Virginia vs the Austin Magic Pistol

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a Cracked.com article about vintage toys that would be considered wildly irresponsible by today’s consumer safety standards.

The article itself was a hilarious read but what really caught my attention was the #2 toy on the list; the Austin Magic Pistol.  This marvel of 1950’s engineering fired a ping-pong sized plastic ball by igniting the combustible gases generated when you added water to the provided ‘magic crystals.’

Those ‘magic crystals’ were in fact calcium carbide and the resulting combustion was impressive indeed as the video below demonstrates.

This ingenius little device is apparently much sought after by toy collectors and I did a little searching on eBay myself but never found one.  As it turns out, I was lucky to have not found one.

While I was doing the research for my article on Virginia’s air gun laws, I discovered that, back in 1950 when the Austin Magic Pistol and its progenitors were all the rage, Virginia passed a law prohibiting the selling or gifting of such toys.  Originally passed as § 18.1-347, the law is still on the books at § 18.2-284.

No person shall sell, barter, exchange, furnish, or dispose of by purchase, gift or in any other manner any toy gun, pistol, rifle or other toy firearm, if the same shall, by action of an explosion of a combustible material, discharge blank or ball charges. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Each sale of any of the articles hereinbefore specified to any person shall constitute a separate offense.

Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing the sale of what are commonly known as cap pistols.

So if you have one of these unique pieces of toy history, don’t sell it to a Virginia resident. You don’t want to have to explain to the other inmates that you were arrested for selling a ‘Magic Pistol.’

© 2012, John Pierce. All rights reserved.


About John Pierce

Monachus Lex is written by Virginia attorney John Pierce. John is a life-long gun rights advocate, an NRA certified instructor and co-founder of the nationwide gun rights group OpenCarry.org.

He has an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems, an MBA from George Mason University and is a 2012 Honors Graduate of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, MN.

Professionally, John is a member of the American Bar Association Second Amendment Civil Rights Litigation Subcommittee and his writings have been published by the ABA Civil Rights Litigation Committee and the ABA Minority Trial Lawyer Committee.

In addition, his open carry advocacy has been featured on Nightline and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

This entry was posted in Fun, History, Toy Guns, Virginia. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Virginia vs the Austin Magic Pistol

  1. Grapeshot says:

    Well obviously the law worked – don’t know anyone injured from one and it (the law) is still protecting us some 60 + years later. I feel so warm, fuzzy and safe ; )

  2. Liston says:

    Reminds me of the carbide cannon I had.

  3. Art says:

    I made a Carbide Cannon out of a 5 gal Paint Can… They were Metal back then Lol

  4. xyz says:

    cabelas may still sell those tubes of CC…they work great for fishing by grenade: just put some in the cap, screw onto bottle of water, shake and throw = boom and here comes dinner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *