Toy Cap Guns

Toy cap guns have been around since the end of the America Civil War when firearms companies developed toy guns to help them stay in business. It could be said that cap guns were born out of economic necessity. Most of the toy guns made after the Civil War were wood and trimmed with metal. By 1870 cast iron was the material most used. Cap guns exploded in popularity following World War II when the heroes of television such as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry began ridding the west of villains. Cap guns would become a staple of toy chests before it was deemed politically incorrect or dangerous to point pistols at each other. Companies such as Nichols, Actoy, Carnell, Hopalong Cassidy, Hubley, Lone Star and others made millions of toy cap guns.

Cap guns derive their name from the small discs made from plastic or paper which are essentially the same as percussion caps used in real firearms of the 1800’s. The discs contain a tiny powder charge that provide the noise and smoke and explode upon contact with the triggers hammer mechanism. Today a compound called Armstrong’s mixture is used as the explosive charge.

Cap guns are generally made in three different styles, the revolver, semi-automatic and the mock-revolver which opened to load a roll of paper caps. Most of the early models used either roll caps or circular disk caps. However in 1950 Nichols Industries produced a large model called the Stallion 45 which had a revolving cylinder into which individual bullets were loaded. The circular cap was placed in the bullet and then loaded into the cap gun. This made the cap gun seem more realistic.

From the 1940s to the 1980s you could routinely hear or see ads where toymakers competed to market the most realistic looking toy guns. Whether the manufacturer was trying to copy the cowboys’ favorite revolver or a World War II Tommy gun, realism was the goal. However, cap guns sold in the United States today 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 translucent or brightly colored. Lawmakers decided that toy guns be marked with bright orange tips or be brightly colored due to rare incidents in which police officers killed civilians because they thought they saw a real gun. Since 1955, New York City has banned black, blue and silver toy guns and in recent years town and cities in several state have passed outright bans.

Collectors around the world collect vintage cap guns. Highly collectible cap guns in good condition and in the original box can command very high prices and are routinely found for sale at auctions and toy gun shows. A great resource for finding vintage cap guns is This is a historical website for Nichols Industries and a great site to find shows and events, cap gun dealers and classified ads for vintage toy guns.

At, while we do not sell vintage toy cap guns made by some of the long gone famous cap gun makers, we do sell brand new high quality cap guns. Most of our cap guns are made of die-cast metal and are manufactured by Gonher in Spain. They are sturdy, reliable and will last a long time unlike cheaper plastic versions. We have western toy cap pistols, western toy cap rifles, modern military style cap guns and cap gun ammunition. In addition, we sell high end western replica guns that can also fire caps. Be sure to browse our site and look for the “Also fires caps” image next to our Denix Western revolvers.