In 1794 George Washington commissioned two national armories to supply weapons for the new nation. The Springfield Armory in the north is known for making the M1 garand, 1903, Trapdoor, and many other great rifles. It’s partner tucked in the Virginia (now WV) mountains, was the Harpers Ferry National Armory.
Sadly you will find no “Harpers Ferry M1 Garand” here as the armory did not survive the Civil War. Union troops burnt it and it’s 15,000 some rifles early in the war after being surrounded by Confederate Troops.
It was not rebuilt after the war and there isn’t much left of the armory. The only standing building is the firehouse known as “John Brown’s Fort”. The site of the armory is mostly covered by a now abandoned railroad embankment. NPS marked off the outline of where some of the original buildings were.
The National Park is mostly centered on the John Brown story. However there are some nice displays of the weapons made there and the machinery used at the time.
1805 Harpers Ferry Pistols (mislabeled by NPS as 1806 pistols, the 1906 stamp represents the year it was made not the model)
A display of the rifles/muskets made in Harpers Ferry
A Harpers Ferry 1842 dated 1852 on display at the Old Courthouse Museum in nearby Winchester, VA
Some examples of equipment used in gun making at Harpers Ferry, inexplicably surrounded by various saddles and tack.
The area is beautiful if you like to hike. Harpers Ferry is considered the half-way point on the Appalachian Trail so there are 1100 miles of trail either direction in addition to several trails in the park itself.
Read about my trip to Springfield Armory here
The wife and I took a long weekend trip to Savannah to try and run away from the fall. It’s a beautiful city. We took a side trip to the Mighty Eighth Museum. The museum starts with a movie they call “The Experance.” I generally skip the movie at the start of the museum but this one was different. First there is a mock briefing, then they take you into a really nifty movie with multiple screens, flashing lights and various special effects. Giving you an idea of what it was like on a mission in a B-17, well as best you can imagine from your comfy chair.
Out on the main floor they are working on restoring a B-17G the “City of Savannah.” Which is really what drew me to the museum.
One thing I found really touching was a Nazi flag captured when a POW camp was liberated. There were several messages written on it by the newly free POWs.
Pictures really don’t do it justice, if you are in the area it’s well worth a stop. Leave yourself at least a couple hours you could easily spend the good part of a day there. The little restaurant inside is also nice for lunch.
After a long day of talking about HR software with a customer in Ohio I swung by CMP’s Marksmanship Center at Camp Perry. It’s open for public shooting Tuesday and Thursday 5:30 to 8:00 check CMP’s website for current hours.
A rifle, lane and 500 pellets was $12.00 it was lots of fun and a great way to unwind after work.
It’s set up so that it’s nice and easy to do. The marksmanship center is to the east of Petrarca Range. Turn right at the flagpole and left at the end of the road park below the water tower if you drive into the lake you went too far.
Walk in go to the desk in the middle of the room, you’ll sign an affidavit, and pick a rifle. I went with the “free” rifle but they have some nice MAR177 rifles you can use for a little extra (I have got to get one of those MAR177 uppers!)
Watch a quick video to remind you of the 5 rules.
Then it’s time to shoot!
You can raise or lower the target for off hand, sitting, or prone shooting.
They have a really slick electronic scoring system that scores each shot automatically. Think how much easier national matches would be if they had something like this at Viale, I better buy some more Garands to fund this!
There were several younger people their repeatedly cleaning their targets, as you can see I have some air gun work to do!
If you happen to be the area I would strongly recommend stopping in for some shooting.
I found myself in the Sandusky area for work so i braved the bad weather and swung by the CMP north store today. It was nice and dry inside with plenty of coffee and a surprisingly nice selection of rifles.
First and most importantly the 1917 “twins” are still there.
There was a nice selection of barreled receivers, M44s, chromed 1917s, Garands, and “bad” krags. Except for one of them the Krags were in pretty bad shape one was rusted shut. They were only $50 I seriously considered taking the nicest one home but searching for all the parts would probably be annoying.
HRA service grades, service grade specials, and field grades were plentiful. There were no service grade Springfields but there was a nice selection of field grades all had ME>2.
There was a full rack of “rusty” Kimbers I don’t know much about these rifles but they all appeared nice I didn’t see a spot of rust on the couple I handled.
What drew my attention was a rack of about 30 Service and Field Grade Winchesters. The service grades were in great shape, one had a matching WRA barrel.
I left with a beautiful field grade Winchester with an LMR barrel ME<1 TE=2 and an NM marked op rod. I realize it post war maybe even 60's rebuild but I couldn't put it down. Full report later in the week when it shows up. In the meantime here are some slightly blurry pictures.
A month or two ago, before my trip to Springfield Armory museum, I drove down to NRA HQ and checked out the museum. It is a great museum with a wide variety of firearms, old guns, new guns, rare guns common guns you name it it is there. It’s a free museum you will need to hit and intercom by the door and the security guard will buzz you In, I assume to keep the crazies out.
There are so many firearms its a little overwhelming. They break it up in too many sections for me to name, movie guns, 1911s, guns of all the major US wars, Camp Perry, other competitive shooting, law enforcement, and a shooting gallery.
I have way too many pictures to caption time all if you have any questions leave a comment ill try to remember what it was.
Check out their website for more details NRA museum
All pictures are my property and may not be used without my permission.