Sold! The $1.26 Million Winchester 1886 Rifle

posted on May 10, 2016

Images courtesy

It’s the most expensive single firearm sold at auction, according to Rock Island Auction Company. Pairs of guns have gone for more, but this one’s connection to the surrender of Chiricahua Apache Chief Geronimo and impeccable condition added up to a new world-record on April 30, 2016.

Captain Henry Lawton and Lt. George E. Albee served together during the Civil War. The latter went on to work for Winchester, while the former stayed in uniform and later captured Geronimo. 

The friendship they forged during the War Between the States ran deep, though, so when the legendary firearm maker was rolling out a brand new carbine—the Model 1886—Serial No. 1 went to Lawton. The engraving isn’t fancy. In fact, it’s so understated it carries a timeless eloquence. The wood, too, is good, but probably wouldn’t turn too many heads.

Albee obviously knew his friend well. Lawton led troops in a rugged time, when troopers relied on their tools and personal possessions to survive and thrive in the scorching sun and pouring rain. Fancy enough to attract longing stares wasn’t—and still isn’t—an asset in the Chiricahua Mountains of the desert Southwest.  

A pocket watch presented to Lawton by businessmen in New Mexico—part of the gun’s auction lot—punctuates that point. He didn’t want to attend the ceremony, but he received a direct order that he would. He described the timepiece as valuable, and from its looks it was rarely, if ever, used.    

At 130 years old, the carbine is in great shape and finally, perhaps for the first time since it rolled out of the factory, back in the news. For more of the gun’s history, visit Rock Island Auction’s blog and watch a detailed video about the gun here.


black pistol right side on white with text on image noting "NRA GUN OF THE WEEK"
black pistol right side on white with text on image noting "NRA GUN OF THE WEEK"

NRA Gun of the Week: Rock Island Armory STK100

On this week's "Gun of the Week" video preview, watch as American Rifleman staff examine and range test a Rock Island Armory striker-fired handgun in 9 mm Luger that features an aluminum frame with an internal steel chassis.

Smith & Wesson's Triple Lock: A Look Back

The Triple Lock was the first Smith & Wesson revolver built on what is now called the N-frame—S&W’s N-frames have defined the modern wheelgun.

The Armed Citizen® Oct. 22, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Champion Continues Support For Kids & Clays Foundation

Champion Traps & Targets is continuing support for the Kids & Clays Foundation, and helping raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Review: Norinco Type 54 From AIM Surplus

The Type 54 is a 1950's era North China Industries (Norinco) clone of the Russian TT pistol, and large quantities have recently become available through AIM Surplus.

Smith & Wesson SD9VE: A Budget Friendly Striker-Fired 9 mm

First introduced in 2012, the Smith & Wesson SD9VE provides a 9 mm striker fired handgun with a price point that has continued its popularity as a budget friendly pistol. 


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.