This iconic air rifle has been a staple of American youth for decades. With numerous mentions in comic books and other media, the Red Ryder is symbolic of childhood mischief. To this day it remains one of the most popular (most likely THE most popular) air rifles in the world.
It is of remarkably simple design and is both lightweight and small, weighing roughly 3lbs and being just under 3 feet long. Its reliability and low cost makes it an ideal training air rifle for children ten and up, with adult supervision.
Additionally, it only provides speeds of around 350 fps, and its .177 calibre will mostly likely not case physical or property damage.
It will never take down much in the way of varmint, nor will the accuracy ever earn any first place ribbons in target shooting, but the Red Ryder is an ideal airgun to teach someone to shoot. The value and reliability are great and the fact that the design has been changed very little since its inception in the 1930’s is nothing short of impressive.
While it is generally marketed as a training pellet gun for young people, it should never be treated like a toy, and shooters should always practice diligent use of this rifle.
The Icon: The Daisy Red Ryder
The Red Ryder is not a prize winner when compared to specialized and more modern air rifles. It does not come with a suppressor or an adjustable stock, nor is it a gun to accessorize. It is a simple, well-made air gun that has been on the market for a very long time, and appears to not be going anywhere. The bottom line is, the Red Ryder is a simple classic.
For its purposes, the Red Ryder is a great tool. Its accuracy is unquestionable and it can generally make close groupings at around 30 feet. Anything beyond that, however, and its accuracy starts to slip. The Red Ryder is generally accurate but only for a short distance. This is in part due to its relatively low power.
The Red Ryder is by no means a powerful airgun. It only produces around 350 fps with a .177 pellet or a 4.5mm BB. Daisy boasts that it will launch a projectile up to almost 200 yards, but at that range a barn or elephant better be your target. It will shoot through soda cans, but not much else.
In terms of vermin hunting, birds or squirrels might be the only targets it will be able to hit, but in reality, the Red Ryder isn’t meant for hunting, it’s more of a training tool or air rifle for a part time hobbyist who just wants a few BB’s down range at some cans.
The beauty of the Red Ryder, which is its timeless design, great reliability and phenomenal value.
Two of the best aspects of owning a Daisy Red Ryder are its reliability and its simplicity. It has a 650 BB capacity, coupled with a very simple lever operating spring mechanism. Breaking this gun is very difficult, as there are few parts and the stock is made of wood and the rest of it is simply metal.
No pumping is ever necessary, nor is fiddling with CO2 canisters or magazines, just work the lever-action and you are ready to shoot. Its sturdy construction also means that maintenance is not an issue.
Obviously it is an airgun with working parts and needs some regular maintenance, cleaning and oiling every now and again, but its needs are very minimal and even if it does malfunction, repairs are easy and straightforward.
Along with reliability, this is where the Red Ryder and all Daisy products really earn their legendary status. It may not be the most accurate airgun in production, and it will never do you any favours in terms of hunting large vermin, but generally speaking, if your intended purpose is to own a reliable, and sturdy airgun for hobby shooting, it really is the best option out there.
It costs low, and there is a good chance that if you treat it with respect, it will never break down on you. Ten yards of range, good accuracy and a simple design, it’s perfect for recreational use.
Overall the Daisy Red Rider is a story in and of itself. It is a lasting piece of American history from a simpler time, with a solid, rugged design that has sold more BB guns/pellet rifles than any other make out there.
It has made appearances in both video games and movies that have spanned decades and generations. The newer ones have minor improvements, but the design is still true to its roots and the gun is still the same mean little machine it was when previous generations picked it up.
It brings decent accuracy over minimal power but it was never meant to be a hunter’s tool or an Olympic marksman’s rifle of choice. Rather the Red Ryder is and always has been a training rifle, meant to acclimatise a young shooter to the conventions and proper care of a rifle.
There are obviously longer and straighter shooters but for your money the Red Ryder is one of the best on the market.
It gets a decent rating when considering the power/value/accuracy/reliability of the rifle, but in terms of being the most storied airgun in history, I doubt the good people at Daisy Outdoor Products really care what anyone thinks.
Whether you are a seasoned shooter wanting to plink some cans in your backyard, or you are the parent to a young person wishing to be acquainted with shooting and basic marksmanship, this really is one of the best tools out there.