Nichols cap guns

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Nichols cap guns were cap guns manufactured by Nichols Industries, Inc.. The company was started in 1946, manufacturing toy cap pistols and other items under the ownership of the Nichols family until 1965, when it was sold to Kusan Toys.


A cap gun is a toy gun that creates a loud sound simulating a gunshot and a puff of smoke when the percussion cap is exploded. Cap guns were originally made of cast iron, but after World War II were made of zinc alloy, and most newer models are made of plastic. The "Golden Age" of cap guns was roughly a 20-year period following World War II when television became popular and such companies as Nichols, Hubley, Kenton, Kilgore, Wyandotte, Classy, Mattel, Actoy, Esquire, George Schmidt, and Stevens made millions of cap guns in various versions. While many had their names patterned after a hero or heroine, many cap guns also were named with western-sounding names, like: "Stallion 45", "Pony", "Mustang", "Pioneer", "Cowboy", "Texan", "Colt 45", "Rodeo", and such. Ring cap guns are usually modelled after revolver pistols, with the cap ring placed in the cylinder section of the toy gun. Like its real-world counterpart, when the trigger is pulled, the cylinder rotates a new cap into place, the hammer is drawn back, and then released; the shock causes the cap to explode harmlessly, producing the noise and smoke. Strip or paper cap guns use the aforementioned cap strip in lieu of the cap ring. As in the ring style of gun, each pull of the trigger advances the cap strip forward, pulls back the hammer to the point where it releases, striking the cap. Potato or spud guns occasionally use a cap to provide a burst of gas to fire the projectile, a small cutting of potato. One design employs a small reusable metal "cartridge" which has a recess for a cap at one end and a small drilling through to the other end, which holds the potato. Due to the low energy contained in a paper cap and the poor seal around the cartridge, these spud guns usually have very modest range, barely enough to eject the potato cutting. Mattel introduced a modified type of roll cap that used sprocket feed instead of simple friction feed. Today, cap guns and other toy guns in the United States must be manufactured with a bright orange, red, or yellow tip placed over the "muzzle" of the cap gun, or with the entire gun made in these or other bright colors. Laws requiring these markings were made because of incidents where civilians - usually children or teenagers - were killed by police officers when the officers thought they saw real guns. While these incidents were rare, lawmakers decided that toy guns must be marked so they cannot be mistaken for real guns.[2] It is also possible to commit acts of robbery with a replica gun, since no shots need to be fired from a gun that looks real. There are many collectors throughout the world who collect all types of cap guns, even though restrictive laws in some areas may make it difficult. Whereas the toy guns brought small prices originally, they now command significant prices for many models, with some of the most famous sets of holsters, guns and original boxes selling for high prices at auctions and toy gun shows. Some collectors will collect all types of cap guns, but many collectors specialize in either guns named after a famous western hero or a particular company's set, like the Nichols Industries or Hubley cap guns. Caps have occasionally been used in toys other than cap guns where an explosive effect is desired. One example would be the "Thunder Punch" version of the He-Man action figure from the original 1980s Masters of the Universe toy line. Ring caps were placed in a "backpack" integrated into the figure, which contained the striking mechanism for the caps (as well as tiny vents to allow smoke from a triggered cap to escape). This mechanism was triggered by drawing the figure's spring-loaded right arm back and releasing it to swing forward; the explosion of the cap was intended to simulate a thunderous noise caused by the superhuman power of the character's punch. Another example is a relatively new type of Airsoft, called Hybrid Guns. Hybrid guns use small round BBs in the tip of a casing, usually designed to mimic that of its respective magazine. The caps are placed behind the casing. In electric models, the caps are burst, and the pressure is used to propel the BB forward in a manner similar to real firearms. The leftover energy is then sometimes put to use simulating recoil and a blowback system that ejects the casings Another use is in so-called "cap bombs"; devices roughly in the shape of an aerial bomb that contain a firing mechanism in the nose capable of holding a single cap, either plastic or paper (cut from a strip), though types are not interchangeable due to the mutually exclusive design. With the newer designs they have both the paper cap or plastic cap. When dropped they hit a hard surface and explode.

Another use is in "exploding pens" which are devices that look like ink pens but these contain an anvil where the explosive cap is placed, then a spring-loaded lever is pulled back and held in place by the cap of the pen. The pen is then ready to leave around or given to another person as a practical joke. When an unsuspecting person pulls the cap of the pen off the spring drives the lever against the explosive cap for a surprise bang

External links[edit]

  • The largest cap gun website on the internet with thousands of photos of cap guns and the history of the manufacturers-especially Nichols Industries.