If you were a boy about 50 or so years ago, it’s pretty safe to bet that one of your prized possessions was a cap gun. These toy guns had their heyday between WWII and the mid 1960s, thanks to the popularity of the western idols on television in the movie theaters. What little kid wouldn’t want to look like his favorite Wild West hero such as Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and countless others.
The relatively harmless power behind these cool toys were small discs of explosive compounds that make a nice pop and let out some smoke for effect. The ring type cap guns work like revolvers and have a plastic cap ring with usually eight separate shots of explosive powder. Once the trigger is pulled on these revolvers, the cylinder rotates a new cap on the ring into place. Other cap guns use single caps that have to be manually placed behind the hammer each time or long strips of about 50 to 500 caps for a longer barrage.
A recipe of compounds known as Armstrong’s mixture was often the ingredient for the explosion. The mixture of red phosphorus, potassium chlorate, sulfur and calcium carbonate can be quite dangerous in large quantities, but only tiny amounts are used on the caps for these toy guns. These cap guns are still around, but have to compete with the cool-factor of other pretend weapons today such as Air soft, paint ball and laser guns.
If you were a bit of a daredevil kid, you probably forgot about the toy gun and took a mallet or baseball bat to these caps. And, not surprisingly, you would get the same reaction of noise and smoke – plus a frown-face reaction from dad! Relive your childhood with snap-pop or snapper fireworks which are almost the same exact thing. Throw these little firework novelties down on the ground and have a blast!