Meet Mel Bernstein. His gun collection has gotten a bit out of hand. Bernstein, who is better known by his nickname “Dragon Man,” has been dubbed the “most armed man in America.” Tanks, artillery, bombs, machine guns…. If you are interested in twentieth century military artifacts, the Dragon Man has it.
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And you can see it all, if you pay him a visit in Colorado Springs. Actually, Dragon Land (as his compound has come to be known) is a bit outside of the city limits. It has to be, as all of the guns in the Dragon Man’s collection are in good working order.
He operates a museum that is open on selective days during the summer, and takes private groups on tours, too. He also operates a gun store that, as you might imagine, specializes in more heavily regulated guns.
Bernstein is a character. As the video below shows, he’s very knowledgeable about his collection. While some geek out over personalities and political figures of history, Bernstein is more engaged by the things. But not just guns. He has individual rooms in his museum filled with uniforms, swords, vehicles, ammunition, and even explosives.
This massive collection, though, and his beaming enthusiasm hides some tragedy in the 71 year-old’s past. Not long ago, Bernstein’s odd habit of collecting had attracted the attention of reality TV producers from the discovery channel. It was during the filming for a prospective series on Bernstein’s collection that his wife was killed.
Terry Flanell, who had moved to Colorado with Bernstein back in 1982, was killed by a smoke grenade in 2012. Her death ended Bernstein’s involvement with the cable producers.
For more on the emotional story behind Bernstein’s life, read this profile from The Gazette. It is a long read, but a solid look at an odd an enigmatic collector of bellicose Americana.
Those who can’t make it to Colorado for the three hour museum tour should spend some time with this video. The extent of the collection is staggering.
Every room seems to have something slightly more shocking than the last. From rare Nazi gun/belt buckles to cluster bombs, Dragon Land is one dangerous place.