A Visit to the Texas Rangers Museum in Waco, Texas

To say that Massad Ayoob saved my life would be an exaggeration, but he did give me some advice recently that kept me out of harm’s way. Hearing that I was going to Waco, Texas, he suggested that I visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum there. I went to the museum the same morning that as many as five “motorcycle clubs” congregated at the Twin Peaks restaurant, which is apparently Texas’s version of Hooters. (Twin peaks. Get it? Yeah, real clever.) While I was safely ensconced in the museum, the SHTF at Twin Peaks, as everyone has heard by now.


The Texas Ranger Museum was fascinating and much larger than I expected. Through an examination of the history of the Texas Rangers, one can learn a great deal about the history of the state of Texas and of firearms from the 19th century forward. Beyond Chuck Norris as “Walker, Texas Ranger,” although that is represented at the museum too.


I am not a firearms historian by any means, but it seems safe to say that the association of Colt revolvers by the Texas Rangers was important to the company’s development. One exhibit at the museum had replicas of the nearly 5 pound Walker Colts that you could pick up and try to imagine firing. And of course there was the “Gun that Won the West,” Colt Single Action Army.


Interesting to note that the $17 it cost for a Single Action Army in 1877 would be worth just under $400 today.

My interest in concealed carry led me to focus particularly on the many 19th century handguns designed to be smaller and more concealable. If someone today says “pocket pistol,” I think of the Ruger LCP or Kahr P380 or Beretta Nano. In the 19th century, they would think of pieces like this:


BTW, can someone explain how you carry a muzzleloading pocket pistol without the projectile falling out?

Another pocket pistol, cool for its lever action:


What kind of cargo trousers did people wear back then with such big pockets for handguns like this:


I guess something like this from 1849 would fit in the pocket of your overcoat or duster:


Alot of places that this Model 1855 could snag on being drawn from pocket concealment:


The museum houses information about many famous cases worked on by the Texas Rangers, one of the most famous being the pursuit and killing of the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde by retired Ranger Frank Hamer. This Colt Model 1908 Hammerless caught my eye.


Of course modern firearms are represented in the museum, too, like this Texas Ranger rifle from LaRue Tactical out of Leander, Texas:


These are only a few things I saw at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. Whether you’re interested in the history of the state of Texas, law enforcement generally or the rangers specifically, or firearms, the $7 price of admission. Pro Tip: Go to the Waco Visitor Information Center (which shares the same parking lot) and you can get a $1 off coupon for the museum.




  1. Cool museum. Thanks for sharing it. Now you need to get out to Cody, Wyoming and see the Cody Firearms Museum which is part of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It used to be the Winchester Museum but has now broadened its scope.

    I imagine is rodeo was a NCAA sport that Cody would be the place for the Championship.


  2. BTW, can someone explain how you carry a muzzleloading pocket pistol without the projectile falling out?

    My understanding is most muzzleloaders used a patched ball — a piece of paper or cloth, often lightly greased (to prevent moisture from affecting the powder) that was wrapped around the ball before it was seated. This provided enough friction to hold the ball in place during movement but not enough to stop it from being fired.

    Bob S.


  3. Interesting tour through gun culture 1.0. Meanwhile, as you note, you were near a frightening shoot-out that is now being discussed all over the media. Is that gun culture 2.0? Where do you stand on that? Most of those guys were legal concealed-carriers. Why did so many start shooting? Would we have seen more or fewer injuries and fatalities if more or less had been armed? I hope you will blog about this. I really would like to read your thoughts on the whole situation.


    • Thanks for the comment. I have been ruminating about the incident, but I try not to write too close to an event because

      I had not read that most of the bikers involved in the incident were legal concealed carriers. I will look into that.

      Even if they were legal to carry in Texas, as far as I know the Twin Peaks restaurants are posted no carry. Many were also carrying brass knuckles, knives, and clubs, so they not exactly a group that concern themselves much with the law as far as I can tell. If concealed carry were illegal in Texas, I wonder how many would carry firearms anyway?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. After reading about the shootings and debates around guns as making us safer vs more vulnerable, I actually went to your blog hoping to find a scholar putting it all into context. Imagine my surprise to see that you were in Texas at the same time! So I do hope you’ll post about it at some point soon. Thank you!


    • This is a good question that may not actually be answerable with definitive empirical evidence. Both sides already have their minds made up and the data are really beside the point.

      Personally, even in a society with no guns, I would still not dine at a bar/restaurant filled with members of various “motorcycle clubs” with police stationed outside. In a social setting saturated with guns (e.g., rural North Carolina), I would not hesitate to eat at the town diner without a gun to protect myself.

      Thanks for encouraging me to think more about this, as always.


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