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Cap Guns

The end of the American Civil War brought about the introduction of toy cap guns when companies that once created real guns turned to manufacturing toy guns to stay in business. Cap guns were further popularized by the introduction of Western heroes in movies and television. The height of popularity for toy cap guns came in the 20-year span directly after World War II when cowboy heroes including The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, and many more caught the attention of America’s youth.

Hundreds of companies manufactured cap guns from cast iron, plastic, die-cast metal, and wood. Toy companies including Hubley, Kenton, Kilgore, Wyandotte began entire production lines of cap guns. Cap guns almost always came with a Western-sounding name such as Mustang, Pioneer, Texan, Colt 45, or Stallion 45. Eventually, Western heroes faded from television and cinemas, creating a downturn in cap gun popularity and diminishing sales to a near standstill.

Cap gun collectors today hunt for mint and boxed examples, especially those originally in complete sets with lifelike bullets, holsters, and graphic boxes. Many collectors hunt for rare and hard-to-find unfired examples.


Quick Facts

  • Not all cap guns look like real guns. The hard-to-find Sea Serpent cap gun is shaped like an underwater goblin with snapping jaws that ignite explosive caps
  • Ives, an early American toy manufacturer, produced some of the first cast-iron cap guns in the 1860s. Its most famous cap gun is the mechanical The Chinese Must Go gun, a political slur against cheap labor in the 1880s
  • A rare The Chinese Must Go animated cast-iron cap gun with original box sold at James D. Julia Auctioneers in November 2005 for $2,640

Recommended Items at Auction

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1940's Gene Autry Cap Gun
Dec 03, 10:00 AM MST
1940's Gene Autry Cap Gun
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$302 Bids
Plastic Red River Cap Gun & Wall Hanging
Nov 29, 9:00 AM EST
Plastic Red River Cap Gun & Wall Hanging
by Wehrly's Auction Service
Est: $0- $0
$42 Bids
HUBLEY Cowboy Repeating Cap Toy Pistol
Dec 03, 12:00 PM EST
HUBLEY Cowboy Repeating Cap Toy Pistol
by Blackwell Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Folk art Thompson "Tommy" machine gun toy, circa 1940s, 81cm high
Dec 03, 10:00 AM AEDT
Folk art Thompson "Tommy" machine gun toy, circa 1940s, 81cm high
by Leski Auctions Pty Ltd
Est: AUD60- AUD100
AUD400 Bids
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $275- $300
$2000 Bids
Large group of western themed cap guns
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Large group of western themed cap guns
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $300- $325
$2250 Bids
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $275- $300
$2000 Bids
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $275- $300
$2000 Bids
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $200- $250
$1750 Bids
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Group of vintage western themed cap guns
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $200- $250
$1750 Bids
Vintage Pony Boy cap gun and 2 boxes of caps
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Vintage Pony Boy cap gun and 2 boxes of caps
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $75- $80
$500 Bids
Collection of vintage Kilgore and Big Bang caps
Dec 01, 11:30 PM EST
Collection of vintage Kilgore and Big Bang caps
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $35- $40
$250 Bids
Early Gene Autry all cast iron cap gun
Dec 06, 11:30 PM EST
Early Gene Autry all cast iron cap gun
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $175- $200
$1500 Bids
Vintage Buffalo Bill cast metal cap gun
Dec 06, 11:30 PM EST
Vintage Buffalo Bill cast metal cap gun
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $80- $100
$650 Bids
Collection of 6 all cast metal vintage cap guns
Dec 06, 11:30 PM EST
Collection of 6 all cast metal vintage cap guns
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $175- $200
$1250 Bids
NICHOLS Mustang 500 Repeating Cap Toy Pistol
Dec 03, 12:00 PM EST
NICHOLS Mustang 500 Repeating Cap Toy Pistol
by Blackwell Auctions LLC
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Cap Guns


Blackwell Auctions LLC

Blackwell Auctions LLC

Wehrly's Auction Service

Wehrly's Auction Service

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal

EJ'S Auction & Appraisal