Posts Tagged ‘Daisy number 25’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we have a guest blog written by Steve Daugherty. He submitted this piece some time ago, and it fell through the cracks. My apologies to jim for the delay.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
One more piece of the early Daisy No. 25 puzzle
by Steve Daugherty
When I bought my new Chinese Daisy No. 25, I remembered that the No. 25 I had as a kid seemed to have had a lot more power and was built much better. So, earlier this year, I began looking for an early ’60s gun and soon found one in pristine condition on Jim Manning’s website. He gave me a great deal on that gun — which was exactly like the one I got for Christmas 1963 — and he got me interested in the older No. 25 guns by selling me a Variant 3 from his personal collection. In a short time, I’d acquired some very nice wood-stocked 25s, including the subject gun.
This very early No. 25 came to light recently in a classified online St. Louis ad that had been listed for a few weeks. Though the ad photos were poor, I enlarged the image and could see that the front sight was adjustable. I didn’t have a gun made that early. It didn’t shoot and wasn’t in the greatest condition, but it was a Variant 2 “straight stock” Variation 5 that I didn’t have. (See the Daisy King website for clarification). For less than $100 with shipping, I couldn’t go wrong. When the gun arrived, I saw that all of the parts were original, though the gun had seen a lot of use.
Someone long ago had tried to stretch the worn-out shot tube follower spring, and the tube now had a slight bend and some tool marks. When I broke down the gun, I noticed that they’d also tried and failed to remove the plunger assembly, but they didn’t get the mainspring back in place properly. Since someone had already begun to take it apart, I figured that I might as well try to disassemble the gun and check out the seals.
The plunger assembly was pretty much frozen in place. I had to dump a lot of 3-in-1 oil around it to get it to slowly budge. While working on freeing the plunger, I noticed that the 3-in-1 was seeping out of the underside of the barrel, which would have normally been weld-sealed. Finally, the plunger assembly came out — but it didn’t look as complicated as photos of other assemblies I’d seen. The simplified plunger assembly eliminates the air tube of the standard No. 25 plunger assembly, which was probably the Achilles heel of this design. Though I may never know for sure unless I reseal and shoot the gun, it was, most likely, a relatively weak shooter. Regardless, I’m not reassembling the gun for now. I’m mounting it in a display case, as-is.
Compare the simple mainspring/plunger assembly of my gun to the one in the diagram of a normal No. 25. Among other parts, my plunger is missing the air tube — the “solid-rocket-booster” — of the No. 25. The lack of an air tube had to decrease the gun’s power. [Editor's note: The air tube Steve refers to projects up from the head of the piston. When the gun fires, it pushes the BB off its seat and accelerates it to an initial 50-80 f.p.s. before the compressed-air blast from the piston shoots through the hollow air tube, boosting the velocity up over 300 f.p.s.]
Also, there appeared to be a brass sleeve that was also moving out of the barrel behind the plunger. I spent a good while carefully working it out of the barrel.
When I got the brass sleeve removed, I noticed that it has a female threaded fitting on the end that the shot tube directly screws into. This gun didn’t have a welded-barrel air chamber like every other No. 25 — it had a separate internal air chamber! The shot tube screws into the 6-inch brass air chamber’s end-fitting instead of the normal threaded abutment that’s supposed to be permanently located in the barrel. One worn-out seal was on the end of the plunger; the other was friction-fit inside the brass tube, behind the screw fitting.
I was more than a little stunned by finding all of this. In addition to the abnormal inner mechanism, the gun has an oak stock that was a very unusual feature for the No. 25 airguns. They were normally stocked with black walnut. For more info on vintage Daisy No. 25 wood stocks, go here.
The oak stock of this Variant 2 No. 25 is on top. My Variant 3 is below. Both are pretty unusual, as most straight stocks were black walnut. Could the non-standard oak indicate that this gun was a special build?
Over the next few days, I wrote Dr. Robert Beeman, co-author of the Blue Book of Airguns, who remarked that it was rare, but couldn’t tell me much else. He referred me to Gary Garber, author of An Encyclopedia of Plymouth Daisy Airguns. It also stumped him, so he hooked me up with Bill Johnson, author of Bailey and Columbian Air Rifles — and the ultimate authority on No. 25 guns. He was confused at first by the photos of unfamiliar parts, but quickly realized that it was made at the Plymouth factory. He told me, “I’m pretty convinced this is a factory experimental piece.”
The obvious question at this point: Where did the original air chamber abutment go? The sleeve you see in the barrel is part of the abutment and is factory spot-welded in place. The only conclusion is that the abutment was never there! I believe it has to be factory. As I believe you said, this was an experiment to avoid the tedious butt-welding of the barrel seam.
This gun is either a prototype, an experiment or a very short-lived transition model — perhaps made between the time when Daisy quit soldering the barrel seam and started butt-welding it — which was necessary if they were to blue the barrels (bluing won’t stick to solder). They may have wanted to see if a separate air chamber would be easier and/or cheaper than welding the barrel seam, which was very difficult with such thin steel in the early days of arc welding. As seen in the photo (from the muzzle-end down the barrel), the spot-welded abutment tube is there — but the welded-in abutment itself (that the shot tube normally would thread into) is not. The edges of the brass air tube’s fitting rested on the end of the spot-welded abutment tube.
Dennis Baker also saw my gun photos and replied, “I wonder if it’s a factory prototype or a ‘home brew’? It might be one of the improvements/inventions that Lewis Hough encouraged employees to bring in to him.”
Reknowned Michigan airgun expert and avid Daisy collector Wes Powers commented, too: “What an odd piece. I can’t say I have ever seen one of these. I think it was a short run production gun and not a prototype or a tool-room gun. It is a very rare variation gun. It looks like the only way to tell what this gun is from the outside is if the air chamber has no patch and also is not welded.”
If you happen to have an old No. 25 with an adjustable front sight, there’s one sure way to tell if it has the same inner mechanism as this rare gun: it won’t have an air tube. Shine a light down the barrel, and you should see the tube. It makes shot tube installation a pain at times — a situation that was corrected, by the way, on the new Chinese guns. I haven’t seen any photographic evidence that any other Daisy No. 25 like this exists. Since there are no differentiating external features from other No. 25s of that era, there may be other examples out there — perhaps in your own collection! If you know of any similar No. 25, by all means, post your info here!
I know that disassembling old guns is a collector’s mortal sin, but I’m glad that I took this one apart. As someone relatively new to collecting, I’d say that a find like this proves that one can still find his/her holy grail out there…but some disassembly may be required!
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
Here’s what Carl says about his submission: My nephew shooting my old Crosman 700. Still a nice hard-shooting rifle.
While selling some of my guns at a recent show in Dallas, I happened to notice a boxed airgun on the table behind me. I walked over, and there I saw what I thought was a Daisy Quick Skill Instinct Shooting set. It was in the box and fairly complete, but the price was right at the top of where it should be, so I passed. However, I’d caught the attention of the dealer who could see that my tables were just behind him.
Daisy made and sold this outfit for parts of four decades — from Vietnam until sometime in the 1990s. The BB gun looks is very similar to the one in the Lucky McDaniel Shooting Trainer, but it’s a model 95 instead of a 99.
On the morning of the second day when I arrived to open my tables, the other dealer was also there getting ready. It was quiet, so he asked if I was interested in the set. I was, but I needed to make a little money from the deal, so I offered something less than his asking price. He agreed and I placed the set under my table.
About one hour later it suddenly dawned on me. This was not a Daisy Quick Skill set at all. This was the much rarer Lucky McDaniel set that contained the Daisy model 99 BB gun with the 50-shot forced-feed magazine that by itself is worth $500 in excellent condition. The presence of the box with the instructions printed on the inside of the lid, one set of shooting glasses, the graduated targets, the original BBs still in their sealed box, the template for attaching the Eye-Dapter chin rest (now attached to the gun), the separate cork tube and cork ball ammunition made the package that much better. I thought I’d bought a pound of hamburger, but this was aged filet mignon.
This rare set was made for only one year.
The contents are fairly complete, with just a pair of safety glasses and the book missing. The plain cardboard boxes in the center contain the graduated targets and an unopened box of BBs.
According to the Blue Book of Airguns, this set was made for only one year, in 1960. I know that Daisy pursued Instinct Shooting training with the U.S. Army, which was engaged in Vietnam at the time and receptive to anything that might help soldiers become better shots. Daisy sold many thousands of guns to the Army under the training name Quick Kill. Crosman even modified their V350 BB gun and tried to get a slice of the pie. I’ve seen a couple of their sample guns, but I don’t think they ever went anywhere. So, McDaniel may have been forced out of the training set business, though he did continue to instruct instinct shooting for the rest of his life.
The one thing that wasn’t with the kit I bought was the book Instinct Shooting by Mike Jennings, which sells for $60 and up when you can find one. I already own one, so nothing’s lost; but if I sell the set, I doubt that I’ll put the book with it. It’s been too valuable to me over the years.
Though there are many books about instinct shooting, this one by Mike jennings ranks at the top. It was originally part of the Lucky McDaniel Trainer Outfit.
In the book, you learn that Floyd Patterson, the world heavyweight professional boxing champion was a student of Lucky’s and prized the training for the focus he thought it gave him. In 1957, when Patterson agreed to a match with Pete Rademacher, the Olympic heavyweight gold medalist, he defeated him by a knockout in round six. However Rademacher then became interested in instinct shooting and developed his own gun and target set for instinct shooting with plastic clay pigeons. It was manufactured in Akron, Ohio. His set never sold well, but Crosman obtained the rights to the trap and included it with their model 1100 Trapmaster air shotgun a few years later. Small world!
What’s in the box?
In the set, you get a special Daisy model 99 air rifle that’s made without sights. There’s also a wooden shelf for your chin that gets attached to the stock. It’s called an Eye-Dapter and it’s patented! The purpose is to keep your head up, rather than down on the stock.
The wooden chin rest screwed to the stock is patented! Lucky called it the Eye-Dapter, and he wanted each shooter to use it so he wouldn’t put his or her head down on the comb of the stock. Looking above the muzzle of the gun when you shot was one of the secrets of Lucky’s program.
Daisy made hundreds of thousands of model 99 air rifles, including the model 2999 that they sold by the tens of thousands to the U.S. Army for Quick Kill training during the Vietnam era. But they only made the gun with the special 50-shot forced-feed magazine for the Lucky set that was made in small quantities for just a year. That’s why a $50 airgun is worth 10 times as much. Because the special gray paint on the magazine matches the paint scheme of the Lucky gun, you can’t fake it easily.
A cork ball-shooting shot tube also comes with this set. The balls are much larger than BBs, so they can be seen in flight that much better. They have to be single-loaded at the muzzle of the shot tube. Daisy made this same cork ball shot tube for the No. 25 pump gun when it’s in the No. 325 Target Set, and they are very rare today.
Lucky called these cork balls “Big Shots,” and he provided a muzzle-loading, single-shot shot tube to use them. They would have been easier to follow in flight.
Lucky also included two pairs of safety glasses in the set — one for the shooter and the other for the coach. Of course, there are the targets, themselves. They range from metal disks the size of a nickel to a huge metal washer. Then there is a large red wooden ball that I suppose was used with the cork balls.
The box itself is highly collectible. This is only the second one I have seen, though I’m sure there are more around in collections. Inside the lid are the rough instructions that save you from having to read the book while you’re practicing. I’ve seen about 10 Lucky BB guns like this, but only one other box, which should give you a rough idea of how rare it is.
Condition is everything
I would love to be able to tell you that my set is virtually unused, but that’s not the case. In fact, it’s just the opposite. From the shot-up appearance of all the aerial targets, it’s clear that this set was used a lot. The paint on the gun appears close to excellent, but I need to do more research. I’ve seen other guns with special paint over the base coat that identified the gun as a Lucky McDaniel, but my gun doesn’t have it, nor are there any traces of paint that might have been there. There’s no question about this gun’s authenticity, however. It matches the other contents of the box, it has the Eye-Dapter permanently attached to the butt and both shot tubes (BB and cork ball) are painted the identical color.
The targets were shot up numerous times, and the one set of shooting glasses that remains with the set has both temples broken. Some items, such as the original BBs that came with the set, remain unopened; but the general condition of this set is well-used.
How does it work?
I wrote a special two-part report about Instinct Shooting for this blog back in 2006. At that time, I toyed with the idea of getting the training so I could report more in depth on the subject, plus become a better shotgunner at the same time. Well, time and circumstances intervened, and I guess I won’t get to cross that one off my bucket list. So, nothing I can say today really expands on what I wrote back then.
This discipline does work exactly as described, though I’ve noticed that many people don’t read what was written carefully enough. Just because Lucky was able to get people to hit aspirins and even BBs thrown in the air with a BB gun doesn’t mean they could do it every time. They still did miss, and some misses were expected. That’s stated clearly in the book; but somehow people have gotten the idea that once trained, a shooter just can’t miss any thrown target.
The distance to the targets, when they were thrown properly, was seven to ten feet. That was all Lucky advised in his books. Others have pushed the envelope out farther; but for those longer distances, Lucky had his students shooting .22 rimfires and shotguns.
A lucky find
This was one of those great finds that happens occasionally if you turn over enough rocks. I plan to sell the set at the Virginia show to someone who will appreciate it in their collection, because that’s where such things belong. I was fortunate to find it, because now I can make sure it gets to the right person who will preserve this fragile memory of airgunning from a half-century ago.
by B.B. Pelletier
Our blog reader pcp4me suggested this topic; and since I spent both Saturday and Sunday at the Dallas Arms Collector’s show (it’s a tough life), I wanted something that didn’t need a chrono, a range or lots of pictures. So, this report is one of my laments that will start all you veteran shooters crying in your beer. It’s the story of guns I’ve loved and lost.
Yes, I’ve done this before and, no doubt, there will be some repeats. But, because I’m flawed and continue to make mistakes, there will be some new stories, too.
My first Daisy No. 25 pump gun
I had a paper route and when my sister’s latest boyfriend wanted to score some points (he didn’t last long), he sold me his 1936-version of the Daisy No. 25 pump BB gun. It was the Weatherby Magnum of the BB gun world back in the 1950s.
For three days, I was king of the hill, lording my good fortune over the neighbor kid who was making the best of a tired old lever-action Daisy 102 that shot to the left. My gun would shoot through one side of a tin can (the airgun chronograph of the 1950s), while his would only make a dent.
However, on day four, when I went to shoot my new prize, the BB just rolled out the muzzle after I pulled the trigger. I was beside myself and immediately went into the repairman mode, stripping the gun as far as I could with just a screwdriver, pliers and a lot of personal angst.
When the parts were far enough apart that I’d never be able to get them together again, I put them all in a paper grocery bag and sold them for a quarter to someone. I just wanted the gun out of my sight to forget the sad memory as soon as possible, and I thought the guy who bought the parts was a friend.
Several days later, the “friend” brings the whole gun back and shows me that it shoots fine. “My old man put it together for me. He told me you have to oil them every so often to keep the leather seals working, you dope!”
At that exact moment, I became a collector of Daisy No. 25 guns, and a potential airgun writer with his first cool anecdote. This is probably the tenth time I’ve told that tale, so I’m slowly ammortizing the pain though the catharsis of writing.
My Sheridan Supergrade
They don’t shoot any better than a Blue Streak, nor are they more accurate; but Sheridan Supergrades have held a fascination for me ever since I read about them in the first Airgun Digest. Just like the former owner of what became the Golconda diamond mines, I wasn’t poor until I knew what a Supergrade was and I didn’t have one.
Mine was an “honest” gun, which means that it worked and wasn’t a junker, but it had the signs of use. It was accurate, but no more so than a Crosman Town and Country 107 I owned at the same time. But it was a genuine Supergrade and it was mine!
Then I was forced to sell it and while doing so I told myself that when circumstances improved I could always by another one. But like the old doctor in the movie Field of Dreams, the man known as Moonlight Graham in the single inning of major league baseball he ever played, what I didn’t know was that was the only day I would have. Supergrades went through the roof and now I absolutely refuse to pay what it takes to buy one in a condition similar to what I once had. So, I’m going to continue to sit by the curb and make mudpies and pout.
A .22-250 custom rifle
I was young and stupid and didn’t know that all centerfire rifles cannot hit hovering bumblebees at 100 yards. My .22-250 was a nondescript custom job on a 98 Mauser action with a Douglas Premium barrel. I had the loading dies, brass and exact loads to put five into a half-inch group downrange. What I didn’t have was the presence of mind to hold on to this most accurate rifle I ever shot. I forget what I traded it for or how much money I may have received for it, but I do know that it wasn’t as good. I’ve been searching for an accurate .22 centerfire rifle ever since.
A .458 Winchester Magnum
Sure, it’s an elephant rifle, but the guy who sold it to me at a local gun show also sold me the dies and the bullet mold and gave me all the cases I’d ever need to shoot the rifle. He also gave me the light load it preferred, and that was the first rifle I ever shot 10-shot groups with. I did that only because I was mesmerized by all the bullets passing through the same hole in the 100-yard target.
I was so stupid about guns that I thought all .458s would do the same as that Springfield-based custom gun. Now, I know better and continue to search for accurate big bores that can do as well. Perhaps, someday, I’ll get the Ballard to turn in a group equal to what I once owned and stupidly traded away.
Ruger Blackhawk flattop with a 10-inch barrel
It was a great gun that I could load heavy but never seemed to kick me beyond my ability to absorb it. It wasn’t a cowboy gun and, at the time, I thought the sun rose and set under the rampant Colt. I traded off the Ruger, telling myself that I could always buy another one…if I don’t mind selling off a handful of my other favorites. I see them on Gun Broker from time to time and two thousand will buy one in good shooting condition these days. Once again, I refuse to be taken advantage of my own stupidity. Press onward and never look back is my motto.
Savage Anschutz .22 Magnum
This one is painful because it just happened this past weekend. I took my deluxe Savage Anschutz .22 Magnum bolt-action to lay on my table just to fill some empty space. I put a price on it that I was certain would insult everyone, because I really did not want to sell this rifle. Sure enough, a dealer walked up and paid my full price before the show opened. Mac later saw it on his table with another $125 on the price.
Back to airguns
If it seems like I’ve loved and lost more firearms than airguns, it’s because I have. I’ve been shooting firearms as long as I have airguns and have owned many times more of them over the years. But there are also some more airguns I’ve sold that I shouldn’t have. You generally find out that you shouldn’t have sold a gun when you find that you cannot stop thinking about it after it’s gone. For that reason, I know I’ll have difficulty selling the current crop of 10-meter rifles I own.
Air Arms Shamal
But many years ago, I bought an Air Arms Shamal .22-caliber PCP. That rifle had a fill pressure of just 2,600 psi, yet it developed 20 honest foot-pounds over 20+ shots. The rifle had a gorgeous walnut stock, but that wasn’t what caught my fancy. It was the incredible accuracy that could put five pellets into the same hole at 40 yards. Aside from one other British-made airgun, this was the most accurate .22 air rifle I’ve ever tested.
I sold it in a moment of weakness when I was panicked over money. I would probably do the same thing again, but I’m fortunate not to have been in the same financial straits for many years.
I would do it again
My last story has a happy ending, despite the fact that I don’t have the gun. Fifteen years ago, I was heavy into tuning FWB 124 air rifles. I found them, tuned them and resold them to finance the next batch of similar air rifles. However, in all the confusion, I tuned one rifle that stands out from all the rest. It was a 124 Deluxe sold by Beeman back in the late 1980s, and it looked just like hundreds of other 124s, only this one was different. It turned out to be the hottest 124 that ever passed through my hands. After the tune, it was putting Crosman Premier lites out the spout at 881 f.p.s. with complete smoothness.
I knew it was a great airgun when I owned it, but familiarity finally bred, if not contempt, at least disregard, and I allowed it to go in a trade. The good news is where it went. My buddy Mac got the rifle and still owns it today. He says it still shoots as fast and smooth as ever and that makes me glad.
If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s this one truth. You may probably never, again, have the chance to acquire something as nice as what you now have. You should take the time to acknowledge when something is so good that it catches your attention. It probably does that for a good reason, and you should learn to listen to your gut when this happens.
I know something else, too. I don’t have the time to enjoy all the wonderful things there are. If I take the time to enjoy fewer things more, rather than more things in less time, it turns out well. And that’s my advice for today.
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!