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An armory (US spelling) or armoury is a place where arms and ammunition are made, maintained and repaired, stored, issued to authorized users, or any combination of those. Over the centuries, this has included every variant of such a place, whether privately or publicly owned (with the latter in older royal and modern state-owned versions).
Armories and arsenals are both places where arms or ammunition may be made, maintained and repaired, stored, or issued. The usage differences between the names is mainly a matter of historical linguistic development. It is a common principle in natural language that synonyms have subtle connotative boundaries (albeit ones that may be somewhat permeable over time and distance).
Today an armory is typically a military depot used for the storage of weapons and ammunition. The term may also apply to an area within a building used for the storage of weapons. In a typical armory, ammunition is stored separately from weapons (both under lock and key) to minimize the potential for misuse, theft, and safety breaches. Very sensitive alarm systems are also extensively used.
Sub-armory is a term for a temporary storage of weapons and ammunition. A sub-armory could be operational with an officer on duty or un-operational with officers utilizing the area as duty dictates. A sub-armory could also be any temporary Post where an officer might be armed and on duty but could also be relieved of that duty and of their weapons and ammunition (example: A Surveillance Tower or patrol vehicle which is only operational certain times of the day. The first officer of the day attains the weapons and ammunition, taking these items to the Post, and then officers relieve each other until the last officer of the day returns these items to the armory).
Usage in various eras and places
- In the United States today, the term "armory" may refer to the building from which a National Guard or Reserve component trains during peacetime.
- In the United States during the 19th century, the term could refer either to one of the national armories (such as Springfield Armory or the Harpers Ferry Armory) or to various privately owned armories that fulfilled contracts with the U.S. government, such as Robbins & Lawrence or the Colt armory. The purpose was to build the nation's weapons and repair them. The Springfield Armory is particularly famous for the M1 Garand rifle, which was used during World War II. Harper's Ferry Armory was involved in the beginning of the Civil War, when John Brown tried to seize its weapons and use them to start a slave revolt.
- In the British Army and the Irish Army, "Armoury" refers to a specific compound, building or room where weapons, ammunition and related stores are kept under lock and key. Often, the armory and guardroom are part of the same compound.
- In the Singapore Armed Forces, the term 'Armskote' is used to refer to an armoury.
- In the Canadian Forces, an armoury is a place where a reserve unit trains, meets, and parades (e.g., the Halifax Armoury).
- Soanes, Catherine and Stevenson, Angus (ed.) (2005). Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd Ed., revised, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, p. 85. ISBN 978-0-19-861057-1.
- The English barrister and heraldist Arthur Charles Fox-Davies meant that the spelling without a u was never used for weapons but only used for armory in the meaning of the science of coats of arms, which is a part of heraldry, in his book The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory (1904), p. 1