The majority of the firearms in the Rijksmuseum are Dutch and date from the 17th or 18th century. Dutch firearms were known for their sound quality, slender lines and perfect marriage of simplicity and functionality. The collection encompasses military as well as civilian firearms, such as sporting guns and weapons that were exchanged as diplomatic gifts. Among the most exceptional pieces are the 17th-century pistols with ivory stocks: made exclusively in Maastricht, they were so costly that they were rarely, if ever, used. In the course of time, not just gunsmiths, but also silversmiths, carvers and engravers lavished greater attention on the ornamentation of weapons.
Some weapons have been preserved because they had celebrated owners: stadholders, naval heroes and even Napoleon! A particularly unusual object is a ring with a tiny flintlock mounted in rock crystal, revealing its working mechanism.
A major part of the firearms in the museum, which counts close to 600 objects, comes from the private collection assembled by Henk Visser.