Selecting a "best of" in the world of firearms is a challenge. That selection becomes even more difficult when trying to determine the best engraved firearms at the NRA National Firearms Museum -- it really opens the barn door wide.
Yet, there is a light at the end of the tunnel -- we’ve carefully selected a dozen of the best engraved firearms in the Robert E. Petersen Gallery to represent the finest in embellishment. For many visitors, the Petersen Gallery is the crowning glory of the National Firearms Museum. Whenever we need to temporarily close or restrict access to the gallery, you can hear the groans of disappointment all the way down in the NRA Range.
In no particular order, we present twelve of the best engraved arms in our museum collection:
This Italian masterpiece is an incredible ode to artist Pablo Picasso, including his Guernica, rendered in a transitive 3-D format from the original mural. The bulino engraving allows the finest details to be delineated on the lockplates.
Side-by-sides aren’t always smoothbores. In .470 Nitro Express, this Beretta double rifle features appropriate African big game scenes rendered in bulino engraving. The millions of small cuts into the metal allow potential shading by angle and depth.
Considered by Holland & Holland as their “best gun,” this 28 gauge side-by-side presents classical mythology motifs accented in gold, silver and platinum over an incredible translucent blued foundation.
Made for Winchester president John Olin, this elaborate Model 21 in 12 gauge features Olin’s famed canine, King Buck, a black Labrador who was carefully rendered in a gold inlay on the base of the receiver.
A treasure once owned by Horace Greeley IV, this .45 Colt presents a fall motif from Francolini with pumpkins rendered in gold inlay. This revolver was a gift from Greeley to his wife, who he would affectionately call “Pumpkin.”
One of the three finest grade “Invincible” shotguns to ever be manufactured by the Parker company, this 12 gauge Invincible is part of our trio of smoothbores (two 12 gauge and one 16 gauge) immediately visible as visitors pass the museum entrance. The impressible full coverage engraving, with gold inlay work, helped garner these three guns industry acclaim as the best American made shotgun set ever produced.
One of the most popular pieces in the Petersen Gallery is this Francolini-engraved Colt Detective Special with its gothic motifs and silver finishing. A number of special details pertinent to Nosferatu are present on this double-action .38 Special revolver.
Sometimes our treasures are enjoyed at other venues. Once showcased at the Petersen Gallery here in Virginia, currently this .700 Nitro Express is on exhibit at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri. The deep relief engraving would stand out no matter where it was shown.
This 6.5mm rifle’s Torcoli engraving, blends animals and women in a characteristic and tasteful rendering. The Petersen Gallery features several Torcoli-engraved arms that incorporate his transformational style.