Are you familiar with the toy company Wham-o? They make toy crossbows slip and slides, Frisbees, and more. Pretty classic toys right? Well, did you know that at one time the company produced a series of 22 single action guns under the WAMO brand? They made a few different models, but today we are looking at the WAMO Powermaster 22.
This single shot 22 looks a lot like a semi-auto, but alas there is no magazine and the gun fires only one round at a time. The WAMO Powermaster 22 is rather large for a single shot firearm, but admittedly the gun is very comfortable to handle and fire. The full-sized target-style grip is rather nice. According to flyers, the WAMO retailed for 19.95 and you could order it through the mail.
I Have a Powermaster
The Powermaster 22 has a 5-inch barrel, a prolific front sight, and an adjustable rear sight. The pistol was cheaply built from pot metal and aimed at new shooters with a youthful audience at its core.
The Powermaster 22 was a simple weapon. To fire it you retracted the floating bolt via a charging handle and as you retracted the charging handle an inch long striker appeared. You know when the gun is cocked because it looks like it’s happy to see you.
The shooter could then insert a round and push the charging handle forward. When ready, the shooter pulled the trigger and the gun went bang. The bolt was basically floating and stayed closed via a flat spring that applied some upward tension to the gun.
While the gun was a single action, it had an automatic eject feature that ejected the spent brass after the gun fired. This was done via a simple blowback design. All in all the gun seemed like a very cheap option for a 22 LR pistol at the time.
It’s in The Name
The WAMO Powermaster is a neat relic from a simpler time. A time where safety wasn’t a concern ’cause you had 12 siblings anyway. The gun had no manual safety, and even if it did it doesn’t seem like it would matter.
The bolt and striker randomly blast forward making the gun go bang. If you squeeze the handle the gun will go off, if you breathe too hard the gun goes off, if you look at it the wrong way it goes off. The WAMO Powermaster is generally not a very safe design.
However, that trigger is awesome. It’s quite light, with almost no travel before the WAMO Powermaster goes bang. It’s also accurate when it actually fires when you pull the trigger, versus any other random time.
After handling the Powermaster without ammo I had a heads up on how dangerous it was so I exercised the utmost caution at the range. I ensured it was always pointed downrange in case the gun had an accidental discharge.
The WAMO Powermaster is a silly design. You could argue that age is the issue with mine, but according to a few older posters on various forums, these guns have always been a bit unsafe and hinky.
I guess $19.95 got you as much as in the 1950s as it does today. Oddly enough though, these guns are quite collectible when they are in good condition. Mine is not in good condition and looks like it sat in the bottom of a toolbox for years. However, it was free to me, so I think it’s a worthwhile investment.
It seems like very few of these guns were made, at least compared to more mainstream appeal. WAMO also made interesting single action rifles, including a Tommy gun wannabe and my favorite — a dueling pistol in 22 LR. The aforementioned guns are even rarer and obviously much more imaginative.
After a short run of each gun, the WAMO company seemingly disappeared and any history of WHAM-O and WAMO went with it. The Powermaster 22 LR sits as one of the few remaining relics of a time when a toy company made a gun.
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