History and provenance greatly affect a firearm’s value. You might be surprised to see there are no Glock, Smith & Wesson, or popular rifles listed among the world’s most valuable firearms.
There are no modern firearms on the top-six list of the most valuable firearms, which affirms that history and provenance play big roles in something’s value. The following are the six priciest guns ever purchased as determined by their selling price at auctions. All of them are pistols, and Colt single-action revolvers dominate the list. Let’s start with the answer to, "What’s the most expensive gun in the world?"
Colt Single Action Army Revolver Owned by Pat Garrett: $6.03 million
The pistol that lawman Pat Garrett used to kill Billy the Kid leads the list of priciest guns ever purchased after selling for $6.03 million in an auction. The pistol is a standard version of the famous Colt Army single-action revolver, but it was owned by one of the most famous lawmen of the old west and used to kill one of the most famous outlaws.
Lafayette, Washington, & Jackson Pistols: $1.98 million
The Marquis de Lafayette gave a pair of presentation pistols to George Washington. Those pistols eventually became the property of Andrew Jackson. When the same people who are featured prominently on current currency owned the same set of pistols, that makes them very valuable. That the Marquis de Lafayette originally presented them to Washington only adds to their value.
Civilian Colt Walker Revolver: $1.84 million
The Colt Walker is one of the most iconic pistols ever made and saw extended use in military applications. Only a hundred were made for the civilian market, and a Danish sea captain owned one.
He also managed to keep its original documentation and the wooden package in which it and its accessories were sold. Samuel Colt wrote the original sale documentation, which has remained with the pistol.
Simon Bolivar Presentation Pistols: $1.8 million
Many consider Simon Bolivar to be the “George Washington” of Latin America. Bolivar even accepted them from the Marquis de Lafayette, who also presented similar flintlock pistols to Washington. Bolivar liberated six South American states from European colonialists, which Lafayette greatly admired. Renowned pistol maker Nicolas-Noel Boutet made the Bolivar pistols.
Colt Dragoon Revolver Owned by the Milliken Family: $1.66 million
Union Col. John Milliken originally owned the pistol that bears the artistic engraving work of Gustave Young. Col. Milliken died in 1862 while fighting in the Civil War. The pistol was passed to his son, Paul, who was a colonel during the Spanish-American War and World War I. The backstrap has Paul Milliken’s name and rank engraved on the backstrap.
Colt 1849 Presentation Revolver: $1.14 million
Sotheby’s sold the 1849 Colt revolver for $1.14 million in 2012. The pistol has ample decorative engraving and gold inlay. It is the fourth Colt pistol made during the 19th century to make it to the list of priciest guns ever purchased.