In Fairfax, VA, tucked away among other unassuming office buildings is the NRA’s headquarters. A twin-towered office building, it doesn’t look like what you’d expect the site of one of the most important collections of small arms in the world to look like. While traveling back home for the holidays, though, I made it a point to head over to the National Firearms Museum there and spend several hours looking at their collection, which is truly impressive. Before we move on, I must admit I am a decided novice at photography. For the NFM this is not so great a vice, since in my opinion one can only really appreciate their collection in person, (and the lighting of many displays, while great for display, was not well-suited to general photography), and because the NRA has high-resolution photos of the Petersen Collection available on their website.
Entering the museum, you are greeted with a veritable horde of priceless custom rifles and shotguns:
Moving to the right, one could see a case of fine pistols and revolvers, a Holland and Holland exhibit, and a very cozy looking fireplace adorned by two engraved proboscidean tusks (which were certainly large enough to possibly be mammoth tusks, though they were most likely African elephant judging by the shape):
Turning around and moving leftward from where you entered, one is greeted by a donation box made from the case of an 8″ artillery round. A closer look at the description reveals this is not just any 8″ case:
USMC 8″ Auto Cannon Round
This artillery round was developed by the United States Marine Corps in the late 1960s as ammunition for an automatic cannon. After a few test rounds were fired, the breech of the fieldpiece became so hot that other rounds in the magazine “cooked off” or exploded prematurely. A few shell casings, such as this one, survived. The projectile head is adapted from the original pattern.
So it is with a bang that I end Part I. Next Sunday, check back with us for Part II of the tour, where we explore early firearms, and take a pilgrimage to see artifacts from the life of Teddy Roosevelt!
Author’s Note: I am not affiliated with the NRA in any way. In no way is this article to be taken as a promotion of the NRA in any capacity except to encourage visitation of their excellent museum collections.