Fifty-Sixth Annual NRA Gun Collector Awards

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posted on May 26, 2016
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It's hard to imagine an NRA annual meeting without grandiose display of guns, but according to accomplished author and the event’s keynote speaker and Committee Vice Chairman, Wayne Ross, "Gun-collecting clubs have been exhibiting their finest collection of arms at the NRA Annual Meetings since 1954. By 1960, the NRA Gun Collector Committee established a perpetual trophy to recognize the best of those displays, and a special medallion for the best individual firearm displayed.” 

In addition to 24 gun-collection exhibits being provided from all 24 affiliates, this year's award ceremony was attended by more than 100 attendees in which nine silver medallions were awarded to those collector arms judged best on display. The displays showcased arms from a wide variety of collections including:

  • The American Society of Arms Collectors and the Maryland Society of Arms Collectors, for their Rappahannock Forge flintlock pistol produced by James Hunter with “I HUNTER” on the top of the barrel.
  •  The American Society of Arms Collectors and the Maryland Society of Arms Collectors, for their U. States-branded flintlock pistol made in Philadelphia for the Light Dragoons.
  • The Ohio Gun Collectors Association, for their Mauser Model 71/78 1 mm repeating rifle made for 1880 test trials, serial number 14. 
  • The American Thompson Association, for their Annihilator III, Model of 1911, Sub Model G with no serial number. It is the only sub Model G in existence. 
  • The Colt Collectors Association, for their Colt Single Action Army pinched frame revolver, serial number 51, regarded as the only completely original known example of the pinched frame from the original 1873 civilian shipments. 
  • The Ruger Owners & Collectors Society, for their Elmer Keith rifle, chambered in .375 H&H Mag. and ordered with Keith’s full name to be engraved on the gun, serial number 15. 
  • The Kentucky Rifle Association, for their Louis & Willian Bryan flintlock rifle, one of only 3 signed Bryan rifles, and one of only 2 signed by the two brothers.
  • The Colt Collectors Association, for their Colt 1911, titled “The Greatest Generation,” hand engraved by Michael Dubber, serial number 335524-C. 
  • The Ohio Gun Collectors Association, for their Mauser Model 71/78 11mm factory prototype demonstrated to Kaiser Wilhelm in 1881, serial number 14.


The ceremony was also marked by a first regarding certificates of recognition that were awarded for unique items displayed related to firearms. Up to 10 Certificates are normally awarded in any one calendar year. This year, the committee voted to award 11 certificates. Recipients included:

  • The Kentucky Rifle Foundation, for their grouping of a powder horn, dagger, and tomahawk. 
  • The American Society of Arms Collectors and the Maryland Arms Collectors Association, for their wooden cartridge box. 
  • The German Gun Collectors Association, for their life-size diorama of a hunt camp. 
  • The American Single Shot Rifle Association, for their set of Winchester toolroom parts. 
  • The American Society of Arms Collectors and the Maryland Society of Arms Collectors, for their set of 1842 pistol gauge tools. 
  • The American Thompson Association, for their toy Thompson and Gertrude Curtain ID badge. 
  • The Tri-State Gun Collectors, for their original Annie Oakley-related newspapers. 
  • The American Thompson Association, for their canvas carrying case without a shoulder stock. 
  • The American Single Shot Rifle Association, for their Unertl scope, serial number 1. 
  • The Miniature Arms Society, for their ammo dealer display cases. 
  • The Virginia Gun Collectors Association, for their group of four pairs of consecutively numbered Radom pistols. 


In the best miniature arms awards category, this year only two medals were awarded:

  • A ½ scale fully functional replica of the Puckle Gun, a tripod-mounted flintlock revolver design. 
  • An 18th century ½ scale handmade miniature flintlock fowler made by Tourjon Renna in France or Italy. 


Judges chose the following exhibits for best educational display awards:

Antique Arms Category:

  • Display Title: Examples of the Winchester Hotchkiss Prototype to Sporting Models, 1876 to 1915. Organization: Winchester Arms Collectors Association. 
  • Display Title: Rifles of the Brothers Mauser, 1871 to 1887 (Organization: Ohio Gun Collectors Association)


Classic Arms Category:

  • Display Title: Three Directors of the NRA and the Special Guns They Collected (Organization: Smith & Wesson Collectors Association). 
  • Display Title: 1916 to 2016: The Centennial of Auto-Ordnance (Organization: The American Thompson Association) 


Contemporary Arms Category:

  • Display Title: Custom and Engraved Colts (Organization: Colt Collectors Association). 
  • Display Title: Contemporary Long Rifles (Organization: Contemporary Long Rifle Association)


Combined Arms Category: 

  • Display Title: Firearm Miniatures (Organization: Miniature Arms Society). 
  • Display Title: History and Development of the American Fighting Rifle (Organization: Dallas Arms Collectors Association). 


The National Firearms Museum “Sprit of the Game” Award is presented to an affiliate collector association exhibit that the staff of NRA Museums feels exemplifies the objectives of the awards program and yet did not win one of the other category awards. This year, the National Firearms Museum Spirit of the Game Award was presented to The Minnesota Weapons Collectors Association, for their display of Colt conversions. 

Finally, the NRA Gun Collectors Committee Trophy was awarded to The American Society of Arms Collectors and Maryland Arms Collectors Association, for their display, “US Military Pistols – Evolution to Perfection.”

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