Daisy 1894 Western Carbine: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 1894
Daisy’s 1894 Western Carbine is a classic BB gun. This one is an NRA Centennial model.

This report covers:

• History
• The rifle
• First impressions

I received a Daisy 1894 for Christmas this year, allowing me to test and write about a BB gun with which I have no experience. Every time the subject of the 1894 comes up, we get comments from many readers who fondly remember the gun from their youth. I never had one, so those weren’t my memories; but when I first saw the gift, I vowed to use it to set the record straight.

Actually, the gun I received wasn’t working. It was a used gun that came without any guarantees. Though it does cock and fire, no BB comes out. But seeing it was the motivation I needed to reach out and get one that worked. The gun I got is an NRA Centennial model. They were sold in sets that included a model 179 BB pistol and the rifle — both in presentation boxes. The rifle box could be taken apart and made onto a rifle stand for display.

Receiver side
As you see, the side of the receiver shows a lot of wear. The former owner’s social security number clinches the deal, making this just a shooter.

NRA Centennial models are worth $250-300 if unfired; but once they’re used, all collector value goes away. To make absolutely certain of that status, the former owner of this one engraved his social security number on the receiver! This is a shooter and nothing more. I got just the rifle and no box.

History
Daisy’s 1894 was the very first Spittin’ Image BB gun the company made. They started producing them in 1961 and continued through 1986. Besides the standard model, there were quite a few commemorative guns like this one. They hold a premium only as long as they’re in their original box and haven’t been fired. Once any wear shows, the gun drops in value, depending on its condition.

Daisy did revisit the 1894 design for one year in 1994, when they made a special Commemorative Limited Edition. That gun has a manual safety and is not loaded through the loading gate like the rifle I’m testing. Plus, it also holds only 15 BBs.

The rifle
The 1894 looks very similar to a Winchester 1894 lever-action rifle. The exterior is mostly sheet metal with a hollow plastic stock and forearm. The model I’m testing for you has metal bands holding the “rifle” barrel to the “cartridge” tube (really these are just external sheet metal tubes for cosmetics), but there are variations — like the model made for Sears that doesn’t have these bands.

This is a repeater that has an internal spring-fed 40-shot BB magazine. It loads through the spring-loaded loading gate in the receiver, the same as the firearm it copies. Loading is easy once the magazine spring is compressed and out of the way. There’s a thumb piece that you pull forward to compress the magazine follower spring, and there’s no catch — so this piece must be held while loading the BBs.

Thumb piece
This thumb piece is pushed forward (right) to allow BBs to enter the magazine.

Loading gate pushed down
Pushing in or down on the loading gate opens the rear of the magazine for BBs to be loaded.

Cocking the gun is as different as it gets. Those who’ve never owned a Daisy Buzz Barton BB gun may not remember there were ever BB guns that had to be cocked in both directions. When you cock a Red Ryder lever, you pull it open as far as it’ll go until the trigger catches the sear. Then, the lever is under no more tension. It easily swings back to the stored position. That’s not how the 1894 cocks. The lever offers resistance going down and forward, but also coming back and up to the stored position. And even though the gun may be cocked, it still isn’t ready to fire. You must manually cock the hammer before the gun will fire.

lever cocked open
Moving the lever down and forward is the first half of the cocking stroke. There’s resistance as the lever returns home, too.

The part about cocking the hammer seems like a safety provision to me. The later version of the gun actually has a manual safety, but the model I’m testing doesn’t. That extra step of cocking the hammer can be used to make the shooter pause before firing. There’s no possibility of rapid fire with the 1894.

Hammer back
After cocking the gun, thumb the hammer back to make it ready to fire.

The rear sight adjusts for elevation but has no provision for windage. This is another difference of the special rifle made in 1994. Its rear sight does have minimal windage adjustment.

 

02-04-15-07-rear-sight
The rear sight adjusts up and down via a sliding notched elevator. There is no provision for windage adjustment.

This is a lightweight BB gun. Mine weighs 3 lbs., 2oz. Overall length is 38.25 inches, and the length of pull is 13.5 inches. I have to confess that the light weight and small size of the gun are what caused me to overlook it all these years. It seemed too toylike. Then I got one.

First impressions
Naturally, I shot the gun many times when I received it. Initially it was shooting slow; but after about 50 shots and an oiling of the piston seal, it picked up speed. BBs that were bouncing off thick cardboard were now sailing through. According to the last owner’s manual, the velocity is supposed to be around 300 f.p.s. We’ll find out where this one is.

I’m starting to understand what it is people see in this airgun. When it fires, there’s none of the traditional BB-gun spring buzz. The gun feels solid despite the light weight. The trigger is single-stage and quite heavy but not to the point of objection. And so far, at close range, the BBs have all gone into the same hole. We shall see!

89 thoughts on “Daisy 1894 Western Carbine: Part 1

  1. I do have the memories, this and the catapult 179 single action.

    You are in for a treat.

    While not the most powerful gun under the sun.
    It has knocked down its fair share of “hostiles” that were raiding the wagon train…

    Merry Christmas!


  2. In the early to mid-70’s, I had an antique-photo business where folks would come in, dress up in period costume and leave with sepia-toned polaroid photos of themselves clutching better-than-reasonably-accurate copies of period fake firearms. Bluntly put, a suprisingly large percentage of our customers just plain were willing to spend money just to hold an all-metal, pistol foregriped Elliot Ness fake 1928 Thompson, a really good repro of an MP40, and/or the pretty darn realistic looking Daisey 1894 carbine.
    The not very well kept secret was, of course, unlike the Thompson or MP40, the 1894 was not only fully (BB) functional, but quite accurate. Now the funny part about this was that this was in/at a place where a very large colony of ducks was sharing space with us. (Oh, please, don’t ask for details, just accept that it was true, and not all that far from Tom’s Frontier Village venue of that period.)
    Now why the “duck” reference? Well, ducks are a particularly…shall we say… “poop-prone” lot and lots of poop generates lots of Musca Domestica types, or what most of us refers to as “House Flies.”
    See where I’m going here?
    As we’ve learned this week, casual sniping of virtually any living critter will generate vociferous objection…with the notable exceptions of houseflies and mosquitos. Ain’t hardly anybody ‘gonna object to a lesser number of of either of these critters in the world and the 1894 was quite up to the task. At ten or twelve feet or so, a little hard on the drywall, true, but a little spackle, and who would know? One could get quite good at this. QUITE good.


    • Have you seen the targets Pyramyd Air has that’s called fly paper. Its a white paper background withe flys scattered all over it. Bigger than notebook size paper.

      Both of my daughters use to shoot at them when they were younger. I think I had 5 sheets left and gave them to the neighbor lady’s grandsons when she had them over shooting a couple weekends ago.

      Yea there’s plenty of targets out there to shoot at if you want. I try to shoot the yellow flowers off the dandelions before they get the white seeds that blow all over the yard. And we shoot at leaves that fall off the trees out in the yard or up in the woods.

      And you know as it goes when you get a big group of people there will always be different ideas of what should or should not be. Its not just concerning animal or birds or pests that can be hunted. It even goes as far as if a gun should be modded or not, or what kind of powerplant is best. What kind of scope or stock a gun has.

      What I’m getting at is no matter what a person says you could be damned if you do or damned if you don’t say something about a subject.

      And that reminds me about something Sam said the other day. It was about the dog of whatever kind it was out on the highway running and hitting it rather than causing a disaster out on the highway.

      Well I do know that I have seen something similar happen. A dog was chasing a rabbit across a road and it ran out in front of this girls car. Instantly she slammed on the brakes and the car behind her swirved to the left because she slid to the right. The rabbit got away, the car that was behind the girl hit the dog and another car that was coming at them in the other lane head on. It was on a two way road that was like 35 mph. Nobody went to the hospital at that time but the cars were messed up and a dead dog. And what’s crazy is the guy that was hit in the other lane just ran the stop light that I stopped at. Hmm maybe he wouldn’t of got in that wreck also if he would of stopped.

      So yes Sam there is definatly all kinds of things that could occur from a persons action. Everybody knows that. But I think a good thing to do would be just follow the law and try to use the best judgment for situation that a person is in.

      Imagine all the that could happen with a concealed carry event that a person could be in. Make a wrong move or judgment and a lot of bad things could happen.

      Everybody’s going to have a opinion. I guess just like that Remington guy.

      And it just amazes me of all people to be there when he said that it was Edith and BB. How’s that for perfect timing. Its like it was meant to be for some reason.


      • GunFun1,
        I think I finally got the custom shop figured out! I didn’t want to add their newsletter and they had that tacked on at the very end but this time I actually got a confirmation number and they say they’ll send me an e-mail when it ships.
        Been working on this since Saturday!


        • Reb
          Good and I do remember when you called over the weekend that you said you was having problems getting through to Crosman.

          I wonder how much time it will take before it ships. You might ask Hiveseeker how long his took to get.

          So what options did you end up getting on yours anyway?




    • Well, David, IF you were hitting house flies at 10 – 12 feet with a BB Gun, you are quite the sharp shooter. I only know of one other fellow that could do it, and he shot “instinctively” (he had actually knocked the sights off of his Daisy 1894’s to prove his ability! That was my old friend and regular customer, Big Joe Bowman, known as the “Straight Shooter”. He passed on to his maker a few years back after putting on a shooting show. He taught “The Art of Instinctive Shooting” (Just point and shoot!) to many Hollywood Cowboys back in them thar days! Joe had about five of the Daisy 1894’s in his arsenal, of which, he would send 2 or 3 of them to me at a time to clean, lube, replace the compression valve leathers and make any necessary repairs on them. (Yes, I fixed the torn main barrels and receivers from where he had actually knocked the sights off! ! !)

      Joe would lay jelly beens, I believe it was, on a picnic table, step back a few feet and, without aiming, as such, he would knock them off of the table, one at a time, with one shot. each – then he would toss the bean up into the air, and hit it, too! I met him, personally one time when he was in my area – we maintained our relationship over the years, and he kept sending his 1894’s to me to work over for him. What a guy – Big Joe Bowman! ! ! His theory on the shooting the 1894’s was: “A BB Rifle does not always shoot straight, but is pretty consistent in its ability to shoot “crooked”, the same way, every time! !!”

      For appearance, I most appreciate the Daisy 1894 variation with the hexagon barrel, that Daisy made for Sears back in the late 60’s – 70’s, I believe it was. AND, I am fortunate to have about 50 of those beauties in my collection. I am restoring them, then adding some American Indian “tack designs” to some of the stocks, and plan to hand engrave the receivers on some of them, as well. Let me know if you have an interest in buying, selling, or restoring your DAISY 1894, or any “Cowboy Style Air Gun”. NO, I DON’T DO “REAL” GUNS ! ! ! And, I don’t sell any air guns that I have not restored. When I sell or trade them, they all look and shoot like new! ! !

      The Daisy, Model 1894 is still my very favorite gun to restore, as it is a true beauty when completed.

      Cowboy 1894


      • Hi,I just picked one of these up at a flea market but I can’t get it to shoot any BB’s?It seems to cock fine and if you put paper in front of the barrel it does seem to have pretty good air pres. coming out.The BB’s don’t seem to feed into the barrel? Is there an easy fix for this?Thanks


      • Hey cowboy. I’m sorry to respond to a year old post but I just signed up mainly because of what you wrote. I recently came across an 1894 Daisy that has been kept in good condition. I’m excited about it but l have yet to shoot it because I’d like to get it cleaned, oiled and basically everything that you said you do. I’m not much of a blogger so not sure the right way to go about getting the information l need to proceed with that. Here’s hoping that you still do that type of work. Anything you need from me just ask. Hope to hear a response from you! I’d be glad to post a picture of the gun if you’d like.


      • I have an 1894 that was my father in law’s. It won’t fire and I was wondering if there were manuals available as well as spare parts. (front sight gone) I wanted to break it down and clean it since it’s been years.


  3. Great wrightup BB
    I think the SS number on the side was a thing called operation identification. I remember engraving the SS number into all sort of things incase they got stolen. Lots of memories from that BB gun,except I can’t recall what happen to it.


  4. B.B.,

    Very nice to see what my first B.B. gun looks like again. Mine was a Sears, with the Octagonal barrel, but very similar in many other ways. 1969 I believe.

    As I have said before, if a current model came out, even a cheap version of the 1894, I would buy it in a heart beat. Of course, brass receiver, oct. barrel, and brass barrel to tube straps. The Walther is indeed nice and the 8 round clip is awesome, but the black color just does not do it for me. Plus, the visual balance of the stock lines are better on your commemorative version in my opinion.

    Question,…Has anyone ever approached “Henry” with the idea to licence their name to an air gun reproduction? Or, even do one themselves? They seem to be the “go to” for lever actions.

    I look forward to your future reports. Maybe a side by side photo of your “shooter” next to your “non-shooter” for visual reference of the subtle differences.

    Thank you, Chris


  5. Great subject for the blog. This was my 1st BB gun. Reading about it takes me back to 1966 and many great memories from the years after that. I live in Kansas now, and miss the woods of Washington State.
    Randy


  6. Yep, my first airgun was also an underlever cocking Daisy BB gun. Lots of memories patrolling the lower forty (back yard). I got pretty good with that thing, which was actually very accurate to 10 or 20 feet.


  7. This was also my first BB gun, purchased by my dad when we lived in eastern Oregon. I used to go in the desert and plink around. Then I sold it. Wish I had kept it. Mine was very close to the one in this report. It was all plastic, but felt very solid. Thanks for all of the closeup shots, it brought back a number of memories.
    Michael in Georgia (originally from Oregon!)


  8. Hi BB,

    Is there any difference at all,
    if I were to purchase:
    the Talon SS .177 air rifle with an extra 12″, .22 cal barrel or
    if I were to purchase
    the Talon SS .22 air rifle with an extra 12″, .177 cal barrel?

    …and if I were to buy an 18″ or 24″ barrel for the Talon SS in either caliber, would that change the pellet speed, power and accuracy?

    Thank you,
    Doug


  9. Is the rear sight notch plate on correctly?

    In the photo it appears that the taper is open to the rear. I’m accustomed to seeing notches that would taper the other direction, so the eye is in effect close to a knife-edge.

    – > o
    vs
    – < o
    (- front, > | < notch; o eye)




        • Just a small follow-up… I had occasion to look at the sight of a (real) Winchester 64… And I was right that the taper in the notch is wider on the front-sight side than the eye side…

          Maybe the guy doing the (spot)welding of the Daisy just put them on at random without realizing the taper was there?


          • Wulfraed, I have little doubt you are correct. This is the type of thing that happens in Chinese airgun factories everyday due to lack of proper training & oversight as well as quality assurance.Daisy’s been around for well over 100 years and if the Chinese would like to keep purveying their wares here they’ll step up and get better or they’ll be forced back into building cap guns and other plastic non-essentials or fireworks(Talk about a dangerous job! 1 slip & the whole block disappears!).



  10. The only thing I have that has survived from my childhood is my Daisy Model 1894 BB gun. It still sits in my closet, after all these years (an early 1960’s Christmas present). I was like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when I got it. It hasn’t been shot since the late ’60’s, and I keep promising myself to take it out into the back yard and give it a try. Not sure what will happen after all these years–whether it will shoot or not. Perhaps I’ll drop a bit of Pellgun oil into it and see what happens. Thanks for today’s article, B.B.



    • Chasblock,

      Yes! Please shoot it. I would be very interested in hearing what the “one owner” of a 1894 has to say. I wish I still had mine. Not even a clue as to what ever happened to it. You are very lucky to still have it.


      • I’ll second that!
        Can you write? It don’t have to be like B.B.’s writing just an overview of the gun and some insight on your personal experience would give us a great opportunity to look at the gun from a users’ perspective. I’d gladly trade my RedRyder and 3 more of their newest rendition of it.

        Reb


  11. Tom,

    That is a beauty!

    I remember when I was quite small, probably 7 or so, I wanted a Daisy 1874 and 179 in the worst way, but my folks considered me just a bit too young. A couple years later I was old enough for either of these, but by then I was reading the Benjamin and Sheridan ads in the back of Boy’s life and lusting after either of those. Alas, I was just a bit too small to pump them up enough!

    By the time I was 12, well, then I was craving a CO2 powered Crosman 38T, so that was the first time my age and desires actually coincided. (Funny. It ended up working that way with my social life, too, and about at the same age.)

    I recall that with its dual-action cocking. the 1894 was just enough easier that I could keep it shouldered when I cocked it, at least by the time I got to be 10 or 11, but I had to wear a glove on my hand to prevent the back of my knuckles from getting bruised.

    Michael


  12. I remember standing in the local farm and home store looking at the 1894 in the middle late 80s. If my memory is right I think it was priced around 60 or 70 dollars. I was close to buying it but I think that the fact that it was less powerful than the Red Ryder was the reason I didn’t buy it right then. I went back a few weeks later to buy it and they were all gone, I regret not buying it when I first saw it because I have never seen them again.

    This is one I wish Daisy would redo. It would be nice to see someone else do one. The Walther is nice, a little pricey, but just doesn’t look right to my eyes.
    Thanks for the report on this one BB.


    • Bert,

      I’m with you, I would be interested in something between the Walther and Red Ryder. The 1894 looks more realistic than either and if priced right I think a new version would sell.

      David


      • That would be a cool gun if it were finished responsibly and price didn’t get too high.How ’bout a scope rail?
        My RedRyder hits at about 10:30 @ 5m and I had considered a Bricemount for bug bustin’.


      • Bert and Pa.oldman,

        You can see from my above comment that I totally agree. The Walther, while nice, just did not get the “lines” right for me. Perhaps the 88 gram CO2 cartridge had something to do with that? I’m with you,…I believe a copy of the 1894 would “fly” off the shelves!



  13. For those of you who recall the encounter Tom and I had at the Remington booth at SHOT Show:

    I just got a phone call from a Remington executive who heard about the comment in Tom’s blog report and apologized for them. He said this does not represent the company at all. He didn’t know who the rep was, so I described him (I think adequately enough to identify him). Maybe they’ll identify the person and take action.

    If I ever hear such distasteful comments, again, I’ll simply take a picture of the person with my iPad.

    Edith


    • Edith,

      Thank you for the update. I have been wondering. I pretty sure you verified he was “badged”, so it should not be hard to for Remmington to figure out who was on the payroll for the shot show. While just a guess, it sounds like a bit of “damage control”.


    • Edith
      That’s good that the executive called to apologized.

      At least he is showing that they do care about their image.

      Its to easy now days to fall backwards and hard to climb forward. Respect goes a long ways and many ways.

      I’m glad he called.


      • Gunfunn1,

        I hope it’s more your way and less mine. It’s so easy to be cynical in today’s world. I would much rather believe in the better side of people and companies.

        From a recent blog,..I believe a reader bought several Remington Express’s, which left a bit of something to be desired. Sounds like product quality might be something else to look into.



          • Gunnfun1,

            Check out the TX/LGU article, 1-31-15, MarkN., about 1/2 way down. Pick it up from there. Since your light years ahead of me, I figured you might be interested in the recent “offerings” from Remington for consideration and recommendations, or lack there of. Sounds like they need some work.


            • Chris, USA
              I don’t even need to go read it. We talked about that here many times. And its happened at different times at the machine shop I work at.

              We get behind or because of other causes like cheaper labor. They will have China or other places make the parts. Well it don’t take long and they find out they lost a bunch of money because of the quality of their work. We have to remake the parts and then worry about how much if that product got out the door.

              So I can say real quick right now from exsperiance there are certain lines of air guns that I won’t by anymore because it turns into a hit or miss deal of how the gun performs or how long it will last.

              There is a reason why I have two 2nd generation Marauders, a Walther LGU, a Air Arms TX Mrklll and a FX Monsoon. And I will also through in the Diana HW50s and the Diana 54 Air King that I don’t have anymore but sold to get me another FX Monsoon.

              A lot of those other air guns have one word in the equation that I don’t like and that’s China. And I’m telling you 100% that I’m speaking from exsperiance. Some people seem to like them. But I’m tired of wasting my money on those types of guns.

              Sorry just me and I’m sure other people have their own opinions about those types of guns.



  14. The 002-22 Social security number is from New Hampshire.
    I am interested in the velocity. The gun was very accurate and had enough power to break a soda bottle. Not as powerful as a pump.



  15. Off topic but I wanted to ask.
    I read in the LA Times that all BB and pellet guns sold in Calif. starting next January have to be painted a bright color. I thought that law was defeated?


  16. Have a few of these 1894’s in various models. One in silver, Gold with octagon barrel and my first one purchased in the early 60’s includes a Daisy scope that is mounted to the right side of the receiver. I rebuilt two years back and discovered something interesting. If I remember correctly,there is what I call an air transfer tube mounted to the front of the spring piston. ‘T’ shaped and hollow. It slides through a rubber seal at the end of the pistons cylinder and pushes a BB into position as it transfers air to the barrel from the cylinder. Kind of prevents compressed air from diverting into the BB magazine as it slides over the BB port. So you have two rubber seals to wear and leak over time, one on the piston and one for the air tube.

    Also over the years they reduced the diameter of the air passage hole through the tube which most likely restricted air flow and reduced the FPS. I could slide a #40 drill bit through my early original but found two tubes with much smaller and different diameters.
    The hammer goes to half cock when the lever is cycled which is an automatic safety condition. Red paint is exposed on the hammer when cocked which probably was a safety indicator, half cock would not fire.
    The trigger actually only released the hammer and it fell on the back of the spring piston to release it and fire the rifle. The short lived 1994? version eliminated the hammers function so the trigger actually pulled linkage down that held the piston back. I think the trigger pull on that one was about 5 lbs ….horrible ! So bad I retro fit that one back to original 60’s specs and operation. Purchased it in hopes of using parts to restore my old ones but it was really butchered up and modified for the new trigger safety and wood stock. Big time mod on that one but its outstanding now. The air transfer tube passage hole on that one was so restricted in diameter that it sounded like an old fashion hand pump bug sprayer when fired….a long hiss.

    This is really a great looking fun rifle to shoot, fairly easy to operate with the levers bi-directional cocking but you must thumb the hammer back to full cock to fire and I believe cycle the magazine tab to draw BBs from the reservoir area of the fill tube to use all the BBs it can hold.
    Most are probably worn out and dried up by now and not up to their original power due to air leakage.


  17. B.B., In the late ’80s I had 2 1894s when I lived near Portland, OR, that I bought used from Ollie Damon’s there. One was gold and the other blue. I used them, and other airguns, to teach my 17 children how to shoot. We started with slingshots, gravitated to archery, then airguns, and finally, firearms. The 1894 was one of my favorites. It was light and easy to use. Aimed like a dream. Moving BBs from the reservoir to the spring-loaded tube (in your illustration), then working the lever and cocking the hammer was a meditation and could be done without thought. Soda cans shivered in terror on the days we shot at them, sliding them across the side yard with many shots (we had 100 acres then in Oregon’s wine country).


  18. I recently came across and purchased a mint, with the box Daisy NRA Centennial 1894. It to my knowledge has never been fired and has no marks on it. It really is a collectors item..


  19. This comment was posted by a new reader who uses the handle cmax53. When I approved his comment, it disappeared from everywhere. So I’m posting it for him.

    Comment:
    Hi,I just picked one of these up at a flea market but I can’t get it to shoot any BB’s?It seems to cock fine and if you put paper in front of the barrel it does seem to have pretty good air pres. coming out.The BB’s don’t seem to feed into the barrel? Is there an easy fix for this?Thanks

    Posted by B.B.



  20. Hi, Can you give me any history on the Daisy Winchester model 1894 BB gun with wood stock. When they were made, How long, how many. Why did the only make it a 15 shot instead of a 40 shot like the older ones? It is the only wood stock model I have ever seen. Are these better or the quality?
    Thanks,
    Al Davis


  21. Thank you very much, yes I had one in the sixties and liked it. Now I picked up 3 of them replaced the seals and are a nice shooting guns. Not as powerful or accurate as a pellet gun of course, .. but fun to shoot.
    I didn’t know about the wooden stock ones that were made for a short time in the recent years.


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