Daisy VL box
In 1969 the world welcomed the Daisy VL.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Velocity first
  • Powder cracked
  • Garage test
  • Discharge sound
  • Is it an air rifle?
  • Difficult to load
  • The sights
  • Dimensions
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Summary

Today I get to do something I have wondered about for more than half a century. Today I shoot the Daisy VL rifle. There are still some things I need to cover about the gun, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to shoot it!

Velocity first

You will recall from Part 1 that the VL shoots a 29-grain lead bullet at 1,150 f.p.s., which is a little more than 85 foot-pounds. I wondered whether the caseless VL ammunition would hold up since the date when it was purchased in 1969. Today we find out.

I emptied 10 rounds from a tube of ammo and proceeded to load and fire the rifle. The first shot missed the first skyscreen but the rest all registered Nine fifty-two-year-old VL rounds averaged 1,194 f.p.s. The low was 1,173 and the high was 1,233 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 60 f.p.s. I have seen similar differences when shooting some regular .22 rimfire rounds. It’s not that bad for 52 year-old ammo!

And every round fired the first time. There were no misfires. And all of them went out faster than Daisy advertised. What do you think of that?

At the average 1194 f.p.s. that 29-grain bullet was generating 91.83 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That’s nearly .22 long rifle standard speed energy, which is around 100 foot-pounds.

Powder cracked

Do you remember that one of my concerns when the VL first came out was that the powder could flake off and crack? Well, one round did exactly that as I loaded the rifle. It didn’t want to go into the barrel and when I pressed too hard on its base the powder cracked. It still fired and was the slowest round that was recorded.

VL powder cracked
The powder charge on this one round cracked when I pushed it too hard. It still functioned.

Garage test

Because the VL is loud, I tested it in my garage, I have florescent lights on one side of the room and LEDs on the other. Florescent lights do not work with most chronographs including the one I have, but I was directly under the LEDs and there was no problem. The bullet trap is over on the side that’s lit by the LEDs.

Discharge sound

I wore hearing protection, which I almost never do unless I’m shooting a big bore. But I was glad that I did because the VL registered 111.9 dB on my sound meter. Of course my garage is less cluttered and more echo-y than my office, so some of that sound is no doubt due to the conditions. But still, the VL is about as loud as any regular .22 rifle. It may be based on an air rifle, but it’s not an air rifle!

VL sound
The VL is as loud as a normal .22.

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Is it an air rifle?

Yes and no. Yes, the powerplant is very similar to that of a spring-piston air rifle. Other than the ball check valve that seals the breech from the hot gasses of combustion, it is extremely similar.

Quick — who knows what makes the VL not an air rifle? The bore diameter. While all the good old boys from Hazard Kentucky think that all .22s are the same, we airgunners know different. We know that .22 long rifle bores measure 0.2225-0.2235-inches in diameter, while .22 pellet rifle bores measure 0.2165-0.218-inches. Pellets and bullets have to be sized to match.

VL bullet measure
The VL bullet measures the same as a standard .22 rimfire bullet.

If we were to load and fire a .22 pellet in a VL system, it might come out the muzzle, but not very fast. There would be a lot of blow-by air because the pellet is too small the seal the bore. The first RWS Superdome I tried exited the barrel at 20-30 f.p.s. It simply dented the cardboard backer in the bullet trap. The second pellet remained stuck in the barrel.

VL dent
The VL bullets punched clean holes through the cardboard backer, while the RWS Superdome only dented it, when fired from 8 feet.

The second pellet didn’t exit the bore and had to be rodded out. So the VL isn’t a very good air rifle.

Difficult to load

The breech is hard to access and only the length of the VL cartridges saves the day. When I loaded pellets I used my reverse tweezers.

The sights

The rifle has what in the 1960s were considered pretty standard .22 rifle sights. The front is a simple squared off post on a low ramp. It is attached with a screw and can be removed.

VL front sight
The front sight is a square post on a raised ramp.

The rear sight adjusts for both windage and elevation.

VL rear sight
The rear sight adjusts vertically by means of a stepped elevator and horizontally by loosening screws and sliding sideways. It’s crude but effective.

There is no possibility of mounting an optical sight on this rifle. I’m sure it could be done if someone were persistent enough, but Daisy made no provisions for a scope.


The VL isn’t a lightweight rifle with a plastic stock. Daisy informs the new owner that the hollow butt has been filled with sound-deadening foam that also helps with the balance. Though the rifle only weighs 5 lbs. it feels like more, and the balance is very nice. 

The length overall is 37-3/4-inches, making the VL a very short rifle. The pull is 13-3/4-inches.

Cocking effort

The VL is an underlever that cocks with 23 lbs. of force. For most of the way the force is 19 lbs. but setting the automatic safety at the end bumps it up.

The interesting thing for an undelever is there is no ratchet detent catching the lever. It’s all or nothing — a strange feel for an airgunner!

Trigger pull

The single-stage non-adjustable trigger breaks at 3 lbs. 4 oz. resistance. It’s acceptably crisp, but certainly no target trigger.


That’s the VL in a nutshell. It’s as real a .22 as it can be with the odd ammunition. Next I will examine accuracy