Originally featured in Points West magazine in Summer 2017
Buffalo Bill commemorative rifle
As the Center of the West celebrated its Centennial throughout 2017, the special exhibition Cody to the World shared many special objects illustrating the past 100 years. One such object is the Buffalo Bill Commemorative Rifle pictured below—the 100,000th one of the more than 117,000 made by Winchester to raise funds for the then-new Buffalo Bill Museum that opened in 1969 as an extension to the Whitney Western Art Museum.
The rifles sold for $129.95, with $5 from each sale going to the new museum fund. They were designed by antique firearm dealer Herb Glass, who worked with Buffalo Bill Memorial Association Trustee Peter Kriendler. With the funding secured, the laying of the cornerstone of the new Buffalo Bill Museum occurred on July 4, 1968. Officials from Winchester attended along with World War II historian Cornelius Ryan, and famed actors Slim Pickens and Glenn Ford. Upon the museum’s opening, William Wallace of Winchester presented this rifle to then-director Harold McCracken and the Memorial Association.
The combination of Buffalo Bill’s legacy, the workmanship of Winchester, and the showmanship of people like Buffalo Bill’s own grandson Fred Garlow, ensured a successful fundraising campaign for the new Buffalo Bill Museum—and the completion of a modern museum that not only honored William F. Cody, but also interpreted the dynamic story of the landscape, the wildlife, and the cultures of the American West. The rifle marks an important milestone in the development of what is now the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Winchester Model 94 rifle, 30-30 caliber, ca. 1969. Serial no. wc100,000. 1.69.2160