If you have the financial means to do so, firearms can be a really great investment. For most of the 20th century, it was Colt revolvers and Winchester lever-action rifles that led the pack as blue-chip investments. This is still true in many respects, but as you’ll see with this list, the guns that fetch the highest prices aren’t all Colts and Winchesters. The internet and online auctions have led to an unprecedented explosion in the high value gun market. Their potential for future income generation has really ramped up with some amazing, record-setting auction prices in recent years. This list of the five most expensive firearms ever sold is impressive, to say the least. From historic figures and events to fine engraving and precious metals, these guns are each in a class of their own.
Five Most Expensive Guns Ever Sold
Here they are, listed from least to most expensive:
Millikin Colt Dragoon Revolver
Sale Price: $1.66 million
Profusely engraved by master engraver Gustave Young, this Colt Third Model Dragoon revolver falls within the serial number range for a variety of other special presentation guns given out by the factory. Owned by Colonel John Millikin, who was killed in 1862 during the Civil War, it was his son Paul who inherited the gun after his father’s death, and it’s Paul’s name and rank that are engraved on the backstrap.
It was sold at auction by Rock Island Auction Company for $1.66 million in 2019 against a pre-sale estimate of $1.2 to $2 million, and is now in a private collection.
Simon Bolivar Pistols
Sale Price: $1.80 million
Made by Nicolas-Noël Boutet, these pistols were given by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825 to Simón Bolívar, who dedicated his life to liberating six South American countries and was known as “the George Washington of Latin America.” Boutet was the personal gunsmith to Napoleon Bonaparte, and he is regarded as one of the finest gunmakers to have ever lived anywhere in the world. Put simply, this pair is an excellent example of Boutet’s unrivaled talent.
They were sold at auction by Christie’s for $1.80 million in 2016 against a pre-sale estimate of $1.5 to $2.5 million, and are now in a private collection.
Danish Sea Captain Colt Walker
Sale Price: $1.84 million
A lot of different things can make a gun rare, but this one stacks a whole bunch of those things on top of one another. For starters, it’s a civilian Colt Walker, of which only 100 were made and far fewer than that are still known to exist. Then, it is the only known cased civilian Colt Walker revolver from the factory. To top it off, it’s the only known Colt to have maintained documentation in Sam Colt’s own handwriting from the date of its original sale. The gun gained its nickname when it was purchased by a Danish sea captain named Neils Hanson when he visited New York City in 1847. He took it back to Denmark where, a century later, the gun survived Nazi occupation by being buried in the garden before being sold back stateside after the war.
It was sold at auction by Rock Island Auction Company for $1.84 million in 2018 against a pre-sale estimate of $800,000 to $1.3 million, and is now in a private collection.
Sale Price: $1.98 million
The Marquis de Lafayette presented these pistols made by Jacob Walster to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. After Washington’s death, the pistols were one of the many items in his estate that were divided up among his many indirect heirs. The pistols eventually found their way into the possession of Andrew Jackson. When the Marquis visited Jackson in 1826, he verified that they were, indeed, the pistols that he had given to Washington during the revolution. After Jackson’s death, the pistols were bequeathed to Lafayette’s son, George Washington Lafayette.
They were sold at auction by Christie’s for $1.98 million in 2002 against a pre-sale estimate of $1.5 million, and are now in the collection of Fort Ligonier in Pennsylvania.
Pat Garrett’s Colt Single Action Army Used to Kill Billy the Kid
Sale Price: $6.03 million
Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, the most famous outlaw and lawman duo of the Old West, are forever linked by this revolver.
The gun itself is an unremarkable Colt Single Action Army revolver. Instead, the value of this gun lies solely in its provenance. In what is either a loan document or bill of sale from 1906, Garrett states that this is the gun that he took off of Billy Wilson, one of Billy the Kid’s gang members, when he arrested the young man. Garrett then began carrying Wilson’s gun for himself and it just so happened to be the one he had on him when it came time to kill Billy the Kid in July 1881.
The gun has been in the same collection for 38 years, and in all previous transactions, it was sold from one private party to another. This was the first time ever that the gun crossed an auction block when it was sold by Bonham’s for $6.03 million in August 2021 against a pre-sale estimate of $2 to $3 million, and is now in a private collection.
A Lot of Money
All told, these five most expensive guns ever sold have a combined sales total of $13.31 million. If you were to stack one dollar bills on top of each other, a stack of money totaling $13.31 million would be 4,765 feet tall. That’s more than three times as tall as the Empire State Building!