the nation's gun show

Capt. Meriwether Lewis

Lewis and Clark Girardoni Air Rifle .50 Caliber

On display at The Nation's Gun Show

December 28, 29 & 30, 2018 at the

 NRA National Firearms Museum Display

NRA National Firearms Museum

Lewis and Clark

explored the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest.

The Vision of Liberty!

The work we are now doing is, I trust, done for posterity, in such a way that they need not repeat it…We shall delineate with correctness the great arteries of this great country.  Those who come after us will fill up the canvas we begin… ~ Thomas Jefferson

On July 4th, 1803, came news that dramatically expanded the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s importance.  Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte for $15 million.  A sum nearly twice the federal budget.  But Jefferson never hesitated.  For just 3 cents an acre Jefferson more than doubled the size of his country.  It was greatest land deal in history.  Jefferson had a mind that encompassed the continent.  He envisioned a great nation that would stretch from sea to sea that would be bound together by a political concept.  The idea of LIBERTY.  And he wanted to spread that liberty all the way out to the west coast.

 NRA National Firearms Museum

The NRA National Firearms Museum will be bringing an especially historic firearm to the December 28, 29 & 30 Showmasters Gun Show out at the Chantilly Dulles Expo Center, but this piece of history does not burn any gunpowder when it fires.  When the Lewis & Clark Expedition headed westward on the orders of President Thomas Jefferson, they brought a variety of arms, including an unusual Girardoni air rifle.

Nearly .50 caliber, this repeating air gun was brought along as a diplomatic measure.  When fully pressurized, after pumping 1500 times, this air rifle could bring down an elk.

A tube on the side of the barrel held 22 lead balls that were singly fed into the chamber as the “hammer” was cocked.  With no smoke and little noise compared to the other

guns brought along by the expedition, this air gun could be utilized for discreet hunting when needed and also was regularly demonstrated to the tribes Captains Lewis & Clark encountered to illustrate the potential firepower that could be mustered if necessary.

NRA’s National Firearms Museum is located in Fairfax, VA at 11250 Waples Mill Road, just off Rt. 66 at exit 57-A.  Our galleries are open daily, free of charge (donations gratefully accepted) and each weekday (Monday – Friday) at 1pm a special curator-led tour is offered.  For more information, check out the museum’s website at, call (703) 267-1600, or e-mail 

As usual guns played a role.

Expedition From May 14, 1804, To October 16, 1805

Over the duration of the trip, from May 14, 1804, to September 23, 1806, from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific Ocean and back, the Corps of Discovery, as the expedition company was called, traveled nearly 8,000 miles (13,000 km). The entourage, numbering about four dozen men, covered 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 km) a day—poling, pushing, and pulling their 10-ton keelboat and two pirogues (dugout boats) up the Missouri River. Lewis’s iron-framed boat was later assembled and covered with skins near Great Falls (in present-day Montana) but had to be abandoned because the seams leaked and there was no pitch to seal them. The captains and at least five others kept journals. President Jefferson had instructed Lewis to make observations of latitude and longitude and to take detailed notes about the soil, climate, animals, plants, and native peoples. Lewis identified 178 plants new to science, including bitterroot, prairie sagebrush, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine, as well as 122 animals, such as grizzly bear, prairie dog, and pronghorn antelope. The scientific names Philadelphus lewisii (mock orange), Lewisia rediva (bitterroot), and Clarkia pucella (pink fairy, or ragged robin) are but three examples of the men’s discoveries. The expedition encountered immense animal herds and ate well, consuming one buffalo, two elk, or four deer per day, supplemented by roots, berries, and fish. They named geographic locations after expedition members, peers, loved ones, and even their dog (Seaman’s Creek). They experienced dysentery, venereal disease, boils, tick bites, and injuries from prickly pear, yet only one man perished over the course of the journey.

[Lewis and Clark Expedition]

[Travel journal (1804–05) of Joseph Whitehouse, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.]Lewis and Clark ExpeditionRoute of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804–06.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Travel journal (1804–05) of Joseph Whitehouse, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.The Newberry Library, Gift of Edward E. Ayer, 1911

Lewis and Clark and

Indian guide Sacagawea with her baby 

Thomas Jefferson

Lieut. William Clark 


6 Miles From the Nation's Gun Show

NRA National Firearms Museum

11250 Waples Mill Rd

Fairfax, VA22030