Buck Jones and his Daisy No. 25 Pump – Part II
Our heading photograph compares Buck’s test of his new Daisy No. 25 Pump with Hornady vs. Daisy BB groups at 5 yards. This test proved inconclusive. But stepping back to 10 yards revealed a pattern of consistency with the Hornady Black Diamond BBs which was not apparent with the Daisy Zinc coated BBs. Discounting an obvious flyer, the Hornady Anodized ammunition produced a group 40% smaller than the Daisy steel balls. Velocity measurements indicate the two brands were equal in that regard producing velocity measurements 3 feet from the muzzle, in 25 degree temperatures, near 285 ft/second.
Buck continues his story…
Last month we looked at my World War II era experience with the Daisy No. 25 Pump, and the recent acquisition of a current production model on my 80-th birthday.
Upon close examination of the new gun, we ask the question: why did Daisy engrave a waterfowl hunting scene on the receiver of their premium pump BB air rifle?
A little googling lead me to an old blog post, which helped to shed some light on the apparent contradiction. The designer of Daisy’s first pump was the son of Uncle Dan Lefever, one of the most famous American double shotgun designers and builders in American history.
Uncle Dan went to Syracuse, NY with sons Frank, George and Daisy Model 25 inventor Charles Fred Lefever in 1901 and formed D. M. Lefever, Sons & Company.
They would continue to build their revolutionary hammerless shotgun design first introduced by Uncle Dan Lefever in 1883. Fred eventually left the family business and went on to invent the No. 25 Pump air rifle produced by Daisy in 1914.
Winchester had taken the waterfowl hunting world by storm with the introduction of their John Browning inspired Model 12 pump shotgun in 1912.
So when Daisy introduced a pump BB gun – looking for all the world like a miniature version of Winchester’s Model 12 shotgun – and designed by the son of one of America’s beloved shotgun pioneers, it would have made sense for Daisy, at some point in the production of their No. 25 Pump, to capitalize on that imagery.
Above. It’s no coincidence that my Daisy no. 25 Pump air rifle was adorned with an embossed scene depicting two ducks and a waterfowl hunter. Winchester introduced waterfowlers to this famous Model 12 shotgun just a year before Fred LeFever introduced Daisy to his Model 25 air rifle. The similarities are unmistakable. Fred’s father designed and manufactured America’s first hammerless shotguns during the last two decades of the 19th century.
This is pure speculation on my part. But I would suggest they accomplished that by tastefully adorning the frame of their 1914 air rifle with a waterfowl hunter pursuing ducks. Daisy must have counted on childhood imagination easily bridging the gap between their single projectile air rifle and multiple projectile scatterguns!
Below. If your youngster shows an early passion for wingshooting, don’t ignore the BB gun years thinking they don’t apply. In this photo, I’m hunting ducks on the lake with an Ithaca Model 37 pump manufactured in 1940. My Daisy BB guns made the transition a natural process.
And to support my theory, Daisy also made a double barrel BB gun which would eventually be dubbed the Model 21. Clearly named after one of America’s most popular double barrel shotguns, Winchester’s Model 21.
Careful inspection of my new Daisy No. 25 Pump indicated that it was a quality product. Craftsmanship far exceeded my expectations for a gun selling below $50.00. But you can easily find reviews on the gun through the internet. So I’ll tell you about the performance of my particular air rifle.
Above. Abby waits patiently for her young master to return for the hunt. Many youngsters are introduced to upland hunting with their Daisy. The author’s bird hunting partner, Ron Keller, was introduced to wingshooting by his father during pheasant hunts in Minnesota. He was encouraged to tag along…and instructed to shoot at flushing roosters with his Daisy. The process evolved into a lifelong passion for rifles, shotguns and handguns. He developed into one “crackerjack” wingshot !
Performance of my NEW Daisy No. 25 Pump
Initial casual plinking with my new No. 25 indicated that the trigger letoff was long and stiff, but smooth.
Successive shots were always smother and lighter than the first. The gun was much quieter than my Red Ryder, and the point of impact appeared to be near perfect, with minimal sight adjustment.
I was worried about the muzzle velocity, given the muffled sound it emitted, so I set up my Ohler #33 Chronograph and compared the velocity of Umarex Anodized and Daisy Zinc BB’s from both the Model 25 and my Daisy Red Ryder.
Both brand of BBs shot to exactly the same muzzle velocity, and M.V. from both guns was essentially identical. At Michigan winter temperatures (25 Degrees Fahrenheit), the average muzzle velocity was 285 ft/sec, with an extreme spread of only 5 ft/second.
Next I grabbed the Daisy No. 25 Pump and moved to my impromptu indoor range.
Shooting three x 5 shot groups off of the bench at 5 yards, the Hornady (Umarex, anodized) Black Diamond BBs shot groups measuring 0.4, 0.7, and 0.7 inch center to center groups. The average for the three groups was 0.6 inches.
By comparison, the Daisy Zinc BBs printed groups measuring 0.8, 0.55 and 0.75 inches for an average of 0.7 inches. There was one Daisy Zinc flyer I didn’t count.
All shots were fired using the peep, with the tip of the front sight just touching the black and orange bulls at six o’clock.
I wasn’t willing to bet the farm on the Hornedy BB groups slight superiority, so I moved back to 10 yards. The difference became more apparent at that range.
The Daisy Zinc BBs shot a uniformly distributed group measuring 2.2 inches at the extremes, and 1.9 x 1.9 inches on the square.
By comparison, the Hornady group measured 2.0 inches at the extremes. But one hole was clearly a flyer. Five of the remaining nine went into one jagged hole, eight went into a group measuring 0.78 inches, and nine of the ten measured only 1.15 inches at the extremes.
Here’s the targets again…
Acknowledging my suspect bench shooting technique, I’d be willing to bet the flyer was shooter induced. I’d give the nod to the Hornady Black Diamond Ammunition in my Model 25.
(Author’s Note: Three full turns on the rear sight elevation screw perfectly zeroed the sights off-hand at 30 feet).
My 80-th birthday was complete. And thanks to Daisy quality control, they had managed to turn a disappointing memory from the late 40’s into an exhilerating experience over six decades later.
I’d be sure this Daisy No. 25 Pump would knock sparrows off of an Indiana garden fence at 30 feet but in fact, I’m no longer interested in doing that. Just give me a Campbell’s soup can on a stick 40 feet behind our Michigan home! That’s a target I can hit consistently from an open basement window when Michigan temperatures drop to single digits.
I’ll while away those frigid February days with this amazing Daisy No. 25 Pump until I can head to the skeet range with my 16 gauge Winchester Model 12, my 20 gauge Remington Model 11, or Grandfather’s 20 Ithaca Flues.
Below. The Lefever Arms Collectors Association preserves the genius of American Shotgun designer Uncle Dan Lefever. (http://lefevercollectors.com/) An e-mail from Lefever descendant Dr. Robert Decker fills us in with some interesting history of Lefever Arms. There is an interesting twist to Daisy inventor Fred Lefever’s story. Fred apparently left his father and brothers Frank and George sometime during the company’s move from Syracuse to Defiance, Ohio. Fred was outcast and not spoken of by the rest of the family. Dr Decker’s Grandfather was Art LeFever, son of Frank. He grew up in his gunshop and, of course, had a Daisy BB gun. His grandfather taught him how to shoot.
So even kids who grew up in a shotgun manufacturing plant were introduced to firearms with a Daisy!