Some diamonds in the rough – like strange and cool guns – are just waiting for the right forever home to bring out their hidden inner sparkle. Sure, we’ll admit it. A few of the guns on this list might look like they come from the Second Amendment Sanctuary side of the Island of Misfit Toys. But that kind of makes us love them even more. 

These guns will turn heads on the range and offer that mechanical and historical joy that really only comes from old and unique firearms collecting. So, we grabbed five of the most unique in the Vault to give these hidden gems a bit of time in the spotlight. Just one quick note before we roll in – These tend to vanish, and we never really know when/if we’ll see one again.

Franchi SPAS-12

Whether you’re a fan of 80s action flicks or the new video games that brought some of the classic guns from the silver screen back to life, this one should stand out for you. The Franchi SPAS-12 is iconic and was basically a star of its own in everything from “The Terminator” to “Jurassic Park.”

This semi-auto classic can even run as a pump-action shotgun to cycle low-pressure ammo. Originally designed for law enforcement and the military as the Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun, it also saw a short life on the civilian market as the Sporting Purpose Automatic Shotgun until 1994.

The unique hook was designed to allow a shooter to operate the shotgun with one hand, and the now-classic folding stock cut down the length of this not insignificant firearm. Only a relatively small number of these guns made it into the states. As a shotgun that played some of the best starring roles from our youth, these can be hard to find. We’ve only seen a small handful over the years. So, it’s fairly safe to say “I’ll be back” likely doesn’t apply to this SPAS-12.

Franchi LAW-12

With a life in the U.S. that was also cut short in 1994 by the now-expired Federal “Assault Weapons” Ban, the Franchi LAW-12 shares a lot of things in common with the SPAS-12. From the receiver back, the two are largely the same. But Franchi did away with some of the complexities on the front of the shotgun, leaving this a semi-auto-only firearm.

The hope was that this would appeal to a wider audience of LEO and military buyers who weren’t sold on the need to manipulate the front of the shotgun like on a SPAS-12. The result is a simpler system designed to reliably run full-power shells. Still, the two were not designed to be fully interchangeable internally, and the LAW-12 even includes a magazine cut-off. 

This gave users a similar, though more limited, ability to load a different type of ammunition from what was already stuffed inside the tube. The modifications also shaved several pounds of the chunkier SPAS-12. For many users, this made it a more appealing tactical firepower solution.

Husqvarna Model 40

Our next pick is one of the odder ducks on the list. The Husqvarna Model 40 is the kind of pistol that pops up when nations realize they need to get creative to manufacture more firearms. In fact, the Husqvarna name is better associated with Swedish outdoor power equipment. When German-made Walther P38s stopped shipping to Sweden at the start of World War II, the call went out for a new source for handguns.

Related: That Time Husqvarna Made Pistols - The Swedish M40

Don’t let the looks fool you. The profile might look like a classic Luger, but the guts are hardly interchangeable. The two share the same Luger 9x19 cartridge, but the design is actually from Finland. The gun represents not only an interesting period of history but a trend toward more homegrown firearms chambered in a standardized cartridge. While the Luger gets a lot of the glory, the Husqvarna Model 40 stayed in service until the 1980s.

Sterling Mk. 4…Kind Of

Sterling Mark 4
You never really know what kind of firearms will come into the warehouse, like this short side-loading Sterling Mk. 4. (Photo: Samatha Mursan/

If this classic Sterling Mk. 4 caught your eye, the same was true for us. Designed as a replacement for their desperation wartime Stens, the British Sterling submachine gun was originally tested at the end of World War II. This – let’s call in unique – variation has been significantly modified. 

For one thing, the original Sterling was chambered for 9x19. This unique one uses the Russian-designed 7.62x25 Tokarev (More on that in a second). Cartridge aside, this tiny sterling is, well, also exceptionally tiny for a gun that takes a 32-round magazine. As a piece that has a blend of history and oddity to it, the gun would make a great collection item or range toy. Though, we will not guarantee it is a tack driver with such a short barrel.


The original PPS-43 was very much the product of its day. It was the kind of day when the Soviet Army realized it’s well beyond the point where it needs to desperately mass produce as many submachine guns to immediately send to troops fighting the advancing German army, which might actually have been visible from factory windows.

While the old PPS-43 clocked in at around 600 rounds per minute, the modern-production, civilian-safe PPS-43C is only semi auto. It does, however, offer the same 32-round magazines of 7.62x25. This zippy, bottlenecked cartridge provided speed, flat trajectories, and worked great in submachine guns. The PPS-43C also maintains the simple stamped-metal design of the original, though the folding stock is non-functional unless you want to do ATF paperwork. 

As a historical design, the gun is both simple and elegant for its purpose. You can feel that history when you hold the modern variants. That’s one of the reasons it caught our eye when it rolled into the warehouse. Frankly, if you are looking for something that is historical and fun to shoot at the range, the PPS-43C is hard to beat.  

revolver barrel loading graphic