The upper limits of fine firearms value has been redefined with the John Rigby & Co. and SCI’s collaborative effort for the second in the World Heritage Rifle series. Built by Rigby as a tribute to Jim Corbett’s legendary rifle, the Asian rifle sold at auction on the final night of the 2016 SCI Convention for $250,000, making it the highest price paid for a bolt-action rifle at any SCI Auction.
John Rigby & Co. Managing Director Marc Newton describes the rifle as “the best Rigby .275 bolt rifle ever made” and has chronicled the painstaking detail and craftsmanship that went into the building of the rifle each step of the way.
Inspired by world-renowned hunter, writer and conservationist Jim Corbett, the rifle is an homage to the original Rigby bolt rifle awarded to Corbett for dispatching the man eater of Champawat. Corbett went on to use that rifle to dispatch many more man-eaters in the following years. That rifle has come full circle and is now in Rigby’s permanent collection, and made its U.S. debut at the 2016 SCI Convention in Las Vegas.
The rifle was on display (under armed guard) on the show floor prior to the auction at the Saturday night finale. Anticipation in the ballroom was high as the World Heritage Asia rifle and its inspiration took the stage. Early bidding was strong, with bids increasing in $5,000 and $10,000 increments, quickly surpassing the $100,000 mark and surging to $200,000. The crowd seemed to sense that something exceptional was about to happen and the excitement reached a fever pitch as the auctioneer kept the serious bidders in the game. When the last bidder blinked, one very happy winner came away with the rifle, a custom credenza to display it in courtesy of master cabinet makers Julian & Sons and an original oil painting depicting the “Last moments of the Champawat man-eater” by artist David Southgate.
Proceeds from the sale of the rifle will help fund the SCI mission programs, and in addition, Rigby purchased the oil painting and the artist is donating the purchase price of the painting to Jim Corbett National Park in India.
“This incredible generosity from Rigby and SCI members shows that SCI is the leading organization when it comes to raising the funds needed to protect hunting and being first for hunters”, said SCI President Larry Higgins. “SCI members put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to raising money for to “protect hunting and the rights of all hunters” he added.
SCI has a storied history of creating special rifle series and raising the bar for the prices they command. In 1982 The Big Five Rifle Series was the first of the specialty series, featuring a rifle commemorating one of the African Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, Cape buffalo and leopard) each year for five years. When the hammer fell on the first rifle of that series, the bolt-action Elephant in .458 Winchester Magnum built by David Miller Co. of Tucson had set a new record at $41,000. Each rifle in that series set a new record each year, ending with the sale of the fifth rifle in the series honoring the leopard. The final price on that rifle, also created by David Miller Co., was an astounding $201,000.
The current specialty series of rifles seems to be on a similar track. The first rifle recognized Africa and was built by John Bolliger’s Mountain Riflery. It sold in 2015 for $140,000. The Rigby Corbett rifle recognizes hunting in Asia. The 2017 entry will recognize hunting in Europe and will be built by New England Custom Gun, 2018 will recognize Oceania built by Ryan Breeding and finally 2019 will recognize hunting in the Americas and will once again be built by John Bolliger.