13. J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, Claremore, OK ±13,000 guns, ±9,000 on display (69%). Established in 1962

J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum Exterior
J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum Case


Originally a private collection displayed throughout a large hotel, the J.M. Davis Museum is now located in a custom built 1970’s building. Not only does the J.M. Davis have the largest open display of guns in the United States, but they are very well organized. The encyclopedic collection of mainly 19th and 20th working guns is divided into nearly three hundred categories, with long guns to the left and side arms to the right. It also includes firearms from earlier periods. Because there is so much room available, versions of guns that would usually be stored away in drawers are densely displayed with metal hooks on a white peg board. This is a ‘catalog museum’, perfect for someone who wants to understand model variants.

Apart from the classics, the J.M. Davis has rare collections of lesser known guns, such as scores of Flobert ‘BB cap’ gallery rifles and parlor pistols, as well as home-made guns. A well-written display shows every kind of gun action, something no other museum has. The collection also includes immensely rare pieces, that are treated exactly the same as the more common guns. It includes two 1818 Forsyth “scent bottle’ percussion firearms and two Jennings rifles, that fired the Hunt Rocket Ball. One of the Jennings rifles is unmodified and complete.

The lobby of the J.M. Davis’ Mason Hotel has been recreated, complete with the pinwheel displays of guns that the establishment was so famous for. The museum also has a huge display of beer steins, a case of ghoulish artifacts associated with executions, and western artifacts of all types. It is known as the American museum that takes pride in the ‘working’ gun, a fitting tribute to the Western heritage of Oklahoma. However there are plenty of diamonds in the rough here, if you can find them.

Larkin, L., McCombs, W., Wooley, J., J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, Charleston, (2012)
Good, M.E. & L.T., Miller, F.H., J.M. Davis Gun Museum, Vol. 1, J.M. Davis Museum Publications, Claremore, (1992)