Saddam Hussein's golden gun given to museum a gold-plated assault rifle, once carried by one of the late Saddam's palace guards, will go on display at the Australian War Memorial.

The eye-catching weapon was today handed by army deputy chief Major General John Cantwell to war memorial assistant director Nola Anderson today for permanent display in the new post-1945 gallery.

War Memorial senior curator Nick Fletcher said this is a fully functional Iraqi-manufactured Tabuk, a version of the ubiquitous Kalashnikov AK-47.

"The great attraction is that it's gold plated. It's a genuine full-on shiny gold gun," he said.

"I gather it's because it was one of the guns carried by Saddam's personal guard," he said.

"It's an interesting item. We think it's going to make a good exhibit. I think it says a few things about the excesses of the Saddam regime that will speak to people."

Just how many of these were made isn't clear. Mr Fletcher suggested perhaps a few hundred at most.

This one was found by soldiers of the US Army's 101st Air Assault Division in operations in the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

The golden gun will go on temporary display this week.