If Jacob ever needed a weapon to battle the vampire Edward in “Twilight,” he’d have to break into the National Firearms Museum, where the Native American werewolf would find the “Vampire Hunter’s Colt.”
Encased in a small ebony coffin, the silver-plated, snub-nosed revolver is covered with etchings of bats and is housed with a vial of holy water, a wooden stake and silver bullets shaped like tiny vampire skulls.
The Vampire Hunter’s Colt is just one of many hidden gems among the 2,700 firearms preserved by the museum located in the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.
A tour through the museum begins with the Robert E. Petersen Gallery, which “has been called the finest single room of firearms anywhere,” said Jim Supica, director of the National Rifle Association’s museums.
Engraved Italian shotguns, American rifles and German handguns gleam inside glass cases, the craftwork of gunmakers such as Browning, Holland & Holland, Rizzini and Fabbri.
The gallery also houses firearms of famous owners, such as Princess Diana’s shotgun, which she received as a wedding gift. This Westley Richards side-by-side shotgun is engraved with gold roses, the British royal seal, a crown, and July 29, 1981, the wedding date.
Other novelties include the New Frontier Colt crafted as a gift for President John F. Kennedy, and Annie Oakley’s F. Hambrush shotgun and her Stevens pistol.
The Petersen Gallery fascinates gun connoisseurs and novices, Mr. Supica said.
“Hammer and steel on metal is a very unforgiving medium, and the artistry that it takes to create these is obvious to anyone who takes a moment to look at them,” Mr. Supica said ...