Unique and Cool Guns for the Finest Collections

Unique and Cool Guns for the Finest Collections

The world of firearms collecting is a treasure trove of rare designs, historic prototypes, experimental arms, and fascinating curiosities. When it comes to the most unique and cool guns, Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) stands out as a premier destination for enthusiasts. Here, we delve into some of the rarest and most desirable firearms that have graced RIAC’s auctions, offering a glimpse into the captivating history and diverse innovations that define the field of arms collecting.

Evolutionary Arms: The Cornerstones of Iconic Firearms

In the realm of firearm evolution, certain models serve as critical stepping stones to the iconic designs that followed. The Jennings repeater, for instance, is a seldom-seen model today but holds immense value in arms collecting. Based on Walter Hunt’s Rocket Ball cartridge patent of 1848 and Lewis Jennings’ movable ammunition carrier patent of 1849, the Jennings repeater was the first commercially produced lever-action long arm. It paved the way for the Volcanic pistol, the Henry rifle, and the Winchester Repeating rifle family.

Similarly, the Colt Walker revolver, commissioned by Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker and designed by Samuel Colt, represents a pinnacle of black powder revolvers. Firing a .44 caliber ball with a 60-grain maximum powder load, the Colt Walker was the most powerful black powder revolver in history. It played a crucial role in the Texas Rangers’ battlefield success and remains a highly sought-after collector’s item.

Antique Firepower: Innovations from the Past

Firearms technology has continually evolved since the invention of black powder. One of the most unique guns from the late 16th century is the hand mortar, capable of launching fused grenades, fireworks, and grappling hooks. The ornamental wheellock hand mortar is a rare example of this genre.

Another intriguing design is the volley gun, with multiple barrels to increase firepower. The Nock volley gun, with its circled clusters of welded barrels, is seldom encountered on the public market. Its spiritual successors, such as the Henry Harrington Patent percussion volley gun and the H. Pieper rolling block volley rifle, are even scarcer.

Fascinating Flintlocks: Unique Designs and Historical Significance

Flintlock firearms hold a special place in history, with many unique designs emerging over the centuries. The double-barreled blunderbuss, a smoothbore short-barreled long gun with a flared muzzle, represents a transition between the blunderbuss and the double-barreled shotgun of the percussion era.

Another rare flintlock is the inverted flintlock from the collection of the Grand Dukes of Saxe-Weimar. This engraved and silver-inlaid straight rifled long barrel sporting gun is noted as one of the earliest known arms to employ the unique principle of an underhammer.

Breechloading flintlocks, such as the early 18th century Chaumette and Ferguson pattern small bore long rifle, are also highly prized for their rarity and innovative designs. Utilizing a screw-in breech plug system, these flintlocks represent significant advancements in firearm technology.

Rare Revolvers: Unique Designs and Collectible Treasures

Samuel Colt’s revolvers are legendary, but the ingenuity of other inventors produced some equally unique designs. The Cochran and Porter turret revolvers, designed to circumvent Colt’s patent, featured horizontally rotating disk-shaped cylinders with outward-facing chambers. Fewer than 150 were manufactured, making them exceptionally rare.

The LeMat revolver, a favorite among Confederate officers during the Civil War, is another standout. With nine black powder pistol rounds and an additional smoothbore “grapeshot” barrel, the LeMat offered two distinct firing modes. Despite its heavy weight and slow reload time, its versatility and historical significance make it a prized collector’s piece.

Scarce Civil War Carbines: Rarity and Historical Value

The Civil War era produced numerous unique firearms, many of which are highly sought after by collectors today. Confederate-produced weapons, in particular, are rare due to material scarcity and rapid production during the war. The Confederate Morse First Type carbine, with its distinctive brass frame and advanced breech-loading system, is a prime example.

Union arms also hold significant value, such as the U.S. Type Greene Massachusetts breech-loading percussion carbine. Presented to Lieutenant Colonel Joseph S. York for his gallantry at the Battle of Big Bethel, this historic piece is a testament to the bravery and innovation of the Civil War period.

Remarkable Trials Rifles: Innovations in Military Firearms

Experimental and trials rifles often showcase the cutting-edge technology of their time. The Jenks musketoon, a rare breech-loading flintlock procured by the U.S. government, was used in field trials during the Second Seminole War. Surviving examples are extremely scarce.

Winchester cutaway/skeleton rifles, used in trials testing, are also highly collectible. The Winchester Model 1881 Hotchkiss “Cutaway” bolt action rifle, with its rare full nickel-plated finish, was part of the collection of Medal of Honor recipient Lieutenant George Emerson Albee. Such pieces are not only rare but also provide valuable insights into the development of military firearms.

Incredible Pistol Prototypes: Early Designs and Innovations

Prototypes represent the cutting edge of firearm development, often featuring unique designs that set the stage for future innovations. The British Webley Model 1903 semi-automatic striker-fired pistol, likely a one-of-a-kind prototype, was designed by prolific inventor William J. Whiting for British army evaluation.

Another notable prototype is the serial number 1 Steyr-Hahn Model 1911 pistol, which laid the groundwork for a series of pistols adopted by various militaries. With its rotating barrel and internal non-detachable magazine, the Steyr-Hahn was ahead of its time.

Unique WW2 Weapons: Innovations from the Second World War

The Second World War saw numerous unique firearm designs, each with its own distinct characteristics. The German FG42, designed for the Luftwaffe’s paratrooper division, combined the range of a rifle with the maneuverability of an SMG and the firepower of a machine gun. Its advanced design inspired future weapons like the M60 machine gun.

The M30 drilling, an elegant combination gun issued to some of the Luftwaffe’s top aces, is another unique WW2 firearm. Despite its questionable practicality as a survival weapon, the M30 drilling’s quality and refinement make it a valuable collectible today.

Ammunition Oddities: Unconventional Designs and Collectibility

Unique ammunition designs have produced some fascinating firearms. The Dardick Model 1500, which combined features of a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol, used triangle-shaped “trounds” instead of conventional cartridges. Despite its innovative design, the Dardick faced feeding issues and public confusion, leading to limited production.

The Gyrojet pistol, developed in the 1960s, used self-contained rocket ammunition instead of gunpowder. While its lightweight design and simplicity were advantageous, the Gyrojet’s low initial muzzle velocity and unreliable ignition limited its success. Today, both the Dardick and Gyrojet are highly desirable among collectors for their uniqueness.

Covert Collectibles: Concealed Weapons and Spycraft

The concept of concealed firearms has produced some of the most unique and intriguing designs. The 9mm Deer Gun, developed for Cold War allies, is a clandestine weapon speculated to stand for “DEnied ARea pistol.” Inspired by the single-shot Liberator of WW2, the Deer Gun offers collectors a rare piece of spycraft technology.

History is also filled with firearms concealed within everyday objects, such as cane guns, ring guns, and watch guns. These covert weapons, designed for self-defense and surprise attacks, add an element of intrigue to any collection.

The Coolest Guns for Collecting

Beyond their uniqueness, many firearms stand out for their sheer cool factor. The Whitney Wolverine, with its sleek, futuristic design, is a prime example. Dubbed “The Lighting Model,” this space-age pistol has become a popular collector’s item.

The Smith & Wesson .357 Registered Magnum, the first production gun to fire the .357 Magnum cartridge, is another cool gun from the 1930s. Its high-end customization and quality make it a bucket-list item for revolver enthusiasts.


From evolutionary arms and antique firepower to rare revolvers and unique WW2 weapons, the world of firearms collecting is rich with history and innovation. Rock Island Auction offers enthusiasts a chance to own some of the rarest and coolest guns ever produced. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the hobby, the fascinating stories and unique designs of these firearms are sure to captivate and inspire.

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