Question of the Day: What’s a “Huge Arsenal,” Exactly?


Chapel Hill suspect owned huge arsenal, the headline proclaims at “Search warrants show the suspect in the shooting deaths of three Muslim college students in North Carolina had an arsenal of a dozen firearms in the home he shared with his wife, along with a large stash of ammunition.”The warrants show that three handguns were recovered from the Hicks home, in addition to a pistol the suspect had with him when arrested. Also listed are two shotguns and seven rifles, including a military-style AR-15 carbine. Police also recovered numerous loaded magazines and cases of ammunition.” Thirteen firearms? That’s an arenal? A “huge” arsenal? Seriously now, what constitutes an “arsenal”? Be specific. [h/t JR]


  1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

    To the media, an arsenal is anything more than 1 firearm and any excess ammo that is not loaded in your arsenal at that time.

    I once tried to explain to someone that 200 rounds could be 2 or 4 boxes. I might as well have been talking in Aramaic.

    To me, an arsenal is something the military has. A civilian is probably never going to reach the level of an “arsenal” (even if we die trying… and I will).

    1. avatar Jeff in CO says:

      Arsenal (definition compliments of Bloomberg & Company’s 31st unabridged dictionary): (n)

      1. A cache of gun(s) involving one or more firearms and a large sum of working ammunition of more than seven rounds.

      2. A cache that includes a “ghost gun” capable of firing thirty rounds in one-half a second utilizing a .30-caliber magazine clip.

      3. A cache of gun(s) involving one or more firearms capable of firing more than one round of ammunition between “reloads.”

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “1. A cache of gun(s) involving one or more firearms and a large sum of working ammunition of more than seven rounds.”


        I was being a bit of a smart-ass awhile back when I defined ‘arsenal’ as any .22 or larger caliber other than bolt action or single shot and ammunition of more than 50 rounds…

    2. avatar Jon says:

      “I once tried to explain to someone that 200 rounds could be 2 or 4 boxes.” – NYC2AZ

      And? What did they say?

      1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

        He redirected and got onto something else, but eventually circled back to the “civilians” don’t have enough training. I asked him how could civilians properly train if he thought 2 – 4 boxes of ammo was too much for a person to have? It devolved pretty quickly into a proggie “feeeeelz/intenchunzz” argument where I apparently wanted to blow up bus loads of pregnant nuns with pet baby seals on board. I countered with some outlandish satirical lines of my own. It was good times. =)

    3. avatar george from fort worth says:

      if jeff in colorado is correct in his citation….an arsenal = 1.

      these are the people who will be the 12 we wish to be judged by.

      1. avatar Jeff in CO says:

        Sorry, my sarcasm sometimes gets the best of me. 😛

        1. avatar george from fort worth says:

          no problemo…

          just wanted to point out that the same idiotic reasoning used by the media infects the juries of our peers.

        2. avatar Wood says:

          My peers are gun owners, people who believe in personal accountability and a certain amount of self reliance. Unfortunately in my state the jury pool of “peers” includes anyone with a driver license, hardly any sort of indicator of intelligence or integrity.

        3. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Well, there’s a good point! Has anyone tried/succeeded in demanding his “peers” be made up of gun owners, CCL holders or such?

    4. avatar Mongoose says:

      To a progressive one gun is an arsenal.

  2. avatar mike reed says:

    Same as most liberals definition of rich.. anything more than mine…

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:


    2. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      I’m reminded that anyone driving faster than me is crazy and anyone slowing me down is incompetent…

      1. avatar Wood says:

        People are never more honest than when driving. You can learn a lot about a person’s character by observing them behind the wheel.

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Well, I probably would feel that way, if I had much experience with people driving faster than I do. It happens, but it’s rare.

  3. avatar Scrubula says:

    IMO there’s no such thing as an arsenal unless you’re part of a street gang or managing a military armory.

    Just another media buzzword like ‘assault weapon’. There’s nothing wrong with having a gun collection, but call it an arsenal instead and you get people riled up.

  4. avatar George says:


    Singular = gun (or high-power assault weapon, high-capacity handgun if that can be worked in)
    Plural = Arsenal

    Singular = Bullet
    Plural = Cache

  5. avatar IdahoPete says:

    An arsenal is what you find at an Army National Guard Armory, or on an active military base. Anything else is a mendacious attempt by the media to further demonize gun owners

  6. avatar Swarf says:

    If the magic number is a baker’s dozen… I’m in trouble. Of course, none of them are “military-style AR 15″s so I might be just at “aresenal” instead of “huge aresenal”.

    But wait. If you count my housemate’s 4 guns– one of which is a super scary AK platform– we might as well be an invading force.

  7. avatar Charles5 says:

    If it doesn’t have crew served weapons and ammunition, then it is not an arsenal.

  8. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    For an arsenal, I believe one must have the following:
    At least one belt fed gun.
    At least 3 AR platform rifles of differing calibers. At least 25 mags for each, and two cases of ammo for each.
    At least one large bore, (.50), and a good supply of ammo.
    A few medium bore rifles, .35-.45 caliber.
    At least a dozen handguns with plenty of food for all.
    At least 3 shotguns of different calibers, with at least a case of ammo for each.

    That photo above? Yup. That’s an arsenal.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Well, heck. I’ve checked those boxes a couple times over.

      1. avatar sagebrushracer says:

        next time you play with your toys, call me, lol!

        Heck, i would even bring a brick of .22!

    2. avatar Tim L says:

      Hell, Tom that ain’t no arsenal. That’s a ww2 museum porn room.

    3. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Nah, that’s a firearms distributor’s warehouse.

  9. avatar Jim R says:

    In the strictly technical sense, having more than one gun or more than one bullet qualifies as an arsenal. It doesn’t even have to be weapons–an arsenal can be a collection of ANYTHING. It’s just another way to say “a bunch of stuff”.

    Personally though, I wouldn’t call it an arsenal unless you had enough weapons/ammo to supply a brigade.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      And since I cannot define a brigade, I must not have one!!

  10. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    Technically, an arsenal is where weapons are manufactured while an armory is where they’re stored.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      Trying to explain that difference to a “journalist” is like trying to communicate with the dead.

      1. avatar Blake says:

        With even less success…

      2. avatar ShaunL. says:

        At least when talking to the dead you can stay on topic. Try that with a “journalist”.

    2. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Nope. Too narrow.

      a collection of weapons and military equipment stored by a country, person, or group


      a place where weapons and military equipment are stored or made

      I spent virtually the entire time I wrote the Digest trying to ascertain the distinction between cache, stockpile, arsenal, and the like, without success.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Say Matt … if it isn’t too much trouble can you please send an e-mail to my contact e-mail address? I want to ask you about concealed carry in a specific location where you seem to have knowledge … and I really prefer to ask it offline.

        Thank you.

  11. avatar Chris V says:

    Love the picture at the top of the article. There is hundreds of thousands of dollars in guns in that room, and the guy gets his furniture from Goodwill. LOL

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      If I’m not mistaken that was Charlton Heston’s gun vault.

      1. avatar Rick the Bear says:


        Yes, that’s Heston’s. Here is the other view of the room:

        Nice collection.


        1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          You could be right, but it would carry more weight if it said, ‘this is NOT Charlton Heston’s gun collection but Mr. John Doe’s’. Suggesting it might be this guy’s or that guy’s doesn’t lend credibility to the claim.

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          All you wiseguys, whose military awards and decs are those in the second picture?

  12. avatar Will in Oregon says:

    If 13 firearms constitutes an arsenal then I had a little over 2 arsenals before that unfortunate boating accident.

  13. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    I would consider 13 firearms to be a SMALL arsenal. Or a good start, either way.

    1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

      3. a collection or supply of weapons or munitions.

  14. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Well then I must have a weapons depot according to the press.
    And am going to war.
    Between my odd number of hand cannons and a few thousand rounds for every caliber I own.
    I certainly qualify for a press related arsenal.

    Come and get them 4th estate.

    1. avatar Lime Green Medic says:

      You and me both, brother. I’ll load magazines.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Hey, that was SIX (6) BARs on one wall! Was there ever a semi-auto BAR? I’m thinking that is a NFA museum, for goodness’ sake, someone with Heston’s bucks would have to own it!

      1. avatar David N says:

        There is a company in Ohio who currently manufactures semi auto only BARs

  15. avatar Jeremy says:

    While the strict definition of arsenal is a collection of weapons, I do agree that in this case it is strictly a media buzzword. They’re trying to conjure up cages upon cages of rifles or machine guns, or a duffel bag full of assorted weapons hidden in a wall or under floorboards, the preferred method of weapons storage used by bad guys and nut cases, in the minds of their viewers/listeners/readers.

    They want people to believe that anyone who has firearms in their homes are dangerous, and anyone with more than one firearm could have nothing but nefarious intent, whether against a certain ethnic group or the government.


    1. avatar PS says:

      Per Wikipedia-

      “A lower-class arsenal, which can furnish the materiel and equipment of a small army, may contain a laboratory, gun and carriage factories, small-arms ammunition, small-arms, harness, saddlery tent and powder factories, and a powder factory; in addition it must possess great store-houses.”

  16. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    It is well known that any woman who owns thirteen pairs of shoes has, by definition, a huge shoe collection.

    1. avatar Carson says:

      Pfffft, for a woman, you’d be lucky to pass 13 pairs as an average size shoe collection!

    2. avatar SuperiorPosture says:

      Crap. I’m a dude and I own at least 13 pairs of shoes if we’re not going to count cleats or other sporting-type footwear. And sadly, not quite that many guns at this time. My priorities are all screwed up…

  17. avatar Defens says:

    Depending on the dictionary, it’s either a collection of weapons – no size specified – or a government-established site for manufacturing, maintaining, or storing weapons.

    The media are technically correct, but certainly appealing to emotion. Just like how they always post a big photo of a handgun behind a mugging story, even if firearms weren’t involved.

  18. avatar MattG91 says:

    An “arsenal” is something the military has. A “collection” is what private citizens have. “Arsenal” is just a conveniently scary term.

  19. avatar Ralph says:

    What’s a “Huge Arsenal?” It’s a big building with guns in it. And don’t call me Shirley.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      Or “arse.”

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Isn’t “arse” just a small arsenal? If so, then “big arse” is like “jumbo shrimp.”

        1. avatar Bryan says:

          No “Big Arse” is what blocks my TV set when I’m tryin’ to watch football!

        2. avatar LarryinTX says:

          Doesn’t Obama hold control over a big arse or two?

    2. avatar Gunr says:

      You are surely right!


  20. avatar JeffR says:

    The difference between a collection and an arsenal? When going through a divorce, your ex let’s you keep your measly collection. If she tries to lay claim to some of your firearms – or their monetary equivalent – then you have an arsenal.

  21. avatar Bryan says:

    Well if an “Arsenal” is defined as a collection of weapons, my wife has a huge arsenal! As does just about every woman in America. When used properly her stilettos are deadly!

  22. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    If you have a family, you could easily have a dozen firearms. Perhaps two or three shotguns in .410, 20 gauge, and 12 gauge for different size/age family members. Next, you could easily have several rifles: two rifles in .22 caliber, one AR-15, a .243 Winchester and .308 rilfes. And how about a few different handguns in various calibers for different size/age family members — perhaps .22 LR, 9mm, and .45 ACP. Oh, and many people like to have a nice revolver or two for self defense and even hunting with handguns.

    So, yeah, it is easy for a family to have 12+ firearms without a second thought.

    As for ammunition, that depends how they like to shoot. A couple thousand rounds of .22 LR is nothing. A thousand rounds of 9mm is nothing. And how about 400 rounds of 20 gauge trap loads and another 400 rounds of 12 gauge trap loads? You might as well purchase ammunition for your AR-15 in bulk and pick up 1000 rounds. And why not have 200 rounds of each of your hunting calibers?

    Again, it is easy to have on the order of 6,000+ rounds of ammunition without a second thought and no nefarious intentions.

    1. avatar Frank says:

      You left out the beloved .30-30

    2. avatar Jake Tallman says:

      Hell, depending on the size/age of your family, you could even have a few different sets of handguns in the same caliber, just in different sizes. Each person could easily have two or three handguns of each of their preferred caliber.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:


  23. avatar Phil LA says:

    I’d say the picture above is an arsenal, but not a HUGE arsenal. The only HUGE arsenals in the world belong to the militaries.

  24. avatar Frank says:

    Too much is made of the amount of guns/ammo that each of us has on hand. It is like beer. I know guys that get nervous when the last case of beer is opened. No one thinks that they are “beer nuts”, but when I have more than a few rounds of each caliber, I am a “gun nut” with an “arsenal”
    To each his own.

  25. avatar Alexander says:

    I have a dozen paintings. A museum! And I posted a dozen comments – obviously an activist. And concervative comments – clearly a domestic terrorist!

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      And most women own more footwear than the entire nation of Burundi. Which doesn’t make them a Designer Shoe Warehouse.

  26. avatar GuyFromV says:

    My mental image of “huge arsenal” is the loading program in The Matrix that Neo and Trinity saddle up in just before they rescue Morpheus.

  27. avatar Gunr says:

    Joe Biden would say, “anything more than an old dilapidated 12 Ga., with only 2 shells!

  28. avatar dph says:

    I’m not sure how much is really an arsenal, but using the math from the article I have 1.25 arsenals and my brother has about 5 arsenals. If you add bullets, powder, primers and brass those numbers are considerably higher. I would love to at least another 1.25 arsenals to my small collection, but need a larger safe first.

  29. avatar Bert says:

    It is only an arsenal if you have hundreds of weapons and they are all the same, otherwise it is a private collection.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      That’s pretty much what I was thinking. All guns the same, and lots of them.

  30. avatar Josueped says:

    I am going to be the party pooper here. The use of “arsenal” is not incorrect here
    Websters has
    a : an establishment for the manufacture or storage of arms and military equipment
    b : a collection of weapons
    : store, repertoire

    A collection can be 3 or 1000

    Now connotative wise, arsenal does tend to the image of a public storage or place of manufacture, and thus something of a much bigger size. After all its original western use was for naval dockyards and storage, and after that for any public place of making or storing weapons. dar as-sina’ah is the rook, meaning workshop

    But in anycase, taking just its denotation of “collection of firearms” 12 is not huge. It is small collection

  31. avatar TwinReverb says:

    Typical 24/7 news troll bait. There’s no law against owning as many firearms, or cats, or cars, or footballs, as someone wants. And there shouldn’t be any such law.

  32. avatar Tile floor says:

    An arsenal? It’s that thing I unfortunately lost in that boating accident awhile back

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      … damn leaky boats … mumble … grumble …

  33. avatar Jus Bill says:

    To the subjects in the Guardian’s country of record, any gun is an armory in and of itself. If Putin gets as far as the English Channel we’ll be sending them our personal “arsenals” again…

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      If Putin gets as far as the English Channel I’d rather send him something from the Hanford reactors delivered “30 minutes or less’ or the next MIRV is free.”

  34. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    My dad used to work at the Joliet(Illinois)arsenal. THAT was an arsenal.

  35. avatar LTC F says:

    Apparently I at one time (but no longer, as I lost all of my firearms in a tragic boating accident Mr ATF agent) processed a humongous arsenal.

    1. avatar BlueBronco says:

      ATF agents have been known to lose there guns in boating accidents. One had his pistol and badge recovered from Lake Castaic in Cali after 20 years.

  36. avatar Josh says:

    At least they aren’t quite as hyperbolic as the NY Daily News. I remember an article mentioned here where they referred to two pistols, a pocket knife and about 30 rounds of ammo as an ‘arsenal’. To me anyway, the U.S. Marine Corps have an arsenal. I’m just a dude who has some guns and ammo.

  37. avatar Paul says:

    An arsenal is what I want. Not enough is what I have.

  38. avatar Excedrine says:

    If found are more than 1 gun in total and really any ammunition whatsoever, the lamestream “news” media will say, “IT’S AN ARSENAL11!1!!1!!” Sensationalist dogma, a lack of personal and professional integrity, and fear porn of the lowest caliber (pun intended) is always the order of the day no matter whose “news” desk disgraces our TV.

    I say the collection in the basement displayed above is a good start.

    I wouldn’t know where to start with defining an “arsenal”, and to assign an arbitrary number to it seems asinine. But I would start off by defining it as an area specifically dedicated to the storage of weapons, with at least two magazines for separate storage of shootin’ irons and ammunition (plus accouterments). That’s the way the National Guard seems to do it anyway, and someone will probably correct me if I’m wrong.

  39. avatar Roscoe says:

    Seems to me an arsenal is a stored collection of weapons maintained by an employer, company or government organization *for issuing* to it’s personnel when needed to protect or facilitate accomplishing it’s mission.

  40. avatar pun&gun says:

    I believe the term “arsenal” implies a collection of weaponry intended to arm multiple people.

  41. avatar Don in PA says:

    One handgun three magazines, two boxes of ammo, and an NRA membership.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I think that’s a “terrorist cell”.

  42. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

    13? Poser.

  43. avatar brian says:

    Even in the hands of an actual, bona fide, legit murderer/terrorist, any more than two (and most of us who probably say one) guns are no more dangerous than one. Freaking out about an “arsenal” only makes sense if you are afraid of that single first gun.

  44. avatar scooter says:

    Have a bunch of anything and you are “stocked up” or “well prepared.” Have a few shootin’ irons and a enough Purina Gun Chow to feed them and you are a paranoid menace with Rambo fantasies and you pose a direct threat to cops and babies because even if YOU don’t want to shoot anybody your GUNS DO and they just might GO OFF! Sigh…

  45. avatar Gearmoe says:

    You got from The Guardian, the anti-gun progressive left extremist rag. >1=arsenal. What is wrong with collecting? What is wrong with have a cache of ammo? Is it illegal? No? Oh, I see, so they must think it should be. I don’t defend this guy’s actions as it appears he screwed up, but involving his forearm collection as if this had anything to do with what he appears to have chose to do? MSM’s spinning up the anti-gun stand again.

  46. avatar The Original Brad says:

    You might as well keep going and ask what it the difference between wn “Gun Collection” and a “Collection of Guns”.

  47. avatar Stephen Rivera says:

    For me, if you can’t equip at least a platoon sized element with their own, standardized weapon, it’s not an arsonal. Anything else is a “collection”.

  48. avatar David N says:

    Gee, I guess I’d better get to work on my own huge arsenal. I have 7 in total. But I can hit well with all of them.

  49. avatar Mark says:

    All smoke and mirrors to detract from the facts. This guy was a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) supporter ( a left wing, extremist group), Rachel Maddow follower and an avowed atheist. Not much of this stuff made the news. Most of what was presented about this was the terrible danger those 2A, Christian, white, conservative people bring to this country (sarcasm).
    As to the subject of this, what is a huge arsenal, who cares. It is subjective. Owning one hundred is no more inherently dangerous than owning one when the most dangerous part of this is the mind, not the gun. The gun, and number owned, is irrelevant. Freedom is messy. No freedom is worse.

  50. Had Brady 2 gone thru an arsenal would have been 20 or more firearms or more than 1000 rounds of ammunition.

    The original wording was 10 firearms (or parts thereof), or 1000 rounds of ammunition.

    Thank God the bill died. Buying 2 bricks of .22 ammo would have constituted an arsenal by federal standards.

  51. avatar Robert W. says:

    If you can’t comfortably arm a marine company, you don’t have a huge arsenal.

  52. avatar cockatoo says:

    I think Roscoe and pun&gun above nailed it. An arsenal is meant to supply guns to a organization of armed people, whether that’s an army or a terrorist cell or a police force. It doesn’t matter how many guns are or are not in it- the “arsenal” could be depleted, and consist only of an empty room. A personal collection shouldn’t be called an “arsenal” any more than a dining room in someone’s house should be called a “cafeteria.” It lacks the institutional purpose.

  53. avatar Sledgecrowbar says:

    Google says an arsenal is “a collection of weapons and military equipment stored by a country, person, or group”, which to me, means “a collection of weapons, stored”. If I say “a country, person, or group is stockpiling weapons”, I’d be thrown out of that briefing, so that would seem superfluous as a component of this definition.

    Google says huge is “extremely large, enormous”, which I thought wasn’t sufficient, so I Googled “extreme” and “enormous”, and my final definition of “huge arsenal” is “one of the largest, when sorted among other collections of weapons in the same type”.

    So if we’re splitting hairs, now, and holding journalists to adhere to accepted definitions since their jobs are to convey current events using an educated array of our language, then that must mean nobody in America has more than about fourteen or fifteen guns.

    Well. At least it wasn’t that last arsenal from NYC that was a shotgun, a handgun and a knife.

    1. avatar David N says:

      wonders if Rosie O’Donnell has an arsenal of spoons…….

  54. avatar PeterK says:

    The problem is this is technically correct. The other problem is these people literally make money off ginning up controversy. They spend all their working hours doing it.

    So keep calling them on it. Because this is fear-mongering nonsense.

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