The minesweeper USS Quail has the distinction of being the last operational American vessel in the Philippines when Japan began its occupation of the country in May 1942. After being disabled at the strategically important island of Corregidor near the entrance to Manilla Bay, Lt. Commander J.H. Morrill scuttled the ship and gave his crew the choice between surrendering to the Japanese and taking to the open ocean in search of allied territory. Equipped with a 1911 recovered from a dead serviceman and virtually no charts or navigational aids, 17 sailors joined Morrill in one of the Quail's 36-foot launch lifeboats on a 58-day 2,060-mile journey to Australia and safety.
Secretly manufactured by the Guide Lamp Division of General Motors, the Liberator pistol is one of the lesser-known arms of WWII. It was intended for one-time close range use by resistance fighters looking to emancipate an enemy soldier's superior firearm for later use. Around half a million of these .45 caliber “flare projectors” (and comic book-style instruction manual) were produced in 11 weeks for a unit cost of $2.40 - not bad.
United States shooter Trude Schlernitzauer placed third at the 1962 World Shooting Championships in Cairo, Egypt, where, interestingly, women shooters were required to fire .22 pistols in the center-fire handgun stages. In 1969 Schlernitzauer won the Women’s National Pistol Championship at Camp Perry, Ohio, and was presented with this High Standard Model 106 Supermatic Trophy pistol. The gun was donated to the National Firearms Museum in 2007 by her son Dan Schlernitzauer and you can see it today in our Competitive Shooting Gallery at NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia.
Nicknamed the “rocket ball," the Gyrojet pistol fires a 13mm (later 12mm) spin-stabilized projectile that's actually a miniature rocket engine. And this isn't a single shot firearm, either. A semi-automatic, its magazine held six shots. Both pistols and carbine versions were manufactured in limited numbers from 1966 to 1969 in San Ramon, California.
This Colt Third Model Dragoon is covered in gorgeous scrollwork with gold accents and, although it's a second generation run, the serial number picks up right where the original production stopped in 1860.
Not many guns can call Maine their birthplace, but this Evans Carbine is one of about 12,200 that were manufactured in Mechanic Falls from 1873 to 1879. The Evans's unique design featured its hammer on the bottom of the frame and a voluminous magazine — some versions allowed up to 38 rounds — which was loaded through the buttstock.
This Harpers Ferry Model 1816 flintlock musket is one of about 350,000 made up at the national armory at Harpers Ferry (then in Virginia) from 1816 to 1844. This .69 caliber piece weighs in a little less than ten pounds, but maintaining that bright metal finish on the components would have been the regular duty for any soldier in garrison.
NRA Museums' world class firearm collection is on display across three museums throughout the United States. The thousands of incredible firearms on display walk visitors not only through the evolution of firearms technology, but American history as well.
Every day NRA Museums shares one of their great pieces on their Facebook page, but in case you miss them we've compiled this past week's into one handy post.
Learn more about the NRA National Firearms Museum, NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at BassPro, and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest, at www.nramuseums.com.