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Preview – History Hunter – Craig Gottlieb

Photography courtesy Craig Gottlieb

Craig Gottlieb of Pawn Stars TV Fame Talks Guns, Nazis, and the Second Amendment

Many people might feel uncomfortable holding the passport that likely allowed the notorious “angel of death” Josef Mengele to escape from justice at the end of World War II. Even fewer would feel content in the presence of the desk set once owned by Adolf Hitler and used to sign the 1938 Munich Agreement, which allowed the Nazis to walk into Czechoslovakia unmolested.

For Craig Gottlieb, these are just some of the many thousands of items he’s helped sell. Gottlieb, a retired U.S. Marine, deals in military memorabilia and artifacts from the Third Reich — all the more notable because he is Jewish.

Gottlieb is also a regular on History’s Pawn Stars TV show, where he is the resident firearms and militaria expert. As the self-proclaimed “History Hunter,” Gottlieb strives to preserve the history of the objects he buys and sells. He’s also been a longtime firearms enthusiast, sport shooter, and ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. We recently sat down with Gottlieb to get the inside scoop about his firearms, militaria, and love of the past.

RECOIL: How did your relationship with guns begin?

Craig Gottlieb: We had a lever-action rifle that had been around the house for a couple of decades, and I took my first deer with that rifle. While that is a precious memory, I have to admit that I don’t really hunt anymore.

Do you have a favorite handgun today?

CG: My first-generation Glock. It’s almost an antique! It’s been my go-to personal defense weapon for almost 25 years — it’s celebrating its 25th birthday this year, and has so many thousands of rounds through it, I’ve lost track. The Glock isn’t the smoothest weapon in the world, but as for being a workhorse, the Glock can’t be beat.

What is in your gun safe right now?

CG: The gun safe has been reduced to four basic loads: 9mm, 5.56mm, 12-gauge, and .22. I’ve owned more exotic uppers for my AR, such as .300 Whisper and 5.7mm, but it gets really complicated, and my safe gets packed with so much stuff. I’m just “keeping it simple” from now on.

As for rifles, I have a basic AR-15. I don’t care about name brands, special triggers, exotic grips, etc. I think 99 percent of good shooting is the person pulling the trigger.

What are some of your favorite firearms, historical and modern?

CG: The guns that light me up are those that represent big moves forward in firearms technology. Take for example the Colt Paterson. It was the beginning for Sam Colt, who came up with the idea while observing gears as a cabin boy on a ship bound from Boston to Calcutta. Others say he based the design on the Collier Flintlock. Either way, the gun was innovative as the first commercially produced repeating pistol with a fixed barrel.

For the same reason, I love the StG44, aka the MP44. It was the first ever “assault rifle” — Sturmgewehr 44 is actually German for “Storm Rifle 44” or “assault rifle 44.” Talk about changing history, taking machineguns out of the crew-served category and into the hands of individual soldiers. That was one of the biggest game changers in gun history.

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