by B.B. Pelletier
First, for those who don’t read the comments, the organizer of the Roanoke Airgun Expo, Fred Liady, passed away three days ago. Fred has been seriously ill all year long and in and out of the hospital. His wife, Dee, was taking care of him at home for several months.
Fred sold his airgun collection to Robert Beeman several years ago, but he continued to run the Roanoke show out of love for his many friends who attended. He’ll be missed by thousands of airgunners whose lives he touched over the years.
The fate of the Roanoke show is yet to be decided. We can’t press Fred’s widow, obviously, so no decisions have been made. However the show has so much momentum that it may well continue. When I get some facts, I’ll share them with you.
Daisy No. 25
Well, let’s begin Part 3 with my Daisy No. (not model) 25 guns, because this is a funny one. The gun is the pump-action BB gun designed by Fred LeFever in 1913. He agreed to work as a consultant with Daisy for six months to get them into production and wound up staying with the company for 44 years!
When I was a lad in the 1950s, I briefly owned a No. 25. It was a beautiful wood and blued steel gun that I bought for $5 with paper route money. But nobody told me you have to oil them to keep them going. When the power dropped off after a couple of days of shooting, I took the gun halfway apart to try to fix it. That turned it into a basket case. I then sold the parts to a friend for a quarter, just to get it out of my sight. He got his father to assemble it and brought it back to rub it in my face. He chided me for not knowing that old BB guns have to be oiled.
So, I have a thing for Daisy 25 guns made in Daisy’s first plant at Plymouth, Michigan. I own eight of them, though I have parted with a No. 325 target set, which is the engraved 1936 No. 25 in a box with lots of target paraphernalia. Here’s the funny part. I’m almost over my childish fixation, and was toying with bringing a few of them to Roanoke to begin the great selloff. My illness this year has reoriented how I feel about possessions. It’s funny, because I recently saw an American Pickers television episode in which the person they were picking had been involved in a major traffic accident and was now selling off all of his collections.
These are my four oldest No. 25 guns. The top gun is from 1913/14. It was originally black nickel, but all that finish has flaked off and now the silver nickel underneath shows through. This gun is so old that it has a soldered compression tube that Daisy stopped making in 1915. The next gun is from around 1916. It has the adjustable front sight and the short throw pump lever. Gun three is from around 1925 and has the fixed front sight and long lever but still retains the penny-sized takedown screw. Bottom gun is from 1930-1936 and has the stamped metal triggerguard and case-hardened pump lever. These four guns are a collection unto themselves.
Don’t worry, though. I’m not getting morbid on you or saying that I’m quitting airguns or anything like that. It’s just that these old No. 25 guns no longer hold the fascination they once did. I’m still quite fixated on M1 Carbines and Garands. Can’t pass by a carbine without examining it.
Sheridan Blue Streak
I bought my Blue Streak in 1978 and have kept it until now. That is something of a record for me, because I go through guns and airguns pretty fast. But the Blue Streak has stayed with me. When our house in Maryland was infested with mice that our cats insisted on playing with instead of killing outright, Edith learned how to use the Sheridan and it became her air rifle. She also killed nine rats with it when they moved from a neighbor’s mulch pile into the planter underneath our front porch in Maryland. Too much sentiment there to part with.
This rocker-safety Blue Streak is from 1978. I’m the original owner and there’s no plan to get rid of it. It’s still Edith’s go-to gun when if she has to dispatch small rodents.
Crosman model 101 pneumatic
I’ve owned a good many of these 101 guns, including several marked as 1924 guns. But this one I will keep, as it works well and I’ll always need a vintage pneumatic to use for airgun projects. I had it resealed by Dave Gunter, and it shoots very well. Every so often I like to take it out, just to reconnect with the past. I store it with a pump of air, and it always exhausts the air when shot, no matter how long it was stored.
A fine vintage multi-pump, the Crosman 101 dates back to 1924.
Air Arms TX200 Mark III
I once sold a TX200 Mark II. But that was because I had just acquired the Mark III I now own. I didn’t need two TXs. However, I will always want to have one around.
This TX 200 is a Mark III with the old-style checkering. I’ve owned it since the model came out, and I have no desire to sell it.
Walther PPK/S .22 LR
This is an uncommon firearm. There weren’t that many made, and this one is made in Germany, rather than France, where many of them were made. I don’t really love this gun, but I’ve never been able to part with it.
This Walther PPK/S is unusual because it’s chambered for .22 long rifle instead of .380 ACP. It’s a delightful pocket pistol.
Ruger Mark II Target
This is not an uncommon gun, or even worth a lot of money, but I’ve fitted this one with an adapter from Dennis Quackenbush to accept my legal silencer. I’m keeping the pistol because it fits my silencer and I don’t want to take the adapter off. It’s accurate, reliable and, with the silencer in place, very quiet.
The perfect platform for this Pilot silencer, because the tall Patridge target sights are visible above the can.
There are more, of course, but not today.