By B.B. Pelletier
I thought it would be fun to look at something completely different: a gun that uses the power of rubber bands to shoot tiny BBs. These guns were first made way back in 1923, but the one I want to share with you today is from the 1960s. I bought it new in California and at the time I thought it was a holdover from the 1940s that just hadn’t sold in 20 years. You know – “new old stock”?
The Sharpshooter is a pretty little gun!
My gun turns out to be a Sharpshooter pistol, made in La Jolla, California, before the year 1960. That was when the company was bought out by Berry Brow Enterprises and moved to Line Lexington, Pennsylvania. I found this out in an article by D.T. Fletcher in Airgun Revue #1. Apparently, my gun is the deluxe model because it is nickel-plated with ivory-colored plastic grips. A deluxe black gun had the same white grips and a shiny blued finish. A final model is plain blue and has no grips at all. The grip panels are just raised stampings of the metal gun frame.
My deluxe Sharpshooter is in good condition!
The box included the gun, operating instructions that look like they’ve been pieced together over 20 years, some rubber bands, a tube of shot, a loading trough and a target stamp. Ink the stamp and make as many bullseye targets as you have paper. This is really a very complete shooting kit in a box.
A complete shooting kit in a box!
It’s not just a simple gun – it’s also a sophisticated flyswatter!
The guns shot No. 6 chilled lead birdshot, and ads for the gun claimed you can hit a fly at 16 feet with this gun. In Fletcher’s report, he actually landed four out of five shots into a fly-sized target at 10 feet. When he used multiple rubber bands on his gun, he got velocities up to 158 f.p.s. With a single band, you get just over 100 f.p.s. Stoeger’s 1950 Shooter’s Bible said the shot measured 0.118″, which makes The Sharpshooter a .12-caliber gun.
Smaller than a regular BB shot tube,
the Sharpshooter tube holds about
as many shots because it’s so small.
A slingshot with a trigger & a barrel
The gun throws the tiny ball like a slingshot launches its projectile. A plastic launcher mechanism rides a rail to keep it straight, and the ball is forced by acceleration into a small seat in the back of the mechanism. Apparently that’s what gives the gun its accuracy. While I’ve never hit a fly with my gun, the shots go predictably to the same place time after time. I suspect there is more accuracy in the gun than most people might believe.
This gun had no price increase for 17 years!
The price for my deluxe gun was $5.00 in 1950, which is exactly how much I paid for it when I rescued it off the store’s shelf in 1967! The deluxe black gun went for $4.25, and the plain black gun sold for $3.50. For comparison, a Daisy Red Ryder sold for $4.95 that same year. I keep the gun around as a curiosity, only. It’s sort of the airsoft of the 1920s!
Do you have any odd airguns laying around the house? If so, I’d enjoy hearing about them!