8 Unusual Guns in RIAs December Premier Auction

    unusual guns

    Rock Island Auctions’ latest Premiere Auction, running from the 30th November to the 2nd December, has some extremely interesting and unusual firearms. Ranging from 18th century air guns to 20th century military prototypes lets take a look at some of the most interesting.

    8 Unusual Guns in RIAs December Premier Auction


    Fort Ellis XR86 Experimental Rifle – Estimate Price: $3,750 – $5,000

    Wilfred Ellis "Fort Ellis" XR86

    Wilfred Ellis “Fort Ellis” XR86 (RIA)

    First up is the most modern of the unusual firearms, assembled in 1986 by Wilfred Ellis, a police officer and gunsmith. This ‘franken-rifle’ brings together parts from an AR-15, an M14/M1A and the M60 (specifically the flash hider). The side-loading XR86 uses an AR-15 bolt and has a gas piston system hidden beneath its handguard. A one of a kind build.

    Andreas Weschgin Air Gun – Estimate Price: $13,000 – $19,000

    Andreas Weschgin Air Gun

    Andreas Weschgin Air Gun (RIA)

    One of a large collection of historic air guns up for auction, this German example dates from the 1700s. This Andreas Weschgin-made gun is styled after earlier European wheel-lock hunting rifles.

    Vickers-Berthier Model 1919 Rifle – Estimate Price: $25,000 – $40,000

    Vickers-Berther "Model 1919" Semi-Automatic Rifle

    Vickers-Berthier “Model 1919” Semi-Automatic Rifle (RIA)

    Designed by French Gen. Andre Berthier, this ‘model 1919’ rifle is believed to be part of the developmental evolution of the later Vickers-Berthier light machine gun. Like the machine gun it appears to feed from a top-mounted magazine. Berthier patented a similar design in 1909, the rifle however is semi-automatic only. Not the most ergonomic-looking design with a long receiver and offset sights.

    California Arms Co. Defiance – Estimate Price: $3,000 – $5,000

    California Arms Co - Defiance

    California Arms Co – Defiance (RIA)

    The auction has not one but two California Arms Co. all metal ‘Defiance’ guns. Manufactured between 1926 and 1930, these guns were marketed by the California Arms Co. as self defense and anti-bandit guns, intended to compete with Ithaca’s Auto and Burglar guns. Only around 300 are thought to have been manufactured.

    Ishapore #1 MkIII* SMLE Rifle in “Jungle” Configuration – Estimate Price: $2,000 – $3,000

    Indian Jungle Carbine

    Ishapore #1 MkIII* SMLE “Jungle” Rifle (RIA)

    With British and Commonwealth forces fighting extensively in the confines of the jungle during the campaign to retake Burma from the Japanese the need for a shorter, handier carbine was identified. As the Indian ordnance factories did not produce the Rifle No.4 they, much like Australia, based their lightened ‘jungle carbine’ on the No.1 MkIII* – even retaining its instantly recognisable nosecap. This prototype has an interesting flag rear sight and a conical flash hider. I’ve written more about the history of this rifle’s development over on my blog.

    Girandoni System Multi-Shot Air Pistol – Estimate Price: $6,000 – $9,000

    Air pistol 18th century

    Girandoni System Multi-Shot Air Pistol (RIA)

    Another of the interesting air guns up for sale, while the Giradoni rifle that Lewis & Clark took on their expedition is fairly well known, it’s less well known that pistol versions of Giradoni’s system were also made. This pistol was made in Johann Contriner of Vienna during the early 19th century. The metal pistol grip is the pistol’s air reservoir and theres a tube magazine for pistol balls on the right side.

    Mysterious Experimental Slide Action Rifles – Estimate Prices: $7,500 – $12,000$9,500 – $16,000

    Experimental Tool-room Prototype Slide Action Rifle

    Unidentified Experimental Tool-room Prototype Slide Action Rifle (RIA)

    Unidentified Experimental Slide Action Rifle

    Unidentified Experimental Slide Action Rifle (RIA)

    These slide action rifles are two of the auctions more mysterious lots. They appear to work on the same principle with the first being a still in the white tool room prototype while the second, serial marked #1, is a much more polished version with an improved action and layout. The rifles have a slide actuated rotating bolt and a split lifter arm. The later prototype replaces a grip piece (which shrouds the magazine when in the forward position) the earlier gun’s sliding loop which looks similar to a lever action rifle’s lever. The magazine has been moved from in front of the trigger to behind it in the later rifle – which technically makes the rifle an early repeating bullpup. But not the earliest! 

    Dumouthier Double Barrel Kinfe Pistol with Scabbard – Estimate Price: $8,500 – $13,000

    Dumouthier Double Barrel Kinfe Pistol

    Dumouthier Double Barrel Kinfe Pistol (RIA)

    Finally, we have one of the most ornate and beautiful lots in the auction is this double barrelled knife pistol with an elaborately gilded and acid etched blade and detailed grip. Made by Joseph-Celestin Dumouthier in Paris in the mid-19th century. It has a barrel either side of the blade and a folding trigger behind the cross guard.

    Be sure to check out Hrachya’s post for a look at some of the auction’s other rare and unusual lots.

    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]


    Advertisement