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Friday, February 10, 2017

The Rifle from "The Battle of Saipan"

Lot 516: Japanese Type 99 Bolt Action Rifle with Inscribed Presentation Plaque

"If this gun could talk," is the frequent lament of those of us who have collected an old gun or two. The mind races at the historical prospects and wonders about the tired hands that once bore these fascinating machines. What was their name? Were their hands soiled with honest labor or with the blood of innocent men? What places did they see? Such questions especially plague the collectors of military surplus ("milsurp") firearms. Whether long arms or handguns, these weapons of nations from around the world are more likely to have seen the cruelest of all settings: war.

Numerous milsurp arms appear in any given auction at Rock Island Auction Company, but it is a rare one indeed that is accompanied by its own verifiable history. One such gun appears in our 2017 February Regional Auction, and it was involved in one of the most strategically important battles in World War II's Pacific Theater: The Battle of Saipan.

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