by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

The history of airguns

Daisy model 29
Daisy Number 12 Model 29 is a vintage BB gun.

This report covers:

  • For Reb
  • The gun
  • Welded tube
  • Hard to cock
  • Sights
  • Single shot?
  • No chrome
  • Shot tube

This is about a BB gun you fondly remember, but never heard of.

HUH?

Today’s BB gun looks like many others from the turn of the century, especially the model H that lasted from 1913 until 1922. The No. 12 Model 29, however, is a single shot that was produced from 1929 until 1942, when Daisy put BB guns aside for the war effort. Although it isΒ a later gun, it retains many characteristics of much earlier BB guns.

The most notable feature is the cocking lever that has a small finger loop, as opposed to the levers on most Daisys with full sized loops. The lever is cast iron, a vestige of guns made decades earlier. Because it lacks a forearm you can clearly see the sheet metal weld that seals the compression tube. This is where the soldered patch used to be — before Daisy figured out how to weld the thin metal tube airtight.

For Reb

This report is for Reb, who found part of a Daisy model B in the grab-bag box of airguns he bought at the 2015 Texas airgun show. He said he likes the size of the B and I immediately thought about the Model 29. It is positively diminutive — even when compared to other small BB guns. You’ll see that when I describe it for you.

The gun

The overall length is 30.5 inches. That’s 5 inches shorter than a Red Ryder. Pictures of the gun don’t illustrate this unless it’s shown next to another BB gun.

Daisy model 29 with Red Ryder
When seen next to a Red Ryder (top), you can appreciate how small the model 29 is.

The length of pull is 11.75-inches. That’s right for a smaller youth model BB gun.

The stock looks like gum wood that was popular at Daisy in that timeframe. And it’s just a buttstock; there is no forearm, nor is there any provision for one. The wood is flat on both sides and rounded over top and bottom. The butt has a Winchester carbine butt curve that probably won’t mean much to most readers, but it is a way of describing rifle buttplate shapes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The finish is blue, which was the only finish this gun came in. Many guns at this time were nickeled, but for some reason, this one never was. The metal is polished nicely — evidence of more handwork than you would see today.

Daisy model 29 bullseye
The Daisy logo at the time has a bullseye on either end of the name. It looks retro!

The gun weighs 1 lb. 14-5/8 oz. That probably tells you how small it is.

Welded tube

I have mentioned the soldered patch tube in past reports. Daisy used to have to solder a patch to the bottom of the folded metal outer barrel jacket to form an airtight inner chamber for the plunger (piston) to work. On this model 29, the weld is prominent.

Daisy model 29 weld
The welded section of the outer barrel is only long enough to contain the air from the plunger in its travel. The compression chamber has an end that’s is swaged into the barrel jacket (on the right) at this point — forming a perfect compression chamber.

Hard to cock

The guns if this era are all difficult to cock. On the model 29 the lever comes only as far as the halfway point before the gun is cocked. The mainspring has to be fully compressed by this point. Later on Daisy learned that they could lengthen the cocking stroke and reduce the effort required through better leverage. But that hadn’t happened yet.

Daisy model 29 cocked
This is as far forward as the cocking lever goes. The leverage was not good and these guns were harder to cock.

Sights

The sights are fixed — more or less. The rear sight is definitely fixed. Not only is it the sight, it’s also the spring anchor for the powerplant. That was a common way for the less expensive Daisy guns to be built.

The front sight does not adjust, but it does move. Besides being a sight, it’s also the latch to remove the shot tube from the gun. Press it back towards the butt, rotate it to the right and then withdraw the shot tube from the gun.

Daisy model 29 front sight
The front sight is also a spring-loaded latch to locks the shot tube in place.

Single shot?

These old Daisys have confusing nomenclature for those unfamiliar with the brand. They use both model numbers and other numbers to denote certain characteristics on guns. For example, the Number 12 Model 29 is a single shot with just a buttstock, a blued finish and a cast iron finger lever with a small loop. The Number 11 Model 29 is a 350-shot repeater than also has just a buttstock and small cast iron finger lever, but was finished in nickel.

ThisΒ is a single shot. You load it by dropping a BB down the muzzle. Since it was made starting in 1932 the correct ammunition is — wait for it — steel BBs. If you don’t know why we know that, read Part 1: The rise of the BB gun. Daisy had purchased the American Ball Company by this time and had converted all their shot tubes to use steel BBs.

No chrome

While I’m at it, there have been very few guns — firearm or air — that have ever been finished with chrome. Chrome is for cars — not guns. There have been a few, but so few it is worth mentioning. Nickel is the silvery finish of choice for guns. If you hold something that’s nickel-plated next to something that’s chromed, the nickel will appear to have a gold cast.

Shot tube

I mentioned the shot tube was removable. Why? To clear jams. Back when this gun was made, BBs weren’t as uniform as they are today, and jams were common.

Daisy model 29 shot tube
The shot tube is simple and has no means of loading BBs except through the muzzle. Behind the sight you can see the spring that locks the tube in place.

To see how the BBs were held in the gun I dropped several down the shot tube. They all went straight through. Then I tried 4.4mm lead balls. They went through as well. Then I tried a 4.55 mm lead ball. That stopped about one-third of the way down the bore, so it is too big. I have number 7 balls for zimmerstutzen, but they are 4.30 mm, and my number 12 zimmer balls are 4.55 mm. So I will be using steel BBs in the model 29.

A full test

I plan to give you a full test of this gun. I will combine velocity and accuracy testing in the next report.