Parris Kadet trainer – a strange BB gun!

by B.B. Pelletier


The Kadet Trainer BB gun from Parris is a strange-looking bird!

Let’s take a look at an intriguing BB gun that’s not a Daisy. Back at the turn of the 20th century, there were dozens of BB gun makers in the United States. One by one, they passed by the wayside, and the last one went in the early 1930s, I believe. But in 1960, something very strange happened. Parris, a toy gun manufacturer, began making BB guns that look like they were developed from toy cork-shooters, rather than being designed as BB guns from the start.

They catch your eye!
The first Parris gun I saw was in the mid ’90s at the old Winston-Salem airgun show. What caught my eye was the cocking lever and trigger that were made from stamped metal plate! To keep from cutting flesh, the lever was dipped in a rubber coating similar to the type you put on hand tools! The lever isn’t bolted to the cocking mechanism. It’s riveted! Just those two details tell me this is a gun made on the cheap.


Cocking lever and trigger are made from one piece of stamped steelplate.

Get out your Blue Book!
The Blue Book of Airguns, Fifth Edition, has a short section on the Parris Manufacturing Company. It lists five different models and gives as much information as was available at the time of publication, but this is a line of airguns that has not yet been fully researched. The model shown here is the Kadet 500. It’s a 50-shot repeater that stores the BBs in the swelling at the muzzle. Before each shot, you have to twist the front sight housing so a BB can drop down onto a magnetic shot seat! To fill the BB reservoir, the front sight slides straight back, opening a port for the BBs.


Push back the front sight to fill the BB reservoir.
Twist the front sight assembly to load the gun with a BB.


The paper label on the butt provides the only information to be found on the gun!

The stock is full, rather than the common Daisy practice of a separate butt and forearm. That gives the gun a solid look that is, unfortunately, unwarranted. When you cock it, the lever snaps into place with a sharp crack. When the gun fires, it buzzes like an angry hornet. After five decades of shooting Daisys, I didn’t like this feeling one bit! The power is high compared to today’s Red Ryder, but about where a BB gun of 1960 ought to be (300 f.p.s., plus or minus).

To the Internet!
A long search on ebay turned up several Parris cork shooters with similar characteristics. I won’t go into every little detail, but the stamped lever and trigger are found on many Parris guns.

From Blue Book, I learned that Parris started making toy guns in Iowa in 1943. They moved to Savannah, TN, in 1953 and made the BB guns from 1960 to approximately 1970. It appears that the BB gun grew out of the toy gun mechanism. This has happened before. In the 1920s, the All Metal Products Company made a line of BB guns called Wyandotte – named for the Michigan town in which they were made. They had been making toy cork guns and wondered if there was some money to be made in BB guns.

The problem was that, as a toymaker, their adherence to specifications was loose. Today, you find their pop and cork guns in antique shops and very often the metal has split open around the compression chamber. When they made their BB guns the same way, the sealed their own fate. They didn’t last through the Great Depression as a BB gun maker.

Parris did not suffer the same fate. Although they ceased making BB guns around 1970, they continue to sell toy guns to large sporting goods stores such as Bass Pro and Cabela’s. Many of these guns are entirely non-functional, but a few pop guns and cork guns are still being made. I note that most of today’s guns are made in China, where the toy level of quality is well understood!

Are they collectible?
Well, they are certainly not common. Due to the lower quality, I suspect there are very few who collect Parris BB guns, though there must be some who do. They can turn up anywhere today because they aren’t that old, so keep your eyes peeled for one of the strangest BB guns ever made! If you own a Parris gun or know something about them, I would like to hear about it.

36 thoughts on “Parris Kadet trainer – a strange BB gun!

  1. B.B.

    Hi I just received a Beeman Kodiak .25 rifle and have mount of 7424-OP22 for Webley air rifles up to 45mm w/arrestor pin and mounted a Bushnell Trophy 6-18×40 scope…but the scope now sets so low to the barrel up front that the lens cover wont go on….what should I buy now to raise the scope?


  2. Clamdigger,

    Well, what I did in the same situation was cut a large U-shape out of the bottom of the objective lens cap so it would fit. Happened to be a Bushnell Trophy 6-18, too.

    Otherwise, you need to get higher rings. They are all over the website.

    B.B.



  3. I have my son’s Parris bb gun but it looks nothing like your picture. Probably bought closer to end of production? Wood goes to within about 3″ of end. Would this be a cap gun? Only gun he ever had thankfully. Worth anything at all? Thanks.


  4. Mom,

    There are 4 known Parris BB gun variations and I think hundreds of cap and pure toy guns.

    With the wood going to within 3″ of the muzzle, I would guess that you don’t have a BB gun. It’s certainly not one of the four known models.

    Parris made (and still makes) hundreds of different variations of toy guns that do little or nothing at all. On some the trigger can be pulled for a snapping sound. Others allow an outside hammer to also be cocked. Still others are legitimate cap guns. Those will have some sort of hammer mechanism and there should be some dirty residue underneath the hammer, if caps were ever fired.

    If your son’s gun has a small hole at the end (what I am calling the muzzle), it could be a BB gun. This hole will be smaller than the hole in a lifesaver candy.

    Any red or orange plastic on the gun near the muzzle means it is not a BB gun.

    B.B.



  5. Charlie,

    I read that (shooting 6 BBs) in the Blue Book, but I’m not sure what it means. I guess you load the gun six times and shoot once. Because of the way the loading mechanism works, I suppose it is possible.

    B.B.




  6. Hi there!! I actually have the gyun that is in your pictures. It is the Kadet Trainer BB rifle and is in decent shape. I obtained it from my Father in law when I was speaking with him about small rodent control around the house. I had mentioned that I wanted to buy a high powered air rifle and he insisted that I take this gun that he had from many years ago.

    It works fine and has held up well through the years. Here’s a few pictures for you.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v667/wolfencopter/100_3401.jpg
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v667/wolfencopter/100_3400.jpg
    Tom W.


  7. Tom W.,

    You have a very nice-looking example. I don’t know how robust this gun is, since it was made by a toymaker. They usually don’t make them as well as an airgun company.

    Thanks for the pix,

    B.B.


  8. my name is kenny from indiana I have a toy rifle frm savanah tenn. its looks the same as the one pictured its not a bb gun just a toy. wondering if it is worth anything its in pretty good shape still works would appreciate a reply thank you


  9. Kenny,

    The toy Parris guns are not as valuable as the BB guns, because the BB guns are rarer. That said, there may be a few Parris toy guns that do have some valve, but I don’t know what they are.

    B.B.


  10. Hi,
    As you mentioned, the Parris-Dunn company originated in Iowa. Clarinda, Iowa, to be exact. The company started by Dunn was a premier manufacturer of wind powered generators. Striking similarity to Daiy’s origin.

    When Dunn exited the company, it was moved to Savannah, Tenn. Parris was a great promoter and sponsored youth programs with his drill team wood guns and with a cork shooting gun that was included in an indoor shooting aparatus. Parris continues making toy gun today.

    One of the interesting thigs about the BB guns the company made was their relationship with Daisy and the Lucky McDaniels instinct shooting guns.

    I have aParris-Dun gun with the Lucky McDAniels instinct shooting label on it’s stock. I also have a photo of a Daisy with the same label seenciled on its receiver. If you are interested, send me an email and I’ll send you copies. (I’m having computer problems now and can’t post to this site)

    I also have a narative written by Dunn’s son that describes that the company was bought by Daisy. I have nothing to confirm that.

    I just found your site. I have written an article on the Daisy involvement in Quick Kill and it was published in Airgun Hobby magazine Volume three Number three and Number four. The program was not just taught at Fort Benning, but at all the basic training bases.

    The military did not ‘come looking’ for the Lucky/Daisy instinct shooting program. It was sold to them by three men. That is an interesting story.

    Enjoy your blogs!!
    Dave Albert


  11. Hello,

    maybe you can tell me the adress or the city where Parris is existing today. I also would like to know whether “approximately 1970″ means end of the sixties or “not much longer than 1970″.

    Please have a view at the pic
    http://www.drkoenig.de/luftgew/parris.jpg
    I was told that this is the “military” Model 405 which is also mentioned (but w/o a pic) in BB5 (and BB6, too).
    But it looks absolutely different to the pics of the other Kadet-models shown in BB5 (and BB6, too). It has the “Parris-Kadet-Trainer”-label you have described above – but who can say whether it is authentic?
    Does anybody has more informations about this “Model 405″? I also would like to know whether there is any possibility to find out when this bb-gun was made exactly (if ith is the Model 405).

    Regards, Mike


  12. i have a kadet trainer bb rifle.
    came across a family was going to throw it away, it was still in the box.
    has 1 nick in bottom of stock other than that in excellent condition.will be for sale,SOON.



  13. i just found one of these in my mom’s basement this week.it’s not in great shape, but the label is pefect , but kinda damp from cellar. Any value?






  14. I own a Kadet that looks just like the one in BBPelletier's picture in his article . Anyone have any idea what it is worth? kgs





  15. Bekah June,

    Parris makes a lot of toy guns that don't fire anything. It appears that is what yo have.

    They no longer make the BB gun that is the subject of this report, which is what makes it so fascinating to airgunners.

    To learn more about the gun you have you should turn to toy gun collectors.

    B.B.




  16. i have a parris single shot bb rifle that was purchased when i was a boy and just recently reaquired it and it was still in good working condition.i have also seen the look alikes that kadet produced that looks like a m1 garand and there are others but these were non projectile rifles. the single shot has a hole in the barrel extension to load 1 bb at a time. I also reaquired a sheriden blue streak, a crosman model 1400 and a model 1938 red ryder. all of these i had as a boy and was surprised that they were still in my dads attic after 35 years.


  17. Soules,

    congratulations on re-discovering your Kadet trainer. I'm sure it has brought back a ton of very pleasant memories. Welcome to the blog. What you should know is that this is a 7 year old blog and few of us monitor these old ones. Come to the current blog, which is written on a daily basis excluding weekends. There you can comment off-topic and have tens of thousands of other enthusiasts read and comment and offer help when needed.

    You can find the blog at http://www.airgun-academy.pyramydair.com/blog

    Fred DPRoNJ



  18. I have a Kadet Trainer. White painted. Wood 3 inched from end of barrel. Has a wood "bullet" in the bolt action chamber. From what I know about it… it was used by a local high schools gun twirling group. I don't know of any schools that still do that? I definitely remember it though!


  19. Parris made many trainers like the one you mention. They don't fire anything, but are used for drill training, only. They are still being made today.

    Daisy makes a 1903 Springfield trainer that resembles the firearm very closely. It is also non-finctional, but is so realistic that some drill teams use them instead of firearms.

    B.B.


  20. I just acquired a Kadet Trainer BB gun at a local flea market, it’s in decent condition considering it’s age, I took it apart and cleaned and reoiled the trigger mech and inspected the whole gun and it fires perfect! Fun little gun to shoot, brings back many childhood memories !!!


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