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The BB pistol that didn’t shoot BBs

By B.B. Pelletier

We’re surrounded by hundreds of BB pistols today. There seems to be no end of models from which to choose, but it wasn’t always that way. In the 1930s, the first American BB pistol was a very different kind of airgun.

The Daisy Targeteer was on every kid’s wishlist!
Daisy’s Targeteer was initially offered in 1937. It came in a cardboard box with the pistol, instructions, a metal tube of special shot (we’ll get to that in a moment) and spinner targets. The box converted into a backstop that held the spinners so they could be shot safely. All this cost just $2.00!

Targeteer
The first Targeteer was blued & had fixed sights.

Box-Targeteer
The Targeteer box doubled as a shooting gallery.

Special shot for a special gun
The Targeteer’s action is a spring-piston design that has to be the world’s weakest BB gun! Instead of shooting conventional steel BBs, it shot special .118-caliber steel shot that Daisy made just for this gun. If you read about the Sharpshooter rubber-band catapult gun in my May 11 posting, you’ll remember that they are the same caliber as the Targeteer. The Sharpshooter shot traditional No. 6 lead birdshot that’s used in shotgun shells. The Targeteer’s ammo was steel! Only a company as large as Daisy had the resources to make a steel version of this shot!

Targeteer-shot
Regular BBs dwarf the tiny Targeteer shot.

The Targeteer operates just like a conventional Daisy rifle in all ways but cocking. To cock it, pull the barrel back into the action. Most people simply pushed the muzzle back with the heel of their hand while holding the grip in their other hand, which means they’re cocking a gun with they’re hand over the muzzle!

Not a bang but a whimper
The Targeteer discharges with an anemic sound, much like a mouse coughing. When the piston jumps forward, the BB exits the muzzle at, perhaps, 100-150 f.p.s. Being very light as well as slow, the BB cannot break windows, lightbulbs or even one sheet of paper at a distance greater than 10 feet. That’s why the cardboard box was good enough as a backstop.

Even though this gun lacks power, it’s fun to shoot! The Targeteer lasted up to World War II, then resumed production after the war. Nickel-plated versions (often mistakenly called chrome-plated) were available after the war, as was a very pretty plastic shooting gallery model that housed the gun on top of the gallery when not in use. The gallery was only offered from 1949 through 1952 and is considered a prized Daisy collectible in its own right.

Gallery
A fancy shooting gallery also held a
nickel-plated Targeteer when not in use.

Targeteers are easy to find!
I find Targeteers all the time at flea markets, gun shows and airgun shows. A reasonable price for the first-version blued gun by itself in good condition with lots of blue and no rust is $60. Nickel-plated guns with lots of finish sell for $40 to $60. A Targeteer complete in the cardboard box sells for $100 to $150; the red plastic shooting gallery with gun goes for $200 to $300, depending on condition. The metal shot tubes bring $5 to $10; if you’re lucky, they’ll still have some copper-plated steel shot inside.

Read about it in the Blue Book of Airguns
The Blue Book of Airguns, 5th Edition will be available soon. If you’re interested in strange old airguns like the Targeteer, be sure to order a copy.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

41 thoughts on “The BB pistol that didn’t shoot BBs”

      • George,

        Welcome to the blog.

        I assume you mean that you have a pistol and that it is chrome plated, which wasn’t chrome at all, but nickel.

        In excellent condition your pistol is worth $80-100. Double that if yo have the box and triple if you have the shooting gallery.

        B.B.

        • George, I found my Father’s old Targeteer. He is turning 90. What I cannot figure out is ..how do you LOAD the bb? It sounds as if there are bbs rattling around inside the thing. Do you add one bb from the muzzle? Or is there a place to add them to a chamber? Thanks if you can help.

          • Hank,

            Welcome to the blog. To load the Targeteerr, flip it upside down. Look at the underside of the muzzle and you’ll see a notcvh. Rotate the shot tube, which is separate from what looks like the barrel, and a hole will appear in that notch. That’s where the pistol is loaded.

            Remember to use number 6 shot (from a shotshell) or Daisy .118 BBs — only! Regular BBs are too large.

            Also, remove the shot tube and drop several drops of oil into the barrel. Then cock and fire the gun several times with the barrel pointed in a safe direction. That oils the leather piston seal. Now reinstall the shot tube.

            B.B.

    • Id strongly recommend avoiding “guns America” they sided with a gun dealer who clearly mis represented the rifle he was selling in one case after another. They also think its ok to advertise a gun at one price yet demand another for it when picked up among other things. I’ve yet to hear an instance of them showing morals.

  1. I’ve got one of these and I’m trying to figure out the value of it. On the top it says

    “DAISY NO. 118 TARGET SPECIAL

    CALIBRE .118 PATENTS PENDING

    DAISY MFG. CO. PLYMOUTH, MICH. U.S.A”

    Spelling and capitalization is all correct, minor rust throughtout all of the gun, from what I can tell it still shoots but I’m not sure because I don’t have any .118 bb’s. Rear sight is adjustable for elevation. Any info (value, year produced, ect.) would be extremely helpful.

  2. You have a late variation of the gun. Made around 1950. I was ay an airgun show this weekend and guns in the same condition as yours were selling for $40-50.

    For shot, just buy a box of shotgun shells filled with number six shot.

    B.B.

  3. I have an orgiginal blue gun with fixed sights. It has the original box, targets, and original steel BB’s. My Grandfather shot it so it probably only has about 300+ BBs now. He gave it to me about 15 years ago to sell and I never got around to it. Now I feel like someone should have it that would want to display it. It just sits in a drawer and that does not do it any good. Should I ebay it?

  4. lol this is amazing i am a 16 year old boy who got one of thee past down from my dad but was broke to our knowlege bot i took it apart and it ended up having a over sized bb caught in it and this gun is also blue

  5. Frederick Electrick,

    Congradulations on having a gun that goes back to your childhood. There might be a size of lead shot that will work. I don't know for sure. Your post was to a blog that's about a year old. Not many of us read the older blogs, but if you go to the current one at/blog// your question will be seen by maybe 15,000 to 20,000 readers. Someone there will know the answer to your question.

    Please let us know how your gun works.

    Mr B.

  6. Hi anonymous,

    I cann't answer your question. You posted it to a blog written 4 years ago. Not many of us are watching the old blogs for current posts. B.B. writes a daily blog Mon-Fri. If you want an answer to your question please repost it there and you should get an answer. http://airgun-academypyramydair.com/blog.

    You'll meet a great group of knowledgable friendly folks who will give you a hand.

    Mr B.

  7. I have A Daisy Targette Set for sale if some is interested has the target, Nickel plated Gun, Adjustable sight, 2 things of BB's in the original tubes and a cleaning kit. All in excellent condition.

    Also have a Daisy #9 "Liquid Pistol" Squirt Gun.

    Email me @ pickedforyou@gmail.com

  8. I have one with an unusual adjustable sight. It says Target Special and has an adjustable sight which screws onto the end of the gun. The sight flips from being a peep sight to the v-notch style. Is this unusual?

  9. Ron,

    The rear sight you describe is for a Daisy long gun, like a Number 25 pump gun. I'm not familiar with the Target Special pistol, but a peep sight sounds wrong on a pistol unless there is also a shoulder stock.

    B.B.

  10. I have a Targeteer I believe was made in 1945. It is made of nickle, has no rust, plus the box, red target, and 2 tins of shot. Plus there is a promo card. This gun has never been used. Any idea of the value for complete set ?

  11. Dear Sir,

    I just purchased the model 118 at a local antique shop here in Virginia. I believe it's the arly version (possibly 1937). It's more brown than blus but works great. You're right about the sound of a mouse cough!! LOL. I got it $34.00. Any idea as to what it's worth?

    Thanks!

  12. My mother recently passed away and in her estate I found my old Daisy .118 targeteer pistol and plastic target. Gun shoots and is in great shape. Adjustable sights. Target has every target intact. What is the going price for this pistol?

  13. Anyone looking to purchase Daisy Targeteer along with the red plastic target with spinning targets inside – I do not have the tiny bb's but I do have the box that holds target and gun – target in excellent condition – guns cocks back and trigger pulls – sight is adjustable -gun has a few small specks of rust but overall in very good condition.
    I am still researching before setting a price – just checking to see if there is a market,
    Diane in Louisiana

  14. Jakob,

    There are several options for shot for your Targeteer pistol.

    The first one is steel ball bearings:

    They are pricey, but go to mcmaster.com and look part # 9292K33. These are 3mm steel ball bearings (3mm=.1181")

    A cheaper and quicker solution is to buy some shotshells with number six shot. Open a shell and there are hundreds of perfectly sized lead balls inside. Be careful with this, as you are working with loaded ammunition.

    B.B.

  15. I have one of these targeteer pistol from around 55 or 56. The spinning targets are long gone shot by a higher powered Daisy air rifle by 2 adolescents, the only difference is I have a leather holster for mine. I was wondering if this was originally part of the set or not, that was long ago and I can't remember anymore

  16. I have one of these pistols, purchased for my father by his father in 1942. It appears to be chrome plated, and has the adjustable rear sight. I realize your data says they weren't producing this model in 1942, however, it is still in the original box, which was mailed to my grandfathers house. The postage sticker is on it, and is fully legible, bearing a date of Sept 12 '42. No instructions, no tins of pellets. There are a couple of cardboard tubes of lead pellets, a dark blue with "Daisy Targeteer Special 118 Caliber Shot". Also is the location of Daisy Man. at that time, and made by Daisy Man. In addition, I also have the plastic target, which does have the steel tins in the bottom of it, and they are full. I have not opened them to see if they contain steel or lead shot, as until I read your blog today, I did not know they used anything but lead shot. I also have a box with a number of additional blue cardboard tubes of the lead shot. The gun has some small spots of rust, but 90% or more of the chrome is present. It is still fully functional.

  17. Nate,

    I'm sure Daisy still had some guns to sell in 1942, but they had shifted to wartime production. That Daisy shot is steel with a copper plating.

    I believe this pistol is plated with nickel, which lasts longer than most chrome.

    Please join us on the current blog locate here:

    B.B.

  18. I have one of these, haha. It’s Dad’s and the nickle is coming off, so I’m trying to figure out how to refinish it. Very Bond-looking. Thanks for reminding me what size shot it takes — #6 bird. Maybe I can find steel or maybe the lead will work.

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