A Swedish self-loading military rifle. A tiny pin-fire gun from the 1880s. An intricately carved Lithgow-made sporting rifle. And a WWI handgun with three mysterious notches cut into its butt.
“Actually we know the story of that one,” Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum volunteer Donna White said.
“It belonged to a soldier in the Royal Gurkhas and in 1918 it was used to shoot an attacking local. That’s the third notch. The other two notches we are not sure...”
The mysterious Gurkha gun is just one of forty firearms that have been donated to the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum as part of the nation-wide gun amnesty that began in July. The museum has received a further fifteen guns to be destroyed and thirty guns awaiting registration by their owner.
“A lot of the firearms being handed in have been passed down through families or just found in a property’s garage,” volunteer Kerry Guerin said.
A large self-loading Swedish military rifle sits across a museum table.
“See, something like that is a lot better with us because it’s prohibited. We’d prefer to keep it here and look after it than have it on the streets.”
Because the amnesty allows people to surrender weapons anonymously, it’s up to museum volunteers to work out many of the guns’ stories.
“This one was owned by a local family,” Mr Guerin said pointing to an antique rifle.
“It’s an American Winchester dating to around 1906. But someone must have loved it so much they had it repaired at the factory, it has a Lithgow barrel from the forties or fifties.”
“It could have been snuck into the factory by one of the workers,” Ms White added.
Another anomaly is a sporting rifle made at the factory for Slazenger in the post WW2 period.
“These were really popular guns in the area. We’ve had a lot handed in.”
But what sets this Slazenger 1B apart is the intricate tribal carving on its stock.
“We don’t know who did the carving,” Mr Guerin said.
Ms White said the arms handed in, particularly those made in Lithgow, are “filling gaps” in research.
“Anything that doesn’t go up on display will be used in our research facility.”
The amnesty ends in September, call the museum on 6351 4452 for more information.