Hidden Gem in Fairfax County:

The NRA National Firearms Museum


Located just 21 miles from the Nation’s capital, the NRA’s National Firearms Museum focuses on history, covering seven centuries of firearms technology within its expansive galleries. Beginning with the first uses of gunpowder and following the evolution of arms, our modern museum takes visitors through major conflicts in American history, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam and beyond. It will be a visit your family will never forget! More than 3,000 great guns are on hand, in well-illuminated cases carefully labeled to provide the best interpretative experience.

Step up next to a recreated Jamestown palisade and watch as a colonist readies to fire a crude matchlock musket at an approaching black bear. Assembled together in one location are the wheel locks, miquelets, snaphaunces, and flintlocks that were used by the Pilgrims and saw service at engagements like Saratoga, King’s Mountain, and Bunker Hill. These are the actual guns that forged the beginnings of America, arms brought from France by Benjamin Franklin or carried by George Washington in the French & Indian War. These are the firearms that launched our nation into its role as a world power, used by a ragtag group of former colonies to defeat the world’s finest military force – the army of Great Britain.

Pass by a detailed Civil War arms factory where dozens of carbines, muskets, and rifles are shown in production. Guns carried by Confederate soldiers that were found on the streets of Fairfax and pieces presented to Union recruits preparing for their first battle at Bull Run help tell the story of a nation at war and how that divided country came back together. No other museum reveals the variety of guns once wielded by both North and South sharpshooters, or crafted in factories to use metallic cartridges at places like Antietam and Gettysburg – including Sharps carbines that could have gone with John Brown and his band of abolitionists as they attacked Harpers Ferry. See guns once held by General Sherman, as well as carbines carried by Buffalo Soldiers out on the Plains.

As you gaze into a San Francisco California mercantile filled with relics out of the West, you can take in the gold dust and nuggets once exchanged for derringers and shotguns in the gold fields, or spend time next to a buffalo hunter’s camp on the prairie, where heavy single-shot rifles once decimated herds. Travel the battlefields of Europe and the Far East and see the ordnance that served the Allies and the Axis forces through two world wars. Throughout these historical periods, observe the advances in technology of smokeless powder and how repeating arms from Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Winchester forever changed the world’s marketplace.

Competitive and recreational shooting, including the Olympics, are also well represented. Our best sharpshooter, Annie Oakley, and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West are part of the early exhibition shooters in our galleries. You won’t want to miss our many Presidential firearms, rare guns that once belonged to royalty, and a completely redone Hollywood Guns gallery which features the actual guns seen on screen from classic movies as Quigley Down Under, Gran Torino, Dirty Harry, Scarface, Serenity, American Sniper, and many others.

Admission is free, and the Museum is open 9:30 – 5pm every day of the week. Located at 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030, we offer a free staff-led tour at 1pm on weekdays. For more information, call (703) 167-1600, e-mail nfmstaff@nrahq.org, or check out our website at www.nramuseums.org.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of “the war to end all wars”, an exhibit highlighting the firearms, uniforms and soldiers kit of the typical “doughboy” of 1917 – 1918 opened to the public the week of Veterans Day. Among the rare items displayed is a Winchester made BAR, a M-1908 Warner Swayze sniper scope and a selection of theater made trench knives. The exhibit is open indefinitely.

The Modern Conflicts exhibit shows off some of the military hardware used in Korea (1950-1953) Vietnam (1959 – 1975) Operation Desert Storm (1990 – 1991) and the Global War on Terrorism (2001- ) An original AR 10, an M-40 sniper rifle and various theater made guerilla guns are some of the highlights displayed.


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