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Saddam Hussein showing off his Ruger (courtesy‘s IT VP Dan Thorngren sent us a heads-up: Saddam Hussein’s Ruger M77 Bolt Action Mannlicher Rifle is up for grabs. The rifle is notorious as the firearm the dictator fired into the air at various public events just to prove a point. (Something about my secret service will peel your skin like an orange.) I’m waiting for one of Hussein’s golden guns to come on the market. Anyway, the long gun’s provenance is even more intriguing, as Thorngren’s description [almost] reveals, along with some info on another Iraqi ballistic bauble . . .

When one hears of guns associated with famous dictators or regimes our mind instantly conjures images of Nazi Walthers and Lugers or perhaps early production, battle-hardened AK-47s. However, not all such firearms-equipped heads of state are so far back in history. Today we’ll take a look at two guns that earned their notoriety and provenance out of the Gulf War. Firearms that journeyed from the collections of the corrupt to the home of a CIA agent with 29 years of clandestine service.

Documented Historic/Notorious One-of-A-Kind Saddam Hussein’s Personal Ruger M77 Bolt Action Mannlicher Rifle as Shown on Numerous Newsreels with Affidavit

The rifle above in and of itself doesn’t stand out especially. It’s your run of the mill Ruger M77 with standard features and markings in .243 caliber, with a Mannlicher stock. The only clue to its dark history lies in the Arabic engravings on the top of the barrel.

Detail: Saddam Hussein's rifle (courtesy

The engravings list the date of the rifle’s presentation and the name of one of the Middle East’s most brutal dictators, Saddam Hussein. Ruger won’t disclose who initially bought the rifle, but it ended-up in the Presidential Palace in Mosul, also known as the “Palace of Swords.” It was “confiscated” by a group of Sufi Islamic militia members.

The Presidential Palace was a 2.2 square kilometer site. During the run-up to the Gulf War, U.N. inspectors were denied access to the building. The Mosul site was a campus containing several palaces and VIP residences and guesthouses. It boasted date palms and other fruit trees, a palace for Saddam himself, three man-made lakes (including waterfalls) and, of course, hardened underground bunkers.

Saddam Hussein's rifle (courtesy

When Iraq fell, Sufi soldiers recovered the rifle. They transferred the rifle to a CIA officer in March of 2004. It was eventually transported to CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Our consignor received the Ruger as an honorarium for his 29 years of Clandestine Service for the CIA. The rifle comes with a league of documents and affidavits detailing its history, journey, and de-acquisition from the CIA.

Lot #1469: Historic Documented Browning High Power Presentation Pistol Belonging to Iraqi General Hussein Kamal and Engraved by Ken Hurst with Provenance

Hussein Kamal's Browning Hi-Power (courtesy

The Browning High-Power above was procured in the same way that Saddam’s rifle (a CIA honorarium). In 1981, the Browning High Power was sold to a representative of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia. He immediately shipped it to Master Engraver Ken Hurst; a man with over 50 years of experience. Hurst has worked as a Master Engraver for Colt and Winchester and engraved guns for Ruger, Thompson Center, Walther, and Harrington & Richardson. Hurst engraved the piece, including the name on the backstrap, signed it, and sent the pistol on its way.


Detail: Hussein Kamal's Browning Hi-Power (courtesy

The resulting surface is 98 percent covered with a floral pattern and punch-dot background. The Saudi Royal Family presented the finished piece  to Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid. Kamel was the Minister of Industry and Minerals and former Director of Iraq’s Military Industrialization Corporation (had full responsibility of all of Iraq’s weapons programs). He defected from Iraq in 1995. Jordan granted him asylum. Kamel shared important intelligence to UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission). Nervous at what Kamel might be telling the UNSCOM, Iraq began revising previous admissions (in one instance even turning in vast amounts of documentation that had been hidden on a chicken farm).

Saddam Hussein’s men somehow convinced Kamel, his brother, and their spouses (who had all defected) to return to Iraq. Immediately, they were divorced by their wives (or there wives were forced to divorce them). They were charged with treason. Three days after they returned, the two men refused to surrender themselves. They were shot and killed after a 13-hour gunfight at a [supposedly] safe house.

Hussein Kamal's Browning Hi-Power (courtesy

Some sources say that Saddam’s Security Forces were the ones who killed the two, while others say that it was other cousins of the family who were trying to win back their clan’s honor for Saddam. In any case, the pistol remained in Iraq where it was recovered by Iraqi insurgents after the fall of the Iraqi Government. It was eventually acquired by the CIA and sent to CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA.

Despite all the travel, warfare, overthrown governments, and treason, the gun’s condition remains all but perfect.  It comes from a lesser-known name in that conflict, but is from someone who played a fascinating part in its history on top of being wonderfully embellished.

For more weapons with historical provenance take a look through RIAC’s Online Catalog. It features guns attributed to Adolf Hitler, Butch Cassidy, Emmett Dalton, Herman Göring, Nikita Khrushchev, Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., American soldiers, Western pioneers, Nazi officers, and more. There are so many historic items in this auction we created a special catalog category. Or you can search for your own favorite genre. It’s all at

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  1. So our military boys can’t bring home “war trophies”, but the CIA or other “covert” government agencies CAN and then sell them? Quite a racket they got going on there.
    How can I get me some of that??

    • And then pass the booty out to misc. swivel chair commandos. As I recall all gifts from furniners become the property of Uncle Sam.

      • The cops steal drugs and money. The soldiers get shot at- no donuts for soldiers. No car to sit on their asses in either.

    • I could bring guns back from the sand box. I just had to go through so much paperwork and red tape that it made it pretty much impossible. At the same time what’s the point in bringing back a gun if it has to be deactivated in order to bring it back? I understand in the wall art non-sense, but its still a gun, and a gun is meant to be shot.

    • Pretty freaking disgusting. Seems to me that is public property being fraud/waste/abused. Should be in a museum or have the proceeds go to funding protecting public hunting grounds.

    • Blame California leaders:
      Quote of the day by Dianne Feinstein

      Dianne Feinstein: “All vets are mentally ill and government should prevent them from owning firearms” Yep, – she really said it on Thursday in a meeting in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. .
      and the quote below from the LA Times is priceless. Sometimes even the L.A. Times gets it right.

      Kurt Nimmo: “Senator Feinstein insults all U.S. Veterans as she flays about in a vain attempt to save her bill.”

      Quote of the Day from the Los Angeles Times:

      “Frankly, I don’t know what it is about California, but we seem to have a strange urge to elect really obnoxious women to high office. I’m not bragging, you understand, but no other state, including Maine, even comes close. When it comes to sending left-wing dingbats to Washington, we’re Number One. There’s no getting around the fact that the last time anyone saw the likes of Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Maxine Waters, and Nancy Pelosi, they were stirring a cauldron when the curtain went up on ‘Macbeth’.

      The four of them are like jackasses who happen to possess the gift of blab. You don’t know if you should condemn them for their stupidity or simply marvel at their ability to form words.”

      — Columnist Burt Prelutsky,
      Los Angeles Times

  2. The Browning doesn’t interest me all that much, but I’d like to have the rifle. I’ll be interested to see what multiple of my annual income it eventually sells for.

    Can someone familiar with engraving help me out with something? I ask this question fully realizing I’ll never be able to turn out something that good, but I don’t understand why often gun engraving, even that done by the “masters,” sometimes looks almost childish. On one hand I understand that it’s not an easy craft to master, and that there’s really no do-overs if you mess up with an engraver, but on the other hand, it’s simple things like straight lines make me go, “Huh?”

    There’s a much higher resolution photo of the Browning here. The lines of the “box” drawn around the “Made in Belgium by Fabrique Nationale Herstal” are wavy and crooked, and that just ruins the whole thing for me. As I said, I realize there’s no do-over or eraser, and straight lines might actually be harder to draw than curves, but I would think that someone who’s been doing this for “over 50 years” would have figured out how to draw a straight line at this point. Am I wrong in thinking that? I don’t know anything about engraving, really, so if I’m wrong, please educate me.

    • By tradition, such boxes are made to stylistically resemble ribbons or banners. You’ll notice that the curves of the upper and lower lines match.

      Further, this is hammer and chisel stuff; no geometric tools are permitted.

      It could be done “perfectly” with jigs and a Foredom or by CNC, but “perfection” isn’t the point.

      • EDIT: By hammer and chisel, I mean freehand — motorized tools are occasionally used as well.

        By the way, the curves of the “banner box” had to be subtle because the artist was constrained by the rectilinear nature of the print. Had it been less subtle, you’d likely not have missed it.

    • Matt, I’m no engraver either but the answer is that a straight line over a curved surface is not only technically difficult, it requires a compromise. If you literally inscribe a straight line (like with a pencil and ruler) on a convex surface (like the backstrap of that Browning) you’d end up with something actually bows in and out along it’s length. On the other hand if you have the skill you can free hand an actual straight line (relative to the convex surface) but it will look like it gets narrower and wider even though it actually doesn’t. The third way is to attempt to craft something that looks like a straight line but isn’t, meaning it will change appearance depending on it’s aspect. Held in the hand and examined it will look great, photographed from anything but an optimal angle and thus allowing examination from only one POV it will look like it was a kid drawing with crayons.

    • The real mystery to me is why a pistol given by a Saudi to an Iraqi would have the man’s name written in English. Seems like you’d want to have his name written in his native language, not cursive English that looks like a third grader’s practice homework.

      • <sarc>
        Well, that way foreign customs would believe it ws his.

        English is the new “lingua Franca…”

    • Absolute hypocrisy that these civilians get their little trophies when the lowly soldiers are prohibited. Then to sell it at auction? It really is all about money, ain’t it?

      My father was in the Navy during Vietnam, MACVSOG, first mate on a river assault boat. He went on one mission with a CIA dude and a bunch of ARVN special forces. Let’s just say he didn’t like what they did and he decided to abandon his Navy career that night. The CIA is despicable.

  3. I am still waiting for the WMDs to show up. Oh wait, the previous administration lied to us about that, spied on us, his IRS administration went after liberal non-profits, we were attacked on American soil, and among other things that got good Americans killed. Hell, it took almost a decade to get Osama and it wasn’t even under his administration. But that was okay. He is white.

    • The WMD’s showed up this week just outside of Damascus. They were the ones that four different Iraqi Generals said were transfered to Syria just before the war.

    • Read Chris Kyle’s book, “American Sniper,” or talk to just about any real special operators who were active in theater during the war, and you’ll find out. They had been there, and certainly many raw materials purposed for making them…

  4. Where can one find this auction? Not that I would even be able to come close to affording it but I want to watch the insanity.

  5. How much for Joe Biden’s double-barreled door blaster? Did the NSA seize it, or was it confiscated by local police on the advice of Biden’s psychiatrist?

    • Nah. O sent it out to the engraver as a birthday present to Joe for virtually guaranteeing O’s life. It’s Spiro Agnew all over again. Pick the right VP and you don’t even need the SS protection. “A heartbeat away….”

      • That’s about all the little dude could handle. I was at a golf club where he happened to be when I was a teenager and I actually took a leak in the urinal next to him. I was like 14 years old and already a couple inches taller than Double Barrel Joe. He sneered at me.

  6. I served after the 68 GCA. It was possible to bring back guns as trophies. You had to process them thru the provost marshals office and you wound up with a ream of paper work that nearly outweighed the gun. Because of the gca wo could no longer bring full autos back or explosives like grenades.

    At that time I didn’t know much about commie guns and I saw a lot of Mosins and SKSs. I had a Tokarev TT-33 which I was not legally old enough to buy at a dealer in the states had I found one there.

    • And yours was without the afterthought trigger safety.

      I sure wish they’d sell unadulterated Toks, just like they do Glocks.

      • Yep, the only safe way to carry that gun was with the hammer down on an empty chamber. The ammo was the problem. I had what commie ammo came with the gun and after that I was on my own. I did find out that the 7.63 Mauser round would work in the Tok. But that stuff was almost as scarce and 3-4 times as pricey as .38 special.

        • Yeah… different times.

          I remember that Toyotas and radios both were made in Japan, rather than the U.S. and China respectively.

  7. Folks, I’m a Veteran, and instead of doing a “bring back” with all the associated, impossible, paperwork, just waited, and bought Mosin Nagant M91s and 91/30 bolt action rifles for $100 to $179, back here at home!

    One thing I know, is that many of the 82.5 million Mosin Nagant rifles, built from 1891 through 1996, in 20+ factories in 14 nations, starting with France, and then the USA (almost 4 million!), issued to American troops here, and, to 30,000 Americans, in Northern Russia (1918), and used in war, atrocities, by all sides up through 2013 in Afghanistan,
    have a genuine history of bloody conflict! YouTube shows Syrians using them as sniper rifles!

    Some, on my walls, were possibly there, at Stalingrad, in Berlin, and, who knows where else?! Each of us can have some history, though we might not know the exact details! the 7.62X54r 148 grain bullet has ballistics similar to a .308, while the 182 grain bullet is very like the .30-06!

    I love “reaching out” to 1200 meters, with these fine firearms!

    All are great for Wild Hog, Deer, Moose, Elk, Bear and more! Inupiaq native Agnes
    Hailstone shoots Seals, Wolves, Caribou, with a 91/30 PU, in Life Below Zero on Nat. Geo.!
    Plus, I teach my friends and family about world history, through these fine rifles!

    Also, our “house rule” is that home invaders will be found with TWO holes, one from the bullet, and one from the 18 inch Cruciform Bayonet! Just as I learned during my career in the military!

    MilSurp ammo is still available for them!


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