At its most recent sales event, Morphy’s Auction saw a huge amount of interest in a Remington M40 sniper rifle of the type used by the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam.
The rifle came with its original case and documentation, and it was no surprise that veteran collectors were eager to acquire the rifle. But many of the bids were from newcomers to this segment of the collector’s market, and Morphy Auctions firearms division expert Dave Bushing gives much of the credit to Hollywood.
“The sniper rifle appealed to a whole other breed of collector,” he noted. “Because of the
movie ‘American Sniper,’ a lot more people are getting into this category who may not have been gun collectors before.”
Those new collectors helped drive the price of this rifle to just shy of its pre-auction estimate of $26,400.
A much earlier sniper rifle went for a very strong price, too. The auction featured a rare Sharps New Model 1859, one of 2,000 such rifles issued in 1862 to Hiram Berdan’s 1st and 2nd Regiments of the U.S. Sharpshooters.
Its serial number fell within the range confirmed to have been used in the Civil War by a specially organized sniper unit documented in many articles and books. Accompanied by a Springfield Research letter, the rifle went for $10,800.
What Bushman terms “the blue chips” of gun collecting — Winchester lever-action rifles — held up their end, too. Among the best sellers were a Winchester rifle Model 1873 in .44 caliber and manufactured in 1892, for $8,400; and a .405 caliber Model 1895 made famous by Teddy Roosevelt and nicknamed “Big Medicine,” for $7,800.