If you have five years to spare, you could emulate the gunsmith who built this custom set of four pistols - two flintlock and two percussion. William Diefenderfer handbuilt this pistol quartet from 1958 to 1963, crafting components from stainless steel alloys where possible. The casing contains a supply of spare parts as well as all the necessary loading and cleaning accessories.
The Quackenbush No. 5 is a piece that could serve as an air rifle, but can also shoot .22 rimfire ammunition thanks to a removable firing pin that was usually stored in the stock’s handy patchbox.
Quackenbush’s air rifle manufacturing began in 1876 in Herkimer, NY, and lasted until 1943, but the last fourteen years were said to be devoted to the assembly of existing parts on-hand. The grandfather of a NRA Museums staff member considered his trusty Quackenbush, loaded with steel darts, to be the match of any trespassing squirrel venturing into the family farmyard!
During the Cold War, an ice rink technician in Czechoslovakia by the name of Karel Michalek dreamed of having his own handgun. But that dream could not easily be fulfilled as the Soviets severely regulated guns and ammunition. His only exposure to modern firearms came from observing local law enforcement and military arms as even gun magazines from the West were banned by the Iron Curtain.
Not letting any of that stop him, however, Michalek decided to make his own gun with the abundance of wood and epoxy compounds at his job. The result was a revolver completely unlike any you'd find on the shelves of an American gunshop. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the wonders of diplomatic channels saw Michalek’s ambitions creation, called the Cameleon and chambered in .44 Magnum, reach the NRA National Firearms Museum collection.
Chambered for the powerful 10mm cartridge once only offered by Norma, the Bren Ten pistol came onto the market in 1983 with a problem - no magazines. Enthusiasts joked in the '80s that Don Johnson's Bren Ten pistol on the TV show Miami Vice was the only one that came with spare magazines.
From the 1980s, the diminutive .45 ACP Semmerling handgun is unique in that almost all were manual repeaters fitted with five shot magazines - the slide is pushed forward after firing to eject the spent case and pulled back to chamber another cartridge. Only one Semmerling model, the larger XLM, was designed to function semi-automatically. The original concept for this ultra-small lightweight handgun was for special military applications and some Semmerlings were fitted with threaded barrels for suppressors. %MCEPASTEBIN%
The year is 1965 and, by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson, American combat units are deploying to Eastern Asia to serve in what would become known as the Vietnam War. The tropical environment with high temperatures and equally high humidity played havoc with traditional gun finishes, which led to Smith & Wesson's innovative stainless steel Model 60 seeing demand skyrocket. Known as the Chief’s Special, the .38 revolver gave those seeking a compact, rust resistant handgun exactly what they wanted. One of the NRA Museums staff still owns a four digit R-prefixed M60 made in 1969, one of the five-shot Smith & Wessons that came back from the Far East, after a sweltering tour in the Orient.
Edward Judson, better known as famous dime novelist Ned Buntline, is said to have ordered five 16-inch barreled Colts to frontier lawmen Wyatt Earp, Neal Brown, Charley Bassett, Bat Masterson, and Bill Tilghman at Dodge City in 1876 to thank them for their contributions to his novels.
The guns came to be known as Buntline Specials and while there is no trace of the special order in Colt's factory records, their popularity saw the manufacturer later producing models commercially.
It's Friday! Let's kick back, relax a little, a look at some cool guns. And we can't think of a better source of cool guns than the NRA Museums collection. Made up of thousands of one-of-a-kind firearms, it's arguably the finest collection of firearms in the world.
Want to admire them in person? The collection is on display to the public and spread out across three locations: the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia; the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri; and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest in Raton, New Mexico.
Of course, if you can't spare a trip to one of the museums, you can always see many of them online at www.nramuseums.comor right here. We're always highlighting interesting pieces from the collection on NRABlog and round them all up each week in one handy blog post. So stop reading this, scroll back up, and start clicking through this week's gallery of incredible guns.