The U.S. Carbines Caliber .30 & The Cody Firearms Museum

The U.S. Carbines Caliber .30
The Cody Firearms Museum

The Cody Museums

The Buffalo Bill Memorial Association was established after the death of William (Buffalo Bill) Cody in 1917 at the age of 70. The initial focus of the Memorial Association was an historical center to preserve the history of the West. Over time it has grown from it's original small building into the current day Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The center is on 40 acres with a seven acre building housing five museums with over 70,000 artifacts in addition to a research library with a collection of 30,000 books, over 400 manuscript collections, and more than 900,000 photographs.

The McCracken Archival Index is available online for those who wish to conduct research at the library. The library also has an online digital collection for viewing.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is located in Cody, Wyoming near the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The Cody Firearms Museum

Oliver F. Winchester was the founder and first president of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company in the 1860's. He started the Winchester Arms Collection as a research and reference collection containing arms of all his competitors as well as those manufactured by Winchester. By the early 1870's the collection expanded to include documentation of the historical development of firearms in general. The collection continued to expand with Oliver's successors through the years of the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. To include the works of the various companies acquired by Winchester over the years.

Edward Pugsley served in various management functions at Winchester before, during and after WWII to include being the head of the Winchester Research and Development teams during the war. Pugsley was known to have a personal firearms collection rivaled by few worldwide, if any. In 1950 Winchester purchased the Pugsley collection and added it to their collection. In 1959 the Winchester collection was opened to the public in New Haven, CT.

In 1975 Winchester, then the Olin Corporation, placed their entire collection on loan to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, WY. The collection was formally deeded to the museum in 1989 and opened as The Winchester Arms Museum. With funding from Winchester and others the museum was expanded and became the Cody Firearms Museum in 1991. Since then the Cody Firearms Museum has become a repository for historical firearms from many different companies. Historical documents have been placed in the Harold McCracken Research Library where they are available to researchers under the supervision of research librarians. The Cody Firearms Museum currently houses the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world.

During 2018 and 2019 the Cody Firearms Museum underwent a massive redesign and expansion project. They now have thousands of firearms on display dating back to 1400. The museum is divided into themes.

  • Firearms Safety and Basics alongside the modern shooting sports
  • Evolution of Firearms - Firearms History
  • Story of "The West"
  • Military History
  • Science of Firearms
  • Art of Firearms
  • Temporary Exhibits
  • Collector & Research Level with high density and highly visible display cases with thousands of historical firearms along with a reference library

The U.S. Carbines Caliber .30 & The Cody Firearms Museum

Winchester having been at the heart of the design, development and production of the .30 caliber Carbines the museum has many of the various prototypes constructed by Winchester during and after WWII.

Examples include:

  • The 7 1/2 lb rifle utilizing the Williams short stroke gas piston that prompted Winchester to enter the light rifle competition
  • The "13 Day Carbine" (above 2nd from top), Winchester's first submission to the light rifle competition trials
  • Winchester's second prototype (above 3rd from top) adopted as the Carbine, Caliber .30, Model M1
  • The prototype designed by David Marshall Williams(above top) that was completed too late to be entered in the trials
  • Winchester .30 caliber Carbine, Model M1, s/n 1,000,001
  • Examples of Winchester's Model T3 Carbines
  • Winchester Model M2 prototypes
  • Winchester's commercial carbine prototypes that never entered into production

One display case of dozens...

The McCracken Research Library is in possession of the historical records of Winchester that includes Winchester's production drawings of the Model M1, Model M2 and Model T3 carbines, internal communication at Winchester regarding carbine production, and many more documents related to the Winchester carbine program.

A U.S. .30 caliber Carbine Museum

Over the years researchers from The Carbine Club have conducted research at The Cody Firearms Museum and McCracken Research Library. Including author Larry Ruth for his three volume "War Baby" series on the history of the carbines. Some of the research projects and material included on this website have been obtained from research trips to the museum and McCracken Library.

More recently several members of The Carbine Collectors Club have assisted the museum with identifying a number of prototypes absent any records from Winchester and serve as resources for the museum on anything .30 caliber carbine related.

Almost from the beginning, members have discussed the need for a Carbine Museum as a central repository for historical records and items of historical interest in private collections whose owners wish to see preserved for future generations. Several of us have decided the most solvent museum that is certain to be around for many future generations with the historical documents and carbines of where it all started at Winchester is the most logical and appropriate place for these items.

Donations made by members as courtesy of The Carbine Collector's Club have included:

  • A complete set of 384 Carbine Club Newsletters 1977-2015, indexed and spiral bound to the McCracken Research Library
  • Reference Books for use by the curator, asst. curators and other employees of the Cody Firearms Museum
  • Books signed by the authors for the McCracken Research Library
  • An Inland Mfg Model M1 Carbine from the Korean War era for the Firearms Museum education programs
  • Three carbines, an Erma Werke training rifle and German/Austrian accessories, manuals and artifacts used by the police of Germany/Austria during the American Occupation for use as an exhibit of this history
  • An early M1 Carbine stock and two handguards manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby for Standard Products (S-HB) to be included in an exhibit showing the manufacturer of the "Louisville Slugger" baseball bats and the carbine stocks they made
  • A complete Sniperscope Set No. 1, 20,000 volts with Model M3 Sniperscope

Rock-Ola U.S. .30 caliber Carbine donated by club member Alan Sinz

As with most museums The Buffalo Bill Center of the West also welcomes cash donations to help cover their operational costs. They also offer memberships that bring with them discounts of various types. Membership can be a General Membership geared towards families, a Firearms Membership geared towards Winchester, Marlin and LC Smith collectors or a Gift Membership for others.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which includes the Cody Firearms Museum and McCracken Research Library, has 501c3 tax exempt status and is a registered Wyoming charity. Donations are tax deductible. Should anyone wish to consider a donation to the museum or library they are invited to contact Assistant Curator Danny Michael by phone (307 578-4099) or e-mail (

Why Cody, Wyoming?

Most people wonder if Cody, Wyoming isn't a bit too remote for such a museum. Olin and Pugsley didn't think so. With an average of over 170,000 paid visitors a year in addition to students from Wyoming, the surrounding states and beyond who are bused to the museums on yearly field trips The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is one of the busiest attractions in the Western United States.

Having visited almost all of the large firearms museums in the United States, The Cody Firearms Museum has no equal. The Carbine Collectors Club is devoted to the research and preservation of the history of the U.S. .30 caliber carbines. We can think of no better place for that history to be preserved and shared with the generations of the future.

Should you have questions, assistance is available on our Discussion Forum.

The Discussion Forum also serves as a reference desk for the more advanced material that could easily overwhelm a website and is often subject to opinions that may vary due to a lack of original documentation. A number of researchers and authors are present on the forums, helping others and seeking information for various research projects.

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