American Firearms Museum

Perhaps better known by its formal name as the Winchester Historic Firearms Museum, the American Firearms Museums is just one part of the Winchester Mystery House, a quirky mansion complex in San Jose. The museum has a number of famous weapons on display and exhibits the history of what was once the Winchester firearms empire.

The entire property here was owned by Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester repeating rifle estate. Believing that the spirits of persons killed with Winchester firearms were haunting her, she constructed this Victorian-style labyrinth to confuse the ghosts. It contains, among other things, a door on the second floor that opens onto thin air and others that open onto walls. Some stairs and corridors lead to dead ends, too, so those visiting the museum must do so only as part of a guided tour.

The main attraction of the American Firearms Museums is the West Coast's largest collection of Winchester rifles the "Gun that Won the West." Also on display are many other firearms from around the world, many of which are hundreds of years old. Of special interest are the Limited Edition Winchester commemorative rifles, such as the Centennial '66, the Theodore Roosevelt, and the well-known John Wayne. One exhibit commemorates the life of Oliver Fisher Winchester, too.

The Winchester Grand Estate Tour takes about two-and-a-half hours, including the Historic Firearms Museum and the Antique Products Museum. Tour fees start at $28 per adult. The Winchester Mystery House is located between Stevens Creek Boulevard and Interstate 280 at 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose, California 95128.

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