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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Call of Duty

Hello everybody!  My name is Joel and I'm in charge of social media responsibilities here at Rock Island Auction Co.  Yes, that is as cool as it sounds.  I'm ridiculously excited to start a career here and to show you a glimpse of just some the amazing firearms we have here at RIAC.  Most will be upcoming auction items, some will be stuff that I find personally fascinating, and others will just have a significant and sometimes unique history behind them.  Let's jump right in shall we?

Today's post will be for something we can all get behind: Call of Duty.  Younger readers know this as a  video game series stretching all the way back to 2003.  It is a game that initially puts players in a World War II setting in the role of soldiers in the U.S., British, and Russian armies.  While those who don't play video games may not care too much about this, they should definitely appreciate the familiarity with firearms that these games are bestowing to a much younger audience.  All of a sudden, kids could tell you the differences between a MP40 and an MP44, or between a M1 Garand and an M1903 Springfield.

More recent versions of the game take place in modern times with updated combat weapons.  Instead of the former weapons of war, players are using modern combat tools.  This includes everything from Steyr Augs, FN P90s, Remington's MSR, to Javelin missle launchers.  While RIAC does not have any Javelins, we certainly have a variety of the new and old guns that have been capturing the interest of players.  I write about these guns not because they're trendy, but because new and experienced enthusiasts alike can both appreciate the active legislative climate for gun owners.  Whether it's the aficionado with a collection spanning several hundred pieces or the person with the tried and true, handed down rifle, all gun owners need to pay special attention to the debates and legislation taking place.  That's a Call of Duty that we should all heed.

To show what's at stake, I'm going to show some of the guns that appear in these video games.  Both new and old collectors would be lucky to include any of these guns in their collection, but in order to maintain the right to collect these fine pieces it's going to take both groups using their respective passions to move toward a common goal.  I promise that I'll try to keep the political pieces to a minimum and to keep the focus on exciting, unique firearms of all eras, but with all these great firearms that I've seen here in my first month and the current national debate, I really couldn't resist.  Now how about some pictures of some amazing weapons?  I'll start with some more of the historic pieces.

Colt Model 1921 "Thompson" Submachine Gun 
Who could deny the desire to collect this piece of Americana?  The "Tommy" Gun brings up visions of everything from World War II to Prohibition-era mobsters.  It has earned such nicknames as, The Chicago Typewriter, The Chicago Piano, The Trench Sweeper, The Trench Broom, The Chicago Organ Grinder, its prototype name The Annihilator, its more personable common name The Tommy Gun, and my personal favorite, The Chopper.  Their mingled history of sordid and noble deeds combined with their quality and reliability make these guns highly desirable collectors items. The model that we'll be selling in our April auction is described below.

Auction Description

Excellent Colt Model 1921 Full Automatic Class III "Thompson" Submachine Gun
"This is a beautiful example of an early production Model 1921 Thompson submachine gun as produced by the Colt Firearms Company circa 1921/22. This specific submachine gun remains in it's early original 1921 configuration. The Thompson SMG is probably one of the most famous and easily recognized SMGs ever produced and made infamous during the prohibition and gangland warfare era by both U.S. law enforcement agencies, the Mafia and again by the USMC in 1928 during their time in Nicaragua. These 1921 models had mediocre sales for the first few years with most being later upgraded to the 1928 configuration, however this example remains in it's original 1921 configuration...These were one of the best if not the best made SMG ever and if you ever have a chance to disassemble one of these weapons you will be amazed at how well they were manufactured, the parts just slide together like glass"

The full description and markings of this great weapon can be found by clicking here.

Countless numbers of our fathers and grandfathers have held and used this weapon in a number of international wars.  While it saw its heyday in WWI, it continued as the standard infantry issue in WWII until adequate numbers of the M1 Garand could be manufactured.  Heck, it was so prized for its reliability and accuracy that it even saw service as a sniper rifle in WWII, Korea, and even early in Vietnam.  Besides its importance in combat, it also provided an ample template for experimentation as the U.S. attempted to develop a serviceable semi-automatic weapon for military use.  In fact, one of those experiments will be available at our upcoming Premiere Auction in April 2013.  I refer to the M1903 Mark I, which involved a hole on the left side of the receiver to accommodate a Pedersen Device, essentially converting the M1903 into a semi-automatic rifle capable of firing .30 caliber cartridges from a horizontally inserted magazine.  The Pedersen Device was discussed in-depth in a previous article. This type of unique item really makes history exciting!

Auction Description

Outstanding All Complete Model 1903 Mark I U.S. Springfield Bolt Rifle with Ultra Rare Original Pedersen Device with Metal Case Magazine Canvas Pouch and 1906 Dated Bayonet
Wow what a fantastic find! A complete 1919 dated U.S. Springfield Model 1903 Mark I rifle rig that is complete with an original "Remington-Bridgeport" 1918 Mark I Pedersen Device that is complete with the original Pedersen device metal carrying case, disassembly tool, two original stick magazines, canvas pouch for the magazines, and an original canvas pouch for the 1903 bolt when removed from the rifle. What a complete turn-key type set up... This super rare device is accompanied by an original, Model 1903 Mark I rifle.

The full description and markings of this great weapon can be found by clicking here.

StG 44
A continuation of the MP43 and MP44, the Sturmgewehr (StG) literally translated as "storm rifle" and was allegedly named such by Adolf Hitler himself for propaganda purposes.  It was largely developed to compensate for the shortcomings of other German rifles of the era.  German cartridges prior to 1942 were larger than necessary, so a less powerful and shorter ("Kurz") version of the standard German 7.92mm cartridge was developed.  This gave the Germans a weapon with less recoil, and a controllable, high rate of fire weapon good for mid range engagements.  It is largely credited as being the granddaddy to all modern assault rifles, even the quintessential AK47 and M16.  To say that this is an important part of firearms history is an understatement.

Auction Description
Sturmgewehr 44
This is an outstanding example of an extremely rare, all original and unaltered WWII Nazi STG44 (SturmGewehr 44) assault rifle with all matching numbers that is complete with one late war "MP44" marked magazine. The STG44 select fire rifle was a continuation of the MP44 series of weapons which was designed for mass production using several stamped sheet and welded steel parts. This series of assault rifle was developed to give the German soldier more fire power by using the shorter/lighter 7.92 X33 mm Kurz cartridge in a 30 round magazine, with select fire capability. The 7.92 X 33mm cartridge provides far more power and greater range than the standard 9 mm SMG round as used in the MP40 series of SMGs, and it allowed the German Infantryman to carry considerably more ammunition that the standard 8mm ammunition for the 98K rifles. The MP44/STG44 series of rifles is considered to be the father of the modern assault rifle concept/design and was the basis of the later Russian AK series of weapons.

Modern Weapons

Now for some of the modern weapons.  If you're a collector that leans toward more "history based" weapons, these may not have the same high level of appeal.  However, if you like contemporary design, high rates of fire, and large advances of technology, then these weapons are definitely for you.

The Steyr Aug's distinct appearance has earned it appearances in video games dating back at least to the year 2000.  Despite its development in the early 1970's, the gun enjoys a modern design by incorporating a built-in optical sight/carrying handle, one-piece plastic stock to help prevent uniform snags, a translucent magazine, and bullpup design.  


Auction Description
Steyr AUG
"Produced before 1994. Blade and notch sights on the integral scope/carry handle. Gun South import marks are present on the quick-detach barrel, with a bird-cage flash hider, 2-position gas port and folding front handle. Matching numbers are present on the barrel, receiver, and bolt carrier. Textured pistol grip stock, with Steyr-Mannlicher markings and a smooth rubberized buttplate. With one 9-round magazine and one 30-round magazine, along with a cardboard shipping box."

The auction listing for this weapon can be seen here.  We also have 3 other AUGs for auction and many magazines for them!

Better known to gamers as the P90, the PS90 is the semi-automatic carbine version of this originally fully automatic weapon.  It is completely ambidextrous with no modifications, and features a patented "top-mounted, longitudinal magazine."  It looks like it was designed 25 years in the future and is designed to fire the fast 5.7 x 28mm round.

Auction Description

Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal PS90
"This is the early version, introduced in 2005 as a semi-automatic, civilian legal carbine based off the P90 Personal Defense Weapon. Fitted with the green military style polymer stock, extended barrel with integral bird cage flash hider, ambidextrous safety and charging handles, adjustable optical sight, and 50-round top feed magazine. With factory box numbered to gun, cable lock and three extra magazines with boxes."

Barrett Model 82A1
This may be a gun that both new enthusiasts and collectors can both appreciate.  There are few better ways to reach out and touch something than with this visually intimidating and brutally accurate rifle.  It is used by armies, law enforcement, and tactical teams worldwide - a testament to its performance, reliability, power, and uncanny ability to throw .50 BMG rounds downrange with incredible precision.

Auction Description

Barrett Model 82A1 Semi-Automatic Rifle with Accessories
"This is an impressive semi-automatic 50 caliber anti-material/anti-personnel rifle and is the same type as used by the U.S. Military. This rifle has a rear flip up adjustable iron sight mounted on top of the receiver and a fold down front sight. There is a removable fold-down carrying handle on the top rail, a factory "arrowhead" shaped muzzle brake, a rear monopod, a fold down M60 style bipod, an M-16 style pistol grip and a solid rubber recoil pad. The top of the receiver has a long Picatinny rail for optics/accessories with a Barrett Optical Ranging System (BORS)(not tested) that has been attached to the Leupold Mark 4 4.5-14x50mm LRT scope in Barrett scope rings with Butler Creek flip up lens caps. Comes with original Pelican takedown case, 3 extra magazines, an Otis cleaning kit, software and cables for BORS equipped scope and 2 cases of Barrett 661 grain .50 BMG ammunition (159/160)."

We also have two other Barrets available in this auction!  You may click here and here to see them.

I hope that seeing some of these warfare weapons, both new and old, really got the old juices flowing! The best part is that these are only a fraction of the combat arms that we are going to feature.  Go ahead and run a search and see if we have your favorite firearms in our upcoming sale.  Thanks for checking out our great items and keep your eyes peeled for more.


Miller, D. (2005). The Illustrated Directory of Guns, A Collector's Guide to over 2000 Military, Sporting and Antique firearms. Colin Gower Enterprises Ltd.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bigger Is Better

Never let anyone tell you that bigger isn't better.  Especially if that person is a Pennsylvania gunsmith or a 15th century German bladesmith.  They knew better and made the weapons to prove it.  The following items are oddities that I couldn't help but spot as I browsed the items to be auctioned in our Premiere Auction being held April 19-21st, 2013.  They are absolutely massive in scale and sure to be a focal point of any collection.
Click on the gun for more high resolution photos!

There was a time in American history when a single man could craft an entire rifle.  The trade of manufacturing longrifles, as they are more accurately known, was popularized early on by German immigrants who had been gunsmiths in their homelands.  The German gunsmiths were initially centralized in south-eastern Pennsylvania, but eventually the trade thrived in many states including Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and of course, Kentucky.  This craft boomed in the years between the early 18th and 19th centuries.  As the industrial revolution roared forward, the need for such gunsmiths waned and the trade was nearly lost until a renewed interest around the time of America's sesquicentennial.

According to the documentation included with this rifle, gunsmiths often would boast about the distance their creations could shoot.  Apparently, accuracy took a back seat in the performance department.  Well, one Pennsylvania gunsmith had heard enough of everyone's braggadocio and decided to put an end to the debates once and for all by creating a gun that no one would dare challenge.  During the long and cabin fever-inducing winter, this gunsmith created a longrifle he coined the "Over the Mountain Gun."  The letter that comes with it is a bit confusing in its explanation of the name so I'll elaborate.  Pennsylvania is smack dab in the middle of two mountain ranges: the Alleghenies and the Appalachians.  If you saw a "nearby" peak, and it would typically take you a day of traveling on foot to climb over said mountain, then this gun would shoot over that mountain.  Why they don't call it the "Day's Travel Gun" or the "Mountain Jumper" is beyond me, but then again I'm not a 19th century Pennsylvanian gunsmith.  The papers also state that "you load the powder and ball and a handfull of rock salt to preserve the game until you get there."

This gun is almost 10 feet(!) in total length, with the barrel itself measuring just short of 8 1/2 feet.  There is some nice brass furniture on the piece, which is a nice reminder that frontier gunsmiths of that era often required that they possess the talents of many tradesmen: wood workers, silversmiths, furniture makers, blacksmiths, whitesmiths, metal founders, and engravers.  Also, get a good look at the beautiful striations that appear on every inch of the stock!  This is likely thanks to the curly maple or "flame maple" often used in making guns of this style.

Auction Description

Lot #3286, Documented E.J. Sewell Pennsylvania Kentucky "Over the Mountain" Flintlock Rifle from the Famous Stagecoach Museum
"This impressive Kentucky rifle was once part of the Stagecoach Museum collection and is pictured in the book THE STAGECOACH MUSEUM GUN COLLECTION on page 55. The rifle is numbered 133 in the book with a caption reading, "Perhaps the longest 'Kentucky' shoulder gun known. Made by Pennsylvania gunsmith, who got tired of hearing how far his competitors gun would shoot, so time hanging heavy in the winter, fashioned this "Over the Mountain Gun". An Ozzie and Marie Klavestad autographed copy of the Stagecoach Museum collections book and an original brass Stagecoach Museum inventory tag are included with the rifle. The included 1978 dated notarized letter with Stagecoach Museum letter head states that the rifle was referred to as the "Over the Mountain Gun… because it would take you a day to climb the heights and a gun of this proportions would most certainly shoot right over the mountain". The rifle has an 8 foot, 5 1/2 inch barrel and is nearly 10 feet in overall length. The rifled barrel has a 45 inch long octagon section at the front with the remainder of the barrel being round and is equipped with fixed brass sights. The top of the barrel is marked "E.J. SEWELL" behind the rear sight. The rifle has brass furniture including a patch box on the right side of the buttstock. The shadow cheekpiece on the left side of the buttstock has a brass star inlay. The rifle also has a brass tipped ramrod. The famous Stagecoach Museum of Shakopee, Minnesota, housed a collection of firearms spanning 400 years of history and was a life long project of Ozzie and Marie Klavestad. The museum was a popular tourist attraction and the most famous firearms in the collection included guns owned by Billy the Kid and Annie Oakley. The museum closed in 1996."

For those wondering just how huge this rifle is, here is one of our photographers, Sarah, standing next to it in our warehouse area.

Anybody have shooting sticks?

Our next super-sized item is a large Germanic sword.  The zweihänder (two-handed) sword, represented the final stage of the "bigger is better" during 15th century and into the end of the 16th century.  The term zweihänder is a modern term and the more historically accurate term for these swords is doppelhänder.  Being carried more like polearms than swords, they were almost certainly slung over a shoulder instead of carried in a scabbard or sheath.  They were used against the popular pike formations of the time and there are accounts of these massive swords cutting the heads off of the pikes of their opponents!  Their size ranged anywhere from 4.5 ft. - 5.9  ft. and typically weighed in at 5 - 8 lbs.  Anything larger was considered for ceremonial use only, these were often called "'bearing-swords' or 'parade-swords' (Paratschwert), weighing up to 10 or even 15 pounds and which were intended only for carrying in ceremonial processions and parades" (Clements). For those who don't feel like reading the auction description below, our sword is approximately 58% longer and 300% heavier than even the largest swords listed, weighing in at 26 pounds and measuring 7.75 feet!  This is an absolute behemoth of a weapon!

Auction Description

Lot #3341, Zweihander Style Processional Sword
"Measuring 93 inches overall, with a 68 1/2 inch wavy blade, fitted with a pair of upturned 13 inch wide parrying hooks, and a stitched black leather ricasso cover. The hilt is equipped with a set of 8 inch wide upturned guard arms, a 24 inch spiked crossguard with double guard rings on each side, turned hardwood grip with brass tacked leather cover and a round quillion. Overall the weapon weighs 26 pounds."

Look at the edge on this thing!  It's mean!

Sword as held by my 6'1" tall self.

-written by Joel Kolander


Clements, J.,

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Pedersen Device

We here at RIAC love Winchester rifles and rightly so.  Only one manufacturer can claim the title "the gun that won the West," and played such a huge part in our "Manifest Destiny" as American settlers tamed the frontier.  However, attention must also be paid to its American firearms counterpart, Remington Arms.  Remington has produced such notable and widely-used weapons as the Model 1858 New Model Army revolver, Model 700 bolt-action rifle, the Rolling Block Rifles, and the 870 pump-action shotgun.  In fact, in 2012, the U.S. Army awarded Remington the contract to produce 24,000 of the M4A1 and has been designing other exciting guns such as the MSR, ACR, and the RSASS.

However, today's post is not going to talk about their accomplishments, but rather one of their technological marvels that never had the chance to enjoy the success it deserved.  It was a top secret military project that was completed too late to have any true effect in WWI, was mothballed for over a decade, and eventually all but completely destroyed.  The last time a Pedersen Device went to auction at RIAC with its metal carrying case (a rarity!) and an M1903 Mark I rifle capable of firing it, it sold for $48,875!  To up the ante even further, the Pedersen Device we are offering in our April Premiere Auction is even more complete than the aforementioned listing and includes everything shown below.

 Two original 40-round stick magazines, the disassembly tool, a web pouch to carry the stick magazines, which are marked "R.I.A./6-19; a web case to carry the 1903 Springfield bolt when removed from the rifle, which is marked, "RIA/1919," with an original WWI era leather sling.

And the rifle.

What a beautiful piece!  Great colors!  Not pictured: the 1906 dated bayonet

In 1917 a man named John Pedersen called Chief of Ordnance General William Crozier, a few of his Ordnance Officers and some Congressmen to Washington DC for a weapons demonstration he claimed would be of great interest to the War Department.  They were all sworn to secrecy.  At the Congress Heights Rifle Range, before his audience, Pedersen began firing ordinary .30-06 rounds through what appeared to be a standard issue Springfield M1903 rifle.  Very quickly Pedersen removed the bolt, inserted his Pedersen Device, locked it in place with the rifle's existing cut-off switch, slammed in a 40 round magazine, and began filling the air with lead as fast as he could pull the trigger.  He emptied the magazine, replaced it with a full one and repeated his feat.  After the onlookers pulled their collective jaws off the ground, they immediately gave the device a top secret clearance.  In fact, to ensure the utmost secrecy they gave the device a very lengthy and misleading name: "The US Automatic Pistol, Caliber .30, Model of 1918."  In addition to its top secret classification, it also received the immediate recommendation that 100,000 of the devices be procured for the infantry.  On March 26, 1918 that recommendation became an order placed with Remington and the number was soon upped to 133,450.  In June that same year, Pedersen adapted his device for the British Enfield M1917 and an order of 500,000 was placed to be completed once the order for the Springfields had been completed.  These were to be used in a surprise offensive against the Germans in the spring of 1919. However, since World War I was officially ended on November 11, 1918 (Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day), the Pedersen Device had no chance to truly make its impact felt on the battlefield.

Orders were cancelled, but production continued until 1920 in case further conflicts arose.  Remington eventually produced around 65,000 units in total.  In the late 1920's the M1 Garand was developed which negated the need for the Pedersen Device and in 1931 the Pedersen Device was declared surplus, five years before the M1 Garand even started production.  Existing M1903 Mk. I's were converted back to their original configuration with a now vestigial ejection port.  The government, no longer wanting to pay to store the device ordered them all destroyed.  Nearly all were burned in a large fire, resulting in less than 100 estimated to be surviving today, let alone with their full accessory kit!

More close-ups can be found in the auction listing! Click here!

Auction Description
Outstanding All Complete Model 1903 Mark I U.S. Springfield Bolt Rifle with Ultra Rare Original Pedersen Device with Metal Case Magazine Canvas Pouch and 1906 Dated Bayonet

"Wow what a fantastic find! A complete 1919 dated U.S. Springfield Model 1903 Mark I rifle rig with an original "Remington-Bridgeport" 1918 Mark I Pedersen Device that is in its entirety with the original Pedersen device metal carrying case, disassembly tool, two original stick magazines, canvas pouch for the magazines, and an original canvas pouch for the 1903 bolt when removed from the rifle. What a complete turn-key type set up. As we all know these rare Pedersen Devices were developed at the end of WWI in early 1919. They were officially designated the "Automatic Pistol, Caliber .30, Model of 1918- Mark I", and the Pedersen Device itself consisted of a semi-automatic bolt assembly and detachable stick magazine that was designed to replace the standard bolt in a modified Model 1903 Rifle, that would convert the rifle into a semi-automatic weapon. The device fired a low velocity 30 caliber type pistol sized cartridge designated the "Caliber .30 Automatic Ball Pistol". The device used a 40-round stick magazine, that would have been inserted from the right side of the receiver, with the spent cartridges ejected through the port on the left side of the receiver. The Pedersen Device was classified as a secret weapon and was intended to provide the infantry man with a close range, semi-automatic rifle for assaults on enemy trenches, but still retain the capability of converting the rifle back into a high powered, bolt action rifle for long range combat. The Army planned to introduce the Pedersen Device in the offensive against the German Army in the spring of 1919, however when  WWI ended in November 1918, the Pedersen Devices were placed in storage. In 1931 the security classification was removed from the Pedersen Device and all of the devices were ordered to be destroyed. The destruction was nearly complete as fewer than 100 Pedersen Devices are estimated to be in collections and museums today. The metal case is even more rare than the Pedersen Device itself; most existing Pedersen Devices lack the issue metal case. This Model 1903 Mark I rifle was manufactured by Springfield Armory in April 1910 and has the special "Mark I" receiver markings and the oval ejection port in the left side of the receiver. In addition to the special receiver these rifles had a special stock, magazine cut-off, cut-off spindle, trigger and sear, all required for use with the Pedersen Device. After all the Pedersen Devices were destroyed, the Mark I rifles had the special components removed and were converted back into a standard Model 1903 configuration rifle. This beautiful Pedersen Device has the original dark black-green parkerized finish with the top of the cocking piece roll-stamped: "U.S.A. 1918-MARK I/42384" in two lines on the left side, with the right side marked: "REMINGTON-BRIDGEPORT/PEDERSEN'S PAT'S. PENDING" in two lines. The U.S. Ordnance final inspection proofs of "E.E.C./Eagle Head/S28" are stamped on the back of the cocking piece. Each device was issued with a small stamped metal carrying case. The metal case has the same black green finish as the device. This super rare device is accompanied by an original, Model 1903 Mark I rifle. The receiver is marked in five lines: "U.S./SPRINGFIELD/ARMORY/MODEL 1903/MARK I/1091435" and the barrel is stamped "SA/4-19". The rifle is fitted with a correct WWI Mark I finger groove stock, that has the correct lower left side, that provides clearance under the receiver ejection port; a WWI handguard and fine checkered buttplate. The stock has a small boxed "D.A.L" cartouche on the left side with a small circled "P" proof in the pistol grip area. The rifle is fitted with a correct "W L 3" marked WWI bolt. This excellent rifle still retains the original magazine cut-off, cut-off spindle, trigger and sear, as noted above. This beautiful rig is complete with two original 40-round stick magazines, the disassembly tool, a web pouch to carry the stick magazines, which are marked "R.I.A./6-19; a web case to carry the 1903 Springfield bolt when removed from the rifle, which is marked, "RIA/1919 with an original WWI era leather sling. Also included with this beautiful and very rare rifle is an original M1905 bayonet and second type leather scabbard. The bayonet is marked: "R.I.A./Shell and Flame mark/1906" with the obverse marked "U.S.". The leather scabbard has the long throat with the leather covered hanger intended for the Garrison belt. The back of the scabbard is stamped: "R.I.A./1907/E.E.B.".

What a great piece of American and firearms history!

-written by Joel Kolander

The Pedersen device installed with magazine extending skyward from the receiver.

"This goes where?"

"In total the device added 14 pounds to the infantry's standard load, although this was considered to be well worth it at the time."


Hatcher, Julian S., Hatcher's Notebook, Military Service Publishing Co., 1947, Ch. 15 The Pedersen Device, pp. 361-372.,-1914-1918/wwi-secret-weapon-the-pedersen-device.aspx

All black and white photos from:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Brothers from Another Mother?

"Winchesters with a number of special and deluxe features are becoming impossible to find as we are rapidly learning.  Collectors are partial to such special features, and Winchesters with even one special feature are being added to collections and disappearing from the market."

Sometimes brothers can be so similar and congenial, you'd swear they were best friends as well as twins.  However, there are also those who give rise to sibling rivalry, conflict, and competition.  From Cain & Abel to Michael & Fredo Corleone, siblings' differences can be even more defining than their similarities.  Today's post will cover two such guns to be sold in our April 2013 Premiere Auction.  Guns that, despite being brothers, could not possibly be more different.

What makes these guns brothers?  First off, they both have the same "parent" in Winchester Repeating Arms.  Second, they are both model 1894 rifles.   Third, these two particular rifles have consecutive serial numbers - 42811 & 42812!  Coming from a major manufacturer like Winchester, one would expect these guns to be nearly identical!  The mind goes instantly to large assembly lines churning out identical guns one after another.  However, not only are these guns dissimilar from each other, but each one is a rarity in its own right.  To encourage this sibling rivalry, I'm going to show favoritism to the "eldest child" and talk about it first.

Winchester Model 1894, Serial #42811
A letter that accompanies this rifle from the Cody Firearms Museum gives a laundry list of special features on this gun "as extracted from the original Winchester records housed in" the museum.

  • Rifle
  • 38/55
  • 1/2 octagon barrel
  • Plain trigger
  • Plain pistol grip
  • Lyman cup disc rear and front sights
  • 1/2 magazine
  • Shotgun butt
  • Rubber butt plate
  • Takedown
  • Extra light
  • Received in the warehouse on June 16, 1898
  • Shipped from the warehouse on June 16, 1898 to order number 10023
What this letter does not mention is how rare some of those features are.  For example, the pistol grip stock is supposedly on only 1 out of every 725 Model 1894s.  It also doesn't mention how special it is to have all those options together on the same rifle.  Sure, some rifles have one or two special order features like the rare 1/2 octagon barrel, but to see it combined with the 1/2 length mag, the pistol grip, and the shotgun butt makes this a pretty significant special order rifle back in 1895.  The 38-55 caliber is a rarity in itself.  Not only were most of the light weight barrels found in 30 cal, but eventually the 38-55, the heaviest bullet handled by a Model 94, lost favor to more popular cartridges made popular by Winchester and publications of the time.  George Madis says it better in The Winchester Book when he states, "...any one of these features would bring the gun out of the ordinary... Winchesters with a number of special and deluxe features are becoming impossible to find as we are rapidly learning.  Collectors are partial to such special features, and Winchesters with even one special feature are being added to collections and disappearing from the market." (Madis, 409)  Please keep in mind that he wrote that in the 1960's when this book was first published!  Click this link for more high resolution photos of this classic rifle.

Official Description
Special Order Antique Winchester Model 1894 Takedown Lever Action Rifle with Extra Light Pencil Barrel, Pistol Grip Stock and Factory Letter

"Manufactured in 1895, this rifle is loaded with rare factory special order features which include a half extra lightweight 1/2 octagon barrel, 1/2 magazine, pistol grip stock and shotgun butt. It is estimated that only 1 of approximately every 725 Model 1894s had a pistol grip stock. The top barrel flat is marked with the two line address ahead of the rear sight and "38-55" at the breech. The upper tang is marked "MODEL 1894/-WINCHESTER-/PAT. AUG. 21, 1894", the takedown lever is marked with the 1893 patent date and the serial number is on the bottom of the receiver. Lyman blade front and adjustable buck horn rear sporting sights, all blue finish and mounted with a smooth walnut forearm and pistol grip stock with a checkered hard rubber Winchester shotgun buttplate. The accompanying factory letter verifies the takedown rifle configuration, 38/55 caliber, 1/2 octagon barrel, plain trigger, pistol grip stock, Lyman cup disc rear and front sights, (the former no longer on the rifle), 1/2 magazine, shotgun butt with rubber buttplate, extra light, and that it was received and shipped from the warehouse on June 16, 1898 to order number 10023."

Winchester Model 1894, Serial #42812
In case you were worried about the "little brother" feeling inferior, don't you worry.  It has its own list of features that go toe-to-toe with its big brother's.

  • Rifle
  • 30 caliber
  • 20-inch, 1/2 octagon barrel
  • Matted barrel
  • Plain trigger
  • Plain pistol grip, checkered
  • Combination sight
  • 1/2 magazine
  • Shotgun butt
  • Sling and swivel
  • 13-inch pull

Just when you thought that things couldn't get any fancier than Serial #42811, in rolls little brother with some pretty spectacular features all his own.  Besides having some similar features like a plain trigger, half magazine, the shotgun butt, and the pistol grip, it also features some perks that big brother doesn't have.  Most notable is the checkered stock and pistol grip along with the matte finish barrel.

Also notice the dashes before and after the text.  This was gradually omitted after #100,000 (Madis, 423)

The matte finish runs along the top of the barrel, displacing where the address would normally have appeared and moving it to the left side of the barrel.  The checkered stock is said to have appeared on "only one of each 780 guns." (Madis, 422)  It also features the sling eyes and confirms this to be a carbine, not a standard rifle with a 20" barrel, which were also available.  Want more close ups?  Check these out.

Official Description
Rare Documented Special Order Antique Winchester Lever Action Short Rifle with Pistol Grip Stock, Matte Half Octagon Barrel and Factory Letter

Manufactured in 1895, this special order carbine has the rare combination of half octagon, half round barrel matted along the top and a checkered walnut forearm and pistol grip stock with a Winchester hard rubber grip cap. It is estimated that only 1 of approximately every 725 Model 1894s had a pistol grip stock. (see Madis' "The Winchester Book" page 424). The upper left barrel flat is marked with the two line address ahead of the rear sight, the nickel steel/smokeless powder marking next to the rear sight and "30 W.C.F." at the breech. The upper tang is marked "MODEL 1894/-WINCHESTER-/PAT. AUG. 21, 1894" and the serial number is marked on the bottom of the receiver. Marble's blade front and folding leaf rear sights, all blue finish, 1/2 magazine tube and the stock is fitted with a checkered Winchester hard rubber shotgun buttplate and factory sling eyes. The accompanying factory letter verifies the rifle configuration, 30 caliber, 20 inch 1/2 octagon barrel, matted barrel, plain trigger checkered pistol grip stock, 1/2 magazine, shotgun butt, sling and swivel, gives the length of pull and stock dimensions, that it was received and shipped out of the warehouse on May 21, 1898, order number 8476. This rifle is consecutively serial numbered to another Model 1894 on this page.

I have made a big deal out of the differences between these two brothers.  Some of their special order features are unique in themselves, but when considering their total number of factory modifications they truly become even more highly desirable collector firearms.  The fact that they are consecutive in serial number is a peculiarity that for me, sends it over the top.  I know that consecutive numbers are collectible in any number of fields: dollar bills, cars, etc.  To have two guns that are not only consecutive, but so unique from one another is just another characteristic of these two guns that is sure to make some bidder very happy in April.

Let me also add, that if you found yourself amazed by these two 1894's, whether for their special order features or the fact that they are consecutive, it is not a coincidence.  They are part of the award-winning Gary Cote Winchester Model 1894 Collection.  We have 38 lots featuring Mr. Cote's extensive collection in our upcoming April Premiere Auction, which includes vintage Winchester cartridges, reloading tools, and much more.

"As time passes and more collectors begin and older collectors add more pieces to their collections, all guns, standard or with extras, will become increasingly scarce and more valuable." 
(Madis, 420)

-Joel Kolander


Madis, G. (1961). The Winchester Book. (1st ed.). Brownsboro, TX: Art and Reference House.

Winchest Catalogue No. 81, Reprint of 1919 Edition, Winchester Repeating Arms Co., New Haven, CT