Airgun makers that spawned firearms

by B.B. Pelletier

I’m interested in all the shooting sports, but airguns are my special love. I especially like the fringes, where the airgun and firearm worlds come together, so I’d like to show you some airguns that spawned firearms – and some well-known airgun makers who also made firearms.

The Daisy – Whamo connection
In either the late 1950s or early ’60s, a company called the Floyd Hyde Engineering Corporation invented a semiautomatic gas BB pistol. The interesting thing about this company was it’s location – Alhambra, California, which was also the home of Whamo. Daisy bought the rights to the Hyde BB pistol and turned it into the Daisy model 100, which was only offered in 1963. But that’s not all that happened.


Sure ’nuff, the Hyde pistol looks like a Daisy 100.


This is the Daisy 100 for comparison.

Whamo ALSO used the frame of the Hyde BB pistol for their .22 LR single-shot! Yes, ladies and gentlemen – Whamo made a firerarm! It has a slam-fire mechanism, which means it fires from an unlocked bolt without any retardation. When this pistol fires, the bolt flies back, kicking the spent shell out like a semiauto. Because it’s a single-shot, nothing more happens until it is loaded once more. It’s a fascinating study in gun design because the frame is made of the same pot metal as the Hyde and Daisy gas pistols, yet steel parts are used where they are needed. Until Glock popularized reinforced synthetic pistol frames several decades later, this was a unique firearm!


Whamo’s only firearm was this single-shot .22, based on the same air pistol frame.

A Sheridan WHAT?
The .22 rimfire single-shot Sheridan Knockabout was produced from 1953 to 1960 and was hailed as the perfect tacklebox companion. You can get a sense of how simple the mechanism is from the pictures. There are plenty of Knockabouts around, but because of their simple, rugged design, they aren’t often in very good condition. When a nice one comes along, it commands a little more than the Blue Book of Gun Values’ maximum of $110.


Yes, Sheridan made a .22 single-shot pistol! It’s as simple as it looks.


The barrel pops up to load. The extractor is manual. Neat!

Daisy, again
In 1968 Daisy, brought out a really strange gun. It was a .22 that fired caseless ammunition, which was ignited by the adiabatic heat of a conventional spring-piston airgun powerplant. That’s right, a pellet rifle that shot a 40-grain lead bullet at 1100 f.p.s. It was a firearm, of course; but, because Daisy built it, it had a plastic stock. The Daisy VL was never popular with anyone, and they’re still sluggish on the used market today. By the way, if you’re wondering if one could be used as a spring-piston air rifle – you can forget it. The bore is sized for the standard .22 rimfire caliber of 0.222″-0.223″ instead of the airgun size of 0.218.” Pellets shoot at 300 f.p.s. or less because of the excessive blowby. Daisy ceased selling the gun in 1969.


The Daisy VL looks like a cheap pellet rifle, which probably kept it from succeeding. The black and yellow box above the gun contains tubes of VL ammo.

And, again!
Unable to resist the humiliation for long, Daisy climbed back into the firearms ring in 1987 with a bolt-action single-shot rifle called the Model 8. It was sold only at Wal-Mart, a small retail outfit one town over from the Daisy plant. A year later, they brought out a line of bolt-action single-shots and repeaters – their Legacy models. With both plastic stocks and wood, they were not well-received and can still be bought today for a low price. They stopped production in 1991.

Both these Daisy guns will probably start attracting some collector interest in the years to come. They’re currently very available at gun shows, though the VL is perhaps harder to find because few people know how to classify it.

40 thoughts on “Airgun makers that spawned firearms

  1. “…It was a .22 that fired caseless ammunition, which was ignited by the adiabatic heat of a conventional spring-piston airgun powerplant…”

    Huh? I don’t get it BB.


  2. turtle,

    Adiabatic means a gain or loss of heat that doesn’t change the entropy, or steady state of things. When a spring-piston airgun fires, the piston compresses the air ahead of it so rapidly that it heats to over 1,000 degrees, F. But just for an instant. The gun doesn’t become hot from it. That heat, by the way, is what causes dieseling.

    B.B.


  3. I had one of the VL rifles years ago, and it functioned well. Only beef was that the ammo was fragile. Small tater-tot shaped powder charge attached to back of bullet often broke off when loading or through rough handling. Accuracy was average as I remember, but I did not give it a real test in that dept…..
    Interesting that the search for caseless rounds for small arms has been an elusive one. Triangular shaped “Trounds” being one idea that was tried by US Military. Interesting “Out of the Box” thinking. Good post B/B., Thanks SJ


  4. SJ,

    It’s articles like this that keep me fresh. There are so many unusual things in the airgun world, and I feel like I’m in an antique store when I do the research for something like this.

    B.B.


  5. I OWNED A FEW MODEL 100′S IN 1963.
    THEY WORKED GREAT UNTIL A BB WOULD JAM. GOT MY MONEY BACK AND HAVE NOT
    PURCHASED A DAISY SINCE. THANKS FOR THE MEMORY.
    BIG DEE


  6. Hey B.B. — A bit off topic, but I recently acquired a Crosman Single-Action Six. It didn’t come with a manual and I can’t seem to get the current Crosman 12 gram powerlets to fit. Any ideas?


  7. Hank,

    The SA-6 definitely takes a 12-gram powerlet. So the problem has to be at either end of the mechanism. Is the thumbscrew operating correctly? Does the threaded screw go out as far as it needs to, or is it hanging up short of full travel? That is what I would suspect.

    On the piercing end, can you see all the way into the piercing cap? Can you see the piercing pin, or is somthing stuck to it?

    B.B.


  8. Big Dee,

    For some reason I didn’t see your comment until today. The model 100 was plagued with feeding and leaking problems that carried through to the model 200. These guns are too difficult to reseal today – or at least that’s what the repair stations have told me.

    There is also a model 300 carbine that has the same setup as the pistols

    B.B.


  9. B.B. Here’s one for the books. Less that 24 hours ago I purchased a Wamo Powermaster AND a Sheridan Knockabout, both in NRA VG+ condition. The Sheridan still had its original, serial numbered box. I’ve been looking for these guns since they first hit the market. Got both the same day from the same seller: nother single-shot collector with two or three of each.



  10. B.B. i didn’t pay enough attention to detail before writing about the two with one shot above. Something didn’t look right about the box lid, then it dawned on me: It reads SHERIDAN KNOCABOUT .22 CALIBER PISTOL. And, it’s spelled that way in the Instructions printed in the lid of the box. Also, I just ordered an old ’50s Knocabout ad from the Ad Shop on eBay. Also spelled without the k. Check back on your other sources. Sorry, but I had to brag to someone. This seemed like the perfect place. Gimme’ an email address to send a photo of the box and I’ll be happy to share.


  11. I expect you are right. I checked in the Blue Book of Gun Values but they spelled it my way. However, this is the sort of “cutsie” marketing name that was popular in the ’50s.

    So, I’m busted!

    B.B.


  12. You ain’t busted, BB. You done good! Got interest aroused.

    Have seen Knocabout spelled with the extra k in several other sources. Only a couple got it correct because they had printed material with it.

    If I may brag AGAIN, I just bought an UNFIRED, in original presentation case with all paperwork and NO engraving, the Daisy-Heddon VL with 4,000 rounds of ammo. I’m as happy as if I had my right mind. Someone once said, “There’s a very thin line between ‘hobby’ and ‘mental illness’.”


  13. Congrats on the VL. It’s becoming a nice collectible after decades of disinterest. I expect what you have will soon be quite difficult to find.

    B.B.


  14. I believe the Sheridan Knocabout (correctly spelled without the “k”)was catalogued by Sheridan as the Model D. Its history can be found in Know Your SHERIDAN Rifles and Pistols by Ronald E. Elbe and published by Blacksmith Corp.


  15. Hi again, BB. Thanks to the guy who sold me the Powermaster and the Knocabout, I’ve now got a great 1956 Guns magazine ad for the Wamo in file. I’m convinced this is NOT the same company of flying disc and plastic hoop fame. The company name is spelled differently AND their company address is in a completely different California city. Best to all, Jack, FL


  16. Jack,

    Wamo and Wham-O are the same companies. They moved around southern California in the 1950s and ’60s, but the company is the same one.

    Years ago Tom Gaylord wrote a HUGE article about the development of the Daisy 100 gas pistol. The design was purchased from Hyde Manufactiring, who bought it from Wham-O.

    In addition to the .22 single shot pistol, they apparently made a rifle that looks like a Thompson submachine gun. I believe it was made on the pistol action. I hope to acquire one in the near future.

    They also made several variations of BB pistols that use caps to propel the BB. I have written about these guns on this blog. See Oct 12, 2005

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2005/10/another-12-caliber-airgun.html

    Please tell me about the ad you have for the Powermaster.

    B.B.




  17. Daisy VL ammo is available at some airgun shows and on the auction sites. I saw 40K rounds sold at the recent Roanoke airgun show.

    Go on gunbroker.com and auctionarms.com and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

    B.B.


  18. I know of a person with an unfired
    VL that was passed on to him by his father. All paperwork including check that was used to purchase this
    rifle. Case, wall mounts & ammo.


  19. my name is adam ihave owned the daisy vl collectors kit for about two years. It is in about 99 percent and i still have the origional hard carry case, the brass wall hangers and about 2 1/2 boxs of origional ammo. i have shot it about three times and it is not a very accurate gun all in all. none the less it is a beautiful rifle and a great peice of american history. I would be interested in selling it for the right price you can contact me at butch45acp@gmail.com.



  20. Well, I can’t confirm the bullet weight, but I’ll take your word for it. However, the velocity is rated at 1150, which is a high-speed long or short. The standard-speed short is 1050 f.p.s.

    B.B.


  21. A friend has a 22 cal rimfire Wham-o single shot pistol she wants to sell. Don’t know when it was made. Anyone have any idea what it is worth? It is in really good shape. Tracer


  22. Tracer,

    The Wamo .22 Powermaster pistol was made from the middle 1950s to the late 1960s, and perhaps a bit after that.

    Serial numbers from just above 1000 to over 5000 have been seen. White plastic grips are on the earlier guns and dar red grips on the later ones.

    I paid $150 for my Powermaster on Auction Arms. I’ve seen them sell there for as low as $135 and as high as $250. If hers is in really good shape it’s probably worth at least $200.

    There is another kind of Wamo single-shot pistol called a Hamilton duelling pistol. That one is worth more money.

    B.B.


  23. Daisy VL was made with out a license from the ATF for a sort time till the ATF told them they need to stop making the VL untill they get a license, when they got a license they did not continue prodution of the VL but insted made a few other models. they have the one with plastic, a presentation model and a collectors kit that came with a wood stock,300 rounds, hooks for hanging, hard case, and a little brass plate on the butt.


  24. today I bought a sheridan .22 cal
    knocabout in the original box. I already own the daisy caseless .22.
    Anyone selling a wamo or any other .22's?


  25. Would anyone know of a website where I could find parts for a Daisy Legacy model 2203. I am in need of a stock and the extractor pin on the bolt. It was my brother's first gun which he sold to me years ago. I would like to fix it up and give it back some day.


  26. That will be a tough one to find. Not because the Legacy is rare, but because airgunners don't deal with them, as a rule, and firearms dealers ignore them because of the Daisy name.

    Try Gun Parts Corporation:

    http://www.gunpartscorp.com/

    They catalog millions of gun parts and are considered the best source of hard-to-find parts for firearms.

    B.B.




  27. I have a Daisy/Heddon .22 VL that was passed down from my Dad. I have 2 or 3 boxes of ammo. On the barrel it reads (Patent Pending). Would this make it more valuable & what is the approximate value? It's in excellent condition.


  28. Daisy .22 VL rifles sell for about $100 right now. Almost all are in good condition, because people didn't use them much.

    The ammo has been sold surplus for years in the airgun community and is only now starting to increase in price. Three years ago, $60 would get you 5,000 rounds. Today that price has increased, but I don't know how high.

    The Patent Pending on the barrel is a tough one, for unlike many Daisy claims, they really did have a patent on this rifle. So it may be an early one.

    But as I indicated, it's still selling for about $100 in excellent condition.

    B.B.


  29. I believe my aunt gave this rifle to my dad. She worked for many years @ the Daisy factory in Rogers. It probably was one of the very first produced.They've both passed on,so it has been very hard to get much knowlege about the gun. I really don't know if it was ever fired. I know I haven't. Thank you very much for the info.


  30. B.B. I just found 2 daisy VL's at my mother-in-laws with over 15000 rounds of amo.One is used an one is still in box wrapped in plastic with manual. You said in the future these models would increase in value. I noticed your previous posts were in 2006 an 2009 any Idea what they would be worth now???


  31. VL,

    If your like new gun has the wood stock with brass engraving plate it's worth about $500. Sell it with a thousand rounds of ammo for $600,

    If it is the plastic stocked gun, figure $250.

    B.B.


  32. Some fascinating information here that is mostly new to me.

    I can remember seeing the Daisy VL rifles at gun shows in the late 1970s. As you said, they never caught-on with the gun collecting community because of the cheap looking plastic hardware.


  33. Bill,

    Daisy VLs and their ammo still appear at the gun shows here in Texas. The price has risen a little, but not as much as most other guns.

    B.B.


  34. The Daisy VL was put out of business by the BATF insofar as the VL was concerned… Daisy was NOT licensed at the time to manufacture REAL rifles,… Sales not good enough to pursue. Started 1968,,, end 1969. There are some WOOD stock VL's (friend owns one) made for Daisy Salesmen and my friend's was made for private collector- Harry W. Chesley, Jr. FYI from davzway


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