10 Of History's Most Expensive Firearms

Ahh, our favorite: expensive firearms.

The most expensive firearms date back to the 9th century with the creation of gunpowder. Originally, the Chinese developed gunpowder for medicinal purposes, or possibly as an immortality potion. At the time it was just a rudimentary mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate. By the 13th century most parts of Eurasia had embraced the stuff. Gunpowder was eventually used for warfare around 900 AD.

We could go down the gunpowder black abyss for, well, centuries. But the point we’re trying to make is: firearms as defense have been around since before the Tang Dynasty. As in, gunpowder was developed out of necessity before forks, toothpaste, printed books, and — get this one — golf.

That leaves us with over 10 centuries of tinkering with what is now the modern firearm. So we’ve had a LOT of time to build many types of guns. From commonplace rifles like the the AK47, to ultimate disasters like the Krummlauf.

Read on to see some of the best (and worst) firearms in history with the most mind-boggling price tags since before sliced bread (literally).

10. Hitler’s Gold Walther PP

A name known worldwide for some of the worst reasons history has to offer: Adolf Hitler. Featuring the “AH” initials, Walther gifted this gold pistol to Hitler himself. This one-of-a-kind handgun was a 50th birthday gift and a sign of gratitude for outfitting his army with the Walther P-38. The gun initially sold in 1987 for $114,000. However, it’s estimated at a much higher number today. It’s almost certainly been sold multiple times since the 80’s. Presumably reaching a higher price tag with each transaction.

9. Wyatt Earp’s Colt .45 Revolver

Wyatt Earp: a gambler, gold miner, and entrepreneur. An iconic figure of the American West. He made a fortune off brothels, boxing matches, barber shops, and saloons. Above all, he was interested in anything resulting in some coin. The revolver is likely the one used at the famous OK Corral shootout, lending it the higher price tag. This piece of Earp’s arsenal sold for $225,000 in 2014.

8. The Gun That Killed Jesse James

Some of the most expensive firearms come at the cost of a human life. Robert Ford’s .44 Smith & Wesson revolver is the famed gun Ford used to kill Jesse James. James, a notorious bandit of the American West, was considered unstoppable. That is, until carelessness got the better of him and his gang. James uncharacteristically left himself wide open and defenseless in 1882. “The Coward Robert Ford,” seized the moment — pulled his concealed carry and shot James dead on the spot. The revolver sold for $350,000 in 2003.

7. Theodore Roosevelt’s One-Of-A-Kind Double-Barreled Shotgun

The Fox Gun Company made this one-off in the early 1900’s for well-known American President Theodore Roosevelt and his love for hunting. Teddy left for an African expedition in 1909 (the month after he left presidency), and brandished the double-barreled shotgun the entire time. The shotgun never left his side, and sold at auction for $862,000.

6. Colt Walker .44 Black Powder Revolver

This single-action revolver was commonly carried by Texas Rangers in the mid-1800’s, but their modern availability has dwindled to around 170 on the open market. These guns were shot often and carried frequently. Therefore, Colt Walker Black Powder Revolvers aren’t found in pristine condition — almost ever. That is, until 2008 when one sold for $920,000. It had zero corrosion and even included its original-issue black powder flask.

5. Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver

Yet another revolver on the list of expensive firearms! This gold-inlaid pocket revolver evolved from the original Colt Paterson model. It was one of the most well-received models of its time due to its smaller size (easier to carry). The innovation and rare addition of the gold inlay makes this handgun a novelty. It sold in New York in 2012 for $1.1 million.

4. Henry Ware Lawton’s 1886 Winchester Rifle

Major-General Henry Ware Lawton’s buddy gave him this rifle a a thank you for the General’s successful military campaign. Lawton lead the mission to capture Apache leader, Geronimo. The rifle is a classic .45–70 lever action with a not-so-classic octagonal barrel and full-length magazine. This 1800’s Winchester bears a serial number of, simply, “1” and sold for $1,260,000.

3. Simon Bolivar’s Flintlock Pistols

Bolivar helped several South American countries gain their independence from the Spanish Empire. And these pistols helped Bolivar help the South Americans. This pair of flintlock pistols fetched $1,687,500 in 2004. 

Famous French gunsmith Nicolas-Noel Boutet (AKA Napoleon Bonaparte’s gunsmith) handcrafted the pair. 

2. George Washington’s Saddle Pistols

America’s first president: George Washington. Nobody’s certain of the saddle pistols’ past. However, historians suspect Washington carried them at the Whiskey Rebellion, Monmouth, Valley Forge, and Yorktown. Andrew Jackson inherited these walnut beauties in 1824 and referred to them as the “sacred and holy relics.”

After passing through some 200 years of inheritance, the pistols sold for $1,986,000 at an auction in 2002. What would Washington say to that?

1. The Multi-Million Dollar “Big Bang Set”

Okay, so, this one is kind of cheating. Cabot Guns’ Big Bang Set never sold at auction. This 1911 duo is crafted with, oh, just your average billions-of-years-old-Gibeon-meterorite. Because its current price tag is a jaw-dropping $4.5 million, we’re counting it in as, yeah, one of the most expensive firearms in history.

You can add yourself to the auction announcement on their website. You know, for those that have multiple millions of dollars burning holes in their pockets.

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