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8 Guns of the American West


In celebrating National Day of the Cowboy, observed annually on the fourth Saturday of July, the NRA Museums shares the stories of eight firearms that left an indelible footprint on the history of the United States, as these guns were used by pioneers as they pressed forward into unsettled territories and established their lives deep into the west.

From compact carbines to six-shooters, and lever-actions to shotguns, these firearms represent a significant period of evolution and innovation in American gun manufacturing and design, as the harsh environments and gritty lifestyles of the untamed American west demanded performance and durability from gunmakers. Cowboys, soldiers, deliverymen, lawmen, outlaws and civilian settlers alike saddled up and bore these arms for self-defense, hunting for food or in the line of duty, continuing the tradition of a well-armed American society with a deep appreciation for and identity rooted in the right to keep and bear arms.


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