Posts Tagged ‘Daisy Company’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Got a lot to cover today, so let’s get to it.
First up is the Daisy Manufacturing Company, now called Daisy Outdoor Products. Daisy is best-known for the BB guns they make, but did you know they also made firearms? That’s correct. In fact, Daisy made 3 different lines of .22 rimfire rifles — though one of them is only a rimfire by common categorization. That would be the Daisy V/L. V/L stands for Van Langenhoven, the last name of the man who invented the caseless cartridge technology Daisy used to make this gun. I’ve covered this before when I wrote about the new Daisy book published in 2012.
Although it’s commonly classified with .22 rimfire rifles, the caseless round does not even have a rim. There’s no priming compound in this cartridge. This caseless cartridge was made from a material that combusts when heated rapidly by the compressed air of a spring-piston air rifle. So, the Daisy V/L is, in fact, an underlever spring-piston air rifle that just happens to shoot caseless .22 rounds. Daisy made their V/L rifle in the late 1960s (1968 & ’69).
Daisy also made a line of bolt-action rifles called the Legacy line in the 1980s and ’90s. These rifles have weird diecast and steel receivers mounted in both plastic and wood stocks. But they’re not the guns I want to discuss today.
I have handled both the Legacy and V/L rifles, but I don’t know much about them. What I do know something about is a Daisy rimfire that is even less well-known than either of these.
Daisy model 8
In 1988 and ’89, Daisy produced an economical .22 rimfire single-shot rifle for Wal-Mart. They were supposed to have built 30,000 rifles, but the contract was either terminated or somehow not completed; and the actual number of rifles made is something less. The Blue Book of Gun Values says they made 30,000 of them, but Joe Murfin of Daisy told me about the problem with Wal-Mart and said they didn’t make that many. Something on the left side of the barrel has been machined off. This is on every model 8 I’ve seen.
All the Daisy model 8 rifles I’ve seen (about 10) have had this area of the barrel machined off. Something was stamped there.
This rifle is small. If you know what a Crickett rifle is, this one is just slightly larger. If you don’t know what a Crickett is, the Daisy rifle has an overall length of just 32-1/4 inches and a weight of 3 lbs., 1 oz. In other words, it’s tiny!
It has a painted action and barrel in a hollow plastic stock. The overall impression is — this gun is cheap.
Daisy rear sight looks a lot like an airgun sight. It adjusts for windage and elevation.
Do you think that airgun companies are loaded with engineers wearing white lab coats? The Daisy model 8 looks more like something that was designed in high school shop class when the teacher was out on his smoke break. The designer is someone you all know — the kid without the eyebrows. The one who couldn’t hear out of his left ear. Later on in life, he was known as Stumpy; and before he turned 25, he disappeared completely.
What I’m saying is that this is a bolt-action rifle that’s designed with screen-door-latch technology. It began as an exercise to see how cheaply we could make it, and that was followed by two rounds of cost-cutting before corporate council pulled the plug for liability reasons.
Model 8 bolt handle looks like common hardware! The receiver is a diecast part with a steel tube pressed in for strength.
Daisy model 8 (below) is just a little larger than a Crickett.
And I have one! Are they rare? I don’t know. Are they scarce? Most assuredly! Have some of them been lost over time? Almost a given! Are they worth anything? Not very much. This is not an heirloom gun — it’s a hair-brained gun!
I bought one just because of what it is. I also bought the Crickett to serve a basis for comparison. Both are small, but one (the Crickett) is designed by gunmakers, while the other (the Daisy model 8) looks like it was designed by McGuyver while he was in the throws of an acid flashback.
Yes, I have shot this rifle. No, it doesn’t shoot very well. In fact, it misfires about 25 percent of the time, which I attribute to a weak firing pin spring. Accuracy is on the order of 3-4 inches at 25 yards — so far. Maybe I haven’t found the right ammo, yet — ha, ha.
I said I bought the Crickett for comparison. I’m just throwing it in here because many more shooters are familiar with it than with the Daisy. Much of its design is similar to the Daisy model 8; but at every turn, you can see where its design exceeds the Daisy. I guess I would say the Crickett is just a small firearm, while the Daisy is more of a small example of what not to do.
In sharp contrast to the Daisy, the Crickett bolt looks like a firearm bolt and the receiver is all steel. They even put a peep sight at the rear! Didn’t cost that much, but this is what designers can do.
I’ve also shot the Crickett, and it’s 100 percent reliable. While it’s no tackdriver, it will put its shots into 1.5 inches at 25 yards — and sometimes the groups are even smaller. In my estimation, the Crickett is a small, inexpensive firearm, while the Daisy model 8 is a cheap rimfire wannabe. Having said all that — who have I insulted? I sure hope your favorite .22 is not a Daisy model 8!
The point of this look is to see what an airgun manufacturer will turn out when they make a firearm. But maybe this Daisy model isn’t a fair representation because Daisy built this for their customer. Let’s look at another rimfire rifle that was made by a different airgun manufacturer, and this time they made it for themselves.
The Falke single-shot
Yes — that Falke. The same people who made the super-rare and interesting Falke model 80 and 90 underlevers and also the Falke models 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 breakbarrel spring rifles. We looked at a Falke model 70.
Compared to the Daisy model 8 (top), the Falke single-shot is a full-sized rifle.
This rifle is a confusing firearm. On the one hand, the walnut stock is shaped nicely and hand checkered, the metal polish and bluing is even and deep, and the action is cheap and stiff to operate. What should be the simplest of all actions — a single-shot — is machined very well, yet it functions like it’s been rusting in the corner for decades.
Falke was one of those “anything for a buck” companies that arose in Germany after the war. I’m sure they would have disagreed with that assessment, but the fact is they had no plan of succession; and when the founder got sick in the late ’50s, the company folded.
Where have we seen this logo before?
They made at least 2 firearms. This bolt-action rifle is one, and I’ve also seen a stylized Remington double derringer in .22 rimfire.
I bought this rifle because it’s a Falke and because it looked so nice on the internet. When I received it, I found it to be even nicer than the photos portrayed. But the action is stiff and clunky! I never would have bought it if I’d tried it first. However, I believe I can correct most of this with some careful gunsmithing.
The rifle is full-sized at 40-3/4 inches overall, with a 23-inch barrel. The pull length is 13-1/2 inches. The barrel is nicely rifled, and the gun appears to be in 90 percent condition. The wood has been sanded, which is the only detractor from the overall appearance.
The front sight is a common post with a bead, but the rear sight has the same quirky elevation adjustment that we saw on the Falke model 70 air rifle! With luck, this rifle will shoot.
We saw a rear sight just like this on the Falke model 70 air rifle.
This is a bolt-action single-shot. It has a separate cocking piece that will cock the rifle by itself (without the bolt being operated), but right now the sear is under too much tension and the cocking piece cannot be pulled back all the way. The bolt cocks the action on closing.
Again — so what?
I’ve shown you 2 firearms that were made by 2 different airgun makers. My plan is to shoot both of them and come back to you with the results in the next report. I’ll do that as the rifles stand right now, but the Daisy really does need a stronger firing pin spring, and the Falke needs its action smoothed a lot.
Why am I doing this? Perhaps, to show the contrast of firearms and airguns made by the same maker. I think we have that in both these cases.
I know several of you readers probably own Daisy Legacy rimfire rifles, and I would like to hear what you think of them. If any of you own a Daisy model 8, you have both my apologies and my sympathy. And if anyone ownes a Falke firearm, I sure would like to hear about it!
by B.B. Pelletier
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 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
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.
by B.B. Pelletier
Tomorrow, Mac and I are departing for the Roanoke airgun show being held this Friday and Saturday. I’m asking the veteran members of this blog to help the new readers with their questions, as I won’t have much time per day on the internet.
Well, all the testing is done and the new Daisy No. 25 pump-action BB gun came out smelling like a rose. Today, we’ll look at accuracy, and I think you’ll be pleased.
When I tested the velocity, I was surprised that the heavier Daisy zinc-plated BBs weighed more than the Crosman Copperheads, yet they were also faster. I said they probably fit the bore better. If that was true, they should also shoot more accurately.
I test BB guns at 15 feet, except for the Avanti Champion 499, which gets tested at 16.4 feet (five meters). It gets tested at that distance because it’s shot at that distance in the International BB Gun Championships. Fifteen feet may seem very close to airgunners who are used to stretching out to 50 yards and more, but these smoothbored guns are not capable of accuracy like the pellet rifles and pistols are. All shooting was done offhand.
That doesn’t prevent you from plinking at tin cans at 20 yards with a BB gun. But I can’t run a meaningful test like that for you in this blog because there would be nothing to see. So, I shoot at paper here and trust that you will know what to do with the gun when you get it.
I was curious about the sights on this gun. Normally, peep sights are much more precise than an open sporting notch, so that,s what I used for the test. I do agree that this peep aperture is a bit too small for even target use.
I was surprised that the gun shot exactly to the point of aim. Back in the day, vintage No. 25 guns were an iffy thing. I can’t tell you how many front sights on BB guns I’ve seen bent to one side or the other to get the shots to align properly.
Daisy zinc-plated BBs
I went with Daisy zinc-plated BBs first. Ten shots offhand from 15 feet gave me a pleasingly round group that hit exactly at the point of aim. I used a 6 o’clock hold, and I’m darned if the BBs didn’t all strike at 6 o’clock! In fact, four of them went into a single hole at almost the exact aim point.
Next up were Crosman Copperhead BBs. Surprisingly, they shot to almost the same point of aim, but the group was considerably larger than it had been with the Daisys. This is just the result I had anticipated from the velocity test.
Daisy hit this one out of the park! The new No. 25 has many of the best features of guns of the past, and it’s done up with the quality you would expect a gun like this to have. Yes, there are some compromises, such as the safety built into the trigger, but they’re not as bothersome as they seem at first. The new No. 25 shoots and performs as it should.
by B.B. Pelletier
Well, there’s a lot of interest in the new Daisy No. 25 BB gun. And there should be! This new gun is made in the fashion of a 1936 variant with engraved receiver sides, and that gun is considered to be the most beautiful of all the No. 25s. So, today we shall see if beauty does as beauty looks!
I know of no easy way to measure the cocking effort of a pump-action gun, but a guesstimate would be 30 lbs. in the beginning. However, I noticed the linkage becoming smoother with every shot. No doubt, it’ll lighten up somewhat as the shot count rises.
I offer this observation. The black paint was not scratched by the traditional wear pattern as the gun was cocked. This paint is tougher than bluing on steel for sure. Also, the firing cycle is extremely quiet and smooth. I sure hope this gun can shoot accurately, because I’m enjoying the way it feels. Those of you who were raised on plastic stocks will find this new No. 25 a step up in quality. And even collectors like me will have to admit the firing cycle is smoother than all but a tuned gun. Yes, there are tuned BB gun actions. I own one.
The trigger that I said I disliked is actually nicer than any older Daisy No. 25 trigger. Its reasonably smooth and the let-off is in the same place on every shot. I wish this gun had been available when I was a kid!
However, the question before us today is not the build quality but the power. Daisy advertises 350 f.p.s. Do they make it?
Crosman Copperhead BBs
With Crosman Copperhead BBs, which we know are lighter and therefore faster than Daisy zinc-plated BBs, the gun averages 302 f.p.s. The spread, however, is a tight 14 f.p.s., from 296 to 310 f.p.s. I oiled the piston seal like I counseled you; and after the oil coated the seal, the velocity seemed to increase but the overall effect was very small.
Feeding from the magazine was positive. Those forced-feed mags never miss a beat unless they’ve been abused, and this one fed BBs like mercury flowing down a drain.
Daisy zinc-plated BBs
Well, shut my mouth! Daisy zinc-plated BBs averaged 319 f.p.s., considerably faster than the Copperheads. The spread went from 303 to 332, so all over the map, but the power definitely goes to the Daisy BBs. I think they might fit the bore better. They’re close enough to the advertised 350 f.p.s that I think we can accept it as the maximum a really hot No. 25 might do. For liability reasons, all airgun manufacturers have to advertise the maximum velocity their guns are capable of.
A couple readers had some difficulty picturing how this action works, so I thought I’d show you what it looks like when the pump handle is pulled all the way back.
The No. 25 has always had an anti-beartrap mechanism. Once the gun is cocked, it must be shot. Don’t do as one airgunner did at my table in Roanoke a few years back. He pumped the action, then discovered he couldn’t uncock it, so he stuck the muzzle on the toe of his shoe and pulled the trigger. I think he was thinking the shoe would block the air, thereby relieving a dry-fire situation, but he needn’t have worried. Because the gun was loaded. So he shot himself in the foot!
I shouldn’t have left a loaded BB gun on my table, but I’d been demonstrating it to someone else and it was still loaded. Plus, I was not at the table when this happened. Mr. Brilliant did all this on his own. And the point is, never fire a gun you haven’t checked first. And don’t leave loaded guns around where anyone can get to them.
by B.B. Pelletier
You know how I like to give you something to talk about on the weekends, so today’s report is about the new Daisy No. 25 pump-action BB gun. The fun comes from the fact that I have a small collection of No. 25 guns and know a few things about their long history. First point is that Daisy refers to this gun as the No. 25, not the model 25, however, the words Model 25 are on the package. But the name No. 25 is stamped into the metal body of the gun. It’s one of those trivial collector points that most people ignore, but it does mean that this current gun is significant for the nomenclature change.
The original No. 25 was brought to the Daisy Manufacturing Company by Fred LeFever, a young designer from the famous family of shotgun designers. He figured he could give Daisy six months of his time to get their production up to speed…but stayed on for the next 44 years.
The No. 25 is a pump-action gun. A firearms buff understands immediately what that means, but airgunners sometimes get confused. This gun is a spring-piston repeating BB gun that is cocked and loaded by the knee action of an articulated pump lever. The shooter pulls straight back on the pump handle but the lever is broken in the middle into two pieces that fold apart to lower the effort required to cock the piston. The word pump therefore has nothing to do with a pneumatic pump.
Over the long production life of the No. 25 (1913-1978), there were several important design changes. All collectors agree that the variation that first appeared in 1936 was the most beautiful because of the stamped engraving on both sides of the receiver. Daisy wisely chose to replicate that design in the new No. 25.
This current gun is made in China, and I must comment that they’re doing a great job with the appearance. The metal is folded correctly, the paint is applied evenly, and the real wood butt and pump handle are finished attractively. I must say, there’s more quality here than I expected.
Daisy claims a velocity of 350 f.p.s. There are no lightweight BBs, so that number was achieved with Daisy’s own zinc-plated BBs. We shall see in Part 2. If it does shoot that fast, Daisy has recreated a No. 25 equal to those of the early days — another very surprising thing. I remember as a young man wanting a wood and steel No. 25, because we all knew that the painted ones had lighter mainsprings.
I tried cocking the test gun just once and was surprised by the force it took. My gosh — suddenly I’m 12 again! This puppy is stiff when new. Fortunately, these guns have the reputation that they need to be broken in, and then they’ll slick up and start to shoot and cock smoother.
The sights are a repeat of the 1952-version sights that have a flip peep sight and open notch. The notch is a bit close to the sighting eye to work right, but the peep is ideal. We shall see what this gets us when I test for accuracy.
Two things I must criticize, though I understand the reason for one of them, are the lawyer trigger and the take-down screw. If any company has the right to let their lawyers in on the design, it’s Daisy, who gets sued a lot! The trigger is plastic and incorporates a safety I’d just as soon not see, but it’s there. A safety on a BB gun is like the spoon handle on a hand grenade. Don’t let go of it until you’re ready to use it! Putting a cocked BB gun on safe sounds like an accident just waiting to happen. However, if the range officer says the line is cold, I guess it’s always best to apply the safety.
The take-down screw has a nut on the far side of the gun. That makes it more than just a tool-free operation. I guess you have to start carrying a multi-tool all the time if you shoot this gun.
The 50-shot forced-feed magazine looks different than the mags of models from the past, but it works the same way. And, you’ll remember to oil your gun before shooting, won’t you? Failure to oil was the reason my first No. 25 failed on me in my youth, and I’m now a zealot for this necessary maintenance procedure. Common household oil should not be used. Daisy recommends 20-weight motor oil, but airgunners know that Crosman Pellgunoil is made from that.
Good job so far!
I have to say, Daisy appears to have done it up right this time. This new No. 25 is a gun you will be proud to own. Yes, it’s made in China, and yes, it’s painted and not blued, but, for gosh sakes, this is the resurrection of a BB gun design that’s 98 years old!