And it's not a firearm at all. It's an air rifle. A 22-shot, repeating large-caliber air rifle that is likely more important in the Western expansion of our country than even the venerable Hawken or Winchester lever-action. In a post I wrote about “10 Guns that Shaped America,” the Girandoni air rifle was near the top of the list. And for good reason.
Because without the Girandoni carried by Meriwether Lewis when he and William Clark led the Corps of Discovery across the continent of North America there's a good chance they would not have gone far. How could an airgun possibly shape a nation’s destiny?
Tonight on the Pursuit Channel's “American Airgunner” is visiting NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va. There they will talk to my good friend Phil Schreier—the NFM’s senior curator—about the Girandoni and its role in forming this nation. And if you can't wait for tonight's episode, you can get join us as we fire an exact replica on an “American Rifleman Television” exclusive segment in the above video. Schreier also authored what could be the finest article to date on the Girandoni. You can read it here, and watch the video below for his historical account of the air rifle.