Some of the greatest collections of firearms and related items aren’t housed in any museums – although for the record the Springfield Armory Museum, NRA Museum, and Cody Firearms Museum are certainly among the top-notch institutes in the country. They certainly contain some of rarest pieces anywhere in the world. Yet, today, some of the best gatherings of firearms are those amassed by individual collectors rather than an official institution.
Hidden Military Gun Collections
This is certainly true in the world of military firearms and related collectibles, where a few dedicated collectors have proven able to create mini-museums in their basements, spare rooms, and in one case even a shipping container turned private sanctuary.
The Basement Bunker
Plenty of guys turned transformed their basements into “man caves.” But this subterranean lair takes it a bit further. It begins with a “War Library” already packed with a collection of ordnance and de-milled anti-tank mines. But it only gets better once the “secret door” opens. Here visitors enter into a personal museum filled with a collection of military uniforms, helmets, and small arms from conflicts spanning the 20th century. Stand-out pieces include deactivated machine guns, including a Lewis Gun and a Vickers. Both display with British and Commonwealth uniforms from the First and Second World Wars.
The video walk-through shows how a space that is approximately 800 square feet houses a collection that could rival some of the best military museums in the nation. It includes dozens of firearms, some 800 helmets, and a variety of anti-tank weapons.
Machine Gun Accessory Collection
The late Robert Segel became know for his impressive collection of transferable machine guns. But he also amassed the largest group of machine gun accessories and related items in the world. These include miniature yet fully functional replicas, military badges from around the world, and an impressive number of helmets devoted to the British Army’s Machine Gun Corps of the First World War.
Segel spent more than four decades amassing his collection. His was one for the ages!
Not far from where the frontlines had been during the First World War are a number of notable “official museums,” but then there is the lesser-known private collection that would make the curators of those institutions quite envious. Known as the “KVB” collection, this one focuses solely on the German Army of the Great War. It includes a massive number of small arms, uniforms and helmets. It even houses multiple patterns of trench body armor.
This particular unnamed collector – who sadly passed away in 2020 – had spent years in what we would describe as his “acquisition phase.” It truly rivaled the best of Europe’s military museums.
The Shipping Crate Collection
“Out West” sits a pair of nondescript shipping containers – a not-too-uncommon sight as these can be readily converted into storage facilities and outbuildings. However, these two contain something special; what can only be described as the greatest private museum of First World War items in the United States.
Divided into two wings – one for the Allies and the other for the Central Powers – it takes gun displays to an entirely new level.