Remington's model 26 BB gun
by B.B. Pelletier
Daisy's No. 25 pump (bottom gun) is a familiar icon of the American BB gun. Most boys would love to own one with the wooden stock and blued steel receiver. But, Remington briefly made an even more robust BB gun of their own - the remarkable model 26 (top)!
Usually, when a gun company makes an airgun, they outsource the job to a real airgun manufacturer. Today's Remington AirMaster 77 is such a gun. Made and marketed by Crosman, it carries the Remington name along with two other Crosman-built airguns. But, that wasn't the case back in 1928, when Remington brought out their own model 26 BB gun.
Solidly built but fragile!
The model 26 is about the same overall size as Daisy's No. 25 but built much more solidly. The pump handle is larger and more reminiscent of a pump shotgun handle. The gun weighs almost a full pound more than the Daisy, so you know you've really got something in your hands when you hold one. Lucky was the little boy (or girl!) who received one. The cost was $7.50 - about double what the Daisy sold for. The pump mechanism works smoother than that of a Daisy, but it is also the Achilles heel of the gun. The picture shows slots cut into the pump tube. These are really the sprocket tracks for a toothed sprocket gear that rotates inside the pump handle as it is drawn to the rear. That sprocket drives a sliding bar gear that compresses the mainspring for firing. When it works, this system is smooth and light - much easier to cock than Daisy's articulated pump lever. However, this system depends on the integrity of a sheetmetal gear track and, thus, has a limited operational life.
The slotted gear track cut into the pump tube can be easily seen. This was not a good piece of engineering for longevity!
Performance like Daisy
The Remington 26 was about as powerful as a Daisy 25, which made it one of the most powerful BB guns of its day. Because it was easier to pump, it was probably very desirable as far as kids were concerned, though I doubt whether many of them knew about it. Daisy has always been the 500-lb. gorilla when it came to BB guns, while gun manufacturers have relied more on their firearms distribution network to get the word out. Remington did advertise, but they were up against a company that's one of advertising's all-time legends.
A complete package
Besides the gun, Remington also sold lead air rifle shot under their own name. They may have made it, too, because they were associated with UMC, an ammunition manufacturer, plus Remington consumed thousands of tons of lead shot for their shotshells.
For a gun that was only produced for two or three years, the model 26 went through a surprising number of variations. The first versions were apparently blued guns, and they had shot tubes that accepted 0.175" lead air rifle shot. Later guns were painted black (an economizing measure?) and had shot tubes made for the new smaller steel shot. These probably represented a progression of manufacturing changes designed to lower the gun's cost. That's the normal progression of things when a new product is launched, plus Remington did drop the retail price of the gun to $5.00 in 1930.
The timing couldn't have been worse!
One year after they launched the world's most expensive BB gun, the New York Stock Market crashed, starting the Great Depression. Though the effects of the Depression took several years to reach full force, people stopped buying luxury items right away. Remington made just under 20,000 model 26 guns before they shut down production forever. The last company sales records are from 1934, but production was probably over many years before.
Very hot collectible today!
A model 26 will fetch $800 to $1,500 today, depending on condition. I suppose a really good one will bring even more than that. Are they worth it? Probably not, because there are quite a few of them still around. When you consider that around 2,800 of the the 1954 Hakims were made by Anschütz, but you can still buy one for $300, the Remington seems out of profile. But, there's no denying it's a very hot ticket!