Old Blue and White

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 110
Daisy’s model 110 Rocket Command BB gun.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The deal
  • What is it?
  • Earlier model 26
  • Blue Book of Airguns
  • Trigger
  • Stock
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Comparison to the 27
  • Summary

Sputnik

When I was a kid in the 1950s, western movies where the big thing. We saw them in the theaters and we also saw westerns on TV. This trend continued into the 1960s, but another trend overlaid it and eventually eclipsed it. In October of 1957 the Soviet union launched the first man-made satellite into orbit. Most people know Sputnik. Technologically it was both crude and incredibly advanced. But what it did to society far eclipsed anything that it did for science!

Sputnik ushered in the space age. Until then only scientists and nerds knew anything about rockets and space travel. After then, space was all that anyone could talk about.

My first BB gun

I have written in the past about my first BB gun being a Wamo cap-firing gun. And it was. But my first real BB gun was a Daisy. I bought a used Daisy Number 25 pump gun from my sister’s boyfriend. That one lasted only a few days and then lost power. I didn’t have anyone to ask, so I thought I would try to fix the gun myself. And that is a story of its own!

Get a Red Ryder

After that I saved my paper route money and vowed to buy a new gun this time. And I did. I wanted a Red Ryder, but the only place I knew to buy BB guns was Eddie’s convenience store that was a couple blocks from my house. They always had a cardboard display rack full of BB guns — until I had the money to buy one! Then all they had was a blue and white gun that was called the Daisy model 110 Rocket Command gun. Little did I know what was going on behind the marketing scenes at Daisy!

Gender-appropriate BB guns

Daisy was trying to get girls interested in BB guns. Of course some already were but Daisy saw the ten times bigger market of all the girly-girls who surely would want a BB gun if only they didn’t all look so boyish.

Remember those westerns I mentioned? Boys had Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry to idolize. Girls had no choice at all. It was Annie Oakley or nothing. Forget that Annie was born and raised in Ohio. Put her in a western outfit worn by actress Gail Davis (AKA Betty Jean Grayson) and she’s a star!

Gail Davis
Gail Davis starred as Annie Oakley, a woman sharpshooter who was world-famous at the turn of the 20th century.

Daisy didn’t hesitate to make a special Annie Oakley BB gun. It was colorful and stood apart from run-of-the-mill BB guns. It didn’t meet with success, though, and today is a super-rare find, with the smoke-producing toy gun version of the same gun being far more common. But I have examined a real Annie Oakley BB gun, so I know they do exist.

That gun came out in 1959 on the coattails of Sputnik, so Daisy quickly made a few changes to the paint and produced the model 110 Rocket Command gun. That was the only serious BB gun that was available when I went to the store to buy my first new gun. At least I thought it was serious. Okay, I thought it looked fruity, but if Daisy said it was a Rocket Command gun, then that’s what it was — right?

Daisy 110 receiver
Yep! There was a rocket painted on each side of the receiver to let us know this was the Rocket Gun.

The gun also came with a thin blue cloth sling that clipped to the bottom of the butt and in front of the forearm. It’s wasn’t very sturdy and I think I have only seen one in recent times.

A girl’s gun!

Apparently not. My next-door neighbor, Duane, saw it and started laughing immediately. “You bought a girl’s gun!” he said, derisively.

I certainly didn’t intend to, but I had to admit that if you looked past the silver paint on the sides of the receiver, my new gun did indeed look like a girl’s BB gun! As a result, it never saw the light of day after that. And, except for a Slavia pellet rifle I was gifted a few years later and a Daisy model 200 CO2 pistol that was a serious leaker, that was my last airgun until the day I bought a Diana model 10 target pistol in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, during my 4-year tour in Germany.

The 110

The 110 wasn’t a different BB gun. It was just the paint and the color of the plastic stock and forearm that distinguished it. The blue paint is a color Daisy referred to as “toy blue.” They played around with it on different BB guns over the years. I learned that from an advanced Daisy collector at an airgun show, where I saw two BB guns that weren’t supposed to exist.

The following two BB guns are not mainstream models. They were apparently made just because someone wanted to.

Daisy blue 25
Here’s a Number 25 you’ll never see unless you see this one. It’s toy blue in a white plastic stock that’s starting to yellow with age.

Daisy blue Targeteer
This blue and white Daisy Targeteer was never a cataloged gun. It apparently was made on a whim. The plastic grips have started to turn yellow with age.

The 110 took a scope

Notice the two open holes on the right side of the 110’s receiver! As I recall, they came to you with rubber grommets in the holes, but they are for mounting a scope. There was even a set that included the scope.

The faults of the 110

Early Daisy BB guns that have plastic stocks and forearms suffer the same fate over time. The plastic warps with heat and cannot be straightened again. They also develop cracks from people just looking at them. And where they are joined at the seams the plastic often comes apart. Daisy eventually got the plastic formula right and made stocks that last a long time, but those early ones (1952-1960) had some problems.

The white plastic stock and forearm, on the 110 suffers an additional degradation. The plastic turns from white to yellow with time. I think two things are at work here. First, the sun will turn a stock yellow in a matter of weeks. It will also promote warpage. Second, I believe some household oils will get into the plastic and yellow it. Either way, a 110 with a straight stock that’s still white is a rarity today.

Value

You can find a discolored 110 shooter for $100 and sometimes even less. They often sell for a bargain at auctions where they are not recognized as collectibles. A pristine gun with all the blue paint intact and a white stock that’s straight is a different matter. It’s a question how much money you have and how much you want the gun.

Other recent collectibles

If you know what to look for there are a number of highly collectible BB guns that are relatively recent. As a teaser, I’ll tell you about the all-brass Daisy 179. The 179 is a catapult BB launcher that’s mostly made of plastic, except for a few special guns that were made from solid brass. Some say they are salesman’s samples; others call them favors for Daisy executives. Whatever they are, there are up to 25 179s that are made from solid brass and painted to look like plastic guns. They work as they should and reportedly fetch thousands of dollars when they change hands.

Summary

The Daisy model 110 Rocket Command BB gun was an experiment in marketing. I think my story isn’t too far outside the norm.

39 thoughts on “Old Blue and White

  1. B.B.,

    I wonder how many kids decided to paint the stock upon receiving a “girly” gun?

    I don’t get your description of the Daisy 179. You say it is all brass then in the next sentence you state they were all plastic. Do you mean that the regular run off the mill Daisy 179 were made of plastic except for some samples that were made of brass?

    They sure knew how to stump the collectors.

    Siraniko

    PS: Shouldn’t the text beneath the Targeteer be in red?


    • The only plastic on my first gen 179 is the grips, and the follower that pushes the bbs through the feed tube to the chamber area so it can get whacked by the spring..

      I mean it’s the metal alloy Daisy used, but having one in brass would be cool.


    • Siraniko,

      Good catch on the Targeteer’s caption. Being colorblind, I can’t see that, but that text should also be italicized and I can see that.

      I rewrote the all brass 179 part to clarify it more. I hope it is now clear.

      B.B.




  2. B.B.,

    An interesting article that reminds me once again of how complex the world of airgun collecting is.

    Was the 110 Rocket Command gun the only model with the stars stamped out in the cocking lever area?

    Good Day to you and to all,……… Chris


    • Chris,

      It is no more complicated than any other collecting. You must do your research. Now as for me, I just collect what I want if I can afford it. Me and the gals were out on the back porch yesterday evening doing a little plinkin’ as a matter of fact.


  3. The forearm is secured by the single screw through the center of the forearm. The “clamp” is actually the forearm band, it’s used on many Daisys but what sets the band on the 110 apart from most of them is that it has a hole where a sling could be attached. A few other Daisys had the same type forearm band with the sling attachment point, probably the most commonly seen model is the 94 Red Ryder, but there were a few others as I recall.

    Chris, besides the 110, the 1201 BB gun and the 660 and 967 pop guns all had stars stamped into the lever flange. May have been others?


    • I owned a brown colored plastic one and the forearm band looked the same including the hole.

      I bought it in an antique store probably in the early 1990’s, from what I remember. Paid $8.00 for then. Gave it away 16 years ago, when my wife and I moved. Never did work.

      John


  4. B.B.,

    Personally, I like the star cutouts.

    Another possible factor in the yellowing of the plastic might be cigarette smoke. Some electric guitars from the 1960s and 1970s have yellowed plastic binding due in part to their being kept in smoker’s home. That and sunlight are the likely culprits, especially if they are both present.

    Michael



  5. Annie Oakley!!! OMG!!!!, my younger brother and I loved that show!! (I’m 68, he’s 66 now). Maybe because we knew it was based on a real person or maybe because Gail Davis was many a young boy’s first crush? I remember him calling me in 1997 to say that he’d read about her passing, kinda bummed both of us out.

    Sorry to bring the room down guys 😉


  6. Yellow Plastic
    You know car paint is or was made of plastic, acrylics, and solid colors cleaned up really well with some fine, light sanding followed up with some vigorous rubbing and polishing compound, per instructions I might add. May help clean yellowed plastic parts? But it just may be the plastic has gone bad through and through. Scrape a bit on an unseen area to see.

    The aft section of that white forearm in the close up pic sure looks like a part meant for another rifle with that indented edge. Looks like it should be sliding into some sort of retainer.

    Any chance that metal band was an optional sling kit?



      • BB
        I’ll take your word for it. I was misled by a picture of one without it. Further searches had more with the clamp.
        But you were wrong about the two Airguns we would never see again. This is the second time they were posted for viewing .…. Apr 18 2005. To be honest it was my first today. Thank you very much, still learning. I even found a pic with the side mounted sight.
        Bob M


  7. The picture on the side of your old BB gun looks like a Bomarc Missile. It was an early Air Force Anti-Aircraft Missile targeted at the Russian Bomber threat.

    Mike


    • Big Iron,

      Mike it is in fact a rendering of a BOMARC! When I was a youngster we lived near a BOMARC launch site and I learned more than I should have about it in a nearby Luncheonette listening to the folks that built it and those that worked there! I learned that it was powered by a Ramjet, that it could do Mach 3, that it carried an Atomic warhead and that it was a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) that was intended to shoot down the Soviet Union’s Strategic Bombers. I wrote a report about the BOMARC and did a detailed drawing about it in elementary school…the trouble I got in over that was in was unbelievable! I guess that’s why I joined the US Navy!

      I saw a 110 Rocket Command at a local Hardware Store but it didn’t speak to me; I already had a bb gun with a wooden stock.

      shootski


      • Shootski,

        They probably panicked in reaction to an elementary student having relatively classified knowledge of their missile. Scientists and Engineers are not known for their operational security. In “safe” areas they will openly discuss as shop talk classified material.

        Siraniko


  8. BB—-I bought a cute bit of WW2 memorabilia at the Middletown gunshow, yesterday. It is a plastic figure of a pregnant German girl with a killroy was here inscription on the base. Why do I post this ? Because I looked it up on the internet to see if I had overpaid. There are several of these figurines for sale, and some of them have turned yellow. They are made out of an early 1940,s plastic, and mine is still white. Why should some of these figures turn yellow? if they were exposed to sunlight, I would expect one side to still be white ( or less yellow). Tobacco smoke might be the reason. ——-Ed


  9. B.B.,
    That’s a great story for nostalgic purposes.
    Are you going to do a velocity and accuracy report on it?
    It is a piece of history; thanks.=>
    take care & God bless,
    dave


  10. GF1, BB
    No link to reply to your last comment on your Hatsan BullMaster, so I’ll continue here.

    Sad that you have to search for time to make a stock. 10 years into retirement and I am having a problem finding time to do a lot of frivolous projects I would like to do. I guess you could call it a ‘successful retirement’ but it leads me to wonder how I ever got anything done when I worked ?

    BB
    I often wondered why they never added a ‘little’ blue color when they painted Airguns black. Mainly the glossy finished ones. I was really surprised to see the outstanding blued finish on the recently issued Colt SAA.

    It must have impressed some important people too. Enough to warrant some engraving. I hope the finishes on those silver and blue Colts gets carried over to more outstanding replicas.

    I through out a comment a blog or two back today and in hind sight it seems entirely appropriate to this blog. In general. I’ll repeat it here for those that don’t check back entries. Kind of catchy. What do you think?

    ” Old shooters don’t die off …. They just switch to Airguns ! ”
    Bob M



    • Bob,

      I will be hanging up a board on the back porch with that one. “Old shooters don’t die off … they just switch to airguns!”

      It reminds me of “what walks on four legs and then walks on two legs and ends up on three legs”.

      Like black powder to smokeless to air.

      Any way it worked for me thanks.

      Don


      • Don
        I ‘resemble’ that remark myself. Been a long time since I shot a firearm. The ammo shortage and price hikes really discouraged me from going to afternoon desert shooting events with my friends.

        Glad it works for you. Perhaps it will encourage Airgun ownership in some way.
        Bob M



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