Two Collector Firearms: One You Can’t Buy, and One You Probably Can’t

Let’s start with the one you probably can’t buy. It’s an amnesty-registered World War II STG44 or MP44, with the usual late-war blend of blued, phosphated and in-the-white parts.

Here’s a couple of overviews of it.

You will not find a more historical 20th Century firearm, apart from one associated with a particular individual. For this is the creation that spawned the name and the category “assault rifle.”

The description reads:

STG-44 MP44 WWII bring back w/amnesty paperwork copy included in sale. this is a true unmolested survivor!! Everything origial, mint bore. Stock was serialized to gun receiver. Bolt and op-rod do not show any numbers. Also included is the original take down tool and magazine loader. We test fired this gun and it ran flawless!!!! We own it, it is in our inventory/hands.

The reason for the last sentence is simple: a lot of Class III dealers are “selling” stuff they’re merely brokering. So these guys (Recon Ordnance of Wisconsin) want serious buyers to know that they can get started on transfer paperwork straightaway once money changes hands.

So, if it’s for sale on GunBroker, why can’t you buy it? Probably, because you’re not in the market for a $32,000 gun. Yep, it’s a no-reserve auction, but that’s the minimum bid. You’d think they’d at least throw in a couple of spare magazines.

Even the hand-scratched serial number adds to this StG’s vintage appeal. But… well… $32k.

Then, there’s the one you definitely can’t buy. This is a Roth-Steyr Repetierpistole M.07, a major arm of the Austro-Hungarian forces in World War I. Partially designed by Karel Krnka, this had the distinction of being the first automatic pistol adopted by a major power, a year before Prussia and Germany followed suit with the Pistole 08 Parabellum.

This particular example is not in the best condition that collectors love, but it’s still a collector piece, still wearing its original unit disc which identifies it as Pistol 73 of (we believe the 2nd, not 11th) Landwehr Regiment. The Landwehr was an organized reserve much like today’s American National Guard.

So why can’t you buy it? Because it was taken in a gun “buyback” in Cleveland last year and destroyed as follows:

… placed into the No. 1 Basic Oxygen Furnace iron ladle and … melted by approximately 200 tons of molten iron, at temperatures of about 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten iron, along with the scraps, were charged in the basic oxygen furnace to make steel which will eventually be used to manufacture cars, household appliances and other goods.

Cleveland’s Police Chief, Calvin Williams, blames guns like this and the collectors that normally trade them — ammunition for this firearm hasn’t been a mass-production item since 1944 — for crime in his city. Meanwhile, he didn’t have the back of his own cops in a 2015 incident, leading beleaguered and unsupported Cleveland cops to “go fetal” as cops in so many other cities have done, and has led to exploding homicide statistics over the last two years.

Cleveland homicides took off when Chief Williams and other leaders embraced the Black Criminals’ Lives Matter movement in 2015. 2016 isn’t over yet, but had tied 2015’s bag limit of 120 before Thanksgiving. Not one of them was shot with an 8mm Steyr round, oddly enough.

Hat tip, the irreplaceable Dean Weingarten, who wrote:

Gems like the Roth Steyr are routinely found at gun “buy backs”. They are not found in quantity, but they are found. All the more reason for private buyers to monitor these gun turn-ins, and to rescue the valuable items from the smelter.

Williams and his senior managers studiously avoid addressing the real problem in Cleveland — urban gang violence, which occasionally spills over to claim truly innocent victims — and the weak, soft prosecutors and judges that condemn good people to death annually because they’re so solicitous of the feelings of bad people. Cleveland’s homicide detectives do a great job of finding these guys, once they kill. And in almost every case, the guy has a previous violent or gun offense that ought to have had him locked up.

But why address the crime problem when you can melt down an evil deodand from the Hapsburg Empire?

22 thoughts on “Two Collector Firearms: One You Can’t Buy, and One You Probably Can’t

  1. jim h

    it’s infuriating that politicians cannot seem to grasp little things like antiquity and collectability. I realize that every gun might look the same to some of these chumps, but surely someone down the line has to be able to recognize something of rarity or value in these catches. I mean FFS, remember the lewis gun in the buyback?

    it’d be good if there was a statistic available to them that showed that a) “assault rifles” are not used in violent crimes almost *at all*, b) there really was a connection between criminals and cheap, SNS type throwdowns, and c) that the presence or use of antique, collectable firearms in crime is literally nil. even in a major city, where I work, I have *never* served a warrant, or taken one, in which something other than a budget gun was used. even in self defense cases, ive never seen a real antique used; ive certainly never seen lewis guns being employed. or WWI era pistols.


    1. Clarence Chen

      If memory serves, only 2 were committed with fully automatic firearms ever. In other worlds, that odds that some random criminal would use one in a crime is 2/ever single murder since 1934.

      1. jim

        Correction…there have only been two murders *that I know of* committed with LEGAL, REGISTERED machine guns. Alledgedly, one had been recently stolen, the other was owned and used by a cop. I lost the data I had on these two, if anyone has it, link, please.

        There are plenty of gangland, banger vs. banger crimes committed with illegal, converted or black market machine guns. Not common, but they do pop up in the bigger gang cities, like LA.

        The point does stand that NFA weapons owned by normal, law abiding people, don’t get used in crimes. The instances are statistically roundable to zero.

      2. SPEMack

        The one cop in particular used an M-16 to blow away the firefighter that was sleeping with his wife and then shoot up a fire truck.

    2. Hognose Post author

      And last I knew, the cops in NYFC of all places were working to save and place that Lewis Gun, with the assistance of the NY Field office of ATF.

      I think those statistics all exist in abundance, Jim. “None is so blind as he who will not see.”

      I do see increasing use of ARs and AKs in robberies and in robbery-defense shootings. Like the quality handguns (Glock and up) that turn up in crimes, they’re usually stolen in residential or car burglaries. Cops’ cars get burgled a lot, thanks to laws that require cops to live in the cities they police, sometimes (especially when very junior) among larcenous neighbors.

      1. jim h

        fair point HN, although in this case I was referring to the actual, literal definition of assault rifle, not the “everything with a stock is a full auto assault rifle” approach used in media and crime stat reporting today. semi auto AR/AK usage is up, sure. nationwide. but in this case, in my zone, it is not really appearing in major crimes; far, far more prevalent are glock, taurus, small frame S&W, models, usually less than 500 bucks, NIB. shotguns (cut down or not) are sometimes a feature, but even then, rarely. I note that I am talking violent crime only, *not* thefts; that would inflate the stats a lot higher still. im also discounting defense claims here. maybe it is a problem in places like LA or chicongo or something, but it’s hard for me to envision someone tear assing around in a late 60s model hooptie with their bren and lewis guns, LRDG style, shooting places up with obscure calibers and weapons.

        small, concealable pistols and revolvers seem to be the MO around this major city. weve had a number of folks arrested in possession of those rifles, but they were a possession item (usually by someone with a felony conviction anyhow) and not a factor in the warrants themselves. even the handful reported active shooter deals around my area have largely panned out not involving these horrible black scary weapons.

        your quote is a good point, and a good reminder against complacency. I have a habit of typing in sarcasm and forget that not everyone is reading it in the tone of voice in my head.

  2. Clarence Chen

    It saddens me to say historical artifacts burned down and destroyed. Almost reminds me of Mao’s destruction of Chinese artifacts in the cultural revolution.

    1. Hognose Post author

      I didn’t realize how great that destruction was, till I was watching the show where Henry Louis Gates goes back and determines the ancestry of some minor celebrity. I found it fascinating, and Gates was floored when, as I recall it after he told a Chinese-American fellow that his bloodline would go dark in China and they’d have to pick it up by DNA, his guy’s family was the one ancestry pole or stele (or whatever the correct term is) that was not destroyed in his ancestral village, and they were able to follow him back something like 2,800 years. Eurocentric historians have long considered it a fact that “you can’t prove descent from antiquity” but behold, there it was. And there it would be for tens or hundreds of millions of people, if not for Mao and his damned Red Guards.

      I don’t remember the guy’s name or what he was famous, kind of, for, but the coincidence that he was from the one family whose heritage was not erased was absolutely remarkable — and delightful. What a pity that Mao demanded such vandalism.

      1. ToastieTheCoastie

        I know this is beside your point, but I want to put on the record that Henry Louis Gates is intolerable. We all got hauled into an auditorium to see him once as part of an initiative to let everyone know how much the USCG loves diversity. He sneered at us and insulted our uniforms. F that guy.


    I reckon the STG44 is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and purposeful looking firearms ever built. No other design has ever been able to achieve the coefficient of coolness that this gun possesses.

  4. Steve M.

    There is a part of me that desires to see every gun that is turned in at these buybacks. The other part of me doesn’t want to know because it would just cause unnecessary sadness.

    Any idea on the value of the Roth-Steyr?

    There really ought to be some type of regulation on these buybacks to prevent collector’s pieces from retarded deaths. Blued steel and walnut haven’t been popular on the street for a long time. At least something good did happen at this buyback.

    1. Hognose Post author

      There are collectors and dealers that flood the zone outside the buybacks where it’s not illegal. In Cleveland the cops hassle but don’t arrest them. (The cops clearly don’t have their hearts in the hassle end of it).

  5. Keith

    I have one of the HMG STG-N’s on pre order because that is as close as I will ever come to having one of those iconic fire arms.

    There should be a person with knowledge of fire arms history to look over what comes in when a program like that is held. That person would identify historical fire arms like that pistol. These could then be sold through legitimate outlets like Rock Island or GunBroker and the funds received used for programs aimed at at-risk kids and supporting Neighborhood Watch and such. IMHO it would be no different from the programs that allow the selling at auction of property seized that was bought with the proceeds from criminal activity.

  6. staghounds

    The relevant authorities “grasp antiquity and collectability”, and they consider them proof that you are a bad person. An interest in old guns is exactly equivalent to an interest in child pornography.

  7. SPEMack

    There was a lot of truth in the NFATC t-shirts of the early 90s that said
    “Don’t tell my Mother I’m an NFA dealer. She thinks I still play piano in a whorehouse.”
    Gun collecting and interest in firearms was strictly verboten when I was in elementary school; even in rural Georgia. I can imagine that the culture shift would be glacial the further north and more urban you get.

    1. Steve M.

      The culture shift seems to be greater in the urban areas for sure. The whole north south thing doesn’t seem to have as great of an effect. It’s still there, but not nearly like the shift between urban population centers and the rural areas of the same state.

  8. robroysimmons

    For approx 1/100th of the cost of that antique you can buy one of the .22lr knockoffs which at least in pics look great, but no tickle switch sad to say.

    Hill and Mac are promising good and hard to have the Cali versions out the door this month, good luck to that. FTR it is my main want these days.

  9. 6pounder

    If I was a betting man I would say that a sharp eyed collector with a hand full of small untraceable bills could have made a private deal with this chief. People like him like to see themselves on tv but in the back rooms anything is for sale for the right price.
    Anyone want to prove me wrong on my assessment?

  10. Sommerbiwak

    Those gun buybacks developed into an empty ritual, that is done, because “we have always done it this way”. The dumbest of all reasons. Sadly average unkowing people fall for these and old pieces are sadly lost. :-(

    But for the record: the LUger Parabellum pistol in 7,65 Parabelum was the first pistol in military service in 1900 in Switzerland. And in 1900 Switzerland mustered more soldiers than the USA. Having conscription and an actually well regulated militia system. Switzerland does not have an army, Switzerland is an army as they say. But without empire ambitions like its neighbours they were probably not a major power. ;-)

  11. Sig 357

    I bought my first class 3 item from Jerry at Recon in the late nineties. His personal collection is incredible. At the time I was looking for an Uzi. He simply pointed me to a large pallet stacked with fifty boxes and told me to “pick one out”. He also had more than a dozen Swedish Ks built on Wilson Tubes. I can’t remember a single type of US military machine gun that he didn’t have for sale. He will never have the lowest price but you will get an honestly graded and represented item.

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