Photo Gallery: FBI Reference Firearms Collection

Gallery of photos from the FBI reference firearms collection.


Results: 11 Items

  • Toolmarks

    Examiners test fire weapons and examine the bullets and cartridge case components for signatures that help in investigations.

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  • ‘Each Kind’

    The reference firearms collection dates back to 1933 and contains more than 7,000 types of firearms. “We try to have one example of every type of firearm—make, model, finish, serial number configuration, you name it,” says John Webb, a firearms examiner. “We want to have an example of each kind. So when a firearm comes in for disposition, if anything about that firearm is different from what we already have in the collection, we’ll add it to the collection.”

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  • ‘Gone with the Wind’

    This .32-caliber Savage pistol was housed in a first edition 1936 printing of “Gone with the Wind.”

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  • Solving Crimes

    A fired bullet is observed on a comparison microscope to reveal the lands and grooves and unique microscopic markings that were carved into the bullet as it travel through a gun barrel. The microscope allows an examiner to compare two bullets or cartridge cases simultaneously, under the same field of view, focal plane, and lighting conditions.

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  • Agents’ Sidearms

    The reference firearms collection includes examples of all of the sidearms special agents have carried. Shown is the Colt Police Positive .38 Special revolver that agents were armed with in the 1930s.

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  • Little Bohemia

    A firearms examiner shows where a pistol was struck by a bullet during a 1934 shootout with FBI agents at Little Bohemia Lodge in Wisconsin. More at:

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  • Evidence

    The majority of firearms in the collection are from adjudicated cases. Occasionally, some are purchased if they’re pertinent to a case. Some are even donated to the Laboratory.

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  • Disposition

    Firearms submitted to the Lab for disposition that are already well represented in the collection are slated for destruction.

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  • "Pretty Boy" Floyd

    The collection includes one of gangster “Pretty Boy” Floyd’s Colt Model 1911 pistols. This particular pistol once hung on Director J. Edgar Hoover’s so-called “wall of shame,” which included weapons belonging to criminals who were sought by the Bureau.

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  • Largest Revolver

    The largest revolver in the collection is a Smith & Wesson 500, shown here (bottom) with the Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, which was made famous in the movie “Dirty Harry.”

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  • Up Close

    Microscopic marks can be compared under a special microscope to determine if bullets and cartridge cases were fired by a particular firearm.

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