The First BB Gun

I read a story over at Wilder’s Place about his first BB gun and the adventure that followed.

He got his first one while in the second grade. I was guessing he lived out in the country, or at least in an area where houses were not cramped in all around.

Me? I got my first one when I was 11. That’s fifth grade in ’66. Why so late? Did I not exhibit enough responsibility to own one? I do not know the reason.

It was a Daisy lever action, that resembled a 30-30 Winchester. The side loading port looked just like the real thing. The gun only held 40 BBs, and it only shot 10 rounds before the shooter had to push a lever, loading the next 10 into the “ready chamber” is probably as good a term as any.

When one cocked the lever, one also had to manually pull back the hammer, then ready for the next bad guy or critter that was unfortunate enough to be out and about that particular day.

I was not allowed to shoot the rifle in the city; no way no HOW…don’t even ask or dream of shooting milk cartons in the back yard…NO way.

My brother is 13 months younger than I, and in July that year, he got a BB gun too. I thought it was hardly fair that he got his a year earlier than I. I never mentioned it to anyone as I didn’t want to get smacked or lose privileges.

Our neighbor across the street, Mike already had one, and he was younger than my brother.

Our dad, or Mike’s dad would take us out to shoot; usually on Sunday. It was our responsibility to be sure we had enough ammo before we left, or we sat silently looking wistful, until someone let us shoot their gun.

My brother’s gun was also a Daisy, but a cheaper model similar to the Red Ryder in that it held enough BBs to last through the decade. A lever action single cock was all it took to fire that one, and it made lots of noise with all those BBs rolling around inside.

As nice as mine was, I had to reload every 40 rounds while the other two could continuously shoot on one load up before leaving the house. I had to carry lots of ammo with me, as let’s face it: 40 rounds is nothing when surrounded by rabid coyotes and rustlers.

Reloading too in the field was difficult as I always fell behind, having to stop and push in the little door with one hand, and carefully pour BBs into the little hole until it would take no more. BB spillage was very common, and somewhere out near Sugar Creek Oklahoma is a fortune to be had by some lucky dude with a metal detector.

My brother and I were concerned about someone breaking into our home and stealing our precious firearms, so we went in together and bought a 2 rifle gun rack for our bedroom wall, and a locking cable which we ran through the trigger guards, and around the rack so no one would even THINK about stealing our guns. I’m sure our folks had a good laugh about that.

In ’69 we moved to the RGV Texas, and by then were allowed to go to the canal and shoot alone, as long as we had permission.

Our next door neighbor Burt, had a BB gun too. We were not allowed to shoot our guns in the yard, but Burt had a different set of rules. We could hear him shooting in his yard frequently. Burt’s back yard was filled with citrus trees; navel orange, grapefruit and lime. At times the trees would grow across the fence into our yard, and we would have fresh fruit…more than once we found BBs in the oranges.

Burt and his family were owls, and usually slept all morning. We managed to get Burt up only once to go hunting at the ditch…too early for him.

We met a school chum John, who had a Benjamin .177 pump up rifle; nice. He used to put a BB behind his pellet, calling it a “shotgun load”; absolutely deadly. We always had to go knock on John’s window to get his ass out of bed at 7 am on Saturday for a hunting trip. One chilly morning, as we were waiting for John to get his ass outside, a big Lab took a dump in the yard. It was so chilly, that steam was actually rising from that huge pile of shit from the dog. My brother and I still recall that odd occurrence.

The drainage ditch a few houses away was basically where the storm sewers drained into in those days. It was very deep, having been scooped out by a giant steam shovel or dragline as they called ’em back then.

All the streets in the ‘hood ended up at a cul de sac, and there was an alley that ran behind all the homes on the cul de sacs (circles), next to the ditch. Where the sewers came out in the ditch was a large concrete standpipe, from which the water poured up and out like a geyser during a bad thunderstorm or rains from a hurricane. At these standpipes was where we hunted…yeah, we shot fish in the shallow waters of the ditch. Mostly minnow sized, and an occasional carp could be a victim, given their size and the shallow water. I have seen the ditch very very full during my stay in that time period from a bad rain storm.

Even with my shortcomings with the 40 rounds, I learned to fire that Winchester replica very quickly, as we snuck up on the unsuspecting fish hanging out at the concrete platform, where the standpipes were located.

Tadpoles too were a common target in season.

They had no idea of the onslaught of brass heading to them as we would deal a barrage of BBs and lead into their midst, and continued as they attempted escape.

We were able to cross the ditch, walking across on a pair of 12 inch water pipes; we got good at it after the first attempts, but none of us ever fell. It would have been quite a drop to the smelly, muddy bottom of the ditch.

Once across, up the other side to the top, there was a dirt road between that side of the ditch, and the cement irrigation canal, where the tadpoles would be found, unless someone down the road was irrigating, in which case the canal would be full of running river water. That particular canal was narrow enough we could jump over it if need be.

I was disheartened one day while taking a pot shot from the top of the ditch to the bottom to see the BB come out of the barrel. I could clearly see its trajectory, which prompted me to think “I need a more powerful weapon”.

My brother and I both bought Daisy pellet rifles shortly after. All pellet rifles in those days were single shot..I have seen Crosman .177 revolvers that one can load several shots in these days using CO2 as the propellant, but not in the early seventies. We went with the .22 caliber variety.

They were break open barrels, into which one shoved the pellet. The Daisy pellets worked the best, and any other brand would have the tails of the pellets smashed as the barrel was slammed shut.

Pellets too come lubricated. We learned quickly that a shirt pocket full of oily pellets, bled into the shirt pocket, thus ruining its aesthetic value. There was no other way to carry them except in one’s shirt pocket…at least in those days.

The .22 caliber proved to provide more of a ‘punch’, but only a single shot, and usually after that shot, the game had cleared out.

One of the more ‘radical’ neighbor kids saw a 2 foot carp in the ditch one afternoon, and ran inside to retrieve the 12 gauge, and that was the end of the carp.

It was good past timing for a couple of kids, and my brother and I went ‘hunting’ usually every Saturday morning; early.

Later, my brother bought himself a 5mm Sheridan pellet pump up rifle, that he still owns today.

Later, I bought a .22 caliber Benjamin pump pellet rifle, that is sitting right here on the gun rack in the kitchen; still deadly after all these years. I shot an armadillo once with it…armor be damned.

I have since expanded my collection to include a Crossman CO2 powered BB pistol that will hold 17 shots. At 300 fps, it’s not bad. It’s now pushing 40 years old, and the seals have worn out so when I put in a new CO2 cartridge, I have to use it immediately as the CO2 will leak out. I have had it professionally repaired by some clown in Kansas, but it still leaked. That one too sits close by here in the kitchen.

I also purchased a Crossman .22 caliber CO2 pistol; a bolt action, and it is deadly at close range and fairly accurate. I bought around 100 CO2 cartridges back when I was a more serious prepper, and keep them stashed away.

My last purchase was a Hatsan .22 caliber Turkish made pellet rifle. It is a break open, and is absolutely lethal. It boasts of 900 fps with a 22 grain pellet, and much faster with a lighter pellet. However…faster means breaking the sound barrier, and the idea of a pellet rifle is to be silent. Certainly they make .177 rifles that have muzzle velocities of upwards of 1300 fps, but there is the crack of the sonic boom to consider.

I also have a Daisy Red Ryder, but it’s not like the one Ralphie got…similar yes, but no compass in the stock, and it loads different. I have popped doves with that one, and shooed away deers too.

14 thoughts on “The First BB Gun

  1. Don’t recall exactly when I got my first (and only) BB gun. 4th grade, maybe? It was a Crossman “V-350”, named for the supposed velocity the BB’s came out of the muzzle at. Weird gun. You pulled the barrel straight back into the receiver to cock it. I think it held maybe 25 BB’s, and had a hole drilled into the top of the receiver that you could see one of the BB’s through, letting you know if there were any in the “magazine”.

    Pretty accurate, and would punch through at least one side of a steel can out to 10~15 yards.

    I think I left it with my Dad when I moved to Kommiefornia in the 1980’s.

  2. I had a single shot bolt action 22LR rifle a couple of years before I got a BB/Pellet gun – I think I was 9 . The reason for the BB gun was a Boy Scout badge/competition. My grandfather used to pay a dollar a squirrel shot in the pecan orchard. Cleaned as he had my grandmother make him grits and squirrel with gravy. That was a big bounty back in the 70’s. At 11 years old I was good enough to shoot them in the head so I didn’t mess up the meat. I could make 5 to 10 dollars a week without trying too hard from August to November. .

    My cousin used a 16 gauge shotgun and always lagged behind me shooting. The 22 was more cost efficient but required more skill. When I was 16 I could hit a beer bottle cap at 100 feet with that 22. It was stupid accurate. I have always enjoyed shooting.

    • Remington single shot bolt action. That’s what I and my brothers were trained with. We smacked bottle caps into the side of an old log, and shot them. When the bottle caps ran out, we stood empty 22 shell casings on the top of the log. Ever seen a .22 casing with a .22 dia. hole in it, and a strip of intact casing on both sides? I think brother Mike still has one on his trophy shelf.

      • That is some fine shooting. My brother and I were turned loose with a .22 short single shot bolt action Savage when we visited the cousins out on the farm. Good times.

      • I grew up on a farm where there was no such thing as an allowance. I had chores that ran from feeding chicken, harvesting eggs, feeding pigs/cattle, and making sure all the watering devices worked. I would get a “cut” when animals or hay was sold or sell myself out to pick vegetables or tobacco in the summer.

        BTW: The single shot 22 was a mail order Sears Ted Williams that was made by Remington. It belonged to an older cousin before me and I passed it to a younger cousin when I got a magazine fed Ted Williams 22LR made by Remington. It is also stupid accurate and I still have it.

  3. Great story about the good old days.

    Fast forward to today where the BB gun on the bedroom wall is now a serious offense if the virtual teacher catches you with it. You gotta wonder what’d happen if the stack of Playboy magazines over on big brother’s side of the room came into the camera’s view.

  4. Never got a first BB gun. Folks put a moratorium on that after I got my first cork gun. If I jammed it in the ice, screwed it around, and tipped it just right when I pulled it out, I had an ice plug in the muzzle. I used that weapon and munitions to inflict much deserved retribution on my older brothers. Hence the moratorium on future bb guns. I was 4 or 5. Been a weapons specialist ever since.

  5. My first BB gun was the same as yours, Daisy lever action resembling Winchester 94. Killed a shit ton of sparrows in the backyard. Brother had the Daisy resembling the Savage 99, a ‘target’ rifle, lol. A lot of fun that one.

    Graduated to a Daisy 880. A pump that took pellets or BBs. Scoped that dude up with a cheapie Bushnell on tip-off scope mounts. Killed a cottontail with that one but it took multiple shots.

    Later graduated to springer ‘break barrels’. RWS 45 in .177 was my 1st, damn it was heavy and long, about 45″ o.a. and 9 pounds scoped. Killed a LOT of rats with it, as my Brother raised homing pigeons in the back yard. Smoking a Camel filter at dusk, waiting for the rats to show up on power lines, in the ash trees and on the roof. A lot of fun for me (not so much fun for the rats :^)

    Later on, Webleys (original English, not middle eastern manufacture) BSA and more RWS made their way here. All heavy and long but very accurate.

    Hard to give up on air rifles.

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