By Danielle Sturgis | February 4 2010 10:05

The staff of the NRA National Firearms Museum would love to spend Valentine's Day with you – and a few thousand of northern Virginia's other gun nuts, of course. The Nation's Gun Show kicks off on Friday, February 12 and lasts through the weekend. As usual, if you join NRA or renew your membership at the door, you enter the show free of charge!

The Museum will be represented by Senior Curator Doug Wicklund, who will have several Rugers on display. Thanks to Wicklund for the following:

The Beginning of the Ruger Legend

Responsible for manufacturing millions of rifles, pistols, revolvers, and shotguns; William B. Ruger's American arms empire began with just one gun.In 1942, as the United States began to gear up its industrial might for the Second World War, a young Bill Ruger knocked on the door of Springfield Armory in Massachusetts. In one hand, he held a modified rifle that he hoped would show his engineering skills, perhaps enough to land a position with the work force.

The rifle had been a Savage Model 99 lever-action rifle, chambered for the .250-3000 cartridge, but Bill Ruger had made some changes. Instead of remaining a manually operated lever-action, the rifle was converted to semi-automatic operation. The conversion utilized the original receiver and barrel assemblies, and the few modified components were easily installed. Ruger noted that the review committee felt the rifle design was the best portfolio he could have brought, although he personally felt the design lacked elegance. Ruger was immediately hired as an arms designer for the US Army, a job that transformed the young engineer. In the postwar years, this experience gave Ruger the foundation to design an innovative line of handguns, and later rifles that launched one of the largest American arms corporations today.

The NRA's National Firearms Museum, in recognition of Bill Ruger's beginnings, will be bringing this prototype rifle and other associated arms to the Nation's Gunshow at Chantilly, VA on February 12, 13 , and 14, 2010. Other notable arms, including the one millionth Savage 1899 rifle, a special presentation to NRA, as well as other Ruger arms that directly derived from his original prototype autoloading design will be featured.

The National Firearms Museum is open daily at no charge. For more information on the museum's educational programs, email or call (703) 267-1600.

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