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View Full Version : Frazier Arms Museum in Louisville, KY


4V50 Gary
June 21, 2004, 08:51 PM
Right across the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum is the lesser known Frazier Arms Museum. Sitting on the banks of the Ohio River, the museum represents the collection of one man: Louis Frazier. I'll spare you the biography as this is suppose to be about guns.

Upon entering the building and paying admission, you enter the interpretative area where living historians depict actual individuals from history. The day I went had a Post Civil War Georgian who bow hunted, an English longbowman during the War of the Roses, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet explained (the sword fighting scenes), and a lady who protrayed Annie Oakley (and later an 1840s plainswoman). Her muzzle control was excellent and never once did the muzzle sweep across the audience.

Beyond the interpretative area are the premier guns. These are all richly engraved, relief carved guns with gold or ivory inlays. In short, fit for a king, president or a very wealthy man. The first two guns you'll see include a matchlock and a 1760 wheel lock. Why wheel lock in 1760? The maker submitted it to demonstrate his skill as he wanted to be accepted into the gunmakers' guild. What is interesting is that it also has a rear aperture which serves as a focusing device and not a rear sight. There's a regular rear sight and the rear aperture helps old eyes contract and see better. Not a bad idea. Don't miss out on Geronimo's bow which is also on the first level.

The second level depicts the role of the gun in America. Michael Bellesiles would hate it. It starts out with early guns from our Colonial time into the Revolution, the percussion era and Civil War and finally post-Civil War with the guns of the Cowboys, Spanish-American War and the Schutzen Clubs of the 1870s-1890s. No World War I or II or modern guns are displayed - unfortunately.

One nifty display includes the tools of one gunsmith. I forgot his name but he was originally from Ohio and then moved to California. After he passed away, all his tools were left in a barn until discovered and bought by Frazier. They're all there including a rifling machine. If you're into long rifles and make them yourself, it's an exhibit that you can spend some time admiring.

His knife collection is also displayed on the 2nd level and you can see all sorts of embellished fantasy knives.

Because of the curator's relationship with the Royal Armouries (English), they have an exhibit featuring the guns and armour from that museum. Want to see the shining armor of knights from the early times until obsolencent? The exhibit traces the evolution of English armour. One nifty exhibit is the breech loading shield gun carried by the bodyguards of Henry VIII.

As you follow the passing of time, you'll see a progression of increasingly advanced weapons all the way up to about 1900. Full scale dioramas include Agincourt, Marston Moor, Jamestown (1644?), Waterloo, Ishandhlwana. The most modern gun I saw there was the Broomhandle Mauser M96 (OK, it's modern in that it has few screws and interlocks like a Lego bricks).

There are numerous videos that you can watch throughout the museum. It takes a full two hours to watch all the videos. One thing I learned was that chain mail wasn't just knitted links. Each link is individuall riveted together. :eek: That's a lot of work just to cover one Man-at-Arms with a suit of chainmail.

Between the two days that I visited the Frazier, I must have spent over 7 hours to see all three floors. They have special exhibit spaces which aren't being used right now and so expect it to be better as time passes on.

My only criticism is that it doesn't cover firearms from 1900-2000. That's a whole century of evolution. John Moses Browning does get mention though but a lot of the newer designers and their guns aren't displayed (or perhaps aren't part of the collection). Thumbs up on the Frazier!