Rare Military Flintlock Revolving Rifle Sells for $118K (PHOTOS)

 

Rarely seen outside of museums, Artemus Wheeler’s revolving flintlock is rare. (Photos: Cowan’s)

Described by as perhaps one of the most desirable early American military firearms in circulation, a 200-year-old revolving rifle sold this week at auction for a six-figure sum.

Capt. Artemus Wheeler of Boston was granted a patent on June 10, 1818, for a “gun, to discharge seven or more times,” of which he sold four examples to the U.S. Navy in Jan. 1821 for the then-high price of $100 each. In the end, the Navy wasn’t interested in the gun, which the Smithsonian notes as “the first revolving cylinder firearm patented in the United States and the first to be tried by the Services,” but the design went on to be used by others and these early repeaters are rarely encountered. So rare in fact that three of those four early Wheeler guns are in the Smithsonian’s own collection or that of the Virginia Military Institute.

The fourth gun, described as the “rarest and most desirable revolving American flintlock rifle as well as the rarest American martial flintlock arm” by Cincinnati-based Cowan’s Auctions, sold for $117,500 on Wednesday.

The .50-caliber seven-shot revolving rifle has a 32.625-inch barrel that uses microgroove rifling. The hand-rotated cylinder and automatic priming magazine which scraped a small amount of powder into the frizzen as the cylinder was turned, was far ahead of its time and Boston engineer Elisha Haydon Collier later updated the concept.

Cowan’s gun had long been off the market, part of the collection of firearms historian Mark Aziz, who recently died. More than 300 items from the Aziz collection were sold in lots this week by the auction house, with the Wheeler gun taking in the highest bid amount. Other rare guns included a Colt Paterson revolving shotgun that sold for $34,075 and an H.S. North revolving shotgun that went for $27,025.

This article was syndicated from Guns.com Guns.com is a niche news web site that publishes original reporting on the wide range of topics within the gun world. We publish Monday through Saturday. Our approach is to explore the topic of guns through the widest lens possible, to deliver these findings as fairly and accurately as possible and to host the opinions and perspectives of our writers and readers as selflessly as possible, trying our best not to get in the way of our contributors. Our desire is to allow our writers and readers to tell their stories, no matter what the story is, as long as we believe a) it will benefit or interest gun owners and b) conforms to ethical journalistic methods and practices. Our headquarters are in Illinois but our contributors submit to us from across the United States — from Maine to California, from Texas to Alaska and every state in between.