Rare Smith & Wesson Lever-Action Rifle to be Auctioned at RIAC

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (1)

    The Smith & Wesson lever action rifle pictured with two S&W lever action pistols.

    When you hear “lever-action rifle”, you probably think about Winchester, Marlin or Henry …maybe also Volcanic or even Colt, but I bet never Smith & Wesson. However, there is such thing as a Smith & Wesson lever-action rifle and one of three such guns known to exist will be auctioned in the upcoming Rock Island Premier Gun Auction.

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (1)

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (2)

    As mentioned in the “Volcanic Firearms” book by Edmund Lewis and Stephen Rutter, this rifle was manufactured circa 1854-1855. It was made in the first Smith & Wesson company that was founded in 1854 and produced lever-action pistols before it was reorganized and renamed to Volcanic Repeating Arms Company in 1855. Presumably, less than ten S&W lever-action rifles were ever produced. Another sample of this rifle is kept in Cody Firearms Museum.

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (4)

    Note that the trigger guard is separate from the lever.

    This rifle lacks any markings and was likely an exhibition firearm not intended for sale. Unlike S&W lever-action pistols and Volcanic rifles and pistols that used the caseless Rocket Ball cartridge, this Smith & Wesson lever-action rifle was chambered in a 41 caliber self-contained metallic cased cartridge that, however, remained a prototype and was never mass produced.

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (14)

    The handshake engraved on the stock inlay presumably symbolizes the partnership between Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson.

    This S&W lever-action rifle was once a part of the Wesson family collection. The gun is also in a great condition with 70-80% of original finish retained on the barrel, magazine and receiver. Needless to say that a firearm of such an extreme rarity, fine condition and provenance is highly valued by collectors. The estimated price range that this rifle will likely be sold at, is $275,000 – $450,000.

    Initially scheduled to be held in April 2020, this Rock Island Premier Gun Auction has been indefinitely postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the new dates have just been announced by Kevin Hogan, president of Rock Island Auction Company. The auction will take place on June 5th, 6th and 7th.

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (5)

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (3)

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (8)

    Smith & Wesson Lever Action Rifle - Unicorn Auctioned at RIAC (71)


    Images courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company (www.rockislandauction.com)

    Hrachya H

    Managing Editor

    Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying the history and design of guns and ammunition. He also writes for OvertDefense.com and SilahReport.com
    Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at [email protected]


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