Buffalo Bill Museum Air Gun Display

As a young child my most prized possession was my BB Gun. Mine is a Red Ryder lever action made by the Daisy Corporation. Just like the one used by Ralphie in that Christmas movie. Only mine didn’t have a compass in the stock.

Air guns from the 1870’s? Mind blown.

I can’t even begin to guess how many BB’s we shot though that old gun? But it was a lot. Perhaps in the thousands of BB’s? And while life has taken me from the trappings of childhood to the equipment of men; I have never forgotten just how fundamental BB guns were to a life-long passion for firearms.

But have I ever told you about my PRR (Pre-Red-Ryder) days?

Before I received my very own BB Gun on Easter, I had plenty of trigger time on the type. You see my two best friends at the time had some old BB guns that belonged to their grandfather. They were old and well used. And considering these guns were, “old” in the mid 1970’s, think about how old they are today?

The gun second from the top seems very similar to my PRR days.

My friends were into guns as well. But I don’t think they took it as seriously as I did even then. As I recall, they kept their granddad’s old BB guns on hooks in their garage. Which didn’t seem like a fitting place to store something so desirable. Even to my 8 year old eyes.

This particular example is from the 1940’s.

But the upside was, being in the garage, these Daisy BB guns were pretty much accessible to us 24 hours a day. And we sure did put the miles on them! Cans. Rodents. Birds. Paper targets. Glass pop bottles. Street signs. Milk jugs. You name it, we shot it. Or at least shot at it.

Looking back on it, I seem to think these guns were made in the 1930’s. The loading gate was very different than my Red Ryder which used a plastic door on the barrel. On theirs, you twisted a end-cap on the muzzle and that opened up a small, metal, circular gate. Which facilitated loading…errr…well…facilitated might be a stretch. Enabled loading of BB’s almost 1 at a time. All very slow going. But I’m getting out in the weeds here.

I told you all of that so I could tell you this. I probably spent more time looking at this airgun display than most visitors to the Buffalo Bill Museum ever have. Even the old guys would kind of glance quickly and then move on to more exotic, manly, historic arms.

300-500 RPM. Capacity 2000 rounds. I could have shot, “all the birds”.

But I was transfixed. I saw BB guns of my youth. I saw BB guns that belonged to my friends’ grandfather. I saw BB guns that I had only heard of in magazines. And I saw fully automatic BB guns that would have just been amazing to own and shoot in 1977. Hell! They would be amazing to shoot now!

So take a few minutes and spend some time looking at these pictures if you wish. And don’t forget…everything you see here is…a…BB gun. Even if it looks like a machine-gun or something off a movie set or military reservation. Some of these guns are amazing and mechanical wonders.




“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Marky Mark

Marky Mark

Writer at John1911.com
Writer for john1911.com. Co-Host of the John1911 Podcast. Video content provider for John1911-TV.

Areas of focus: Defense and National Security, Modern Light Weapons, Analysis of the Geo-political / Military Relationship in the Context of Strategic Goals.
Marky Mark

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  • Tell you what. If I had access to some of these fully automatic BB guns when I was a kid, I would either have gone down as the greatest 12 year old in history, or I would have ended up in Juvie.

    But it would have been worth it!


    • MickeyG

      Oh yeah it would have been worth it !! I think a good many of us started our shooting passion with those old Red Ryders.

  • tanstaafl2

    Those automatic BB guns show up every year in the carnival fairway when the Houston Rodeo is in town. The game operator dumps a straw of 100 BB’s in through the stock, and you have to completely shoot the red star out of a paper target to win. They had a wicked high rate of fire, so the fun was over WAAAAAAY too fast.

    Several years ago, 60 Minutes did an expose on tricks venders employ to make it virtually impossible to win carnival games. They took an Olympic air rifle competitor, and she couldn’t shoot out the star in several tries. They checked and found out the BB’s are undersized – severely limiting the shooter’s accuracy (Winchester does one run of these undersized BB’s each year to supply all the carnival shooting games)

    • Holy shit!! That’s interesting. I do recall shooting that very game now that you mention it. On a different shooting game, I did a quick burst to check and see where the POI vs POA was and cleaned house. My lady friend at the time walking around with a stuffed animal and the carnie sent me packing!

      The undersized BB thing is new to me. That almost seems like…shall I saw it…racketeering or conspiracy to commit fraud.



      • tanstaafl2

        Since I could see there would almost always be some fragment of red ink clinging to the ragged edge of the hole (sorry, son – you didn’t shoot out the ENTIRE star), I got cute and used the stream of BB’s along the top of the target paper, so I cut the whole thing loose from the clip. The carnie said that didn’t count.

        • Kinda reminds me of the democratic primaries with Wasserman tipping the scales to their preferred outcome.