The Daisy 717 first appeared back in the 1970s, and serious target shooters looked down it it from the beginning. I mean, it’s a Daisy, for goodness sake- they make BB guns! and it looked pretty crude, too, with a cast white metal frame, brass barrel, and cheap plastic grips. And then something strange happened- 717s started showing up at matches, and winning them. These were guns pretty much right out of the box, too, with stock poweplant and grips, and occasionally modified sights. A $50 gun from Arkansas was beating some very fancy $250+ European guns, particularly when given a trigger job developed by shooting legend Don Nygord, who published it in the April 1980 American Marksman.
Daisy took notice of this, and started making two improved versions- the 747, which is identical, save for a Lothar Walther steel barrel in place of the stock barrel, and the 777 (now discontinued), which added better metal sights, an adjustible trigger, and wood grips. Being a poor grad student in the 1980s, I bought a 717, and with it learned the basics of good pistol shooting. I made my own custom hand-fitting grips out of epoxy, but otherwise left it alone.
What made this gun so good right out of the box? For one thing, it had a single-stroke pneumatic poweplant, a fairly new concept in those days. The result was exceptional shot to shot consistency- far better than most spring guns, and a lot better than many of the new CO2 powered match guns. A few drops of Daisy oil on the compression chamber O-ring and an occasional swab of the barrel were all that were needed to keep it shooting in the X-ring. The excellent balance and long sight radius helped, too.
The 717 and 747 are still an excellent choice for the new- and maybe intermediate- target and silhouette shooter. With retail prices as low as $138 for the 747 and $110 for the 717, it’s hard to find a better value in a target pistol today.
Here’s a good site with info on stripping and tuning the Daisy target pistols: