Daisy Targeteer shooting gallery: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Why we collect
  • Today
  • .12 caliber
  • The box
  • Lead BBs?
  • Fragile
  • Art deco
  • Summary

Why we collect

Sometimes we collect something because of its performance. A Whiscombe recoilless rifle that’s powerful and accurate might be an example of this. Other times we collect something because of the way it is made — the craftsmanship. The Sheridan Supergrade comes to mind.

And other times we collect something for other reasons. My M1 Carbine is an example of this. I like it for three important reasons:

1. It is so well made and so well designed. It weighs 5 lbs. — a rifle weight that has never been equalled in a rifle as powerful, to the best of my knowledge. And this rifle was designed in 18 months, back in the late 1930s!

2. More than 6 million carbines were produced in just a few years in a national program that had as many as 10 prime contractors and hundreds of subcontractors — in the middle of a war! It was the Manhattan project of firearm development!

3. Even today, 80 years later, the carbine design has not been equalled. The Ruger .44 magnum carbine was more than two pounds heavier than the M1, and the designers had difficulties with that!

Today

Today I want to start a review of an airgun that’s similar to the Carbine in how clever the designers were — Daisy’s Targeteer.

.12 caliber

The first Targeteer came to market in 1937. That was just past the height (or depths) of the Great Depression — a time when companies were struggling just to survive. That there was any innovation happening at all is a marvel in itself. Ironically, the M1 Carbine was being developed at the sane time

The gun uses BBs sized 0.118-inches in diameter. They are much smaller than conventional steel BBs. There are other guns that use the same ammo, but as far as I know they all either fire by means of a catapult or an exploding cap.

blued Targeteer
In 1937 two dollars bought all this. There is a gun, a steel tube of .118-caliber steel BBs and a box that turns into a shooting gallery, as you can see.

Targeteer shot
Daisy made .118-caliber steel BB shot for the Targeteer. You can see some of the imperfections in the shot that resembles the kind of imperfections all BBs made during the same era used to have.

The box

Let’s talk about the box for a moment, because it has bearing on today’s subject. As you can see in the picture, the box becomes a shooting gallery for the pistol inside. That is the kind of innovation that excites me. The Targeteer is too weak to penetrate the box, so you can use it as a gallery for a long time. Most boxes have tiny imprints of lead BBs (I’ll explain why in a moment) on the inside of the box lid, which is how the gallery is supposed to be set up.

Targeteer box gallery
This is the way the box is set up to be a gallery. This box hasn’t been shot with lead very much, but as you can see, the spinners have been shot. They still have much of their original paint!

Lead BBs?

The .118-caliber steel shot wasn’t ever very popular. Daisy discontinued making it sometime in the late 1940s or 1950s, I believe. Tins of the BBs are now very collectible in their own right! At one airgun show I once paid $100 to a person who was desperate to sell 3 Targeteer pistols and 10 tubes of the shot. I sold two of the pistols at the show and all but one tube of the shot and recovered my money, which was necessary because it was all the money I had on me and I was a thousand miles from home. It sounds like a risk, but I knew I could come out okay. I still have the one pistol I kept and I’ll show it to you in a bit.

But the .118-caliber steel BBs are too valuable to shoot. Fortunately there is a cheap substitution. Number 6 lead birdshot is a perfect substitute. It isn’t always uniformly round, but take a good look at that steel shot. They aren’t that round, either.

“But B.B., I don’t know where to buy lead birdshot. Maybe you know where they sell it but I sure don’t. Sure you do! Buy a box of 25 12-gauge cartridges at your local discount store. Just be sure they have lead shot, because I don’t know how well lead free shot works. It may be fine — I just don’t know.

Pry one cartridge open and save the shot in a small bottle. That much should last the rest of your life, because Targeteers are not guns you will want to shoot a lot. The other shot you can package and sell at the next airgun show. Plenty of airgunners are just like you and need some shot but don’t know where to find it. Sell a cartridge-worth of shot for $5- and you’ll make over a hundred dollars on the deal. You won’t get rich quick and it may take several shows to sell it all, but do what you have to, to move it.

Model 118 Daisy Targeteer Number 320 shooting gallery set

Now, for the  pièce de résistance — the subject of today’s report! The shooting gallery set is a red molded plastic shooting gallery that has a rod of white spinners running through the center. The top has a place for a chrome-plated Daisy model 118 Targeteer to sit. Even the feet are special, as they are hollowed out and designed to accept one tube of shot per foot. This gallery was made from 1949 through 1953 and is much rarer than the one in the box,

Targeteer shooting gallery
The red and white Daisy shooting gallery for the Targeteer is one of the most beautiful products Daisy ever made. Mine is in great condition!

Fragile

The white plastic spinners in this target are somewhat fragile. I have seen several targets that have damaged spinners. Exposure to the sun and smoke turns them yellow and they do get brittle with time. At some point they will start cracking and breaking off from firing. If you shoot them with lead shot it will leave black marks on the plastic.

The red plastic is also prone to changes over the years. Mine no longer accepts shot tubes in either foot. The plastic has warped over time. Daisy plastic stocks from this same timeframe did the same thing. But other than that, my target is in excellent condition. There are some, though, that aren’t so pretty.

Targeteer shooting gallery damaged
This gallery has been shot a lot. You can see the marks of the impacts on the spinner and several spinners are either broken off or cracked. Even the red case is cracked on the right side.

The entire 320 set came in a white cardboard box that has blue lettering. That is the only thing I don’t have with mine. I have seen boxed sets at shows, but be prepared to spend a lot more for one.

Art Deco

The thing about this set is it is so pretty that decorators can use it in a man cave. They don’t care what it is — it just looks nice. Sometimes even domestic tranquillity can be assured by the appearance of something as pretty as this!

Summary

I will end the report here but the plan is to conduct a complete test for you. Both velocity and accuracy will be difficult to measure, as the .118 BBs are both small and weak. But we shall see.

46 thoughts on “Daisy Targeteer shooting gallery: Part 1


  1. B.B.,
    I’ve always been curious about these guns just because, well, they’re kind of cool-looking.
    I’ll be interested to see the rest of the report on this pistol. Thank you.
    Take care & God bless,
    dave


  2. B.B.,

    Very nice. That looks to be the one where you hold the muzzle against something and push the entire gun forwards to cock it. Don’t lick the paddles on the one target. Lead paint I would imagine. 😉 Very interesting on what that plastic does over time. Very cool pieces of nostalgic air gun art.

    Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris


  3. BB,

    These are the things that I like to go to airgun shows to look at, but not buy. I would end up destroying these as I would have to handle and shoot them. I am glad that there are others like yourself who enjoy collecting such bits of history and showing them off on occasions.


  4. BB
    I thought at one time I asked about parlor gun targets and the how they evolved. If I remember right you said you knew of some you could include in reports.

    Maybe the types of targets you showed today did stem from the earlier parlor guns.

    I think we just found another type of ilk. 🙂




  5. Gunfun1 suggested that I post these links in today’s blog. The first link is in reference to discussions about whether accuracy is better with a single shot tray or a magazine. The first video could help with magazine accuracy. The second shows how to make some simple reactionary targets.

    Gauntlet Magazine Tweak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcb_CA1mYPY&feature=em-uploademail

    Sustainable Reactionary Targets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQv_mMru8D0&feature=em-uploademail

    Geo


    • Geo
      I just commented on the other blog.

      Here is both eeplys I did just icase someone doesn’t want to go back or doesn’t use the deeds.

      Gunfun1
      June 11, 2018 at 10:32 am
      Geo
      Done been there and done that. Matter of fact I chamdered the lead in on my WildFire/1077 clips. Took a drill bit that was bigger than the pellet holes and made chamfer.

      Now the pellets always set flush. So they fiuse in through the clip easier.

      Also done this in my FX Monsoon magazines. They are identical to Marauder magazines. As well as the Gauntlet mag I got with the Gauntlet. And remember my other 2 mags u use for the Gauntlet came from my Marauder’s I had.

      But I have to say his pellets were the extreme of what I seen on skirt scraping. And on another note most pcp’s that make this much power override the scraping and flare the skirt from the air blast.

      What I wanted to see is the pellet head scraping. Which he did not show in the video. That’s where I think accuracy problems come from with these types the f mags.

      And getting ready to watch the target video now.

      Reply
      Gunfun1
      June 11, 2018 at 10:56 am
      Geo
      Watched the target video.

      I already have several targets like that. I place them at different places in the yard. Plus I got some squirrel feild targets thrown in also. I got a mini field target course basically.

      So yep cool targets but already got plenty of them.

      Actually my hanging can targets have been pretty fun. I kind of up graded to weed trimmer line instead of the yarn. So now the cans get a spring bounce out of a hit. Plus another thing that gets them moving is the wind blowing them around or shooting after you hit one already and sets them in motion. And also I don’t have any cans touching the ground anymore.

      Here is what I got now. It’s a short video.
      https://youtu.be/SYpUyRkraUk


  6. Mr. Gaylord:
    Just one M-1 carbine? Really!!
    There were 10 prime contractors;(11 if you count Irwin-Pederson Contract that never made an accepted carbine) There were at least three rear sight variations.
    Several safety and magazine release variations.
    To say nothing of the two rivet and four rivet upper guard variations and the with and without bayonet lug variations.
    I would think you could fill several large gun safes with the all the variations of the the M-1 carbine.
    Or maybe you have and you’re just letting us think you have only one. 🙂 🙂
    William Schooley


    • William,

      Yes, it would be easy to make just the M1 Carbine a whole collection, because how many aftermarket makers are there? Thirty? Fifty? And then there are the IR sights, grenade launchers etc.

      And some people go bonkers over Irwin Pederson carbines that Inland (I believe) finished after the government cancelled the IP contract. In fact, the Irwin Pederson story of failure to make the Carbine is a very educational one. A gun company that couldn’t make a gun! Go figure.

      I have owned an Inland, a Winchester (it was gorgeous!) and a couple of aftermarket Carbines. But I am not a collector. My one S’G’ Carbine (that has had as many S’G’ parts replaced to make it “perfect,” is all I need. Actually, no Carbine should ever have all parts from one manufacturer. That runs counter to the Carbine program. But many collectors still think it’s neat.

      B.B.


  7. B.B.,

    My two brothers and I were given Targeteers for Christmas in 1964. We were also given safety instruction by our Dad, so we never shot each other with them. It was a tempting thought since the guns were so weak. We did find that they would knock over a green army man at 10 feet, so they were good for something. The velocity was so slow that one could easily see the BB in flight. The guns were also pretty good for beating on things because of their heft and mostly metal construction. We used them until they rusted up and gave out.

    Thanks for covering these old classics!

    Walt


  8. In today’s dollars the Targeteer would sell for about 35$ For what you get in this package it seems like a lot of bang for the buck. The amount of design work that went into not only the gun, ammo and targets but also the packaging and graphics illustrates the depths companies go to not only developing a product but making it appealing to consumers.
    Carl


  9. BB
    Also I noticed on the red and white targets.

    The one in good shape has the Clover and Spade targets switched compared to the one that has been shot at alot.

    It just makes me wonder if they assembled the targets how ever they chose that day from the factory.

    Or were they all assembled the same way and the target that seen a lot of use got taken apart for some reason and assembled wrong compared to the good target.

    I know now big deal. But maybe something to look for if your collecting this red and white target.



  10. Ok off topic but what makes a barrel lock up? When I cock my em ge rifle then close it the cocking linkage is loose. There is play in all the linkage joints but the linkage seems way looser than the apparent slop in the joints. It literally rattles under the barrel after cocking. Comparing it to my Hw50 whose lockup is like a bank vault I’m able to flex the barrel, not sloppy loose but enough that you can see movement at the breech. The gun exhibited excessive vertical stringing like a 4 inch nearly perfect vertical line of shots at 10 yards. Any ideas?
    Carl


    • Coduece

      Sounds like one of two things . Breech seal is too thick, or the wedge or ball lockup has a weak spring .

      Don’t worry about linkage rattle . Has nothing to do with the problem . One of my R9s rattles, but it is a bug killer at 25 yards.

      tt


  11. TT
    The wedge spring,ok I’m taking this gun apart to inspect the seal after putting several hundred pellets through it and I will check the spring. I bet it’s as weak as the main spring was. Thank you the simplest things escape me sometimes.
    Carl


    • Carl..

      There is one more possibility.
      The wedge does not have enough travel. I have one that had this problem. I was able to remove the wedge and grind a bit of metal from the right place and get a bit more travel . Did not need much removed.

      tt


  12. Those are some compelling arguments for the M1 carbine. But perhaps this rifle was a little too light. I’m thinking of numbers of anecdotes such as one from the Korean War. A soldier said that he fired repeatedly at an advancing enemy soldier with no effect until his sergeant dropped him with an M1 Garand and shouted, “Don’t use that gosh darned tinker toy.” And when the carbine was made automatic as the M2 to counter the Communist tactic of attacking with massed burp guns, the M2 was almost uncontrollable.

    gerald, glad you got to experience the 1911 in some form. I’ve actually heard some opinions that the 1911 in .38 Super was a great combination. But for history’s sake, at least, I think that you want to get a 1911 in the famous cartridge that it was designed for, the .45 ACP. I wonder if there is something to an intrinsic relation between a gun and a caliber. My M1 gunsmith and elite shooter said that the M1 Garand was designed for the 30.06 cartridge and does not always take to conversions to .308. I do believe the .45 ACP contributes to the amazing experience of shooting the 1911.

    Here’s a bit of advice for knife aficionados. You want to try out the amazing Wharncliffe blade design. The Ronin2 from Spyderco would be good choice. This knife is turning me into a mad slasher of inanimate things. It goes through anything–pizza wrappers, envelopes etc.–with no resistance. It’s like using a blowtorch or a light saber. And the straight blade means you can use all the apparatus and techniques for sharpening straight razors.

    Matt61


    • Matt61
      Keep in mind that the M1 Carbine was never intended to be used by front line troops. Just better than a pistol for support troops behind the lines. It obviously made it’s way to the front because it was lighter and easier to carry. I’m sure there were exceptions otherwise we probably would not have the “Paratrooper” version.


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