Skip to main content

Touring the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Touring the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Almost every year for the past six, I’ve joined a group of firearm and bike enthusiasts for the “Motoschützen.” “Moto” signifies our affinity for motorcycles, and “schützen” translates to the German-­military word for “marksman,” a homage to our passion for shooting. Combined, Motoschützen means that we do what we love: ride and shoot.

The Motoschützen is 125 miles of riding a day over five days. Previous trips covered Colorado, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, but this year we ventured into Cody, Wyoming. Following our day rides, we returned to our cabins before dark and wrenched on our bikes at night.

When we weren’t at the Cody Shooting Complex (codyshootingcomplex.org) dusting clays, plinking with rimfires or smacking targets out to 1,400 yards, we were riding. Along the way, we conquered the Beartooth Highway, an infamous switchback that crosses over a 10,948-­foot snow-­covered mountain pass between Montana and Wyoming. We paused at the summit for photos and to admire the desolate, snowy landscape. We also wandered through Yellowstone, America’s first national park. There, we rode among bison, elk and grizzlies while exploring the region’s hot springs and frozen lakes.

On our last day in Cody, we toured the newly remodeled Buffalo Bill Center of the West, an all-in-one building and home to the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum, the McCracken Research Library, the Plains Indian Museum and the Whitney Western Art Museum. It’s difficult to describe how impressive the artifacts and contemporary layouts were.


The Cody Firearms Museum is home to the Winchester Arms Collection, thanks to a 1975 loan. Borrowed from Connecticut’s Olin Corporation to the then-­Winchester Firearms Museum, the collection was permanently gifted in 1988. Though the museum had always contained historically significant firearms of many makes, Bill Ruger challenged the museum’s Board of Directors to a name change. Responding to Ruger’s request, a then-­museum director countered Ruger with a for-­the-­right-­price-­we’ll-­consider-­it offer. Without hesitation, Ruger penned a check for $1 million. Thus, it’s now called the Cody Firearms Museum.


Current Cody Firearms Museum curator, Ashley Hlebinsky, and assistant curator, Danny Michael, guided us through its public exhibit halls. Notably, I saw a 1839 Colt-­Paterson revolving shotgun; Audie Murphy’s Colt Bisley; M1 and G30 prototypes; and exhibits featuring embellished guns. We were also escorted downstairs to the gun vaults containing firearms not yet on public display. Inside were three examples of the Winchester Automatic Rifle (WAR), an alternative design to the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) proposed to the Ordnance Department; several mid-­19th century air rifles; and an impressive collection of new-­in-­box vintage Colt, Ruger and Smith & Wesson revolvers. In all, the museum houses more than 7,000 firearms and 30,000 artifacts. The catalog of firearms, accoutrements and their respective historical significance was staggering.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Looking back, perhaps my favorite item was a Winchester lever gun featuring a bullet hole through a coin minted “Universal Pictures” inlayed in the stock. This was the same gun used behind the scenes of “Winchester ’73” (1950) to make movie magic. Though Jimmy Stewart appeared to make the incredible coin shot in the movie, it was really Herb Parsons standing behind Stewart who shot the coin with his Winchester Model 71 in .348 Win. The ‘71’s stock wears the signatures of the film’s cast, including Jimmy Stewart’s and Rock Hudson’s.

No matter how you arrive, a visit to the Center of the West is a must for anyone traveling through northwest Wyoming. Until then, take a tour online at centerofthewest.org.




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

Given the growing penchant for shooters to include micro red dots on their semi-autos, Taurus brings the G3 series pistols into the optic arena for 2021 with the release of the full-size G3 T.O.R.O. (Taurus Optic Ready Option) and the compact G3c T.O.R.O.Optics-Ready 9mm Pistols: Taurus G3 T.O.R.O and G3c T.O.R.O.
Handguns

Optics-Ready 9mm Pistols: Taurus G3 T.O.R.O and G3c T.O.R.O.

Given the growing penchant for shooters to include micro red dots on their semi-autos, Taurus...

Guns & Ammo Staff

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 for Pistols: New for 2021
SHOT Show

Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot Sight for Pistols: New for 2021

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

Guns & Ammo Staff

Popular Videos

Savage Arms Impulse Rifle with Straight-Pull Action

Savage Arms Impulse Rifle with Straight-Pull Action

Savage introduces a must-shoot straight-pull rifle, the Impulse, with three hunting configurations.

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

It is unlike any other rifle on the market because it offers features no one else does; those looking for a rifle that fits like a custom-made firearm should look no further than the Benelli Lupo.

Air Rifle and Pistol Reviews: Full-Auto Fun

Air Rifle and Pistol Reviews: Full-Auto Fun

Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range with both .177-caliber airguns to test their aim and demonstrate why the full-auto selector is often called the "giggle switch."

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

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