Courtesy Daisy
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What is likely the most-famous BB gun ever made — the Daisy Red Ryder — will be reissued in 2020 as a special-edition commemorative to celebrate its 80th anniversary. 

According to a Daisy release, the special edition will feature “engraving on the forearm and a commemorative medallion in the stock, in addition to all of the features that made this gun the all-time No. 1 American Christmas present.”

Daisy introduced the Red Ryder air rifle in 1940 with a wood stock and forearm, sturdy lever action, a saddle ring and a real leather thong.

Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun 80th anniversary
Courtesy Daisy

The Daisy Model 1938 Red Ryder has remained mostly unchanged for 80 years — there have been a few cosmetic changes, a couple internal improvements, and a tiny bit of tinkering for performance, but I would be hard put to point out the changes.

Many shooters learned some sophisticated lifetime lessons with Red Ryders:

  • Because the copper-coated BBs were visible in daylight, it was possible to see the curved trajectory of the projectile and understand how much holdover was necessary to hit a floating battleship in a pond.
  • It was easy to see the relationship (or lack of) between point of aim with the open sights and point of impact on the target.
  • Because the Red Ryder was easy to cock, the young shooter could keep the rifle up and on target as he or she cycled the action.

What’s your best Red Ryder memory? Please share it in the comments section below.

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  1. When I was a kid we had a pool. So I put my toy battleships out on the waterl and sank them with my red rider. Of course being a kid I thought the BB’s were copper, not steel I found out when there where rust spots on the bottom of the pool. My mother had me down there with a brush scrubbing the rust spots on the bottom of the pool.

  2. Well I’ve been wanting to replace the one I had as a young boy…looks like now is a good time.
    Ought to look good over the fireplace mantle.

    • I have no idea where my childhood Red Rider ended up, but I can go for a new one. I wish there was a “Ralphie” version available.

    • Yeah, and that’s just it. If I got it, it most likely would be for display purposes only. But still might be worth owning.

  3. Me and a neighborhood friend used to spend hours shooting tin cans, or those little army men (we would make battle scenes and then shoot them). Of course we would make battle ships out of wooden boards and nails. It was always a lot of fun!

  4. Mine was a model 25.
    Learned an important lesson because of it. I was out in the back and shot a small black bird.
    I did not know dad was nearby and he did not say a word just said go pick it up.
    Then he showed me how to clean it and took it inside. Come suppertime there was the bird on my plate.
    The lesson was only shoot what you intend to eat. I remember the bird was bony and not very good.

  5. I just turned 80 in Sept and still have my original Red Ryder which was promised if I was a Big Boy for my first trip to the dentist. Getting out of the chair my Dad took me straight to the hardware store and made the big purchase. From then on nothing but fun – most of all since we lived on a farm. Right now my Red Ryder (still fully functional) stands in the corner by the garage door in case it is needed. And yes I do pick it up once and awhile and shoot grass hoppers, beer cans or what ever. It is now missing the for-stock, which I do have, and is sporting a rag in the end of the magazine to keep the bbs in, but has never worked better. I have purchased a good number more of these over the year. When those children, grand children and great grandchildren reached the right age they were given some instructions, stern guidance, and upon proving they could be responsible were sent home with their own Daisy Red Ryder. And, those were the biggest smiles I have ever seen – boy or girl.

    • Wow. An original? Hope you’ll be able to restore that and keep it in your family as an heirloom.

  6. The Model 25 “pump gun” was always better than the Red Ryder. The only reason the Red Ryder is so deeply ingrained in the American consciousness is because of its central focus in the movie “A Christmas Story”. Its a shame that the movie wasn’t based around the Model 25 instead, but you have to remember that the 25 was out of production from 1979 to 2006, and the movie was made in 1983 so unfortunately, fate favored the “in production” Red Ryder. Keep in mind that the time the movie was set in (early 1940s) the reality was that the 25 was more expensive and more desirable than the RR (despite the movie portraying a different reality). If I had a kid, they’d certainly have a 25 instead of a Red Ryder. The Model 25 was more powerful, and used a spring fed magazine (shot tube) instead of less reliable gravity feed of the Red Ryder. And that’s the truth about entry level Daisy BB guns.

    • The red ryder is more kid friendly. As a wee-one, I always had trouble being able to pump the small forward grip, which was not-so grippy & far forward for my kid arms. But I agree the model 25 was more powerful & accurate.

  7. I have a modern “1938” and the plastic stock is a pretty big difference. Also I can’t help but notice that the BB gun that touts its American heritage is now “Made in China.”

  8. Used to shoot rats that got in the feed barrel. Wasnt powerfull enuff to kill them withoutva behind the ear hit, taught me shot placement and steady aim. Also bagged a few morning doves and rabbits. As muchvas I liked it when I got a Crossman 760 itvwas likeva magnum.. I even killed a possum with it, thyre pretty tough. One BB in the head, blood started running out, then it fell out of the tree. We ate it, greasy like lamb. Im buying me one of Red Ryders. Thsnx Daisy

  9. I am no spring chicken (55) but my mother ask me five years ago what I wanted for Christmas. I told her a Red Ryder BB gun. Had one when I was a kid but didn’t know what happened to it. She said OK, anything else? I said not really, maybe some ammo and cologne the wife liked. On Christmas morning, I opened a few boxes with some 22LR and 12 gauge. Dad said it was his turn to open one. Mom said she need to go to the bathroom. Wife opened one. I heard mom tell my dad to have me stand up and close my eyes and hold out my hands. She came in the room.They laid my lost Red Ryder BB gun in my hands. OK, I lost it like a baby crying. My past came back. Dad found it during the remodel of his work shop. Safe with me once again

  10. I got my Red Ryder for my birthday around age 8. Within a few years there came a rare snowy winter in North Alabama and my friend and I took off to the woods for an adventure. The snow was thigh deep in places and we took turns pulling a sled behind us. We were loaded for an Antarctic expedition with everything one could possibly need, including my trusty Red Ryder BB gun.

    We spent the day going up and down the steep ravine leading to our creek, made all the more difficult by the snow and ice. As sunset approached we decided to turn back home. I spotted some ice cycles growing along a branch and reached for my Red Ryder. It was nowhere to be found. It must have come loose on the miles of snowy hiking or tumbled down the ravine. I was devastated. We looked until sunset, came home and retraced our steps the next day with no luck. I spent the rest of my youth going up and down those hills, always wondering if an olde Red Ryder would turn up. It never did.

    On my 34th birthday my parents showed up with a curiously large present and an even bigger smile. There was a brand new Red Ryder, a second chance some 20 yrs later. We laughed and smiled and retold the story of my lost Red Ryder as me, my parents, and wife and three kids all took turns shooting coke cans from across the yard!

  11. Loved my Red Rider as a kid. Used to use it to “hunt” grasshoppers that would show up in force each summer. Got scary accurate at lobbing in shots too.

    Funny this article popped up as I bought one a few weeks ago to plink coke cans in the backyard. Funny how quickly the BBs swerve off course, and true to Red Ryder fashion not enough power to knock walnuts off the tree.

    • We used to shoot landcrabs. Or rather at, those things are tough and the bb’s just bounced off causing them to skitter away.I was able to see the bb’s in flight so adjustments to aim were easy, old bottles, tin cans and such were not safe around me.

      Then there were BB gun wars. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who participated in them. There is still a spot in my right arm that a lump can be felt in from over 55 years ago. One kid had a crossman and had pumped it more than the agreed on 1 time and when he shot me the bb went in. We tried squeezing it out which just made it hurt more and of course knowing what would happen if parents found out we never said a thing about it. Yes that was stupid but who ever said kids made smart decisions.

  12. A friend of mine in 7th or 8th grade had one of these. We put it through the ringer till it wouldn’t fire anymore. Loved that thing. We shot everything with it from cans and bottles to snakes.

    Maybe there have always been paranoid people that get overly touchy about any kind of gun but that was at a time when it seemed perfectly natural to have BB guns at that age. We had so much fun with it and NO ONE ever even thought about or considered hurting anyone with it. Just the sight of something like this now could drive people nuts. The world has changed.

  13. I spent hours walking around the outside of my grandparents’ house shooting grasshoppers, leaves, and anything else unimportant I could think of. I distinctly remember being able to track the relatively slow copper-colored BBs in flight. I graduated next to a pump pellet gun when I wanted to get more serious about how far and what I was shooting at, but there’s something to be said about a less destructive, easier to use BB gun.

  14. I still have mine as well. My dad bought it for me in 1949 after I successfully shot a cigarette out of his hand with a cork rifle. My favorite targets were those snail-like creatures that climbed reeds in a pond. I’m convinced over time, Daisy weakened the springs in the Red Ryder to lesson the chances of putting our eyes out.

  15. Shooting fuzzy worms off of Cattails plants in our back yard. Even when they were on the back side of the leaves. Very good target practice.

  16. My grand dad bought me a Red ryder when i was about 8 against my mom’s wishes. tried it out in the back yard and main target was a large old blanket hung from the garage door so it would be safe. When it was time to come in noticed a maxwell coffee can in the driveway and as kids did in those days stomped it with the heel of my foot and it ended up in a very nice “V”: shape.So, of course I stood straight over it and fired my trusty new Red Ryder into it and the old story about catching a bullet in your mouth suddenly because too real for me as I felt something go into my mouth missing my lip but breaking off a part of my right middle tooth. Spit out the BB and piece of tooth. didn’t dare tell anyone especially mom. So, suffered for a couple of weeks and every time I drank some cold milk or water it hurt like hell. Finally needed to see a dentist so told mom that a neighbor kid hit me with a rock and she was about to rush over and tell his mom what he did but luckily tlaked her out of it. the only thing the dentist did was to grind the tooth down till it was sort of smooth and i’ve had this as a reminder for the last 79 years!

  17. This is a Daisy Pop gun story. Pop guns don’t fire a projectile, only make a “pop” sound. One Christmas day my brother and I each got a pop gun. The lever action operated a piston in the barrel I believe which pushed air out of the end…POP! BUT my brother learned that if you poked the barrel into the wet ground you had a nice dirt “slug” to shoot. Dad tought us the gun safety rules, of course. Plus he said. DON’T SHOOT ANYBODY! Well, about an hour later the neighbor lady is knocking on our door with her little girl in tears. Seems my bro nailed her with a mud facial sabot. Dad tells brother to hand him the gun. Walks out in the front yard and takes a full Babe Ruth- size swing into a large tree. CRACK! Broke it clean in half. The gun only lasted about three hours. Lesson learned.

    • All of us kids in Glens Falls New York had a “pop-gun” in addition to our Daisy BB Rifles. And we also put the muzzle into the ground and pulled out a slug that we shot at each other! Great fun! Never poked an eye out or did any damage. Just got our clothes dirty.

  18. In about 1957 I got my first Daisy BB Rifle! And I promptly went about the basement shooting out all the windows. However that did not work out so well for me and thereafter I built a target box and used targets that were sent by the NRA.

    • I received my Red Ryder BB gun from my grandfather when i was about 10-12 and promptly went about shooting it the first day at a lot of things in my yard. However, as I was about to go in I came across an empty Maxwell Coffee can and like all kids back then I stomped on it as the bottom was facing up and it became a perfect shaped “V” which I promptly stepped over and pointed my BB gun down and shot the bottom of the can. That old thing about people that would be able to catch a bullet in their mouth when a gun was fired immediately came true for me and without hitting my lips a BB and a portion of one of my two front teeth was also now keeping company with the BB that was also there. Hurt like crazy for about a week and especially when my parents told me to be sure and finish my supper glass of cold milk and then the pain level hit the roof. So, made up a story to tell mom about what happened cause i told her part of my tooth is missing. Said a friend hit me in the mouth with a big rock but all is okay. She went ballistic and was going to talk to the boy’s mom but I told her he didn’t mean it. So all the dentist could do way back then was grind off part of the tooyh which is all I have today to remind me about this dumb deal.

  19. In 1972, I was 10 years old. That’s when I got my first Red Ryder begun. Me and my cousin both had Red Ryder bb guns. We shot them at tin cans and targets. I’m guessing we shot or bb guns 100,000 times. I still have mine and so does my cousin. 47 years later.

  20. George, my lucky friend received a Red Ryder BB Gun for his birthday. With it came a lecture from his father directed at all three of us, George, Brian and myself, who were present. No shooting birds, dogs, cats or any other living thing. We had to be well aware of anything that could be hurt or damaged that was behind our target which was limited to tin cans on fence posts. If any of us were caught not obeying the rules, George’s father would take the gun and run over it with his 1934 Chevrolet. Off we went on our bicycles to find a farmer’s field. Brian was sent by George to set the tin can on a fence post. Halfway there, George couldn’t resist. He fired a shot at Brian’s rear. Brian, rubbing his bum, kept on with his assigned task anticipating his turn at shooting the can. George and I laughed and laughed at Brian’s antics. We never told anyone for fear that the information would be revealed to George’s father. Chuckling as I handled a brand new Red Ryder BB Gun at the local hardware store, I made my way to the cashier to buy it for myself. Brian and George are now in the shooting range in the sky but I still shoot tin cans on my own fence post with my own Red Ryder 75 years later!

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