There's a hidden gem of the firearms world located, surprisingly, in the small town Cody, Wyoming (Population 9,885 as of 2017). The Cody Firearms Museum is perhaps, the single most impressive display of firearms in the United States, perhaps the world (according to Wikipedia, it is the most comprehensive firearms collection of American firearms in the world). It is certainly the largest private firearms collection in the United States. To say that the collection housed inside this impressive museum is stunning, is putting it mildly. My experience at the museum left me... speechless, and I only spent an hour inside!
I was in Wyoming for a site visit with a unit from the Wyoming National Guard. The base where we were staying and working was located near city of Guernsey, located in the South East corner of the state. My colleague and I had decided to visit Yellowstone National Park (I've included a few images of Yellowstone for your viewing pleasure at the very end of this photo gallery), however, Yellowstone is located in the North West corner of the state, a 6 and a half hour drive from where we were staying and working. As fate would have it, we did have a 24 hour period in our schedule which might allow for a run to Yellowstone.
We mentioned our plans to the First Sergeant from the Wyoming National Guard whom we were working with for the week and he suggested we stop in Cody to see the Firearms Museum, as it is located along the route we would be taking to Yellowstone. Now, as an avid firearms enthusiast with an affinity for museums, I rarely pass up any opportunity to visit a new museum, much less a firearms museum, the problem, however, would be time. As I mentioned, Yellowstone would be at least a 6 and a half hour drive, given the fact that we had to work the next day, we would have to make sure we had enough time to drive to Yellowstone, see the park and drive back within a 24 hour window, not an easy feat, add in a visit to the Cody Firearms Museum and we would be pushing the limits of my award winning (ok not an award, but an Army Driver's Badge) driving abilities).
We departed our hotel at 0430 hours, that's 4:30 am for you civilians, and arrived in Cody around 0930 hours. The Cody Firearms Museum is just one of 5 museums housed inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which is an overly impressive complex which includes the Buffalo Bill Museum,Plains Indians Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, a research library and of course, the Cody Firearms Museum. To say Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a massive complex, would still be understating it a little. To see everything, in all 5 of the museums, would take a couple of days, at least. The cost to enter the Center is $19.75 for adults, however, entry is free for active duty military AND their families.
We calculated that we could only afford to spend an hour inside the firearms museum, no big deal right? I mean, after all, I've been to a number of firearms museums and an hour is usually a good amount of time, but I had no idea of what I was about to see... (read the text located in the photo below).
This museum, is this small Wyoming town, holds over 800 years of firearms history, 10,000 objects in 40,000 square feet, on two floors. I was a bit melancholy at the sad fact that we only had an hour to see as much of this place as possible, as this was not our destination for the day trip, nor did we have an additional day to add on, we had to be back to work, 6 and a half hours away, the next day. With that in mind, we did the best we could to take in as much as our eyes and brains could handle.
The photos here simply cannot do the immensity of the museum justice, you MUST go see and experience it for yourself. Trust me when I say, it will be worth the effort.
The displays are meticulously constructed. You can tell that whoever is responsible takes great care and puts a lot into the attention to detail. I can only imagine the time and effort it takes to clean all the guns!
Above: these wheel lock guns date to the 1700's!
The two rifles on the right were competing with the AR15 for the Army contract. Interestingly, they are chambered in .224
I don't even want to know how much these chrome plated M1's are worth. Ok, yes I do want to know.
The museum is generally laid out by year of manufacture, however, downstairs you can find even more guns in pull out drawers organized by country of manufacture and alphabetical order.
This is one of the very first M16 test rifles.
Some of the actual tooling from Samuel Colt's original assembly line are featured in a nice display.
A view of the downstairs displays from the staircase leading down to it.
Each of the labeled draws slides out, revealing even more guns!
On one side of the room they are organized by country of orgin, on the other side they are in alphabetical order by manufacturer.
Below, a quick look at some of the displays from the other museums housed in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
BELOW - a few images from Yellowstone National Park