Daisy’s Red Ryder: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Kyle Ioffrida is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

BSOTW winner Kyle Ioffrida shows off his home shootin’ range…much of it built with recycled materials.

Part 1
Part 2


Daisy’s Red Ryder is the best-known airgun of all time. This one is from the 1940s.

I must love you guys — I really must. Otherwise how could you explain me going to the trouble of mounting a Daisy model 300 telescope on my Red Ryder just for this test? I can’t explain it any other way.

Was it hard?
No — adjusting the valves on a V-12 Ferrari is hard. This went beyond hard.

Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it wasn’t easy switching over the scope from my 1936-model Daisy No. 25 pump gun to the Red Ryder. After I did, though, I realized that the mount on the No. 25 has always been wrong. It was really a Red Ryder mount — based on there being two screw holes in the mount base instead of just one. The No. 25 doesn’t have a screw hole at the top of the receiver like the Red Ryder.

But crying time is over.  What have we got with the 300 telescope? Well, for starters, I think we need to consider the history of the scope. When the model 300 was first brought to market, rifle scopes looked a lot different than they do today. And the 300 attempts to follow the lines of the day, being long and slender, as well as having its adjustments built into the mounts rather than the scope.


The gun looks sophisticated with the scope mounted. How can you miss with something like this?

It clamps tight to the “barrel” (the sheetmetal outer tube of the gun) in front, and has the facility of angling both up and down on a trunnion contained in the front mount. That is needed because the rear mount is a cam that adjusts the scope’s elevation. No windage adjustment is possible, though the whole scope can be shifted slightly right or left on the gun, then clamped down again.


The front mount clamps to the outer tube of the BB gun and has a trunnion built in, so the scope is free to pivot up and down without straining the tube.

It’s not a scope!
Technically, the model 300 is a tube sight rather than a scope, but I’m sure Daisy didn’t intend little boys to think of it that way. It has only one plastic “lens” in front, where the objective bell is, and nothing at the eyepiece. There’s no magnification, but inside the tube is a post for sighting. You sight in so the BB strikes the point where the top of the post rests on the target. As long as the scope is on left and right, you should do at least as well as with the open sights. Having used a thin post front sight recently with great success, I have high hopes for this one.

I have owned two others of this model scope, and on one of them I had a reproduction of the original rubber eyepiece that really makes the scope look right. Someone reproduced a couple hundred of those rubber eyepieces a few decades ago, and they’re now valuable additions to the scopes that have them. But it’s still easy to use the scope without the eyepiece.

The scope is 18 inches long and has a tube diameter of 0.984 inches, so call it one inch. The tube is made of folded sheet steel — the same as the gun, and it’s blued in the same way. It adjusts only for elevation, using a clever captive cam arrangement on the rear mount that raises and lowers the rear of the scope. As mentioned previously, the front mount has a trunnion, so moving the scope up and down doesn’t put a strain on the tube.


In this view, the scope is adjusted down as low as it goes.


The scope has been adjust up about halfway by rotating the cam. This is a very subtle and precise way to adjust a scope. I see from the photo that the rear base screw needs to be tightened some more.

And how does it work?
I shot the same course as the first time, but using the scope instead of the open sights. It looked like I was getting more precision this way, but the results on the target don’t bear that out. Out of five 10-shot targets, the best I was able to do at 15 feet was 10 into a group measuring 1.163 inches between centers. That was offhand.


The best target I shot with the Red Ryder is this one that measures 1.163 inches between centers. This is offhand at 15 feet.

The average group was closer to 1.30 inches this time. That would make the scope about equal to the open sights. The only advantage I can see is a clearer sight picture.

Sanity check
I wondered how well I was shooting this day, so I brought out my Daisy Avanti 499 Champion to use as a check against the Red Ryder. But I used the same Daisy zinc-plated BBs instead of the Avanti Precision Ground shot that’s made especially for the 499. So both BB guns were on an equal footing.

The 499’s trigger is very long and creepy, but it’s much lighter than the Red Ryder trigger, and the gun felt easier to shoot, as a result. This time, 10 BBs went into 0.429 inches, which will easily fit inside a dime.


The only target I shot with the Daisy 499 to check myself was this one that measures 0.429 inches between centers. Also shot with Daisy zinc-plated BBs at 15 feet.

Summary
Daisy’s Red Ryder is certainly an iconic BB gun. It has been in existence since 1939 and is still Daisy’s strongest seller. It’s not a target gun by any means, but a shooter can bond with it like few other airguns.