Smart, daring, and certainly handsome, the military weapons expert on Pawn Stars is none other than Craig Gottlieb. The firearms enthusiast and self-proclaimed History Hunter first appeared on the History TV show in 2012 and has since been a regular guest, appearing in more than 20 episodes.
Read on for all the deets about Craig Gottlieb, including his childhood, military career and his beloved antique Glock.
Craig Considers Himself A Gastronomical Jew
They say religion is a personal thing, and this couldn’t be truer for the Pawn Stars military weapons expert. Craig and his siblings are aware of their Jewish heritage, but they aren’t too deep in the culture or religion.
True to his great sense of humor, Gottlieb considers himself a gastronomical Jew—he’s really into the food, the celebrations and all, but that’s just about it when it comes to his ‘native’ religion.
Craig was born to immigrant parents who came to the USA from Russia at the start of the 20th century. His father fought in World War II, and his mother, a Protestant, converted to Judaism after marrying.
Growing up, the United States Marine Corps veteran recalls his parents owning a lever-action rifle for decades, which he used to hunt his first deer. Craig admits, though, that he no longer hunts.
A Cornell honours graduate, Gottlieb served in the military for twelve years from 1993 to 2005, earning the title of Major.
He Is A Seasoned Antique Military Dealer
Aside from showcasing his impressive expertise on History Channel’s Pawn Stars, behind the scenes, Craig is a well-respected buyer and seller of military artifacts and a gun expert.
He owns History Hunter, a popular international military antiques auction and Craig Gottlieb Militaria, a renowned dealership specializing in the buying and selling military antiques and weapons. His businesses are focused on WWII-related collectibles.
Some of his greatest finds include Adolf Hitler’s desk, which the infamous dictator sat on to sign the Munich Pact of 1938. The desk set was initially found in 1945 by WWII veteran Jack McConn.
The self-proclaimed ‘History Hunter’ also bought and sold paintings of Hitler’s parents. Lost since the end of WWII, Gottlieb discovered the paintings in the hands of a family whose relative had retrieved the paintwork from the dictator’s vacation home.
One of Gottlieb’s most famous finds is what is believed to be Josef Mengele’s fake passport, which the former Nazi leader used to escape to Argentina in 1949. The fraudulent Italian passport was in the hands of a family in Buenos Aires.
In 2014, the former Pawn Stars armory expert bought what were probably the most controversial collectibles in his entire career—Hitler’s personal effects, including medals, uniforms, his infamous hat, and a personal copy of Mein Kampf, which he sold for $28,400.
All in all, it is reported that Craig invested millions of dollars in the Hitler paraphernalia, making it one of the costliest groups of military collectibles at the time.
Craig’s Business Has Faced Some Backlash
Gottlieb’s militaria business is not without controversy, though. The gun expert has been criticized for profiting from the holocaust and other ruthless military dictators, including Benito Mussolini, Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, and Saddam Hussein.
But, he feels differently about his dealings.
Speaking with the media, Gottlieb explained, “Artifacts are important in understanding both the good and bad parts of history.”
He added, “Ideally, I would want the (Hitler’s items) group to end up in a museum. But, if I am to be realistic, the collection will end up in the hands of a collector unless a donor comes to the auction and wins the bid.”
Why Did Craig Gottlieb Leave Pawn Stars?
Craig was with Pawn Stars since the History hit reality TV show premiered, making regular guest appearances.
But, as more and more experts joined the show, Gottlieb’s appearances became fewer. This doesn’t mean he left the show for good; you’ll still catch him occasionally appraising and authenticating weapons when an episode calls for it.
To be fair, Craig’s a busy man, and his increasingly few appearances on Pawn Stars could be chalked up to him focusing on his antique businesses, the History Hunter Auction and Craig Gottlieb Militaria.
Aside from his television career as a technical adviser on weapons, Craig is also an accomplished author, having written three books, including the SS Totenkopf Ring: An Illustrated History from Munich to Nuremberg, History’s Jackpot: Investing in Antique Collectibles, and Gau Decoration in Hitler’s Germany. He also regularly contributed to Mandatory, AOL’s lifestyle magazine website.
As a military collectibles dealer, Craig must surely have a favorite weapon.
“My first-generation Glock has been with me for close to 25 years and has been my defense weapon all this time. It is almost an antique,” he told Recoil.
“It might not be the smoothest but nothing beats the Glock as a workhorse,” he quipped.
Good on you, Craig! Keep doing what you are good at.