Monday, May 01, 2006

Buzz Barton: First of the personality BB guns

by B.B. Pelletier

You can't be an airgunner without knowing about the Red Ryder. It's the most famous of all BB guns and the first one named for a fictional personality. Red Ryder has become synonymous with Daisy, BB guns and American youth. It wasn't the first BB gun to be named for a personality. That distinction goes to Buzz Barton.

Celebrity BB guns
In 1932, Daisy signed circus performer Buzz Barton to put his name on a special BB gun. The first gun appears to have been either a rush job or one that was half-baked. It had a PAPER label on the left side of the stock that proclaimed it as a Buzz Barton Special No. 195. The metal was blue and the stock was walnut. Daisy had come close to excellence in many ways, but that first gun missed the mark of being a classic. The paper label was quite fragile, as you might expect, so today a good one (the label, not the gun) commands a high price.

A shining star
A year later, Daisy got it exactly right. The second Buzz Barton was quite different from all other Daisys of the time. It was the first to feature a branded stock - Buzz Barton was burned into the left side of the butt inside a star frame. They used both light maple and dark mahogany wood for this stock, and the visual impact is both dramatic and gorgeous! That's why a perfect No. 103 Model 33 Buzz Barton Special commands almost $600 today. Even a well-worn original brings $200 to $250! Beware of refinished guns, though. They're worth far less than the real deal!


This all-original Buzz Barton Special has about 50 percent of its finish. The sights are complete, as well.



The Buzz Barton brand was the first celebrity-branded BB gun (1933-1937).


Tubular sight
The metal was nickelplated except for the unique rear tubular sight, which was blued. Working together with the front tubular sight, it was great! The inside of the rear sight was a small aperture, while the front globe housed a conventional bead. Acquiring a target with this sight is fast and easy - exactly what a shooter wants. Daisy received such a warm reception for the sights that it appeared on a number of their special BB guns for years after.

Rites of passage
The Buzz Barton had much of the early 20th century about it. The lever was cast iron and worked in the old-style short cocking stroke that made men out of small boys. It was harder to cock, but that was part of the passage to manhood! The shot tube was filled through a small hole behind the front sight. You learned how to manage the loading operation quickly or lost more than half your BBs as they missed the opening. The cover of the shot loading hole usually rotated past the right place, so a shooter had to keep one eye on the loading hole all the time, or BBs would come pouring out of the gun!


The loading port was small and didn't stay shut. Little boys and girls learned dexterity and responsibility by loading and operating a Buzz Barton BB gun.


They couldn't leave it alone!
Later Buzz Bartons reverted back to the No. 195 models 33 and 36. That model was based on a Markham BB gun, because Daisy also owned the Markham company. They made cheaper guns under that name for trade accounts like Sears & Roebuck. Though the stock was still branded, these Buzz Bartons are ho-hum compared to the No. 103.

Daisy went on to market the Buck Jones, a "trombone-action" pump gun that has the ONLY compass and sundial they EVER put on a vintage BB gun. It was another fine classic. After that, they made the gorgeous Golden Eagle, a copperplated gun with a black painted stock that is strikingly beautiful. But that Buzz Barton Special from 1933 was the high-water mark of the 20th century American BB guns.

31 Comments:

At February 16, 2007 9:14 PM, Anonymous BB gunner said...

SO, What is an original in MINT condition worth

 
At February 17, 2007 8:43 AM, Anonymous B.B. Pelletier said...

Okay,

To be MINT the gun can have zero blemishes. I have never seen an unrefinished Super Buzz Barton that nice. But if one exists, I imagine it would sell for at least $1,000.

HOWEVER, one tiny blemish or handling mark on the stock will cut that almost in half! I have seen several near-mint Super Buzz Bartons selling for $550-600. They show up at the annual Daisy Get Together in Michigan, and sometimes at Roanoke.

A REFINISHED Super Buzz might fetch $200-$250, but no collector would buy it. Refinished airguns are only for those who want that gun and don't care about the authenticity.

B.B.

 
At October 26, 2007 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
That was a very informative article. I do have a question. I have a Daisy N0. 195 Buzz Barton Special. It's in good shape, all original except that someome put an aluminum nut on one of the screws running through the stock. Can I find a replacement black nut for that screw? My email is pkingsnake@aol.com.
Thanks,
Phil

 
At October 26, 2007 9:16 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Phil,

I'm on the road, so I don't have all my phone numbers with me, but Google John Groenewold.

B.B.

 
At March 07, 2008 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found a Buzz Barton # 103 Air Gun in my Parent's Basement while doing a cleanout. Could you tell me where I could list the item for sale. The Rifle is in excellent original condition. Thanks, Thomas Smith.

 
At March 08, 2008 7:05 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Thomas,

You are a lucky man, indeed, if your rifle is really in excellent condition. It is so rare to find a Buzz Barton in excellent condition. I think it would bring up to $500 at an airgun show.

To be excellent, all the original nickel; finish must be there and the wood must have all the finish and no marks. The bolts must all be original. The gun must be perfect in every way.

The gun shown in this article is in good to very good condition and brought $250 when sold. That's how dramatically any cosmetic imperfection affects the price.

To keep from being lowballed, I would offer it on one of the two gun auction sites:

www.gunbroker.com

www.auctionarms.com

You need to register to post a sale there and you need lots of clear pictures for an excellent gun.

To just sell it and get quick money, you can always make a quick sale of an excellent gun to most advanced collectors. Any one of us would give about $300 for an excellent gun, which we would either add to our collections or resell at an airgun show.

B.B.

 
At March 11, 2008 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your fast reply and expert advice on my Buzz Barton 103 Air Rifle. The gun itself is all original, given to me back in the mid 1970's by an 80-year old neighbor. Thanks to your post, I would now call the gun to be in very good condition. It is exactly like the one shown in the photo. The nickel finish has a bit of tarnish to it, but not bad for being 75-years old. The barrel itself is straight as an arrow, the bottom part of the star logo has some wear, but both are in good shape. The writing is in fantastic condition. The gun like I said is 100% all original with no missing parts noted. Again many thanks, Thomas Smith.

 
At June 01, 2008 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,

I wrote to you in March of this year regarding a Buzz Barton Special 103 that is identical to the one pictured above. It might be even just a tad bit better. First, thanks again for taking the time in answering my questions about the gun. Next, would you be interested in purchasing it? If so, I can mail it to you if you like, you could look at it, then give me a price.
Thanks again,
Thomas Smith
tsmith224@optonline.net
Teaneck, New Jersey

 
At November 06, 2008 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I HAVE A DAISY # 195 AND IT IS BRANDED WITH THE BUZZ BARTON SPECIAL LOGO. HOWEVER, IT IS CIRCLED BY A BRAIDED ROPE.
IS IT WORTH ANYTHING?
LARRY KEMP.

 
At November 06, 2008 4:47 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Larry,

Condition is everything of these BB guns. In average condition your gun might sell for $150. In fine condition, $250.

B.B.

 
At January 19, 2009 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have a buzz barton special ( daisy 195 ) with the braided rope circle logo ... for some reason it won't fire the bb, but appears to cock and load effectively ... if the plunger is bad, should i have it fixed, or just leave it alone ... which will command a better price ... this is all ORIGINAL ... no refin ... a few light scratches , else normal wear

 
At January 19, 2009 2:15 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Your question is a toughie. I would leave it alone and try to sell it that way first.

One thing - have you oiled the piston? Because the leather seal needs to be lubed about every week to work.

Here is a fix-it place:

Jim Coplen, PO Box 7297, Rochester, MN. 55903 (507)281-2314.
5522 Clearwater Rd. Rochester, MN 55901

B.B.

 
At February 05, 2009 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a no.102 model 33 daisy air rifle in working condition can anyone give me any info on it

Thanks Frank

 
At February 06, 2009 8:40 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Frank,

Re: Your No. 102 Model 33 Daisy BB gun

Per the current blue book:

Your gun was manufactured between 1933-1935. It is a BB/.175 caliber. 500 shot capacity, nickel finish and is worth $50.00 is 60% condition and $125.00 in 95% condition.

kevin

 
At March 12, 2009 6:59 PM, Anonymous Jeff Barton said...

I have a Buzz Barton model 103. It is in fairly nice condition, except for the rear sight tube. is there anywhere I can aquire one and how difficult is it to install.

 
At March 12, 2009 7:15 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Jeff Barton,

You may want to try these three guys in order to help you find a rear sight tube and explain how difficult it is to install:

Jim Coplen, PO Box 7297, Rochester, MN. 55903 (507)281-2314.
5522 Clearwater Rd. Rochester, MN 55901

John Groenewold, PO Box 830, Mundelein, IL 60060-0830, (847) 566-2365
http://www.jgairguns.biz

Rick Willnecker in PA. Contact him at http://www.airgunshop.net/ or call 717-382-1481.

kevin

 
At April 05, 2009 2:01 PM, Anonymous Jeff Barton said...

I found a rear sight tube for a Buzz Barton super 103. What do you think would be a fair market price for one?

 
At April 05, 2009 2:14 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Jeff,

It's a part that every collector needs and some guns don't have them. Maybe $40-50. Of course that's assuming it's original and in good condition.

B.B.

 
At May 27, 2009 1:45 AM, Blogger gospels said...

Ok, so my dad found a Buzz Barton BB gun in a car he was selling it was really beat up but we repaired it restained it fixed the busted stalk etc. we put some BBs in it but couldn't get it to fire I would appreciate any suggestions. we don't really care to sell it thats why we fixed it all up. we just want it to work!! please email. agentjdh@gmail.com

 
At May 27, 2009 8:49 AM, Blogger kevin said...

gospels,

Your buzz barton has leather seals that need to be oiled frequently to remain pliable and effectively seal. Use the search box on the right side of this blog and search "Where to oil".

The search feature contains a wealth of information since B.B. has now written over 1,100 articles related to airguns.

You might start by putting ten drops of 3 in 1 oil down the barrel and standing the gun up on the buttstock and leaving it over night. Try shooting it in the morning. If this doesn't work try it one more time then consider sending it to one of the repairman, John Groenawald or Rick Willnecker whose info is mentioned above in the reponses by B.B.

kevin

 
At May 28, 2009 2:52 AM, Blogger gospels said...

Thanks!!!! I was also wondering if the weird cap like thing on the end of the gun comes off, is it welded on? does it have threading to screw off etc.?

 
At May 28, 2009 8:37 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

gospels,

That's the end of the shot tube and it does come off, with the shot tube attached.

B.B.

 
At June 27, 2009 5:50 PM, Anonymous Buzzy said...

Hi,I have a 1932 Buzz Barton,the one with the paper label.The gun itself has rust spots coming through and no shot tube.But the stock and paper label are awsome,the labels is all there except for a small scratch that should be able to be fixed

What should I ask fot it ? I don't know about bb guns.

ghuffer@hotmail.com

 
At June 27, 2009 6:06 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Buzzy,

You can ask $100 for your gun and settle for $80. That sighting tube is important.

B.B.

 
At June 27, 2009 6:22 PM, Anonymous buzzy said...

Hi,it was the shot tube thats missing not the sight tube but either way thanks,I was way off,I thought the guns with the paper labels were quite rare and this label is mint except for the small scratch.

Thanks Sir.

 
At June 28, 2009 7:02 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Buzzy,

Well, the shot tube is easier to replace. Maybe I did undervalue your gun. How about $200? I am allowing for an 80 percent gun.

B.B.

 
At June 28, 2009 10:57 AM, Anonymous buzzy said...

Hi,thanks,I didn't know if was worth 2 bucks or a thousand bucks,Greg.

 
At June 28, 2009 11:04 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Greg,

Without being able to examine the gun in person, that's as close as I can come. I sold a Super Buzz Barton that was complete for $225 last year. The paper label guns don't command quite as much.

B.B.

 
At June 28, 2009 11:06 AM, Anonymous buzzy said...

Hi,I don't mean to take advantage of your generosity so if you don't reply I understand.I know nothing about bb guns.

I picked these ones up also.

96 Model,break action,1896.It's all there but looks like it was "re-nickeled".

20th Century,break action,1898,it has a small hole drilled in the stock(shoulder strap added ?)and no front site,the nickel is there but not real good,it's a wall hanger.

I bought the online Bluebook values for them but someone like you probably knows better than they do,Greg.

 
At June 28, 2009 11:17 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Greg,

If that 20th Century has a cast iron frame, it could be worth over a thousand dollars. If it's tinplate, it's worth around $200-300. You really should talk to a BB gun specialist about that one.

Your third model (what you call the '96) is also worth over a thousand dollars. But only an advanced collector can help you with these.

The best thing for you to do would be to bring these guns to a top show like Roanoke in October or the Daisy Get Together in August. And beware of people trying to lowball you.

B.B.

 
At June 28, 2009 1:05 PM, Anonymous buzzy said...

Hi,thanks so much.The 20th century has a cast iron frame but a tin plate wraps around the barrel to the trigger and is rivited on.

The "96" is a real nice one and complete.

You have helped so much,thanks,Greg.

 

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