The Mauser C96 is a semi-automatic pistol, one of the first to be widely used by militaries, that was introduced in 1896. Although over 1,000,000 examples were produced, including unlicensed copies, the vintage firearm can sell for thousands of dollars depending on its condition. A non-functioning, modified C96 sold for over a record-setting $1,000,000 in 2022. Of course, it was used by Han Solo in a galaxy far, far away.
On August 27, 2022, the only surviving DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol prop used by Harrison Ford in the filming and production of the original 1977 Star Wars, now known as Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, went up for auction. Rock Island Auction Company expected the historic prop to sell for between $300,000-$500,000; the hammer price was $1,057,000. It is the largest known sum of money paid for a movie prop gun.
2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had a budget of $415,000,000. In contrast, A New Hope had a budget of just $11,000,000, or about $56,000,000 adjusted for inflation. To save money, the production crew employed prop house Bapty & Co to modify surplus firearms and make them look sci-fi for Star Wars. The Stormtrooper E-11 Blaster Rifle and DLT-19 Heavy Blaster Rifle were modified from the British Sterling Mark 4 L2A3 submachine gun and German MG 34 machine gun, respectively. Han Solo’s iconic DL-44 was built on a C96 with a cut-down barrel, the addition of a flash hider from an MG 81 machine gun, and a mounted Hensoldt-Wetzlar Ziel Dialyt 3x sniper scope.
To save more money on production, the Star Wars crew returned the prop guns to Bapty & Co after filming wrapped. The prop house did what they always do and stripped the props down to their basic components and reused them for future films. Three DL-44s were made for A New Hope, but none survived intact. However, between 2010 and 2018, individual components were found at the prop house to put together one DL-44. Lead armorer and master prop maker Carl Schmidt even came out of retirement to assemble them.
Today, the iconic blaster (which Han definitely shot first), is owned by Palmetto State Armory’s Freedom Museum Collection. Alongside the DL-44, PSA’s collection includes battlefield pickup guns from the Vietnam War, many of which are accompanied by documentation that permitted their importation into the U.S. by troops. The museum will be located at PSA’s retail location in Myrtle Beach, SC.