Investment-Grade Guns

By Mike Schoby

It’s no secret – I love buying and collecting guns. I appreciate their beauty, art and craftsmanship. I enjoy learning the history surrounding them. And honestly, I also see them as part of my investment portfolio. And when it comes to investments, guns are hard to beat.  They appreciate well, you can use and enjoy them while you own them and they are a lot more fun than stocks or bonds. If you are serious about collecting, you are undoubtedly familiar with Rock Island Auction company. If you are not, you need to be.

Rock Island Auction (RIA) is the preeminent gun auction house and always has cool shit coming onto the block. Over the past year they set records auctioning off Teddy Roosevelt’s Smith and Wesson, Ulysses S. Grant’s revolver (for a paltry sum of $5.17 million) Han Solo’s BlasTech Blaster, and Wild Bill Hickock’s Colt. 

RIA’s upcoming annual three-day Premier May auction is stocked with equally impressive firearms. I just spent a few hours perusing and compiled a list of my favorites I’d like to buy.

I’m going to avoid showcasing the obvious super-cool (and highly unaffordable for me) stuff that anyone would want – this auction features firearms from Tom Selleck’s collection, Zane Grey’s rifle, as well as a phenomenal collection from Greg Lampe. Honestly there isn’t anything in the 1,500-plus firearms being offered I wouldn’t covet, these are just the ten I picked to mention: 

Lot 357 – American Arms 180

Who wouldn’t want a full auto—over 1,000 rpm— 22 LR that can also be converted to a short barreled rifle? I have heard good reviews on the 180’s reliability, but I’m sure like most rimfires, ammo selection and keeping it clean is critical. Next to a CMCC .22 LR double rifle this may be the coolest 22 ever made and the cheapest full auto to shoot! Est. price range: $9,500 – $16,000

Lot 1026 – Winchester Model 61 smoothbore 

.22 LR smoothbores were relatively popular during the mid-part of the 20th century with guys using them for backyard pest control and shooting mini clay disks (called Mo-Skeet-O’s) at Sunday cookouts—probably with a martini in hand. I own one, but they are so fun, I could use another. Mine throws a dinner plate sized dense pattern out to about 20 yards. It’s murder on flying starlings and big, late-summer grasshoppers taken on the wing may be the sport of kings. Too much fun and it is practically silent. Est. price range: $3,500 – $5,500

Lot 36 – Colt Lighting 32-20

The only reason I’m looking at this rifle is I have to buy one for a buddy as a gift. Years ago, I screwed him over at a silent auction on a reproduction Colt Lighting made by Navy Arms. I thought it would be funny to write his name down on the bid sheet. I didn’t think he would win. I was wrong. He paid the bill as he wanted the gun, but to add insult to injury Navy Arms never supplied the gun—our numerous emails, and threats of physical violence just resulted in lies from the company (note, never buy a Navy Arms product). Shame on them and shame on me for playing a trick on him. I owe him a real Colt Lightning. Est. price range: $1,600-$2,500 

Lot 1052 – Colt Bisley 

Colt Bisleys of this era are just plain cool.  Reeking of southwest border justice, Americana and frontier history. Every red-blooded American should own at least one. Best of all it is in .45 colt; the perfect caliber. This gun has seen enough wear to not worry about packing it afield. Est. price range: $2,000-$3,000

Lot 1223 – Girardoni air rifle 

It is ultra-rare to see these rifles come up for auction, but RIA is selling the Dr. Beeman collection which features some of the finest and most rare air guns ever made – including this Girardoni repeater…similar to the ones brought on the Lewis and Clark expedition (see the FE story on that HERE). Est. price range: $10,000-$18,000

Lot 1311 – German belt buckle gun

Admittedly, with the Swastika and SS lineage your options of where you could wear this belt buckle are very limited, but how cool is a four-shot repeater that can be fired at an enemy who thinks you are just dropping trou? (We also have a great story about a similar buckle HERE) Est. price range: $8,500 – $13,000

Lot 1389 – M2HB 

God Bless the USA. Yes, you can own a full auto .50 BMG M2, just be prepared to pay a premium for it and likely wait over a year to get the tax stamp. Est. price range: $40,000 – $60,000

Lot 1451 – Westley Richards Small Bore Drilling 

I desperately want this gun, but alas it is going to exceed my budget by a good margin. But how cool is a combo 22lr/.410 drilling? Ultimate yard grizzly gun… charging rabbits… malevolent chipmunks…the list of why I “need” this gun goes on and on. Est. price range: $35,000 to $50,000

Lot 1613 –Wildey 

You don’t have a Wildey in .45 Win Mag.? Ole Chuck Bronson would be rolling over in his grave if he knew. If you fancy yourself a connoisseur of the 80’s you should be required to own a S&W Model 29, a Bren Ten, a Uzi and a Wildey. Est. price range: $2,000-$3,000

Lot 3055 – John Wayne ‘s Winchester 9422M

Every father should give his son a lever action .22. My dad did when I was 8 and he was the coolest dad in the neighborhood for doing it. But how much cooler would it be to give your boy this Winchester 9422M that John Wayne gave to his very own son. That’s a serious flex. Est. price range: $2,500 – $5,000

Do yourself a favor – log onto and spend an afternoon going through all the super interesting firearms and accessories. Heck, register while there and invest some money during the auction, it is a hell of a lot more solid than Bitcoin and way more fun to own.

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