Airguns you never see

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

History of airguns

This report covers:

“Toy” BB guns
The heavy Daisy 179
FWB 125
Daisy Annie Oakley BB gun
Summary

Gonna have some fun today. Instead of testing something I want to show you some airguns you’ll probably never see. We’ll start with a couple Daisys.

“Toy” BB guns

Imagine you work at the Daisy Manufacturing Company around the year 1960. It might have been a few years earlier, but probably not much later.

You’re cranking out BB guns by the million each year, and the monotony is getting to you. So you decide to do something different.

In another part of the plant they make true toy guns that don’t shoot anything. These are noisemakers and smoke makers for the smaller boys and girls who aren’t yet ready for the responsibility of a real BB gun.

To hold their interest, these toys are painted with bright colors that contrast vividly with the almost black finish you put on BB guns. Your idea is to paint a few real BB guns with some of the bright toy colors. Blue and pink are especially attractive, having been blended to suit the marketing department’s brainstorm that kids want their guns to be gender-specific. I bet that wouldn’t fly so well today!

Over in the injection-molding department, you get the guys to make a special short run of white Styrene stocks, similar to the Annie Oakley and Space Ranger stocks they recently made for the marketeers. Those guns never sold well, but you won’t be selling the guns you’re about to make, so it doesn’t matter.

The guns you chose to doll up this way are Daisy’s number 25 pump gun and the Targeteer pistol. Both familiar icons of American youth, they look positively other-worldly in electric “Toy Blue” with white styrene stocks.

Once they are together, you decide these guns look so special that they are presented to some person (or persons, because nobody knows for sure how many were made) who is in favor at Daisy.

A few guns also make their way into the hands of some of the old-time Daisy employees who collect what the company makes. In 50 years, they have all changed hands and all that anyone can remember is that a few were made for one reason or another.

Obviously, they were made because you see them here. One man owns both these BB guns and has little motivation to part with either one. The number 25 pump gun is in nearly new condition, with only evidence of handling and storage. The Targeteer pistol has more wear but still shows a lot of the original paint. The white styrene on both guns is yellowing.

Daiosy 25 left
A Daisy number 25 pump BB gun in toy blue with a white styrene stock and pump handle. A Daisy 25 collection isn’t complete without one of these.

Targeteer left
The Targeteer was given the same treatment. I think it makes the gun stand out!

Unless you see these at an airgun show you’ll probably never encounter one of them. I have seen more of the Daisy 25s at airgun shows, and that would be 5 or 6, with seeing the same gun twice a distinct possibility.

The heavy Daisy 179

Daisy’s 179 BB pistol looks like a Colt Single Action Army revolver, but it’s actually an 18-shot BB pistol that uses spring power to launch a BB. It’s a catapult.

Daisy 179
Daisy’s 179 was also made of solid brass parts and painted to look like the pot metal gun.

However there is a very scarce variation of the gun that’s made of all brass parts. Daisy calls it a salesman’s sample, but it is known that several were also made as special gifts. Daisy knows of serial numbers up to 34, so a batch of perhaps 50 was created. As far as I know they are painted black like the pot metal 179s, so looking is no way to tell. Weight is the main difference.

I have never seen one, though a couple people have sworn to me they had one. No doubt there was a lot of hand work that went into making each one. If one is offered for sale expect to pay several thousand dollars. You’ll be bidding against me, if I see it, too.

FWB 125

Many of you know that the FWB 124 is a desirable breakbarrel air rifle. They are accurate, reasonably powerful and they cock easily. They are also attractive in this day of mega-magnum air rifles with camouflaged synthetic stocks. All that plus general unavailability has made the FWB 124 a classic air rifle to own.

FWB 124
Feinwerkbau’s 124 is a classic breakbarrel air rifle. The 125 is a paragraph in its history.

The 124 is .177 caliber. There is a .22-caliber model that’s designated the 127, as well. They command a small premium for their scarcity, though for my money the 124 is the one to get. The rifle’s power is well-matched to the smaller pellet. However, are you aware there is a variation that’s still rarer? Dr. Beeman had FWB build five 125s — a 5mm or .20-caliber version? When five of something are built they are considered sample guns.

I have seen people turn themselves inside-out over these — as though the scarcity of that caliber in that model makes it collectible. In my opinion, it doesn’t. Here is a practical reason why. I like Colt Single Action Army revolvers — a lot! My favorite caliber is the one that’s the most common — the .45 Colt, or as many people say, the .45 Long Colt. But the SAA was also made in .32 S&W caliber. Only 32 of them were ever made. An SAA collector might want one, but I sure don’t! That’s way too much gun for such a puny cartridge!

Now — here is the point. Lots of airgunners want FWB 124s, but that doesn’t make them collectible. They are shooters first and collector’s items second. Like I said, the .22-caliber 127 goes for a small premium, but that’s where it ends. You may never see a 125, but don’t pay a lot for one if you do. 

Annie Oakley

I will finish with a last gun from Daisy. In 1957 Daisy was trying to appeal to girls as well as boys. In that day the sexes were considered separate and distinct, and Daisy felt they had to dress up their airguns to appeal to the gentler audience. So they made an Annie Oakley smoke gun — one of many play guns they made that didn’t and couldn’t shoot BBs.

Annie TV
Gail Davis starred in the TV series, “Annie Oakley” 1954-1957.

Annie smoke gun
From a 1957 wholesale catalog, the Daisy Annie Oakley smoke gun was offered.

What most people don’t know is that Daisy also made a few real Annie Oakley BB guns. They looked like the smoke gun only as I remember it they were a bit longer. I have held one in my hands. This is the kind of stuff that legends are made of because you can get into an argument with a veteran collector who will vehemently deny that such a thing ever existed and then watch his face when you put one into his hands!

They may never have been a commercial item. Just one of those things guys do when things in the shop are running smoothly. It’s a, “Here, hold my beer,” kind of thing!

Summary

What we have looked at today are collectibles so rare that few people even know they exist. This is a type of collecting that goes off the map!

70 thoughts on “Airguns you never see


  1. I had a pretty decent double holster for my cap guns back in the day, but the holster Gail Davis is wearing looks fancier– did the smoke pistols include a holster like that, or was it from her TV show? Or was it only the rifle that was offered as a smoke gun?


  2. I didn’t know they made plastic 179’s, I had one when I was young, and have one now, both were pre safety models. But they were both metal. Only the grips were plastic.

    Have great weekend everyone.

    Ian..


  3. BB,

    Cool article. There was a fellow on here a short time ago that was inquiring about an “soft air” Peacemaker. I provided a few links,… but he quickly disappeared. I ran across that brass 179 in the Blue Book when doing research.

    The “soft air” shot plastic balls. As I recall, the Blue Book makes no mention of Daisy “soft air” variations.

    Ever see or hear of any?

    Chris



      • BB,

        I don’t recall you weighing in at the time when the poster asked the question. I was not aware the actual air soft included catapult guns. I thought that air soft had a motor that cranked a piston and the projectile was launched via air burst,… much like a springer or is air powered by Co2.

        I am not sure what the guy had,… or what it actually shot. He did have a box of .22 shells in the pic (gun belt adoration’s) and a tube of bb’s. The fact that he said the gun was marked “soft air” though indicated that it shot plastic balls,… (from the historical stuff I was able to look up). I think he mentioned an early ’70’s time frame as to when he purchased it.

        Chris



  4. BB,

    Pretty cool stuff really. I myself would not be interested in owning any of these, well except maybe the FWB 125. I do not own a .20 airgun and that would likely be a good one to have. I would want to shoot these and you would be a fool to do such with some of these. Most of these are pull out the white cotton gloves and handle tenderly. I am too clumsy of an oaf for something like that.


  5. BB,
    The Targateer and Daisy pump in blue w/white styrene are so “Apple” But where these combinations work on an electric guitar or a Chevy Bel-aire, or a Hop along Cassidy rig, they fail at defining the needs of gender specific design.Women have smaller hands than men, so the geometry that works for that requirement is too expensive
    to produce, so instead of honoring ergonomic diversity, It was determined that women need to decorate their
    pop guns. Can I interest you in a Virgina Slim? Plus, at this time in the 60’s, G.I. Joe traded in his fatigues for an orange jump suit. His job became first responder. No more Flecktarn camo, and period correct small arms.
    But that was because of the Viet Nam war as much as anything. The interesting thing was in Europe, “Action Man” as he was called there, remained a warrior, in all his historcally accurate regalia.
    Is there a ‘coon skin hat to go with the .45 Colt? I know; Daniel Boone carried a different pistol than that in real life. I was living in T.V. land back then.
    Rob




  6. B.B.,

    I wonder if today’s models of BB guns that are pink sell well or not.

    I bought a Crosman Wildcat (the pink version of the C11) at Walmart a year ago that was marked a clearance price of $19.95. The C11 is a pretty decent plinker, and I figured I might spray it black, but when I got home, I decided, “Why bother?” The package is still sealed as I got busy right about then, and at this point I haven’t really sat down to shoot airguns, more than five rounds total, anyway, in many months.

    I wonder if someday pink air guns of today might have a premium of as much as 2% or 3%. ;^)

    Michael



  7. B.B. and Readership,

    Your toys blog reminded me to post about the return of club and major shooting sport venues in this COVID19 year. It is truly heartening that we are beginning to learn how to move forward safely toward a more functional society.

    Youth and other shooting is back at Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP!) A few months ago some of the posters were discussing the lack of airgun shooting opportunities in their States as well as training for youth and new shooters; CMP is one of the major programs in the USA with many local clubs all over the country.

    https://thecmp.org/ranges/cmp-competition-centers/monthly-air-rifle-and-air-pistol-matches/

    Hard Air has a piece about the return to competition of the Juniors and a brief discussion about events for those not ready for formal competition.

    shootski


  8. B.B.
    Wow, another home run. For me you hit it out of the park. Very good blog today. I am over 50 and still very much love cap guns. Love the sound and the smell! I’d like a good one, but you can’t hardly find good ones, except for the China cheap stuff that doesn’t last or plastic. I still prefer the roll caps over the plastic strip or ring caps. They just seem to “smoke” better. I have found some high priced cap guns online before, but I have no way of knowing if they are quality or just over priced. Cap guns seem to foul bad. Are caps just black powder? Also, are there any cap powered bb guns?
    I do know that the ring cap itself is able to fire off a black powder rifle. I was out of caps for my black powder gun and I looked at a plastic ring cap and wondered. I cut the cap out of the ring and sure enough. Boom.

    Doc




      • Shootski,

        Not bad. Not in the market for cap shooters,… but you have to wonder the quality at that price point. After all,… they do need to do what they are designed to do for a respectable amount of time. Site saved for further review.

        Chris


    • The composition of cap guns is mainly red Phosphorus and potassium chlorate. It’s a very sensitive and strong mix, much more powerful than black powder. It must be processed wet, and each cap holds a very minute amount.


      • Mel,

        I made an (over built) reactive target that uses nail gun/stick .22 cartridges. Results are pretty good and it is reliable. The downside is that the sound is directed away from the shooter. I need to direct the blast into a cup of flour,… or something. (3) 1 1/2″ fender washers on a bolt for the firing pin.

        I also cut a bunch of ring caps apart and put them in a pop bottle plastic cap and duct taped over it. Works pretty well, but blast level varied too much,… from pretty good to poor. Not really worth the trouble for the result.

        I think that there is enough reactive/explosive targets out there nowadays that making your own is not worth the effort.

        Chris


      • Mel83,

        “The composition of cap guns is mainly red Phosphorus and potassium chlorate.”

        So that’s why my new cap guns always BLOW up in my hands when I shoot them. When I was a kid they were cast mostly from pot metal (Zinc alloyed with some: Tin, Aluminum, Copper, or other low temperature melting point metals) they NEVER blew up in my hands! I wish they would just make the ammo out of the nasty chemicals! Lol!

        shootski


  9. I had a Thompson submachinegun replica that would fire roll caps. If you pulled the bolt back it would fire like a machine gun.I did that once with a new roll of caps and my dad looked at me and said, “Don’t ever do that again!” I didn’t. They were sure fun for playing army though.

    Brent


  10. I have a few relatively recent airguns that will very shortly fall into todays category if they are not already there. I seek them out. A revolver rifle, three highly customized Hi-Capa 45 race guns, an extended frame Berretta 92 and a long barreled Colt Python, I believe?, with a shoulder stock. Yes … airguns.
    All have been displayed in the blog some place at one time or another.

    My daughter gave me a wall mount downsized rough cut pine gate door with a black plastic six shooter screwed on to it. Accompanied with the words “We don’t dial 911” in black raised retro letters. The trigger guard was really extended so I happened to pull the trigger. It made a wizzing sound glowed red a little and shot sparks out of the barrel. What a surprise.. Not sure if the silver tin space pistol toy I have actually does anything, can’t remember, but it sure looks cool in its original retro cartoon looking box.
    Bob M


    • I was just about to add to the entry (edit) above when my time ran out and dumped it.
      My ‘rememberer’ kicked in but now I have a great excuse since I had a stroke. Officially I am partly brain dead, particulars aside.
      That revolver rifle was actually an airsoft item and I removed the stock and put it on the Colt Python. It is now a one off, and not really a hard to find item.
      Bob M


      • Bob,

        You know?,… With all of these one of a kind/unique descriptions that you are rattling off,… you are just begging for someone to ask,…… “Pics?”. Just sayin’. 😉

        Bummer on the stroke. “partly” is good. I would take partly over “total” any day.

        As for “time ran out”,.. I used to have that problem and since have got busy and walked away for 45 minutes or more,.. and was still able to finish an in process post. Go figure?

        Chris


        • Chris
          I did walk away too long. They are already on the blog some place, but they may be pulled out over time?… need to keep a file I guess.
          Anyway I did try yesterday but Windows did something and I can’t seem to pull pictures out of my files. May have to do with Cloud or Windows security updates? I never followed up on creating a GIF for some full auto M1 Carbine action either.
          Life is full of small emergencies, sort of speaking now that I care for a disabled ex with depression anxiety and panic attacks etc. Then there are fires and power outages. Just had another fire near Tecate MX yesterday.
          Bob M


          • Bob,

            Nice collection there! You certainly have the “bling” thing going on!

            Hang in there Bud. Sometimes staying even for the day is an alternative for things getting better and not worse.

            Chris


          • Bob
            I was going to ask for pictures too.

            What caught my attension was the revolver rifle.

            I like revolver pistols. Would love to have a revolver rifle. I’m a rifle person more than pistols.

            You got a picture of the revolver rifle and some details about it? If not it’s ok. But sounds like a interesting gun.



  11. Chris & GF1
    All those pistols pictured above were originally airsoft.
    The company took a gamble and issued them as BB guns. They came with all that bling and I think they copied real race shooters pistols. Airsoft goes crazy with accessories and most if not all the bling items are offered in other colors and they have, or had, trigger shape options also.
    They were priced a bit higher too, kind of obvious why. Have not found any of them on regular airgun web sites and they are all out of stock last time I looked. Coming back again?
    I have not even shot them so I can’t comment on their performance. They are collectable items to me. (NIB)

    I did mention the revolver rifle was airsoft and probably discontinued now. Had a conversation with BB on that one. It reminded him of a real firearm. I believe all the pics of it and the stocked Colt pistol are on an old hard drive I removed and phone I broke. I’ll see what i can do.
    Bob M


    • Bob,

      Thank you for posting what you did. That whole air soft to bb thing sounds quite unique. They do in fact sound collectable in some? market. You never know what is considered “collectable”. In reality from what I have seen,.. anything can (and) does qualify.

      Chris


    • Bob M,

      The PB rifle it brought to mind for me is a: Colt Model of 1855 a revolver rifle designed by Samuel Colt based on his 1836 revolver Patent.. There are examples of revolver rifles and even shotguns being built to this day.

      Be Well,

      shootski



  12. GF1
    Evidently that Herd Wolf is still being sold and there is a bb conversion kit available but apparently it’s out of stock. Seems to be a modified Dan Wesson receiver set up.

    That railed barrel is part of the pistol inside. The rest is attachments.
    Just type Herd Wolf airgun in a web search ( WIN GUN M117 Revolver Carbine )
    Bob M
    PS: I think there is a laser included in the stock under the barrel.


    • Bob,

      Thanks for all the pictures. Those are cool guns.

      The smoke has really been horrible out here. I have been inside for weeks. I was talking to a friend in Oregon yesterday and he got an inch of rain. I don’t see any rain comming for a long time around Sacramento. I finally got off my butt and completing a remodel to our house. The master bathroom has been on hold for years. I have the sewer, water and electrical done and the sheetrock up and painted. There were parts of our old house that needed upgrades mostly plumbing and electrical. That is now done all but 1 and 1/2 electrical circuits. So staying in has at least one good thing coming out of it for me. Luckily when I put in central heating an air I put in a huge filter system. It seems to be doing great. I don’t smell the smoke inside, maybe I am use to it though.

      Don


      • Don
        It’s similar to a tear gas exposer like we had in boot camp, you have to experience it first hand to comprehend it. Along with the red / black sky and ash falling out of the sky it becomes a very dreadful experience. Nothing like sitting in the wrong place at a camp fire. You don’t worry about losing everything you own, you just change your seat position. Talk about stress and anxiety. A good tight mask really helps.

        They made us remove our smoke mask on the third floor and find our way out of the dark building in black smoke. For the tear gas we had to run around in a circle till the instructor let us out after we remover our masks. Easier to get over when your 19.

        Good to see your making the most of it. Most of the time the winds here in San Diego run east (off shore) and west (HOT Desert Santa Anna) and we can get a good idea of what to expect from the fires location. Do I empty out my truck and pack up the airguns and ‘Such’ or not?
        In 100+ degree heat the sun can play hell with old peoples thin skin. too. Feels like a hair drier on you.

        Glad the pics were enjoyed, thanks BB. ( Wish they sold that rifle stock separately )
        Bob M


      • Benji-Don,

        If you aren’t using them already Activated Carbon HVAC Filters will remove almost all of the smoke smell and more importantly the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that will make you sick or worse.

        “wildfire smoke contains many different gases that can affect air quality and health. … northern health Wildfires generate very large amounts of VOCs, which can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs in the same way as campfire smoke. The levels of VOCs are higher closer to the fire.” BC CDC.

        shootski


    • Bob
      Thanks for the pictures.

      It looks like that first picture of the revolver rifle had a longer barrel. I like.

      So was there a firearm of the revolver rifle? I would like one of those. But I wonder if you would get any powder flash from the revolver be closer to the face since your shouldering the gun.


      • GF1
        I don’t believe this is a copy of a real firearm. It’s an airsoft pistol with a longer inner barrel and attaching outer barrel and stocks. It has kits for returning it to a regular airsoft pistol and a bb shooting rifle. The rifle actually has a flash hider on the end but its hot orange and could use paint for BB conversion. EVIKE.com

        I got peppered shooting my friends 44 magnum that had the wrong ammo in it. Not too cool. Glasses mandatory.


        • Bob
          Thanks for the info.

          And yep no fun getting it even on the hands when holding a pistol.

          If it never was a pistol I wonder if there actually was any revolver rifle firearms made on a production run.


          • I learned a hard lesson when I was younger and didn’t know better. My neighbor had several rifles and hand guns that he shot frequently. He was out shooting a cap and ball pistol one day and asked if I would like to shoot it. This was a big revolver and he neglected to till me not to use a two-hand hold. I ended up digging black powder out of my hand under a microscope for a week! Man, did that burn. I’ve since learned too that cheap revolvers can shave lead because the cylinder is not aligned well to the barrel.
            Geo



    • RR
      I have a few Barretta’s. Pellet, bb, semi-full auto, silver and black. That one has an extended slide and receiver. You will not find that in any store. They really fill your hand.

      I guess when you are shooting for money on TV Bling is the thing! Look at all the patches competition shooters have . They are unique. AW Custom.

      In looking for ways to shave weight from these competition pistols and get them to cycle faster it evolved into a custom look. I hear they actually use custom ammo that is just powerful enough to cycle the action so as to reduce recoil and save time.


  13. GF1
    Check out a Rossi Circuit Judge 45Colt/.410 Carbine or the Rossi Circuit Judge 22 LR cal Rimfire Conversion Rifle with a 22WMR conversion cylinder. It has a gas deflector shield too.
    Bob M



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