by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Daisy 880
The Daisy 880 multi-pump is a classic.

Blog reader Rob asked for this review. I have reviewed the Daisy 880 before, but that was back in the days when I wrote The Airgun Letter. I doubt many of you will have seen that report. I’ve reported on the Daisy 22X, as well, but that was long ago and those reports may be difficult to locate. The 22X and 177X are derivatives of the 880 powerplant.

The 880 is a multi-pump pneumatic that has a short pump stroke. As a result, it’s relatively easy to pump up to the maximum 10 pump strokes. The useful range of pumps lies between 3 and 10 strokes.

Daisy 880 pump
The 880 pump handle is short and also has good leverage to reduce the pump effort as much as possible.

The 880 shoots both steel BBs and lead pellets through its rifled steel barrel. At 10 pumps, Daisy rates the rifle at 715 f.p.s. with lead pellets and 750 f.p.s. with steel BBs. Naturally, I’ll test both for you.

The 880 is one of a very few airguns that comes up in conversation whenever airgunners are remembering their favorite guns. It’s lightweight, easy to operate and inexpensive, so there are a lot of them out there. But the attraction goes a lot farther than just a rare bargain. There’s something about the 880 that inspires fierce owner loyalty.

The rifle I’m testing for you is about 13-14 years old, but it probably has fewer than 500 shots on the clock. After testing it initially, I never really went back and used it much. That’s not a comment on the quality — I just never had the time to go back. But I do note that I kept it all these years, and that says something. Every year or so, I get a question about the 880 that makes me drag it out of the closet for a closer look. And this time, I plan to look at it intently, as Rob requested.

My rifle is old, but the specs haven’t changed much since it was built. I have the same red fiberoptic front sight that they still put on the gun and a non-fiberoptic rear one. The weight of 3.1 lbs. is still the same. And the basic functions of a single-shot pellet feed (loaded manually into the bolt trough) or a 50-shot BB magazine, with its feed to a magnetic bolt tip when the gun is cocked.

Speaking of cocking the rifle, you must do it to pump the gun. The design is such that if the gun isn’t cocked, the pump strokes will not pressurize the reservoir. This means the 880 and all associated models cannot be stored with a pump of air in the reservoir. Theoretically, this can be bad for the seals — exposing them to the dirt in the air — but neither my 880 nor my 22X have ever shown signs of a problem. So, this system works, too.

When you pull the pump handle all the way forward, the pump head is exposed in the slot beneath the forearm. This is where you periodically oil the head to maintain compression. The felt washer behind the pump head evenly spreads the oil around the compression chamber walls.

Daisy 880 pump head
This is where you oil the 880’s pump head. The felt washer to the left keeps the oil spread on the compression chamber walls.

Things people like about the 880
Accuracy is the No. 1 thing owners have to say in praise of the 880. They way most of them talk, I’m expecting something really impressive. The second thing they like is that it also shoots BBs. That’s a turn-off for me, but Daisy sells a lot of these rifles, so I’m not the normal customer.

Those who like the BB aspect also like the fact the rifle is a repeater with BBs. So, Daisy listened to their customers when the 880 was designed.

Things people dislike about the 880
A lot of owners criticize the plastic, saying they think that it might break with use. It might break, I suppose; but when you look at customer reviews for the 880, parts breakage isn’t one of the big things mentioned. I think this is more a question of perception rather than a real problem. One writer thought the 880 should be made in a higher-quality version for adults; but when Daisy did that (it was called the 22X), it didn’t sell well. It’s obsolete, while the 880 continues to sell very well. Perception and reality are not the same.

They also criticize the single-stage trigger. Yes, it’s heavy and creepy. But no more than the triggers on similar air rifles made with the same level of performance. If you want good triggers, you need to buy the kind of airguns that have them.

Pellets can be difficult to load in the 880. The reason seems to be the hole at the rear of the pellet trough that allows BBs to pass through. It can catch the skirt of a lead pellet and make it hang up.

Daisy 880 loading trough
The hole at the rear of the pellet loading trough is where the BBs pass through. It can catch pellet skirts, making them difficult to load.

In general
The rifle is mostly plastic on the outside. That carries through to the inside, as well. To stay in this price range, a lot of economies need to be addressed, and molded plastic parts are one of the solutions. That doesn’t mean the plastic is weak or inferior in any way. I’m pretty sure these guns last a long time.

On the other hand, the steel barrel is a very thin tube. It’s an insert that’s housed inside a plastic sheath that’s covered by a thin sheetmetal cover.

Daisy 880 muzzle
Here you can see the sheetmetal jacket over the plastic sheath that houses the actual barrel. The muzzle of the real barrel is the silver crown you see, deep inside the false muzzle shown here.

We have a real classic pellet rifle to test. There are millions of 880s in circulation, and I expect to hear from a lot of their owners as this report progresses.