Winchester Model 1866 Third Model “Musket” lever action rifle.
Sold at auction: $3,883.75
Germany’s Last Ditch Effort —- The Volksgewehr,
In 1945, the last year of World War II, German ordinance began production of these pieces of crap. With the Russians approaching from the east and the Yanks and Brits closing in from the west, the Germans began mass production of the Volksgewehr (people’s rifle) in a desperate attempt to defend the fatherland. The Volksgewehr was a simple bolt action rifle manufactered to be extremely cheap and easy to produce. Unlike the venerable K98k Mauser, this rifle was stripped down to its most basic functional parts. It had cheap, crude sights that could not be adjusted, notice how the front sight is roughly soldered to the muzzle. The barrel was quickly and crudely machined, notice the visible tool marks. The stock was left unfinished and often lacked butt plates. It also lacked an internal magazine, being single shot only. Due to Allied bombing many of the rifles were produced by cottage industry—In small shops, garages, even people’s homes and back yards. The purpose of this gun was to arm the newly formed Volksturm (People’s Militia), recruited mostly from old men and children. It was hoped that by mass producing these cheap rifles the Nazi’s could arm and mobilize the entire populace of Germany, and drive back the Allies through sheer numbers.
Some models did have a box magazine, called the VG-1, but lacked a knob on the bolt. Very few were produced and they are extremely rare. (Bottom Picture)
Also rare, VK-98 Models chambered in 7.92 Kurz, the shortened cartridge used for the Sturmgewehr 44 assualt rifle.
Today there are few surviving examples of the Volksgewehr. Allied soldiers did not take them as war trophies and most were used for scrap metal.
Chambered in 7.92 Kurz: $4,000-$7,000.
VG-1 Value: $6,000-$12,000
Masterfully carved and engraved German Schuetzen target rifle, late 19th century.
The Russo-Turkish War of 1877 and the Turkish Modified Winchester 1866
In 1877 the Russians invaded the Ottoman Empire in hopes of regaining territory lost in the Balkans during the Crimean War. The Russian Empire sent an army of 737,000 troops plus Romanian and Bulgarian allies, the Turks had an army of less than 200,000.
The Turks however had a little surprise in store. At the onset of the war the Ottoman Empire order a large number of Winchester Model 1866 rifles from the United States. The Model 1866 was a lever action repeating rifle that was made in the US and was an improved model of the famed Henry Repeating Rifle. Chambered in .44 rimfire, the Winchester lacked the range of most military single shot rifles of the day, but had a 15 round tubular magazine allowing much greater firepower.
The picture above is an example of a Winchester that the Turks modified for even greater firepower. The magazine (and barrel) was often extended to 20 or even 30 rounds and the rifle may be mounted on a bipod or tripod. Due to excessive heat buildup a water sleeve is added to prevent overheating of the barrel.
At long ranges the Turks would engage with large caliber single shot rifles, but when the Russians would close in, they would switch off and fire their Winchesters. The Russians, who were armed with single shot KRNKA and Berdan Rifles (also made in US), were often cut to ribbons. One example was the Siege of Plevna, where due to the rifles the Russians suffered four times as many casualties as the Turks.
Officially the Russo-Turkish War was a victory for Russia. In reality, however, it was a victory so badly won it might as well have been a defeat. Russia and her allies suffered over 300,000 dead altogether (mostly due to disease), whereas the Turks suffered 120,000. Worse yet, Russia was pressured by Britian and France to give up most territorial gains won during the war. Despite such a military disaster, Russia would continue to use their single shot rifle until adopting the Mosin Nagant around the turn of the century. The rest of the world would reconsider the role of firepower on the battlefield.
Rare Mauser Model 87 bolt action rifle made for Sultan Abdulhamid II of Turkey, circa 1887.
Estimated Value: $100,000 - $200,000
Mau Mau Guerilla Rifle
The Mau Mau Uprising was a rebellion by various Kenyan tribes against the British lasting from 1952-1956. The Mau Mau had few modern firearms and often had to use ingenuity and improvisation to build their own.
This rifle was created by the Mau Mau and modeled after the British SMLE No.5 carbine. Essentially it was handmade from whatever wood and metal could be scavenged to make a workable firearm. It has a crude action and the barrel lacks rifling. It also lacks sights. It is single shot only, the magazine at the bottom of the rifle is merely decorative and carved from the stock.
The Mau Mau could not stand up to the might of the British Army, and the rebellion had been quelled by 1956. Kenya would be granted its independence in 1963.
Rare and unique factory conversion Sharps breechloading rifle, 19th century.
Sold at auction: $5,175
Magnificent Winchester Model 1866 lever action rifle decorated by the master engraver Conrad Ulrich, late 19th century.
The Austrian Arms Manufacturing Company was known throughout Europe as a top quality producer of bolt action military rifles, being the armory of the Austro Hungarian Empire. They were notable for producing strong and reliable straight pull rifles called Mannlicher Rifles that used the new en-bloc magazine. However, in 1903 a new design was created that departed from the traditional Mannlicher design.
The Mannlicher Schoenauer (MS) used a rotary magazine fixed magazine (like the Johnson Rifle), rather than a box magazine. Today the MS remains one of the very few rotary action designs ever created. Furthermore it used a standard turnbolt mechanism rather than it’s prior straighpull action found with most Austrian rifles of the era. Originally the MS was intended as a military rifle, however it saw few customers due to it odd mechanism, strange caliber (6.5X54mm), and above average cost. The only major customer was Greece, which used a model called the M1903/14 (top picture) extensively during the Balkan Wars in the early 1900’s, through World War I, and up to around World War II. The Austro-Hungarian Army also used the rifle in limited numbers during World War I.
While the MS was a failure on the military market, it was a hit on the civilian market with target shooters and hunters. A civilian model called the Model 1908 (bottom picture) was also produced with a sporting stock, a spoon handle bolt, different sights, and a double trigger, with the first trigger being a set trigger. MS sporting rifles were considered to be among the finest quality hunting rifles in the world.
Around 300,000 total were produced.
Rare Native American decorated Kennedy Saddle Ring Carbine with original leather carrying bag.
German single shot schuetzen target rifle, 19th century.