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Pistols From Poona

June Museum

Presentation sets of Colt revolvers were distributed around the world, and on the Indian subcontinent, supplemental embellishment of Colt arms resulted in some pieces being elaborately engraved and gold damascened. This unusual four-gun set, consisting of two Model 1851 .36-caliber revolvers and two Model 1849 .31-caliber revolvers, is cased with factory loading and cleaning tools. The original recipient of the quartet of arms, possibly an Indian maharajah, is not known. But in 1934, these two pairs of pistols were presented to a British military controller in Poona (now Pune), part of the Southern Command and the oldest field army in India. Period documents describe the cantonment’s ornate headquarters building as being flanked by polo fields and cricket grounds punctuated by bungalows for married officers.

The National Firearms Museum at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., exhibits thousands of historic firearms in galleries that span the centuries. Visitors can tour a recreated Civil War arms factory, the St. Louis rifle shop of the Hawken family and even World War I and World War II dioramas. Admission to the museum is free (donations appreciated), and the extensive museum store offers a wide range of fraternal items and reference books. For more information, visit the museum website at, e-mail or call (703) 267-1600.