What is an Armory?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An armory is a facility which is designated for the storage of weapons and munitions. It is not uncommon to see an armory used to house administrative offices and sometimes training facilities as well, as armories are typically located in central, well-guarded areas which make them logical choices for these purposes as well. As a general rule, access to an armory is very tightly controlled, so that weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.

Castles often had armories in their inner towers or keeps.
Castles often had armories in their inner towers or keeps.

There are a number of ways in which an armory can be designed. Classically, an armory is an isolated structure with a number of easily-controlled rooms, designed for the purpose of locking up weapons, ammunition, and other military supplies. In many cases, an armory is built from very solid materials to repel a break-in, and armories designed for the storage of firearms typically have isolated areas for storing ammunition, for safety purposes.

Modern armories are generally located on military bases.
Modern armories are generally located on military bases.

An armory can also be built into another structure. An armory which is embedded in another structure will typically be much smaller, with limited storage space to store just the weapons which might be needed ready to hand. Historically, such armories were built into castles and some wealthy homes so that people could defend themselves against invaders.

Modern armories are generally located on military bases. In some communities, historical armories have been sold to private members of the community, who typically chose to renovate them and use them for a variety of tasks. When well-restored and tended with care, historic armories often end up on registries of historic places, because many of these buildings are quite distinctive and striking, and well worth preserving in their current form.

A wide range of weapons can be stored in an armory. Obviously, the bigger an armory is, the more flexible its potential uses are, creating room for both large and small arms along with other equipment such as uniforms. The contents of an armory are typically meticulously cataloged and regularly inspected for any signs of missing or damaged weapons, and an armory is guarded at all times by military personnel.

People who wish to take weapons out of an armory must generally show qualifications and good cause to do so, and they are generally either officers, or accompanied by officers. When weapons are checked out of an armory for use in training, military exercises, or combat, their condition and identification markings are carefully logged so that they can be checked back in again upon their return.

Weapons may be checked out of an armory for use in military exercises.
Weapons may be checked out of an armory for use in military exercises.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Emilski - Although it may sound odd to have an armory on a major college campus it really is not considering I am sure a college like the University of Illinois with a massive enrollment, would probably have a very large ROTC program.

Also, as far as your concerns about the safety of the armory I do not think that there is anything to worry about. There are armories all across the country, even in very small towns if they have an army national guard armory, and you never hear about them being taken over or over run.


@Emilski - I understand your concerns and do agree that the number of keys at both those place sin the example you describe does not make a whole lot of sense but what needs to be kept in mind is that there are many many armories across the country and that you never hear of an incident occurring.

People in the armories know what they have and they know what can happen if the building was to be over run. That is why people are always cautious at these places and understand that there are weapons in the building so there has to be a heightened sense of security and alertness to people that are not usually in the building.


There is an armory at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and I have always thought of it as being a very well designed structure that would be able to repel attacks. I think this most obviously because of the guns that they have inside the building.

However, I do remember hearing a story that got my attention a little bit. Where they housed the guns in the armory it took two different keys to open the room in order to obtain the weapons. However, at a research facility that I believe concerned agriculture it needed 5 keys to open the doors to get the information.

I always found this to be very strange for multiple reasons, first there being an armory on a major campus and secondly that the security for an armory was not very high. After hearing this story it made me question the safety of the armory.

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