NRA National Firearms Museum

The NRA National Firearms Museum (website not working at present) is situated in the same building complex as the NRA Headquarters Fairfax, Virginia. The Assistant Curator, Matt Sharpe, was kind enough to give me a personal tour (exclusive tours can be arranged in advance 1 ) . The exhibits start with the development of the first handheld cannons and continue through history to the present. I cannot speak more highly of the museum – it holds an amazing and diverse collection of guns, many of which you will never see anywhere else,

The photos I took are pretty bad, but I hope to do a follow up post with better quality photos taken by professional photographers.

The Mayflower gun. This .66 caliber gun is the pride of the Museum. It was found hidden in the home of John Alden (one of the Pilgrim leaders who came over in the Mayflower)
A handgonne
I have forgotten what this was, but it was beautiful.
The Confederate display.
WWII
This was the personal arm of Police Officer Walter Weaver, who lost his life during rescue operations at Ground Zero. The gun was found in the rubble and returned to his family. They donated the gun to the NRA.
A failed attempt at modernizing the Thompson submachine gun.
“Model 10″. Don’t know this is. It resembles a Ruger 10/22 inside a bullpup stock. That big thing on the front is a flashlight.UPDATE: MP pointed out in the comments that the Model 10 was a failed attempted at a semi-auto police shotgun.
A miniature Luger that actually fires tiny cartridges!
A 4 Bore that belonged to Henry Morton Stanley!

I am pretty sure admission to the Museum is free. If you are without a car, catch the DC Metro (orange line) to Fairfax, VA and then go the remainder of the distance by Taxi (the taxi cost me about $16).

National Firearms Museum
11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030-9400, United States
(703) 267-1600β€Ž

Again, many thanks to Matt for giving me the tour and sharing with me his extensive knowledge of the collection.

Tomorrow I will post photos of the NRA Vault πŸ™‚


  1. According to NRABlog.com, exclusive tours can be arranged by calling (703) 267-1600β€Ž. 



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • mp
  • Hey Steve, glad you enjoyed the museum! The NRA HQ Range is my home range! They have a great staff there too. There is so much stuff in the museum for people to check out, a little of everything for everyone really. I love taking people there especially since I live just a few miles away.

  • War Wolf

    Nice work as usual Steve. The NRA tour and a tip-toe through the vaults would be like a real live wet dream. πŸ™‚

  • Windy Wilson

    That’s Jermantown Road?!?!

  • Beaumont

    I don’t know how “failed” one could call the High Standard Model 10. The gun’s acceptance did suffer from HS’ poor distribution efforts, and the conservatism of PDs, whon were reluctant to purchase such an unusual-looking piece. Also, in that era, many civilian shooters did not feel a need for a specialized defensive shotgun.

    The Model 10 was a favorite of survival writer Mel Tappan. I seem to recall that it also received a favorable mention from Jeff Cooper.

    • Beaumont, well, failed commercially.

    • Daniel, thanks for the links!

  • Matt Sharpe

    Hey Steve! Hope you had fun, feel free to come back any time!

  • It was a pleasure to meet you!

    Admission is ALWAYS free, and we have a ton of books and goodies for sale in our recently redesigned NRA Museum Store.

  • Matt Groom

    That “Modernized” Thompson SMG has a .30 Carbine magazine in it! Was it chambered in .30 Carbine? That would be awesome, but it would also explain why it didn’t work (blowback operated?). This may be one of the fabled .30 carbine prototypes that never worked. The originals had 20 round mags I believe, but the mag definitely looks more modern than the original trials had.

  • Matt Groom

    Also, I believe the “forgotten beauty” is a Snaphaunce type.

  • oh, and your mystery gun is an Indian matchlock, according to Senior Curator Doug Wicklund.

    • Danielle, thanks for the info!

      I missed the store. It was closed before I was finished with the guys.

  • RC

    I have forgotten what this was, but it was beautiful.

    It’s a matchlock, possibly of Turkish or Indian origin. Hard to tell without seeing all of it. Both cultures heavily decorated their guns similarly to the one in the photo.

    • RC, good guess! Indian it is!

  • RC

    After doing a little bit more research, it appears to be an Indian Torador matchlock musket. They made rifles very similar to this up until the beginning of the 19th century.

  • Steve,

    The matchlock in picture # 3 from the top looks really interesting. The gold inlay work and the pattern in particular are what I find interesting – is it Persian or from the Indian Subcontinent? The wood in the picture is not very clear – but it looks like mango wood to me – and that suggests that this might have come from what is now India / Pakistan / Afghanistan. In 1857, after two Indian uprisings against British rule (the first one was in 1806) the British destroyed most old guns in their Indian possessions and brought in the world’s first gun control laws. Though the Indians did begin to make guns post 1858, the pre 1857 guns are among the rarest old guns in the world. My guess is that this matchlock is one of the old treasures – if only it could talk!

    • Mehul, good analysis!

  • michael

    Thank you for sharing. On my next trip to DC, I will definitately be going by here!

  • Lance

    Love the WW2 display. Have to show me more M-1s and STG-44s.

  • Hawk

    I literally live like 10 15 minutes from there but have never been; I passed it on my way to the recruiters office a couple times and was tempted to go in but something always came up, will try to hit it this weekend.

  • Grapevine

    The Firearms Museum site seems to be working for me. Make sure you have flash 10 installed. It’s a great site.

  • Shootin’ Buddy

    The 10B is an old shotgun made popular, as others have stated by Mel Tappan. One of his books, Survival Guns, is still being published today.

    I”n 1857, after two Indian uprisings against British rule (the first one was in 1806) the British destroyed most old guns in their Indian possessions and brought in the world’s first gun control laws.”

    The first gun control laws predate the UK’s involvement in India by a couple of centuries.

    Weapon control laws are even found in the Bible.

  • Hi Steve,

    Great to meet you, and I’m glad you enjoyed the museum.

    FWIW, a beta version of our website “should” be working (emphasis on “should” at http://www.nramusem.org The old URL of http://www.nationalfirearmsmuseum.org should also get you there.

    The website is flash heavy. If folks are having trouble accessing it, I’d greatly appreciate knowing about it, and will get the info to our IT folks to see if they can iron out the kinks. You can email me info on any problems at jsupica [at] nrahq [dot] org.

    Thanks! – Jim Supica, Director, National Firearms Museum

  • Hey Kid, I’m a Computa’

    The “Modernized Thompson” is actually a homemade .30 carbine pistol built by one of the members at homegunsmith.com

    More Info: http://www.homegunsmith.com/cgi-bin/ib3/ikonboard.cgi?s=efb7067cc5de2f5359df3dd277df24d2;act=ST;f=30;t=8309

    • Kid, thanks for the info.

  • Bill S

    The m-10 was en effort by High Standard to produce a police shotgun. They are neat but I can’t tell you if they worked well or not; never used one. HS did hoever make some fine pump shotguns.

  • Ted Kaliszewski

    Hi,
    I am studying currently the history and design of the British WW II Sten gun, Mark II. Do you a have example of it in your collection? If so, is it possible to examine it in the presence, of course, of the curator? I am a bit uncertain if I understand the fire control of that gun, beside the obvious and external features. Can anyone at the museum help me with the matter?
    Your comment will be appreciated.

  • Doug Wicklund/NFM

    This is a response to Ted Kaliszewski. Unfortunately, the Sten SMGs (MK II and MK III) we have represented on loan to the National Firearms Museum collection are dummy gun examples that do not have functional fire control systems. If we can assist further, please feel free to email nfmstaff [at] nrahq [dot] org

    Doug Wicklund
    Senior Curator

  • David

    The PD I worked at for years had 12 of the MP 10’s. I used to keep them clean and cared for. Great shotguns.