson is the revolver that immediately preceded the Walker Colt and marked a significant advancement in the evolution of repeating firearms.

18. Engraved Silver Winchester Model1866

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,054,767
  • Price paid at auction: $977,500 (December 2021)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44 Henry RF

This lever-action rifle features components made with Peruvian silver and was engraved by the German-American artist Louis D. Nimschke.It was gifted from Peruvian President Jose Balta to BolivianPresident Mariano Melgarejo in the 19th century before it was ultimately rediscovered by a member of French President FrançoisMitterrand’s staff in the 1980s during a trip to South America. It has been restored slightly and fetched nearly $1 million at auction inDecember 2021.

17. Winchester One of One ThousandDeluxe Model 1873 Lever-Action Rifle

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,062,132
  • Price paid at auction: $891,250 (September 2018)
  • Firearm chambered in: .45-60 WCF

This Winchester One of One Thousand Deluxe Model 1873 lever-action rifle, which sold for over $890,000 in 2018 – or $1.1 million in2023 dollars – is extremely rare. Of the 54 ever produced, only 10 are known to collectors. This particular example is in good condition with limited wear.

16. Theodore Roosevelt’s Shotgun

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,186,381
  • Price paid at auction: $862,500 (October 2010)
  • Firearm chambered in: 12 ga

In 1908, the A.H. Fox Gun Company made President TheodoreRoosevelt a custom, double-barreled, 12 gauge shotgun. Roosevelt called it the most beautiful gun he had ever seen, and he brought itwith him on an African safari in 1909. When it sold for $862,500 inOctober 2010, it was the most expensive firearm ever sold at auction, though it has since been surpassed.

15. Colt Walker: E Company, No. 120M 1847 Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,212,691
  • Price paid at auction: $1,035,000 (September 2019)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44

Built for military use, the Colt Walker: E Company, No. 120 revolver is one of only a few guns on this list that does not feature ornate engravings or precious materials. It is, however, extremely rare. One of the most iconic firearms in U.S. history, the Colt Model 1847 was carried by settlers, ranchers, and troops across the West. This particular revolver was the 120th of 120 issued to Company E. An additional 220 were previously issued to companies A through D. The gun sold for over $1 million at auction in September 2019.

14. 1847 Colt Walker Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,277,965
  • Price paid at auction: $920,000 (October 2008)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44

The 1847 Colt Walker Revolver, is one of the most powerful blackpowder revolvers ever made, and also one of the rarest. This particular Colt Walker was issued to Pvt. Sam Wilson, a Texas Ranger in Veracruz in 1847. After Wilson was killed in battle, the gun was obtained by Maj. Gen. John Reese Kenly, who fought for the UnionArmy during the Civil War. 

13. Alexander Hamilton’s FlintlockHolster Pistols

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,285,187
  • Price paid at auction: $1,150,000 (May 2021)
  • Firearm chambered in: .58 caliber

Two flintlock pistols owned by Founding Father and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton sold for nearly $1.2 million at auction inMay 2021. These guns were gifted to Hamilton by Gen. Philip Schuyler and remain in good, functioning condition. They are inscribed with Hamilton’s initials and are believed to have been used at the Battle of Yorktown, where Hamilton led three battalions to capture key British positions.

12. 1836 Colt Paterson Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,296,101
  • Price paid at auction: $977,500 (September 2011)
  • Firearm chambered in: .26 to .36

This ivory-gripped iteration of the 1836 Colt Paterson – the first repeating pistol patented by Samuel Colt, named for Paterson, NewJersey, the city in which it was made – sold for nearly $980,000 in aSeptember 2011 auction, nearly $1.3 million in 2023 dollars. The revolver’s high price is attributable not only to its place in history but also to its mint condition and high quality.

11. One-of-a-Kind Winchester Model 1886 Lever-Action Rifle

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,404,756
  • Price paid at auction: $1,178,750 (September 2018)
  • Firearm chambered in: .50 Express

The Winchester Model 1886 marked a significant improvement in repeating long guns when it was introduced. The Model 1886 which fetched nearly $1.2 million at auction in September 2018 is considered to be the finest example of the rifle ever made. Notable for its craftsmanship as much as its historical significance, the one-of-a-kind piece features ornate engravings and gold and platinum inlays done by John Ulrich depicting a cougar, a deer, a grizzly bear, and two hunting dogs. It also features an octagonal barrel and wood stock carved with floral patterns. Despite its age, the rifle remains in near-mint condition.

10. Golden Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver

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Source: Public Domain via The Met Museum

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,496,952
  • Price paid at auction: $1,140,000 (2012)
  • Firearm chambered in: .31 caliber

This cap and ball revolver features gold inlays and ornate engravings, depicting a bear, dog, leopard, pheasant, and fox, as well as a hammer engraved with a wolf’s head. It is one of only six ever made, one of which was gifted to Russian Czar Nicholas I, and two others to the kings of Sweden and Denmark. The gun’s craftsmanship, historical significance, and good condition attracted $1.1 million in a 2012 auction – equal to about $1.5 million in today’s dollars.

9. Henry Lawton’s Winchester Model 1886, Serial number 1

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,590,575
  • Price paid at auction: $1,265,000 (April 2016)
  • Firearm chambered in: .45-70

The first ever Winchester Model 1886 lever-action rifle, marked with the serial number “1,” sold for nearly $1.3 million at an April 2016 auction. Not only notable as the first of its kind, this particular rifle was presented to Capt. Henry Lawton by cattle barons in New Mexico after he accepted the surrender of the famed Apache leader Geronimo. The firearm’s connection to Lawton is perhaps its most valuable asset, as Lawton ended the Apache Wars, fought in the Spanish-American War, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for hisservice in the Civil War, before being killed in action during the Philippine Insurrection.

8. Silver Plated Colt Single Action Army Revolver Ordered for U.S.President Theodore Roosevelt

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,693,477
  • Price paid at auction: $1,466,250 (December 2020)
  • Firearm chambered in: .38 Long

Three firearms that once belonged to Theodore Roosevelt rank on this list. Of them, the silver-plated Colt Army revolver sold for the most at auction, fetching nearly $1.5 million in December 2020, or $1.7 million in 2023 dollars. Four days after an assassination attempt was made on Roosevelt’s life, this single-action Colt Army revolver was ordered for the president, following his decision to never leave home unarmed again. This particular gun features ornate engravings by Colt Master Engraver Cuno Helfricht and an ivory grip depicting a steer head.

7. The Millikin Dragoon Colt Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $1,958,869
  • Price paid at auction: $1,667,500 (May 2019)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44 percussion

The Millikin Dragoon series of Colt revolvers were ivory-handled presentation pistols – three of which were gifted to Russian Czar Alexander II and his family. This particular example, which sold for nearly $1.7 million in a May 2019 auction, once belonged to Union Army Col. John Minor Millikin Jr. When Millikin was killed in battle, his son, Paul Minor Millikin, who went on to serve in the Spanish-American War and as chief of police in Cincinnati, inherited it.

The gun’s value is due not only to its historical connection and pristine condition but also to its fine scrollwork by the well-known engraver, Gustave Young. The firearm features an octagonal barrel and etchings that depict an eagle head, dog head, and wolf head.

6. ‘Danish Sea Captain’ Civilian Colt Walker Revolver

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $2,209,357
  • Price paid at auction: $1,840,000 (April 2018)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44 percussion

Only 100 civilian Colt Walker revol vers were ever made. Rare to begin with, this particular model remains in its original casing. It was first purchased by a Danish sea captain named Neils Hanson on an 1847 visit to New York City. Nearly a century later, during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, the gun was buried in a garden to avoid discovery by German troops. When it fetched $1.8 million in an April 2018 auction, it was the most expensive gun ever sold to date.

5. Simon Bolivar’s Flintlock Pistols

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Source: johan10 / Getty Images

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $2,263,269
  • Price paid at auction: $1,800,000 (April 2016)
  • Firearm chambered in: N/A

These two flint lock pistols, made by Nicolas-Noël Boutet, Napoléon’s gunsmith, once belonged to Simon Bolivar, a revolutionary who is credited with leading the liberation of six South American countries from Spain. They were gifted to him in 1825 by Marquis de Lafayette at the request of George Washington. The pistols are ornately carved and engraved and feature gold inlays and silver mounts.

4. Napoleon Bonaparte’s Five Firearms and Sword

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $3,102,255
  • Price paid at auction: $2,875,000 (December 2021)
  • Firearm chambered in: .58 caliber

During the French Revolution, Napoleon was gifted a rifled carbine, two rifled carriage pistols, and two pocket pistols, as well as a sword and scabbard. The weapons are gold-encrusted and feature carvings of Greco-Roman symbolism. Napoleon himself gifted the weapons to Marshall Junot, Duke of Abrantes, and is said to have been wearing the sword when the French government was overthrown in 1799. This collection of weapons sold for nearly $2.9 million in a December 2021 auction.

3. George Washington’s Flintlock Pistols

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Source: Courtesy of West Point Museum via Facebook

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $3,360,339
  • Price paid at auction: $1,986,000 (January 2002)
  • Firearm chambered in: .57 caliber

During the American Revolution, Gen. George Washington was gifted two flintlock pistols from Marquis de Lafayette. Washington is believed to have carried the pistols at Valley Forge, Monmouth, the Battle of Yorktown, and the Whiskey Rebellion.

The pistols were later inherited by Andrew Jackson during his presidential campaign. In a January 2002 auction, they sold for nearly $2 million, equal to over $3.3 million in 2023.

2. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Cased Remington New Model Army Revolvers

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Source: Courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $5,321,122
  • Price paid at auction: $5,170,000 (May 2022)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44 caliber

These two Remington revolvers, with 8-inch octagonal barrels, are thought to have been gifted to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War after his troops took Vicksburg on July 4, 1863. The two guns are engraved by L.D. Nimschke and features the likeness of Grant etched into the ivory handles. Notable for their artistry as well ast heir historical significance, the pair of revolvers sold for over $5 million in a May 2022 auction – over $2 million higher than the upper limit of their estimated price.

1. Pat Garrett’s Colt Single Action Army Revolver

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Source: MPI / Getty Images

  • Inflation-adjusted sale price: $6,631,498
  • Price paid at auction: $6,030,312 (August 2021)
  • Firearm chambered in: .44-40

This Colt revolver was used to kill the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid in New Mexico in July 1881. Drawing a bid of over $6 million in 2021, it is the most expensive firearm ever to be sold at auction. Unlike many other firearms on this list, this revolver is not engraved nor made of valuable materials, though it is in very good condition. Garrett is said to have taken the gun off Billy Wilson, another outlaw in the Old West.

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