In August 2022, the Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) sold a collectible firearm that could rightfully be described as “out of this world,” and this month, it announced that it subsequently earned a place in the Guinness World Records 2024 book for the “Most Expensive Prop Gun Sold at Auction.”
The particular firearm was a “BlasTech DL-44 Heavy Blaster,” the sidearm of choice of Han Solo, and seen in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. It sold for $1,057,500 – which would have been well more than enough for the fictional smuggler to pay off his debts to the gangster Jabba the Hutt.
According to RIAC, interest in the iconic blaster was hotter than the twin suns of Tatooine in the run-up to the auction. The BlasTech DL-44 Heavy Blaster was estimated to bring between $300,000 – $500,000. Bidding quickly blew past the estimate as well as the 2018 sale of a blaster prop used in “Return of the Jedi” for $550,000.
Based on a Real-World Firearm
The movie prop was based on the Mauser C96 (Construktion 96) pistol – a firearm commonly known as a “Broom Handle Mauser” for its distinct pistol grip – with a heavy barrel, mounted scope, and the muzzle cone from an M3 “Grease Gun.”
It is the only surviving example of the three original prop blasters made by the London-based Bapty prop house for “Star Wars” (later re-titled by George Lucas as “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”) in 1976. Its basic components were chosen by the film’s set decorator Roger Christian and assembled by armorer Carl Schmidt.
According to various sources, including RIAC, the live-fire C96 used by Captain Solo in “A New Hope” was actually the same “prop gun” that had been carried by Frank Sinatra in the film “The Naked Runner.”
To dress it up as a blaster, a German World War I era Hensoldt Wetzlar Dialyt 3x rifle scope was added, but this was later changed for “The Empire Strikes Back” to a World War II M19 brass azimuth-finding telescope sight from an M4 Sherman tank.
The original props were previously believed to have been lost, which hence, required a new version built for “The Empire Strikes Back.”
“The growing interest in fine arms as collectibles has led us to achieve record-breaking milestones, including this one,” said Kevin Hogan, President of Rock Island Auction Company. “Knowing how coveted Star Wars collectibles are, we anticipated great interest in the Han Solo blaster, but we couldn’t have imagined we would set a Guinness World Records title with its sale. It’s incredible to be recognized on such a prominent platform, and a testament to the quality we offer our buyers.”
RIAC has been considered an industry leader in collectible firearms and has set other firearms sales records not from a galaxy far far away. In December 2021, the auction house sold Emperor Napoleon’s Garniture of arms and accessories for $2.8 million, while it also sold Ulysses S. Grant’s Revolvers for $5.17 million in June 2022.