New Daisy book!

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Jedediah Strong Smith is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

BSOTW winner Jedediah Strong Smith.

Firearms shooters get a new book or two every month or so. But airgunners are lucky to get a new one every year. Today, we’re going to look at the latest airgun book from Daisy. It was written by Joe Murfin, Daisy’s vice president of marketing and chairman of the board for the Rogers Daisy Airgun Museum.


New Daisy book brings the history of the company up to date.

Daisy collectors all know that Cass S. Hough wrote a book called It’s A Daisy that documents the beginnings of the company up through the time when he served as its president. Hough was the grandson of one of Daisy’s founders and also a test pilot in World War II. He is credited with being one of the first men to fly faster than the speed of sound. It was in a power-dive in a P38 Lightning fighter over England in 1943, while he was testing a problem with the aircraft’s control surfaces. Chuck Yeager is better-known for being the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight in 1947, but Hough and perhaps some others broke it much earlier during dives.

The new book, titled, Daisy/It All Starts Here is not exactly a follow-on to Hough’s It’s A Daisy, but it does fill in the blanks from the time the earlier book left off. The new book begins with a brief history of the company that will be of interest to Daisy fans as well as the general public, because it presents facts, literature and insights not previously published. It even explains why Daisy dates its beginnings to 1886, which collectors realize was several years before the first Daisy guns were made. I won’t spoil the story for you — get the book.

The next chapter completes the history to the current period, so this book isn’t just a history of the company. But I learned a lot of facts about Daisy that no one other than an employee would know. For example, just ask me how the Marine Corps has Daisy test their M1903 drill rifles. (What?)

How BBs are made
In chapter four, the author looks at the manufacture of BBs — the ubiquitous ammunition that defines the guns and even the entire Daisy company! There have been long articles about BBs in the past. Cass Hough wrote a chapter on them and the late Ladd Fanta did a very nice article many years ago for Gun Digest. I’ve even written a short report about the steel spheroid in this blog. But, again, Murfin manages to give us facts and data that I’ve never seen in any other source. With the files of the Daisy Museum at his fingertips, he had wonderful resources to draw upon.


First, they were a penny, then a nickel a pack. Daisy BBs were sold in small plastic packages like these that were wound onto a giant belt. Storekeepers tore off only what the customer wanted.

The author hides nothing from the reader, who gets a fly-on-the-wall view of how BBs are made and distributed today. To say that this particular chapter is an eye-opener is an understatement.

Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle
Another chapter documents all that’s wrong and right about that iconic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story. Jean Shepherd had his main character, little Ralphie Parker, desire a BB gun that never existed. Then, when the movie was made, Daisy cooperated with MGM by building a few of the special guns for the film, and that got spun off into a special Christmas Story Red Ryder gun that never existed before the movie was made. Today, that gun is a major collectible in its own right, and there have been other Christmas Story Red Ryders made at later dates to commemorate the first one! Talk about life imitating art!

Daisy was not about to ignore the vast advertising potential of a movie that often gets shown 24 hours straight during the holiday season, so they also started marketing special tie-in branded items, including a working replica of the famous leg lamp that was made from a cast of Joe Murfin’s leg! If the Red Ryder was already the most famous airgun in the world, the movie turned it into an object recognized by millions who aren’t even aware that airguns exist!

Happy Daisy Boy
In 2005, Daisy was contacted by Tom Reaume, who said his father had been the Happy Daisy Boy. In his book, Cass Hough had identified George Rockford as the Happy Daisy Boy of 1913-1920′s company advertising, but Tom Reaume stepped forward with a 1913 ad showing his father, Rockford A. Reaume, holding the new Daisy No. 25 slide-action BB gun. That ad has hung in the Reaume family living room for decades.


Rockford A. Reaume (a.k.a. George Rockford) was the Happy Daisy Boy from 1913 into the 1920s. His image appeared on a lot of early advertising.

I happened to be visiting Daisy when this took place and was honored that they allowed me to publish the story in Shotgun News, along with about 20 of the vintage photographs. It turned out that Tom Reaume was aware of the one ad, plus he had a small portfolio of photos of his father and several other boys, all posing with Daisy BB guns. But he did not know that his father had been a professional model. He presented copies of all the photos to the Daisy Museum.

Every 120 years
While I was with Murfin in 2005, I asked if he knew that someone had made a small run of the first model of Daisy BB gun several years before. They mounted it in a wooden display frame to hang on a wall. It was incredibly realistic, but non-functional. He was surprised to learn that these non-working copies were fetching $400 from collectors who didn’t have the deeper pockets to buy the real thing.

We fantasized about Daisy making a reissue of the old wire stock model as airgun enthusiasts will do, but that was the last I heard of it until late in 2009, when I got wind that Daisy was coming out with a re-issue of the first model. I reported on that gun in this blog in January 2010.


Daisy’s wire stock first model was lovingly hand-made at the factory in 2009. In 100 years, will it be as famous as the original that came out a century earlier?

Daisy handmade these BB guns as a labor of love, right in their Rogers Arkansas plant. Everywhere possible, they used original materials — such as a hand-wrapped piston seal made from candlewicking soaked in beeswax! I knew this was a special gun when I got mine, but I had no idea what went into it. This book has opened my eyes to a process of airgun making that many would say is a lost art

Daisy firearms
Some of you know that Daisy made .22-caliber rimfire rifles for a time and also .22 rifles that used caseless cartridges. There’s a lot of controversy over these guns because the caseless guns are actually airguns that ignite the gunpowder by means of hot air generated by the piston. It’s an airgun that’s also a firearm. Only 25,000 were made.

The Legacy bolt-action .22 rimfire is a much more conventional firearm. It came as a single-shot, a bolt-action repeater and as a semiautomatic repeater. But the Daisy name was not known to the firearms world, and these rifles had some non-ferrous parts that soured the buying public’s opinion. They pop up at gun shows all the time these days, and the price ranges from $100 to $1,500, because sellers and buyers both still don’t know what to make of them.

The book gives insight into what was happening behind the scenes when these guns were being made and sold. And the Wally World connection pops into the discussion. If you want to know the real story, it’s all down in black and white, and the author pulls no punches.

The rest of 124-page $30 full-color hardbound book is loaded with more Daisy history from recent times. And the author was there to watch a lot of it as it happened. If you’re an airgun collector or just a Daisy fan, you must have this book in your library. It’s available only directly from the Daisy Museum in Rogers, AR.

28 thoughts on “New Daisy book!

  1. This looks like a truly wonderful book.

    But what I really want to comment on today is the Big Shot of the Week photo. I think it is fantastic!
    A camera angle not usually seen, it really is an attention-getter!

    Les


  2. B.B.

    Off topic, but it’s something I just thought about and had to ask…

    Did AF ever play with the idea of square vent holes in the talon valves instead of round ones, and making the holes start right at the bottom edge of the valve head ?

    twotalon


  3. B.B.

    On second thought, even though I have had a valve apart a long time ago, I don’t remember if the back of the valve is counterbored under the valve seat. If it is, then my idea may be out the window.

    twotalon


  4. BB, what airgun books do you value the most?

    I use the Blue Book most, not so much for values but to get a little quick info on an unknown gun. I keep the latest edition at home, and earlier editions at work and in the truck. I have enjoyed reading your R1 Book, Airgun Letters, Airgun Digest 1-3, Cardew’s book, Jim Chapman’s books, Ron Robinson’s books, the collection of articles by Josh Eliott, etc. What other books should I add to the airgun library?

    David Enoch


    • David,

      I use the books that have the answers for the questions I’m asked most often. The number one question I get is, “What is my airgun worth?”

      So the Blue Book is the book I refer to most often. However, sometimes there will beba question about a gun that isn’t in the Blue Book, or someone will want to knbow something that the Blue Book doesn’t address, so then it’s time to get out the specialty books.

      I refer to the R1 book a lot because I have forgotten a lot of the facts I learned when testing the gun. But it’s all there, so I can refer to it any time.

      And Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World is another great resource. Smith tested things that are now well-recognized, and all I have to do is find them in his book.

      Cardew is another popular resource. His tests are part of the culture, and that is a book every serious airgunner has to have, in my opinion.

      B.B.


    • I just finished “75 Years of Crosman Ariguns” by D.T. Fletcher. It does a good job of describing the evolution of the company and the plethora of products. It really got me interested in the 600 semi automatic pistol and the 160 rifle. Just as a warning, you may find something in there that is harmful to the size of your wallet.

      Jay


  5. It is interesting to me to see photos of the peanut packs of b.b.’s. It was easier to come up with the money for one of these packs than a larger pack. Also, unlike pellets, I recycled b.b.’s. Makes me want to be 12 again (for a couple of hours).

    B.B., you piqued my interest regarding the manufacture of b.b.’s.

    Regarding the caseless cartridges airguns that fired them, it seems that the folks at Daisy were more rational that the fellow who created the Primegun. There can be no question that by the legal definition, both the Daisy’s caseless cartridges and the Primegun qualify as firearms.

    Doing well physically; recovery from surgery seems to be going well. The neurosurgeon went out of town on the 9th; his staff tell me I had no appointment on the 10th; highly suspicious. The only reason I am irritated is because I expected him to write orders giving me more latitude and fewer restrictions. I will just continue getting better and see him in a few weeks (as long as they enter the appointment into the calendar and don’t lose it :-]


  6. B.B.,

    You mentioned that books on airguns are pretty rare, at best maybe only one a year. However, when I read your blog (and the goodly sum of intelligent comments responding to it), I can’t help but think that there are quite a few people that could write extensively on the subject. What is the reason for the shortage in literature? Is there is not enough interest among the general public? Is there no interest among publishers? Is there concern about not profiting from such an endeavor?

    As a researcher and author, I am somewhat acquainted with the hassles of publishing. However, I can really see an opportunity for good literature to be written on the topic of airguns. It is a niche waiting to be filled (and thankfully, on such a topic there is no academic censorship). Frankly, I love reading about airguns just as much as I like shooting them and am eager to see more written.

    By the way, I took the advice you gave me and bought a Leapers 3-9×50 scope to put on my Bronco. It should be coming today! I can’t wait to try it out.


    • Lee,

      The problem is distribution. Getting a book into a good distribution network is what is needed.

      Most airgun books are self-published, and that precludes the distribution.

      So it is essential to arrange with a publisher beforehand, and most airgun authors don’t do that.

      B.B.



        • Wulraed,

          I’m very familiar with POD on Amazon and fully intend to use that avenue.

          Everything takes time. We’re already back to working 7 days a week. On Wednesday, I worked 22.5 hrs. I worked 18 hrs. on Thursday. Printing books or reprinting our old Airgun Letter, Airgun Revue and R1 book publications would be nice and will eventually happen…but I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.

          Edith


  7. I was fortunate enough to have money for the yellow tubes of bb’s (which I see are back!). I seem to remember the tubes would be expended quickly enough and I never used a backstop, so there was no recycling of ammo going on. I think those peanut packs were a great idea though since a kid could find a few bottles to turn in for the deposit and be shootin’ for a day or 2!

    I went metal detecting yesterday in a campground near where I work and found 9 pennies and a nickel. None older than 1974 (nickel). Not gonna get rich like that, but it was fun! When I think of all the ammo expended in my old neighborhood, I think that at least in my yard a guy would be digging pellets and bb’s up for at least a decade without good discrimination…

    /Dave


  8. Okay…I just blew $99 ;-)
    ‘The Christmas Story’ is what re-awoke my interest in airguns/firearms 6 years ago when I rented the movie for my then 5 year old.
    I remember, we watched the movie in early Dec 2006 and a Red Ryder was under the tree on Dec 25.
    The next year his younger brother’s was under the tree.
    Reading this post reminded me of that movie and all the wonderful times we’ve had since then…and the friendships formed both in our local shooting community and on this forum.
    I just went on a websearch and found this http://www.redriderleglamps.com/productDetails.cfm?merchID=100324231322562182&category=100324202230765104&position=1
    I couldn’t resist ;-)


  9. This is totally off today’s blog topic, but for quite some time now I have been drooling after an Edge. I have hesitated to buy one though because I was concerned that it might not suit me. What I am wanting to know is whether there is someone who owns one and lives within a 2 or 3 hour drive of Roanoke, VA that would be willing to allow me to drop by one weekend in the near future and try it out?


    • RidgeRunner,
      If you do get hold of one to try out let us know what you think of it. They were going to “take over” the sporter class but so far it hasn’t happened. The Crosman Challenger 2009 seems to be the most popular follower by the Daisy 888. I’ve not seen an Edge used in competition or know anyone that has tried one.


  10. I remember those little packs of BB’s. We would often use them to refill one of the larger containers since it was easy to spill BB’s from the little packs. Years ago when I worked in a large department store, we sold lots of the old Daisy CO2 200 semi-auto BB pistols. They were fun guns but seem to have issues with breakage. A lot went back for repair. In fact, I have one in the basement that is probably toast, only good for parts.

    Mike


    • Mike,

      I owned a Daisy 200 that broke, and I was interested in their longevity. Indeed a lot of them broke and they are one of the few airguns that are virtually unrepairable, along with the Daisy 300 carbine that was built on the 200 frame. Sad, because when they worked they were a poor man’s Crosman 600.

      B.B.


  11. B.B.,

    We I was a kid, my friends and I would buy bb’s that came in red cardboard tubes. I don’t remember who made them, but they resembled red cardboard shotgun shells. The shot was copper plated.

    The tubes were crimped shut at the ends. One end had a flat crimp, like a shotshell. The other end was crimped to a point.

    We quickly learned that by biting the tube just below the pointed end, it would open up. The end could be resealed by simply pushing on it with the thumb.

    We had all watched Civil War movies where the soldiers tore the wrapped cartridges open with their teeth. This inspired us to open the tubes with our teeth. We thought that was “way cool”.

    When the little tube was empty, it made a good target. One of my favorite games was to toss the tube out on the ground, and shoot it until it hopped into a place where I could no longer get a clear shot at it. If there were puddles, they would float until they were sunk, or blown out of the water.

    Les



      • Yes, Federal for sure. I remember those too. Lots and lots of them went through my old Daisy 94 until it went to junk. (It hangs in the garage to this day, RIP). Next up was a Sheridan Blue Streak with a factory installed Williams Receiver Sight. It was light years ahead of the Daisy and still going strong!

        Mike



      • No.

        We didn’t think we would be able to hit them, so we didn’t try.

        We were also concerned that we might hit something we didn’t intend to doing that.

        Maybe we should have tried.

        TT: Thanks. I think that is what they were.

        Les


  12. Don’t ya wish you could turn back time and get back the guns you traded off when times were thin ?
    I had a collection of Daisys , a favorite among them was a double barrel ,it cocked like a regular double barrel shot gun , a really fun gun .
    The slide pumps were the most accurate I had , oh well.
    Even as old as most of the guns were, they still functioned very well .
    Other toys have taken their place ,but I have fond memries of my daisys.


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