The Federal Bureau of Investigation's firearms reference collection is one of the most interesting weapons collections ever assembled.
The collection, now estimated at over 7,000 firearms, is a working collection used for law enforcement purposes.
"We keep them functional. We keep them clean. But they are certainly not in museum quality because they do see a lot of use.," said FBI Firearms Examiner John Webb in a video on the collection posted at the FBI's website (and reposted in the sidebar here)..
The collection started in 1933 and has expanded so much since then it has twice outgrown the space allocated. "Once we moved to the new Laboratory, the reference firearms collection was given a larger space and had much more room to grow, but undoubtedly, down the road, this space will be inadequate," Webb said in the video.
The collection includes samples of every firearm issued to FBI agents, guns captured from criminals such as 1930's gangsters "Ma" Barker and "Pretty Boy" Floyd, and some guns purchased specifically for the collection.
"We try to have one example of every type of firearm—make, model, finish, serial number configuration, you name it. We want to have an example of each kind. So when a firearm comes in for disposition, if anything about that firearm is different from what we already have in the collection, we’ll add it to the collection," Webb said in the video.
Watch the video in the sidebar for more information on the collection and make sure to read the original story on the FBI's web site.