What is a cap gun?
A cap gun is a toy revolver which when you pull the trigger makes an explosive sound like a gunshot and emits a small puff of smoke.
The caps tiny dots of gun powders on either a plastic ring or strip of paper inserted in the gun produce these realistic effects.
Cap Gun History
Cowboy style cap guns were the rage in the 1950’s and 60’s during the golden ages of westerns, the small American factory shown in the video uses the molds the major toy companies of the day discarded when they stopped making cap guns long ago. Cap gun caps are little dots of gun powder about a millimeter and a half in diameter sandwiched between two strips of paper, pulling the trigger releases the guns hammer which strikes the cap exploding it making a bang.
How are cap Guns Made?
The faces of the gun handle are made by an injection molding machine, these are made by the injection molding machine shooting hot liquid into ten grip molds simultaneously, the plastic liquid then cools and solidifies in just seconds.
The colour and design of the molds/grips vary by the gun model, the one in this video are for the rancher style cap gun by Wild West toys so feature a steers head.
The rest of the cap gun is then made of cast zinc, workers load zinc bars into a smelting pot which is heated to around 400 degrees celsius, the bar then melts within a couple of minutes.
The molten zinc then travels through heated pipes to a plunger which then injects the zinc into a gun parts mold, the zinc only takes 10 seconds to cool and harden.
Once the zinc has cooled it is just a matter of separating the cap gun parts from the molded zinc.
The cap gun parts made from the molten zinc are the guns main body which contains the right side of the barrel, the loading gate which covers the cap box, the cap gun cylinder, the left side of the barrel and toy bullets which load into the cartridge but don’t shoot out of the cap gun.
The trigger and hammer are cast in a separate mold's, every piece that was made in the mold has flashing which is excess metal that forms in the gap between the two halves of the mold.
This has to be removed, first off they remove as much as they can by hand with pliers, workers then file down the rest to leave a smooth finish, some flashing is too thick to remove by hand so a sander is used to remove this.
Works in the factory then rinse the smooth parts in acid to clean the surface then electroplate them with zinc, they dip the parts in a clear liquid coating to make the mat surface shiny.
Now its time for the cap gun to be assembled.
First they install the spring that opens the loading gate, they then take the left side of the cap guns barrel and add the latch that hold the holding gate closed and the spring that puts tension on that latch, then the cylinder and finally the guiding disk which turns the cylinder when you squeeze the trigger.
All of that is then screwed to the main body which contains the right side of the barrel, a orange plastic safety tip into the end of the barrel.
The bright coloured safety tips are required by law to stop the cap guns being mistaken for guns.
They then hook the loading gate spring to the gates latch to hold it closed before installing the hammer spring and hammer. Two brass grommet then secure the cylinder turning arm and the pusher which feeds the caps one by one out of the cap box into striking position.
A trigger spring is then fitted to keep tension on both the cap pusher and the trigger before installing the loading gate which is held down with a screw. After hooking up additional springs work then attach the top part of the hammer spring to the holding pin on the hammer. The bottom part of the hammer spring then goes to the bottom part of the holding pin on the frame.
Finally, the plastic grips/handles are then fitted on each side of the gun handle and held down with a screw.
With the casts being from vintage molds these cap guns from wild west toys feature intricate scrollwork which is a degree of craftsmanship rarely seen toys nowadays, this is smoothing probably more appreciated by the parents that the children.
Where to buy caps for cap guns
Cap guns and caps for cap guns can be brought from many online retailers and high street toy store.
View on our website the Top 10 Best Selling Cap Guns & Cap Gun Caps