Frank Wesson made this .44 caliber No. 2 Mid-Range sidehammer rifle circa 1879 after returning East from a failed attempt to strike it rich in the California Gold Rush. Fitted with a vernier tang sight, this fine target rifle was quite the contender in long range shooting at Creedmoor Range.
Wesson made less than a hundred of these along with tip-up pistols and rifles in Worcester, Massachusetts, next door to his nephew, Gilbert Harrington, who was churning out thousands of small revolvers as part of the Harrington & Richardson company. By 1897, Harrington's company was making more than 200,000 handguns annually.
William W. Marston produced about 1,500 .22 caliber derringers in New York City between 1858 and 1864. His design included two unusual features: a selector switch to choose which barrel to fire and a sliding knife that mounted on the side of the barrels. Our example above is missing the blade, but our selector still functions and is currently set up for barrel #2.
The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, MO features a visual timeline of the evolution of American sporting rifles. This European jaeger rifle is the father of the longer Kentucky rifle. Our example here musters a .50 caliber bore, a sliding patchbox cover, and has an adjustable set trigger.
The NRA National Firearms Museum recently hosted the Remington Society of America's 2015 Historical Seminar and this near-mint Model 1980 revolver with hard rubber grip panels was one of the attendees' favorite pieces. Chambered in .44-40. just over 2,000 were made in Ilion, NY from 1891 to 1896.
This Colt Bisley Target sixgun is a very rare piece. Just how rare? A total of 976 Bisley Target revolvers, known for their distinctive flat-top profile, were manufactured. But this piece is marked for the .44-40 cartridge of which only 78 guns were produced. The ivory grip panels don’t hurt this one’s collector interest either. Instead of the usual groove down the top of the receiver, the Bisley Target guns had a windage-adjustable rear sight and a removable front sight insert that could be swapped for elevation changes.
This Smith & Wesson Model No. 1 First Issue was one of the first revolvers to shoot metallic cartridges and sported a cylinder that held seven .22 short rounds. This particular Model No. 1 is engraved, “Mad Harry / Fairfax Court House / July 15th 1861” on one side and “Lt. Col. HD Townsend / 1st Cavalry” on the other. Lt. Col. Townsend served in the 1st Connecticut Cavalry and received this revolver 153 years ago this summer just before the First Battle of Bull Run. As for the “Mad Harry” nickname? That remains a mystery.
NRA Museums possesses one of the finest collections of firearms in the entire world and displays it at three incredible museums: the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia; NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri; and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest in Raton, New Mexico.
Each day, the NRA Museums Facebook page shares one of their collection's beautiful and historic pieces as a small taste of what you can see in person at one of their museums. In case you've missed them or just want to look again, here's a recap of this past week's guns.