You could call Mel Bernstein a weapons enthusiast. The Colorado Springs military museum owner, known as the Dragon Man for his custom-made flame-throwing Harley Davidson, owns over 3,000 weapons representing every military period since World War I, ranging from samurai swords to machine guns to bazookas. He sleeps with machine guns on his bedroom wall. He’s even got his own tanks. Bernstein estimates his military collection is worth $10 million.
For weapons collectors like Bernstein, owning so many guns raises the practical problem of how to store and display them. Here are three ideas for how to show off your firearms and weapons collection.
Let’s say you just ordered a Savage MSR 15 Recon semiautomatic tactical rifle offline and you’re trying to figure out how to display it. One simple option is to build a wall gun rack out of pegboard, which is how Bernstein stores the machine guns in his bedroom. You can install a pegboard easily over drywall using furring strips, wood screws and lathe screws. Online retailers sell peg board racks specially designed for pistols for less than $20, and for rifles for $25 and up depending on how many weapons you want to mount.
Of course, there are many gun rack options besides pegboards. There are gun racks you can stand on the floor and gun racks you can mount on the wall. Gun racks can display your weapon vertically or horizontally. Some racks are specifically designed to stand in a corner. There are even gun racks that rotate.
You can also use racks to display other types of weapons such as swords and staffs. For instance, Bernstein has a wall rack for samurai swords displayed in front of a Japanese flag, with a geisha statue standing nearby. Many weapons racks include locks to prevent theft or unauthorized use.
Another excellent option for displaying your weapons is a display case. A display case provides an eye-catching way to display your weapons while keeping them secure, yet easy to access and remove for target practice or hunting. Like racks, cases can stand on the floor or mount on a wall. Shadow box display cases for small pistols can even sit atop a stand or dresser. There are also cases with one large storage area for rifles and a smaller storage area for pistols. Some cases have drawers for ammunition and supplies. You can add lights to a display case for better viewing.
Gun and rifle display cases are readily available from sporting goods suppliers and retailers. If you want to build your own case, Renovation Headquarters provides links to seven gun and rifle cabinet plans you can find online.
For a decorative touch, another option is the mannequin display. Bernstein’s military museum houses hundreds of mannequins dressed in period-piece costumes such as World War II uniforms. For protection from dust, he keeps his mannequins wrapped in dry-cleaner bags except for special occasions. For swords, you can use suits of armor instead of mannequins.
To add some atmosphere, you can include decorations that complement your mannequins in cases near your displays. For instance, the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum has a Gallery of Outlaw Guns display showing memorabilia and historical articles associated with famous outlaws from the Old West and the Prohibition era.
Racks, display cases and mannequin displays are three ways you can show off your guns and weapons in style. Adding these touches can turn your firearms collection into a decorative point of conversation that will make you proud and help you share your love of guns with your family and friends.