It was the Christmas of Christmas’s. Under the red cedar Christmas tree, we had cut behind the barn, brought into the house and decorated with popcorn and colored paper chains, was my very own Daisy Red Ryder Carbine. It was a dream come true. Like Ralph in TV’s famous “The Christmas Story”, after months of frantic wishing, I had a real Red Ryder BB gun.
I don’t remember how old I was when I got the Red Ryder Carbine. Not much over nine years if I had to guess. I am sure it was a financial strain on my parents budget to pay for the gun but thy felt it would help me learn responsibility and to learn the life skill of marksmanship. They were right on both accounts.
If memory serves me correctly, my dog Skipper and I slept with the rifle the first few nights I had it.
A lot has changed about youngsters since those early days of my youth, but a dream is a dream, and dreams are still around that involve a Red Ryder Carbine. The comic book cowboy action hero Red Ryder, for whom the gun was named, has long since ridden off into the sunset of “no longer published” comic books. But where he left off, the TV classic, The Christmas Story, picked up and has become an annual Christmas viewing tradition.
Today, just as in my youth, youngsters want the adventure and pride-of-ownership that comes with owning a Daisy Red Ryder Carbine. The good news is that the Daisy Red Ryder Model 1938 is still available, wooden stock with the Red Ryder name branded into the wooden stock, lever action, saddle ring with leather thong, and all, just as it was in the old days.
To reacquaint myself with the modern version of the Daisy Red Ryder I ordered one and ask my grandson Josh to help me with the range test. The Model 1938 arrived in what Daisy is calling the Red Ryder Kit. If I had gotten one of these when I was a youngster I would have thought I was rich. The kit includes the Red Ryder .177 caliber air rifle, shooting glasses, 2 ShatterBlast target stakes and shatter targets, 3 tubes PrecisionMax BB’s , and a Red Ryder collectible tin of BB’s. All for about $75.
The Red Ryder air rifle looks as good as ever. It features a wooden stock and forearm with burnished forearm barrel band. The gun is a spring air, lever #### design. All metal parts have a blue finish. The rear sight is a modified semi-buckhorn adjustable sight and the front sight is a ramp sight. These are great sights for teaching new shooters the basics of sound marksmanship. The safety on the rifle is a cross bolt-type trigger block safety conveniently located on the rear of the trigger housing. The magazine is a tube located just under the barrel and holds 650 .177 caliber BB’s.
The rifle has an 18-inch smooth bore steel barrel with an overall length of 35.4-inches. The length of pull is 13 ½-inches. The rifle weighs a light 2.2-pounds, a good weight for young shooters. The Model 1938 alone sells for around $56.
On the Range
Josh, his dad and I took the Red Ryder to my range and you could see it was love at first sight with Josh. After getting Josh outfitted with shooting glasses we gave him some safety instructions followed by some Model 1938 familiarization instruction. Josh is not new to shooting so he was soon helping put up targets to test the guns accuracy. We posted targets at 15 yards. From a bench rest, Josh shot groups as tight as an inch. He was taken by the accuracy of the rifle and gave it a good workout.
This modern Red Ryder was the quality I had found with my rifle decades ago. The rifle shot well within its intended range and functioned flawlessly, as long as you remember it is gravity fed and you must hold the muzzle up when cocking it to feed another BB into the chamber.
The Red Ryder sends a BB out the muzzle of the barrel at 280 feet-per-second and has a posted shooting distance of 195-yards. When I was a youngster the Red Ryder was powerful enough to dispatch starlings that tried to get into my dads garden to steal seed and peck fruit. The Red Ryder of today can do the same thing. It is no toy and commands the respect of following the 10 Basic Rules of BB Gun Safety.
The adventure and quality is still there and I am sure that on Christmas morning this year there will be youngsters just a happy to get theirs as I was to get my so long ago.