by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

A history of airguns

Daisy Red Ryder
Daisy Red Ryder.

This report covers:

  • Why velocity today?
  • Oil the gun
  • Daisy Premium Grade BBs
  • Hornady Black Diamond BBs
  • Umarex Precision Steel BBs
  • No Smart Shot BBs
  • Cocking is different
  • Summary

This is our last look at Daisy’s Red Ryder, and how fitting that it comes just in time for Christmas. Every year tens of thousands of Red Ryders are sold in this nation. It’s almost an established part of the holiday season and is certainly a rite of passage for a young shooter. The Daisy company certainly thinks so, as the Red Ryder is the mainstay of their business and has been for a great many decades. No doubt there will be some changes made by the new owners at Gamo, but let’s hope they have the good sense to leave the Red Ryder alone.

For starters, I’m hoping that Gamo ownership means that Daisy will be represented at the SHOT Show again. Daisy quit attending several years ago because attendance is expensive, and they felt their part of the market was developed well enough that it wasn’t necessary to reach out any longer. Since they weren’t bringing out many new models, that was probably correct. But I for one don’t think BB gun technology has reached its end. BB guns are not like buggy whips, whose time ended when the purpose for which they were built went away. BB guns are still selling and people are still shooting them. Yes, things are quite different from they way they were a half-century ago, but you have to adapt and change with the times.

I would like to see a pistol equivalent of the 499 rifle — one that could be used in BB pistol competition. It would also make a heck of a good trainer for handgun training. I will watch what the new owners do with America’s oldest and most iconic airgun maker.

Why velocity today?

This report is presented out of order because of what it’s about. It was initially started as a test of the Brice scope base, made and sold by Bill Brice. That base slants down at the front, giving you the elevation correction that’s needed to shoot a scoped Red Ryder. I tested one in Parts 4 and 5, and, because Bill Brice graciously provided a new Daisy Red Ryder for the test, I decided to look at the velocity, too. That’s what we will do today.

Oil the gun

The Red Ryder of today has a synthetic piston seal that doesn’t require constant oiling the way the older models do. It will hold its velocity for months with a single oiling. Just remember to oil it when it is new and you’ll be good to go. I put several drops of Crosman Pellgunoil into the “Oil Here” hole on top of the gun.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs

The test began with Daisy Premium Grade BBs. Ten of them averaged 281 f.p.s. through the chronograph. The low was 276 f.p.s. and the high was 284 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 8 f.p.s. for this BB.

Just for comparison, my vintage Red Ryder model 111-40 shot this same BB at 280 f.p.s. with a 16 f.p.s. spread. So the new one is pretty much in the same ballpark as the old.

Hornady Black Diamond BBs

Next I tried some Hornady Black Diamond BBs. They averaged 282 f.p.s. over 10 shots, and the spread was even tighter — at just 5 f.p.s. The low was 279 f.p.s. and the high was 284.

In the vintage Red Ryder these BBs averaged an identical 284 f.p.s with the same 5 f.p.s. spread. How close these two BB guns are, despite one being 60 years older than the other!

Umarex Precision Steel BBs

The final BBs I tried were Umarex Precision Steel BBs. They averaged 279 f.p.s. with a 5 f.p.s. spread from 277 to 282 f.p.s. I didn’t try these BBs in my vintage Red Ryder, so there is no comparison to be made.

No Smart Shot BBs

I didn’t try H&N Smart Shot lead BBs because the modern Red Ryder uses a magnet in the shot tube to hold the BB for firing. It would have been fun to try, but BBs would probably roll out the barrel, too. The vintage Red Ryder can handle them fine and they averaged 227 f.p.s, so that’s what this new gun might do if it could feed them.

Cocking is different

I don’t think I mentioned this before, but there is a ratchet in the cocking mechanism of the new Red Ryder. If your hand slips off the cocking lever, it is caught and stays in place, rather than slapping back down and smashing fingers the way the old one does. Have any of you ever been caught? I have.

Summary

The test is over. I was surprised to see how accurate the modern Red Ryder can be with a good scope. And the Brice scope base makes scoping this BB gun possible.

I was also suprised that the new Red Ryder can keep up with the old one in velocity. We so often think the older guns were more powerful than what we have today, but this test proves that isn’t the case. Well done, Daisy!