January 20, 2021
By Mike Burns
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A series of high-pitched clicks in repetition are the only sounds that accompany a soldier crouched in a small bunker outside of Sadr City, Iraq. A single bead of sweat slowly inches down the soldier's face as his gaze remains fixated on his tiny target over 2,000 yards away through his small scope. Clutched in his hands is the tool of his trade, a McMillian TAC-338 sniper rifle and in a flash the enemy is erased from existence.
Chris Kyle is arguably one of the U.S. military's deadliest snipers throughout its entire history. With over 150 confirmed kills, Kyle was often referred to as "the Myth" by his allies and adversaries alike because of his skills behind the trigger. During his deployment in Ramadi, insurgents in the area would frequently reference Kyle as "Shaitan Ar-Ramandi," loosely translating to "The Devil of Ramadi," and a bounty of $80,000 was placed on his head. Signs were posted throughout the city describing his appearance, going so far as to detail his tattoos, as a means to identify him. After leaving the U.S. Navy in 2009, Kyle moved to Texas, became the president of Craft International (a tactical training company for military and law enforcement communities), and wrote his acclaimed auto-biography that would eventually be adapted into an award-winning movie directed by Clint Eastwood. His tragic death in 2013 was a sudden awakening for the American public to invest more in our nation's treatment of veterans and the trauma many have endured.
Chris Kyle at Camp Pendleton
Kyle used many different firearms throughout his career including a SR-25 sniper rifle (aka Mk-11), a modified M16 Designated Marksman rifle (aka US Navy Mk-12), a custom M24 sniper rifle in .300 Win Mag, as well as various .338 Lapua Magnum rifles for long range targets. It's fun to imagine what Chris Kyle might have been like operating something a bit more unconventional, like a Mauser Model 98 sniper rifle, or perhaps a U.S. Winchester M1D Garand semi-automatic sniper rifle, but it is guaranteed he would excel using anything with a trigger.
This brings us to the subject of today: sniper rifles. They are cool and sure are fun to shoot, but they have a long history and can be found in abundance during the February 3-6 Sporting & Collector Auction at Rock Island Auction Company. There are over 50 lots with sniper and sniper-style rifles in this massive auction and we are going to explore some of the top ones found in the digital catalog.
Preview Day begins February 2, 2021, at 9:00 am C.T., so be sure to mark your calendars because we can't wait to see you. Of course, all COVID-19 regulations will be adhered to throughout the event. For any questions or reservations, please contact Rock Island Auction Company.
While scenes of Will Smith licking his finer to determine the speed and direction of the wind while he scribbles down notes on a worn, leather-bound notebook, might be fun to watch in a movie like "Gemini Man," it might be surprising to know that snipers did not always utilize such advanced observations of their surroundings. As a matter of fact, sniper rifles are a relatively new innovation with the first one making an appearance in 1856. The first "sniper rifle" is commonly considered to be the Whitworth rifle designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth who believed his creation and experimentations with rifling greatly outmatched the accuracy of the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle in use at the time. The Enfield Pattern 1853 rifled-musket was used by the British Empire during the mid-19th century, specifically during the Crimean War from 1853-56, but were known to be notoriously difficult to calibrate for various distances. During trials following the war, Whitworth's rifle impressed audiences by outperforming the Enfield nearly three to one, hitting targets over 2,000 yards away.
The sniper rifle would become famous during the American Civil War after being used by Confederate sharpshooters (equipped with Whitworth rifles) to kill Union Major General John Sedgwick during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in 1864. At the advent of long-distance precision shooting, what would be considered a sniper today was more traditionally called a sharpshooter during the 19th century. The Confederate troops using the Whitworth rifles were armed and trained as a direct result of opposing sharpshooter regiments in the North. During the battle, their effectiveness was uncanny and the reports of their usage are chilling to say the least. One second there, the next... gone.
Advancements in cartridge technology would only amplify the deadly reputation that these long-distance rifles started to gain during the late 19th century. During the Boer War, the Boers were armed with the latest Mauser Model 1895 rifles acquired from Germany while the British were equipped with Lee-Metford rifles. Throughout the war, a British unit known as the Lovat Scouts became renowned for their expert marksmanship and resourceful stalking techniques. Known to wear ghillie suits for camouflage and famous practitioners of the motto: “He who shoots and runs away, lives to shoot another day,” this squad grew a reputation that lasted long after the conflict was over. After the war, the Scouts became the first official sniper unit enlisted in the British Army.
Before the early 20th century, the sniper rifle saw limited use on the battlefield due to required training and cost to produce. This all changed, however, during World War I when the sniper rifle was drastically improved to increase its accuracy through the use of accessories such as advanced scopes. Gunsmiths would even alter the rifle to accommodate for these different modifications, significantly changing the appearance of the weapon. Special units were conceived to specialize solely in combat using the sniper rifle and by the end of the Second World War, sniper rifles had made giant leaps. The rifle had a devastating effect on enemy troops because of its unpredictability, elusiveness, and psychological intimidation. Many times, the chain of command would be broken because of fomenting fear within a unit as a result of the sniper rifles used during the mid-20th century such as the Mosin-Nagant 1891/30 sniper rifle. It was during the two World Wars that the term “sniper” entered the popular vernacular.
Sniper rifles have continued to see use during combat throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. An integral part of guerrilla and traditional warfare, sniper rifles have become a remarkably effective weapon in any nation's arsenal. Capable of striking intense fear, these deadly and dangerous rifles will not be leaving the battlefield anytime soon.
The February Sporting & Collector Auction features over 8,000 firearms from more than 200 manufacturers that will be sold in only four short days. Gorgeous handguns, famous firearms, and historic long guns will all be lining the Preview Hall, ready to find new collections to call home. Among the thousands of lots available, a remarkable assortment of rare, gorgeous, and powerful sniper rifles from high-quality manufacturers can be found as well.
An absolutely breath-taking Romanian Romarm/Cugir PSL-54C semi-automatic sniper rifle in excellent and near new condition can be found during the S&C Auction. In the 1960s, relations between the Soviet Union and Romania were quickly deteriorating due to conflicts in the area. As a result, the Romanian Military developed an alternative to the highly popular SVD Dragunov in an attempt to alleviate their dependence on Soviet aid. This rifle was known as the PSL; and while the two rifles are nearly identical in appearance and use, not a single part is interchangeable between the weapons. Upon closer examination, other major differences also become readily apparent. The skeleton stock of the rifle, while similar, features a corrugated and spring-loaded stamped steel buttplate meant to reduce recoil when firing.
Another interesting difference between the two rifles is the length of their stocks. PSL rifles have a notably shorter stock than the Soviet Dragunov because the Romanians developed their weapon to be primarily used by soldiers during the winter months to accommodate for larger jackets. Adversely, a rubber stock extender can also be applied to the rifle during the summer months for more comfort. Originally issued with a type 1 version of the LPS telescopic sight, PSL rifles quickly went under various modifications that improved the weapon such as upgraded scopes and mounting systems designed to combat Soviet produced weapons of the same caliber. A sporting version of the rifle was developed for market in the United States beginning in the 20thcentury, being modified only slightly to adhere to laws and regulations and is fairly popular among enthusiasts.
This Romanian PSL-54C sniper rifle found at Rock Island Auction Company’s February 3-6 Sporting & Collector Auction is estimated at $1,600-$2,500 and includes a LPS type 4x24 scope. Featuring a beautiful light wood stock, this rifle is not only a sight for sore eyes, but it is an impressive reflection of the political turmoil of the mid-20th century.
The Soviet Mosin-Nagant 91/30 bolt action rifle, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, was one of the most popular weapons designed by the Soviet Union with its roots in the late 19th century. It was the standard issue for their army throughout WWII; and by attaching a scope, the rifle could serve as an effective sniper rifle capable of taking out targets from significant distances. A 1944 dated Soviet Mosin-Nagant 91/30 bolt action sniper rifle, complete with a scope, can be found during Rock Island Auction Company’s February Sporting & Collector Auction and is estimated at $1,300-$1,900. A similar Soviet Mosin-Nagant 91/30 bolt action sniper rifle estimated at $1,200-$1,800 was manufactured in 1943 and comes with a PU style scope and a CAI barrel. The dark wood on the rifle is absolutely stunning and the overall presence of the gun makes it clear why it was so favored by the Soviet Army for such a long time.
A collection of sniper rifles available during Rock Island Auction Company's February Sporting & Collector Auction (Lots 2666, 6319, 6447, and 2672).
A Soviet Tokarev SVT40 semi-automatic sniper style rifle can also be found during the February Sporting & Collector Auction and is estimated at $950-$1,600. The SVT40 was developed to improve the design of its predecessor, the SVT38: a recoil-operated, self-loading rifle designed by Fedor Tokarev during the 1930s. The SVT38 was made to be a lightweight alternative for soldiers to use during battle. The rifle was considered too complex for many troops and often required frequent cleaning. To improve upon these features, the SVT40 was developed and by the early 1940s, was in popular use among the Red Army. Today, the rifle is still very popular among hunters who appreciate the accuracy of the weapon and historical enthusiasts interested in owning a small piece of 20thcentury history.
Interested in the Soviet Union, but aren’t particularly looking to purchase a rifle? Check out lot 4682: a Soviet 1PN58 night vision scope that is estimated at $800-$1,300 during Rock Island Auction Company’s February S&C Auction. The scope comes with two additional batteries, extra range dials, cloths, as well as a canvas and leather case.
Looking for more accessories from other countries? Check out this assortment of U.S. Military sights and accessories found in lot 2879 that is estimated at $2,000-$3,000. Included in this lot are four U.S. telescopic sights including an M1918A2, an M70H, and M70G, as well as one unmarked sight, two weapon mounted standard type scopes, a canvas scope cover, an Auto-Lite 1918 level, an M20A1 rocket launcher sight, as well as plenty of other sights and scopes. This, however, is just a small window into what is being offered during this spectacular auction. In fact, there are many interesting departures from firearms that can be found in this massive auction that includes militaria, ammunition, and astonishing pieces of art. Explore the digital catalog to discover some of the outstanding non-firearm related items for sale.
The February 2021 S&C Auction features much more than just items from Eastern Europe. There are plenty of German, French, American, and many other sniper rifles from around the world featured in this auction. Lot 2666 in the February 3-6 Sporting & Collector Auction is a stunning Walther “ac/45” Code K43 semi-automatic sniper rifle estimated at $3,000-$4,500 that comes complete with a “dow” ZF4 scope and its original covers. Various Gustloff Werke sniper rifles are also available for those interested in World War II history and German weaponry. A Gustloff Werke “bcd” code “4” date Model 98 bolt action long slide rail sniper rifle complete with a refurbished center reticle adjustment style unmarked scope is estimated at $3,500-$5,500. A similar Gustloff Werke “bcd” code G43 sniper rifle can also be found during the S&C Auction, however this rifle is estimated at $1,800-$2,750 and includes a ddx ZF4 scope. Finally, a Gustloff “bcd/4” Model 98 “Swept Back” sniper rifle is estimated at $2,250-$3,750 that is fitted with a ddx code ZF4 scope.
Continuing through Europe, a French MAS Model 49/56 semi-automatic sniper rifle stands a bit higher than the others from the region because of its stunning appearance and its accompanying “APX/L806” marked scope, leather scope case, and five extra magazines. Also accompanying this gorgeous rifle is a cleaning kit, user’s manual, and canvas receiver cover, all in fine condition and many even in their original packaging. The MAS Model 49 is a French semi-automatic rifle manufactured and issued as the standard service rifle for the French Army throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Eventually replaced by the FAMAS assault rifle in 1979, these rifles were only produced in a limited quantity of approximately 20,000 units and gained a substantial reputation of being accurate, reliable, and easy to maintain in difficult or harsh conditions. Don’t miss this special chance to own one of these iconic rifles during the February Sporting & Collector Auction.
Swaths of other stunning sniper rifles populate an already exhilarating auction packed with hundreds of other items and weapons from various armed forces stretching around the globe. Of course, there are plenty of examples from the United States Military making an appearance during the 4-day event as well. A Winchester M1D Garand semi-automatic sniper rifle with DCM box and an M84 scope is estimated at $2,250-$3,500, another U.S. Winchester Garand M1D semi-automatic sniper rifle fitted with an M84 scope is estimated at $1,800-$2,750, and a World War II U.S. Remington Model 03-A4 bolt action sniper rifle along with its Weaver M78B1 scope is estimated at $2,000-$3,500 can all be found during the February Sporting & Collector Auction.
You can find racks of other U.S. manufactured sniper rifles as well during the auction such as lot 4822: a U.S. Springfield M1C style Garand semi-automatic sniper rifle estimated at $2,750-$4,250 that was produced in 1945. A U.S. Springfield Model 1903 sniper style rifle along with its commercial Unertl 10x scope will be available for sale during the event as well and is estimated at $2,250-$3,750. Complete with a “C” style stock, bayonet and leather sling, this 1929 manufactured sniper style rifle would make a perfect addition to the collection of any U.S. Military or sniper rifle enthusiast’s collection.
Where can you find the best quality rifles for auction? That’s right, Rock Island Auction Company. Our February 3-6 Sporting & Collector Auction is promising to be another exciting event hosted by the world’s leading firearms auction house. All of the sniper rifles listed here are drop dead beautiful, but words simply do not do them justice. Please make your arrangements (if you haven’t already) to come see and handle these items in person when the Preview Hall opens for exhibition February 2nd. Learn first-hand why Rock Island Auction Company’s February Sporting & Collector Auction is unlike any other gun show out there.
As always, if there are any questions regarding consignment, registration, or future auctions, please contact Rock Island Auction Company today. The first Sporting & Collector Auction of the New Year begins February 3 at 9:00 am C.T. with the Preview Hall opening the 2nd for exhibition. All COVID-19 guidelines will be followed to ensure the safety of all our attendants!
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