Skip to main content

An Exclusive Look Inside the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum

Think "deep pockets" when it comes to how much money was spent to make sure the new National Sporting Arms Museum inside Bass Pro Shops' flagship store in Springfield, Mo., is everything it can be. Almost 1,000 firearms totaling over $20 million are showcased in five large exhibit cases, while five dioramas portray the development and evolution of American hunting arms from pre-colonial times to present.

So what comes to mind when you think of Springfield, Mo.? For many people, it might be having the closest airport to the entertainment mecca of Branson, which is only a half an hour south. Other people within the area will automatically say it's the location of Bass Pro's first store and national headquarters. Most people won't remember that the Springfield Town Square was the site of the nation's first recorded shootout. After a gambling dispute, "Wild Bill" Hickok gunned down Davis Tutt with a well-placed shot through the heart after Tutt fired first, just missing Hickok's head at 75 yards.

Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World mega-store located in Springfield is the largest all-sports retail outlet in the world, and attracts more than 4 million visitors annually — as such, it has become a destination unto itself. Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris toured the NRA National Firearms Museum (NFM) in Fairfax, Va., several years ago, and after being awed by the collections, Morris decided to bring the artistry and history of both sporting and military arms into the heartland of America.

Sharing the NFM's extensive collection of firearms and related artifacts with a wider audience was a goal the NRA was happy to embrace. A deal was made, with Bass Pro Shops funding and designing the space needed for the 7,500-square-foot museum, while the NRA provided the firearms, text and storylines for the exhibits. This new museum has become the beneficiary of this relationship, and it couldn't have worked out any better.


After exhibiting at the recent Missouri Valley Gun Collectors Show in Kansas City, Jim Supica, the NFM's Director, graciously agreed to give a few friends and me a museum tour on Monday before the grand opening. Arriving at the steps going up to the National Sporting Arms Museum (NSAM) just after 9 a.m., we were instantly taken aback by the vertical supports for the stairway railings. They consisted of hundreds of identical reproduction percussion rifles and the hardwood railings were actually checkered like a gun stock!  Even the steps had blued metal caps and NRA medallions inlaid in them.  Getting to the top of the stairs, we noticed the overhead custom-made light featured the NRA logo.


Once inside, the NSAM's unique design and layout were immediately apparent, as it wraps around the inside of Bass Pro's store on the second floor. Since the inside displays have glass on the back sides, this allows viewing the expansive store from the museum, but also enables the visitors to look up and view the displays from the main floor.  The impressive parquet wood flooring is outlined with case colored and engraved metal inlaid panels, and all cabinetry, woodwork, and fixtures are made from select walnut, complete with recessed panels.

Looking up at the elaborate ceiling complete with recessed lighting in the second room, I noticed it was very retro-looking and appeared to be completely custom fabricated from tin. After asking Jim if it was the real McCoy, his answer was, "Yes," and then he smiled. Then I asked him if during the course of the construction if there was anything he had asked for and didn't get and/or was rejected.  This time, his one word answer was, "No," followed by another smile. The words "deep pockets" come to mind when thinking about what it cost to build this sensational museum.

The firearms displays are grouped within time periods, with some of the best dioramas I've ever seen placed in between them. These included a buffalo hunter, a 1950s hunting cabin, Lewis and Clark, a Native American hunter and a modern-day father and daughter decked out in camo.

Plan on spending at least a day between the NRA National Sporting Firearms Museum and roaming around Bass Pro's gigantic flagship store, which also includes an archery museum, large aquarium, a fine gun room, and expansive firearms department.


Information and images courtesy of Bass Pro Shops, the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum and John B. Allen.

Stairway to Heaven

Note the hundreds of reproduction percussion rifles that provide the vertical supports for the stairway railings, which are checkered on top like a gun stock! Steps are also capped in blued steel, NRA medallions are inlaid in woodwork throughout the museum, and the entrance light was custom-made to include the NRA logo. No design element was overlooked in the construction of this museum.

1950s Hunter's Cabin

This scene depicts a hunting camp circa 1955. It transports many museum visitors back in time when the veterans of World War II and Korea gathered with their pals and dogs to spend time relaxing, hunting, eating, and telling tall tales while the pressures of life, work, and family were put on hold for 48 hours.

Annie Oakley Parker Presentation BH-Grade Shotgun

The grip shield is engraved, "Annie Oakley, April 1901." Other features include double triggers; semi-pistol grip stock; engravings of bird dogs on the receiver sideplates and of a pair of stags on the underside; and a hard rubber buttplate.

Firearm Displays

The firearms displays are grouped within time periods, with some intriguing dioramas placed between them. These included a buffalo hunter, a 1950s hunting cabin, Lewis & Clark, Native American hunter, and modern-day father and daughter decked out in camo.

Early Arms in America

Firearms were unknown to the Native Americans when Europeans began to establish permanent colonies in the Western Hemisphere following Columbus' discovery in 1492. By the mid-1700s, many tribes had become proficient with the 'thunder stick ' of the settlers.

Dwight D. Eisenhower's Winchester Model 21

This gun was presented "To a straight shooter (General Dwight D. Eisenhower) from a friend (Robert Woodruff, President of Coca-Cola)." SN 25923

President Grover Cleveland's 8-Gauge Colt Shotgun

Owned by President Grover Cleveland, this engraved double barreled Colt shotgun is the only known example in this gauge.

Honoring Our Veterans

The 21 guns shown in front of Old Glory trace the history of military firearms from the Revolutionary War to present day. This display's '21-gun salute ' is a tribute to the brave men and women in uniform who have served and continue to serve this country.

Jesse James

Whether you consider Jesse James an outlaw or a colorful figure in American history, his history connects him to Missouri. This Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver (chambered in .45 S&W) and its left-hand holster are attributed to James through chain of ownership. The firearm has the name A. Ryan inscribed under the grips. Andrew Ryan was member of the James gang.

King James Flintlock Fowler

Bearing the royal cipher of King James II of England, this fowling piece was made in 1685 and was once in the collection of the Duke of Argyll.

Lewis & Clark

Among the arms of the Lewis and Clark expedition was a Girandoni .48 caliber air rifle. The buttstock served as an air reservoir and was charged by a hand pump. It could launch a nearly half-inch-diameter lead ball with great accuracy and enough power to penetrate a one-inch plank at 100 yards, with no smoke and virtually no sound. It is also a 22-shot repeater, with follow up shot available on demand — an amazing feature in an era of single-shot muzzleloading flintlocks.

Napoleon's Flintlock Fowler

This c.1800 engraved and inlaid shotgun was presented by Napoleon Bonaparte to the Marquis Faulte de Vanteaux of Limoges, a general in his army.

Buffalo Hunter

Dioramas include this crusty-looking buffalo hunter in the middle of a 'harvest, ' ready to insert another cartridge in his trusty Sharps rifle, complete with elevated rear sight set for the necessary elevation. You could almost smell him!

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions.

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

At the heart of the rifle is the Model 2020 action which wish designed and built with very tight tolerances thanks to Springfield's technology-driven manufacturing capabilities The stainless steel action features an integral recoil lug, and pairs with a fluted bolt employing dual cocking cams and an enhanced extractor for high pressure loads. The blueprinted and precisely machined action allows Springfield to offer the Model 2020 with .75" MOA accuracy guarantee. Despite being a production rifle, the Model 2020 should rival more expensive custom builds.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

In this segment of Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle Rifles

Air Gun Reviews: Ruger 10/22 Air Rifle

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 02, 2020

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr...

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight ready.14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See Handguns

14 Red Dot Ready Pistols You Must See

James Tarr - December 20, 2018

From milled slides to optics-included packages, these pistol options are all red-dot sight...

Leupold launches its new DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot sight, a low-profile red dot sight designed specifically for concealed carry and personal defense firearms.Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot Sight — First Look Optics

Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot Sight — First Look

Guns & Ammo Staff - December 31, 2020

Leupold launches its new DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot sight, a low-profile red dot sight designed...

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an engineering degree to tinker with; here's a look at some upgrade options to take your Ruger American to the next level, and make it something a bit different.Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades Accessories

Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades

Philip Massaro - March 15, 2018

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an...

See More Trending Articles

More News

Where has all of the ammo gone?2020 Ammo Shortage Industry

2020 Ammo Shortage

Keith Wood - December 23, 2020

Where has all of the ammo gone?

On Friday, August 14, 2020, the a three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit released its opinion in Duncan vs. Becerra, a case that challenged the California ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.California Magazine Ban Update 2nd Amendment

California Magazine Ban Update

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 18, 2020

On Friday, August 14, 2020, the a three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals...

Guns & Ammo TV returns to Independent Studio Services (ISS) with armorer Larry Zanoff. In this segment of Guns & Ammo TV: Guns of 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Industry

Guns & Ammo TV: Guns of 'Pirates of the Caribbean'

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 21, 2020

Guns & Ammo TV returns to Independent Studio Services (ISS) with armorer Larry Zanoff. In this...

True Velocity finalized delivery of more than 625,000 rounds of the company's proprietary composite-cased 6.8mm ammunition to the U.S. Army for consideration in the Next Generation Squad Weapon Program (NGSW).True Velocity Delivers More Than 625K Rounds of Composite-Cased Ammo to U.S. Army Industry

True Velocity Delivers More Than 625K Rounds of Composite-Cased Ammo to U.S. Army

Guns & Ammo Staff - January 07, 2021

True Velocity finalized delivery of more than 625,000 rounds of the company's proprietary...

See More News

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now