Cody Firearms Museum – Evolution of Firearms
As the foremost institution in the nation for interpreting firearms, the Cody Firearms Museum is undergoing an exciting renovation in order to be an even stronger destination for both firearms enthusiasts and the general public. Opening in the summer of 2019, there will be more firearms on exhibit, additional historical context, new multimedia displays, and a wide array of interactives.
For now, you can find firearms on display throughout the Center’s other museums including a temporary exhibition featuring the best in our collection.
Keep reading for a sneak peek of what’s to come!
Area 2: Evolution of Firearms
This area of the Cody Firearms Museum presents the history of firearms from a variety of important perspectives. Expect to see a timeline from the 1400s-present age, videos that demonstrate the pros and cons of successive technological advances, and several mechanical interactives.
Why do guns change?
The ways firearms technology impacted nations, individuals, and industry and in turn how these entities impacted firearms technology
Firearms development does not happen in a vacuum. Minds of designers, culture of the time, and societal needs and wants all influence firearms design. At the same time, firearms design and production has run parallel and pushed other technologies such as the automobile industry to their greatest potential.
Individual Artistry to Mass Manufacture
A transition from one of a kind firearms made by gunsmiths to assembly line production
The shift from American hand-made guns to machine-made firearms occurred in the mid-19th century. Samuel Colt led the charge with the development of his revolver. The birth of assembly line production opened new avenues for the firearms market, the industrial revolution, and ultimately influenced Henry Ford’s assembly line.
From Single Shot to Repeaters
“It’s a rifle that you could load on Sunday and shoot all week long”
Repeaters existed prior to the 19th century; however, it wasn’t until that century that repeaters became popular and standard. Until that time, the technology was not advanced enough. Early four to fourteen shot repeaters such as pepperboxes, revolvers, and lever actions paved the way for modern firearms.
America’s National Pastime
A shift from survival to the Sunday afternoon target shoot
Historically, firearms technology was driven by war. While a sporting culture always existed in some form, the tables were turned in late 19th century America.
National Rifle Associations were formed around the world to promote better marksmanship for military purposes. The result, however, was the birth of widespread target shooting. Especially in America, target shooting became a national pastime in the wake of the Civil War.
Making of the Modern Gun
The birthplace of modern technology over 150 years ago
Many modern firearms technologies were invented almost 150 years ago. Automatic machine guns were developed in the 1880s and semi-automatic firearms quickly followed. Firearms accouterments such as suppressors were released at the turn of the century. All of these designs have strong historical roots that continue today.
The Polymer Revolution
A shift to lightweight, portable, synthetic firearms
In the post-World War II period, the military was looking for a lightweight yet durable weapon. The solution changed firearms design, bringing it into a modern age. Gun designers experimented with various new materials such as plastic, aluminum, and nylon in order to create a lighter and more efficient firearm. These new polymer guns ultimately became standard issue for both the military and civilian markets in the United States.
We hope you enjoy the newly renovated Cody Firearms Museum when it opens next summer!