With legendary craftsmanship and ownership, this Hawken rifle will be a highlight of the upcoming RIA sale in Texas. [Rock Island Auction]

The revolvers we recently showed you on Wheelgun Wednesday aren’t the only items with an impressive Wild West history that Rock Island is about to auction off. How can you top a revolver owned by George Armstrong Custer and another revolver that appeared at the Battle of Little Bighorn? Here’s how—with a big-bore Hawken rifle owned by Theodore Roosevelt himself, and reportedly by the legendary Kit Carson before that!



While Roosevelt is quite deservedly famous for his time as president, he led a rugged and exciting life before he took office, including time as a rancher and deputy sheriff in North Dakota as well as his much-publicized service in the Spanish-American War, fighting with the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (better-known as the Rough Riders) in Cuba. He was an avid hunter over his whole life. His participation in the 1909-1911 Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition led to the collection of many specimens that filled the halls of the Smithsonian and New York’s Museum of Natural History for generations afterward.


On that famous trip, he used the most up-to-date firepower he could get his hands on, most certainly not this .70-caliber percussion Hawken rifle, which he likely purchased as a collector and lifelong admirer of mountain man/military scout/buffalo hunter Kit Carson. While Roosevelt’s political career leaves him far more famous today, Carson himself was a legend during the late 1800s for his adventures as an explorer and trapper and his wartime heroics.


Rock Island Auction’s write-up says this is one of the largest-caliber rifles made by the Hawken brothers of St. Louis, and that it could have been used for target shooting as well as buffalo hunting. Kit Carson owned multiple Hawken rifles and gave some away to friends, but Roosevelt did not acquire the rifle this way, as he was only a boy when Carson died in 1868. If the rifle was indeed Carson’s, Roosevelt acquired it from someone else who had got it from the Wild West hero.

However it was acquired, the Roosevelt family firmly believed the rifle had been Carson’s, and it was part of the collection of The Theodore Roosevelt gun room, Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, Long Island for many years. It remains in exceptionally fine condition, with the auction house listing the following details:

The most obvious difference setting this rifle apart from most Hawken rifles is its immense weight. While noted as weighing 18 pounds above, we find that it actually weighs 19 lbs. 3.3 oz. on our scale. Much of that weight comes from its heavy barrel. The bore measure approximately .70 caliber (14 bore) which is significantly larger than the typical .54 caliber (28 bore) found on many of the classic Hawken rifles. The browned barrel is cleanly marked with the “S. HAWKEN ST. LOUIS” marking used following Jacob Hawken’s death in 1849 and by the Hawken shop even after J.P. Gemmer had purchased the shop. The muzzle is cut round for using a bullet starter, and the barrel features seven-groove rifling, traditional dovetailed blade and U-notch sights, and a very nicely shaped breech plug. A very rarely seen adjustable peep sight is fitted to an integral base on the upper tang. Rather than barrel wedges like a normal sized Hawken rifle, the heavy barrel is secured via a screw passing through an winged iron washer in the bottom of the forend. The casehardened lock has no visible markings. The rifle is equipped with adjustable double set triggers and has iron furniture that matches the furniture on other classic S. Hawken rifles, including the distinctive finials on the trigger guard and toe plate. The walnut buttstock has a pewter forend cap, checkered wrist, and shadowline cheekpiece in keeping with the styling of the smaller Hawkens.


The rifle will go on the block on May 18 in Bedford, Texas, with Rock Island estimating a price of $55,000 – $85,000. However, considering Roosevelt’s Smith & Wesson No. 3 revolver sold for almost a million dollars in 2022, it would be unsurprising to see the Hawken go for a six-figure sum, especially with the Kit Carson tie-in.

For more details, visit RIA’s listing here.

Read the full article here

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