A tale of two Red Ryders – Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
Update on B.B./Tom: Tom is walking around the hospital halls several times a day (using a walker). The doctor said he seems to be recovering faster than expected. Today, Tom’s moving to a different floor…where patients go when they need less nursing care. Good news!
Today, we have a guest blog from BG_Farmer. It’s a two-parter, and you’ll see the rest of it on Monday.
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Now, on to today’s blog.
After digging my old Red Ryder out of the basement at my parents’ house and finding that it had been left cocked (no doubt by a younger brother or nephew) for perhaps years, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it functioned just fine with a little oil in the “oil here” hole. My wife and son both enjoyed shooting it, but I feared that it was on borrowed time for active duty, so a new model Red Ryder 1938B was purchased in 2007. Though they are unmistakably both Red Ryders, I thought it would be interesting to examine the changes made between the two models and see how the newest version compares to my childhood classic. I hope this will be useful to fans of the Red Ryder, as I was able to find little information of this type when I researched it.
The two guns pictured above are both examples of the post-1972 revival of the classic Red Ryder BB gun. My personal Red Ryder, a model 1938 carbine from approximately 1977-8, is the one on top. The new 1938B is on the bottom. B.B. covered a predecessor (No. 111 Model 40) of the no. 1938 bought in 1972 in some detail here (part 1) and here (parts 2 and 3).
The picture below shows the model identifications. The metal on the 1938 is rusted where many grimy fingers wore off the paint and younger siblings neglected to oil it.
I date my gun to 1977 or 1978 due to the placement of the lariat logo on the right side of the gun. Previous years of the revived 1938 apparently have the logo on the left side, just as the model they copied did. The lack of a safety, which would make it a 1979 or later model 1938A, helps date it fairly accurately. The 1938A (not shown) and 1938B differ mainly in regard to the safety construction, if my understanding is correct.
While the two guns are remarkably similar at first glance, there are many differences on close inspection. First, the wood is finished differently. The 1938 has a lighter stain and clear finish, with much nicer grain, while the 1938B has a darker, reddish, almost opaque finish. The newer gun also has a more angular and simplified shaping, with not as many rounded edges. My 1938B also differs in finish from the one pictured on the Pyramyd Air website, so there is obviously a great deal of variance.
On the right side of the stock, the famous lariat logo is similar, but not identical. The guns vary subtly, with the most significant difference I can detect being that the lariat itself is both wider and coarser on the 1938B.
There are also significant differences in the metal finish. The older gun seems to have been painted with enamel, whereas the 1938B appears to be powder-coated. Whatever it is, the newer gun’s metal finish is much nicer than I ever remember the old one being. The placement and finish of the barrel bands differ. The old 1938 has a bare steel band, while the new gun has a painted band placed relatively further back on the forestock. The forestock on the 1938B is also thinner at the front and more sharply tapered than that on the 1938.
It is also evident that styling was changed to adapt to suit more sophisticated children, as the muzzle of the 1938B looks quite a bit more realistic than the old 1938.
Unfortunately, my 1938 has lost the saddle ring and leather thong due most likely to my youngest brother being left-handed (the thong would be in the way of the trigger hand), though he denies any knowledge of the loss. The newer 1938B saddle ring and thong are installed with a plastic ring oriented vertically, linked to a metal ring holding the thong, whereas the old one had a metal ring oriented horizontally in the receiver and another externally holding the thong. I can only guess that the change was to accommodate some internal revisions, possibly related to adding the safety.
Stay tuned for part 2 next Monday.