Daisy Red Ryder 1938 air rifle Review

daisy red ryder 1938 air rifle

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As a well-known brand in the outdoor industry, Daisy Outdoor has been producing high quality air rifles for decades. Notably, the Daisy Red Ryder 1938 is one of the most famous and popular models that the company has produced. In my opinion, there are five reasons why this gun is so popular:

  • Budget price
  • Respected name
  • Had one as the kid
  • Looking for a beginner air rifle for someone aged 10 and up (and I do mean ALL the way up because there are plenty of adults who like this rifle )

This gun has undergone a few changes over the years and the materials used in its production might not be the same as when you were a kid, but it’s still got the same look and a nice, accurate shot.

Daisy Red Ryder 1938 ‘s Gun Type


The Daisy Red Ryder air rifle is made with a spring-powered cocking lever. Inside the gun, there is a coiled spring and a piston behind the chamber. When you cock the gun, you pull the piston backward and make the spring compress until the small hook of the rear of the piston is locked in the sear. When you pull the trigger, you release the hook, causing the piston to move forward inside the barrel. As a result, the compressed air propels the projectile to overcome any friction and barrel restriction toward the end of the barrel. All of this happens in the blink of an eye. This means the user doesn’t have to repeatedly pump the gun to build up air. You only need to cock the lever to prepare for a shot.

This Daisy Red Ryder air gun uses an under-lever cocking system, which just means that the lever for cocking is on the bottom of the gun. Unlike the pellet gun in which you have to open the chamber to load the ammo, the Daisy Red Ryder can be back in action with only one, simple pulling step. It requires very little force that even a 10-year-old child can easily cock this gun.

Once you’ve cocked and loaded a number of BBs, the spring powered mechanism does all the work by putting a single BB into position for each shot. You do have to cock the lever between each shot but it’s not very tiring on your arm so you can get in hours of target practice with little effort.

Additionally, the overall weight of the gun is only 2.2 pounds. If you compare this to the average weight of 7-8 pounds of other spring air guns, you can see that this air gun is very lightweight and easy to use even for children.

What makes the Daisy Red Ryder’s design a classic is its stained, solid wood forearm. This woodstock helps you hold steadier when you aim, it increases the stability of the gun before the trigger pull and it improves accuracy.

The Daisy Red Ryder 1938 has an internal diameter of 0.177 caliber, which is about 4.5 mm and is the most common air gun caliber. 0.177 is known to have a flat trajectory so you know that your shot with the Daisy Red Ryder will be accurate and straight-forward. 

=> For more on how to choose the right air gun caliber for your game, see this post.


bb ammo

The ammo of the Daisy Red Ryder is the BB, a small ball bullet made from diversified materials. Since the caliber of the gun is 0.177 (4.5mm), it shoots with BBs that have 4.5 mm diameter. Since his air rifle uses BBs as its main source of ammo it is very inexpensive. You can buy a jar of thousands of BBs for only a few dollars. It’s a huge advantage compared to the on-going expense of CO2 air rifles or PCP rifles that require you buy CO2 cartridges or pumping equipment.

To load the BBs into the gun, Daisy Red Ryder rifle has a loading door that opens easily with your thumb only. It’s efficient and fast to load BBs, too. With a 650 BBs capacity, this gun permits you to put a lot of BBs in at once. Just hold the BB jar, and pour BBs through the loading door until it’s full (but not overloaded).

Another thing to consider is that the Daisy Red Ryder air rifle cannot shoot with plastic BBs. Plastic BBs have a diameter of 6 mm, which will not fit in the 4.5 mm barrel diameter. Steel BBs is the recommended option over lead BBs since lead BBs has a lower muzzle velocity compared to the steel ones. 

Velocity and accuracy

The Daisy Red Ryder has an average velocity of 200-300 feet per second (FPS) and a maximum velocity of 350 FPS, which is a lower velocity compared with other CO2 or PCP guns. If you only have a small or average sized yard, or if you want to practice shooting indoors, it’s very easy to set up a backstop. You only need about five yards from the shooting point to the target and you can easily shoot against a cardboard box with a stack of magazines inside for buffer. 

With the Daisy Red Ryder 1938, various accuracy tests have been conducted from different shooters with positive results. Generally speaking, you can easily hit a tin can or empty bottle from a distance of 10 yards. If you want to hit a coin from 20 yards, you have to take time to sharpen your shooting skills.

Loading and Cocking

The loading mechanism of the Daisy Red Ryder is a gravity feed system. You can feed BBs easily into the barrel while keeping the muzzle upward. After loading it, you can cock the gun by pulling the cocking lever upward. It’s recommended that you load more BBs in the beginning. It will add more weight to the gun, which will make aiming more stable and provide more accurate shooting.

In my research, I found many reviews complaining that the leather strap that comes with this gun can be problematic for left-handed shooters. This is an easy fix – either remove the strap completely from or use your right hand to cock the lever while holding the gun upward with your left hand.

Also when researching this air rifle, I found plenty of opposing reviews about the cocking lever. Some reviews say it’s made of metal and others say it’s plastic. I’ve contacted the manufacturer and Daisy confirmed that the cocking lever is plastic but you can purchase a metal one to exchange it with. They are $3 plus $3.50 for shipping and handling.

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This air gun has blade and ramp front sight and an adjustable rear sight that allows you to use the traditional open sight. With the flexible rear sight, you can raise the rear sight to shoot higher or lower it to shoot lower. It doesn’t have windage adjustment but it’s not a big deal since the effective shooting range is only about 10 yards or less.


The recoil of Daisy Red Ryder is very straightforward. When you pull the trigger, the barrel moves forward first (due to the decompression of the coiled spring and the forward movement of the piston) and then moves backward. This unique trait of the gun therefore gives you a clear understanding of how the air gun works so you can learn the feel of a real rifle.


Unlike other air rifles, the Daisy Red Ryder gun doesn’t require any accessories at all. No mount or rifle scope. However, Daisy does make some accessories that can be purchased separately such as target breaks and breakable target disks.


Daisy Red Ryder’s uncomplicated and classic design makes maintenance a breeze. To clean the outside parts of the gun, you only need a soft cleaning cloth. And you only have to put 1 or 2 oil drops to oil the hole after every 500 -1000 shots.

Daisy Red Ryder 1938 Specifications

  • Action: lever cocking, spring air
  • Sights: blade and ramp front, adjustable open rear.
  • Receiver: Saddle ring with leather thong
  • Safety: Cross bolt trigger block
  • Maximum muzzle velocity: 350 FPS
  • Overall length: 35.4 inches
  • Caliber: 0.177( 4.5mm) BB
  • Stock/forearm: stained solid wood
  • Capacity: 650 shots
  • Barrel: smoothbore barrel
  • Maximum shooting distance: 195 yards
  • WEIGHT : 2.2 lbs


This air rifle is actually very quiet. It has hundreds of reviews without a single complaint  about noise level . With the Daisy Red Ryder, you can shoot comfortably without having to spend money to buy hearing protection like other guns.

Shooting range and intended use

The Daisy Red Ryder 1938 has an effective outdoor shooting range of 10 yards and an effective indoor range of 6 yards. It’s great for target shooting or plinking and for people living with limited shooting space. The low velocity and low penetration power of BB don’t permit you to hunt with this rifle, but you can use it to scare off the pigeons from pooping on your car or drive away squirrels from your bird feeder. It definitely helps, though.

Although the Daisy Red Ryder cannot be used for hunting or pest control, it’s best suited for beginner shooters, for veteran shooters who want to have fun , and for anyone who wants to enjoy endless hours of recreational shooting and target practice.

  • Classic look and design
  • Cheap price
  • Best value for money
  • Suitable for everyone
  • Easy maintenance
  • Inexpensive to shoot
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to cock and shoot
  • High accuracy
  • Easy to set up shooting range
  • Low velocity
  • Low shooting range
  • No windage adjustment
  • Annoying leather strap (solutions provided in this review)
  • Made in China


As of this date, Daisy Red Ryder 1938 has a one year warranty from the date of purchase.

Daisy Red Ryder 1938 Price

Daisy Red Ryder is one of the most affordable air rifles available, priced at only $40. There are no accessories as well, so no frills, and the BBs are cheap. It’s affordable for everyone and is perfect to use as a gift.

There are a couple of different listings on online websites with different prices but the listing I found with the lowest price is even cheaper than the price on manufacturer’s site or the prices on other e-commercial sites like PyramydAir, Walmart, and AirgunDepot.

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Daisy Red Ryder 1938 Customer Rating

There are lots of customer reviews about the Daisy Red Ryder since it is so popular and has been popular for a while not. I’ve covered all the important factors in this review.


Daisy Red Ryder is more than what you expect in an air rifle for only $40. It’s cheap, reliable, lightweight, classic, popular and easy to use. I highly recommend it for any one who wants to buy a fun shooting air rifle for their own use, for friends or for their families.


  1. I am adult used to guns. I bought one red ridder a year ago and it jammed, for good, before 50 shots. Then i exchanged for a new one and it jammed on the first loadong. Made in china. No supervision or inspection. The good name of daisy is no more.

  2. I just bought my first Daisy Red Ryder Carbine hopefully it will last as long as it has been popular with all of it’s reputation I feel honored to have one and I’m going to treat it like the way it deserves treatment with a reputation of an icon.

  3. In the last four years I’ve bought to Daisy 1938 air rifle BB guns. They both are similar, one looks considerably older than the other. The older is stamped identical to the newer looking, except it’s not stamped “made in China”! I seeking information on how I find out each age of the two rifels and if the older one has more value since it was not made in China? The wood stock on the older is much harder wood and the new stock scratches much mire easily, maybe even pressed wood, the veneer coating scratches off easily.

  4. I bought myself a Red Ryder BB gun recently to shoot with my grandson, who already had one. (As did his dad, my son.) it is every bit as much fun to shoot as the gun I had when I was a kid.
    Being a veteran, I am very strict with him about safety, the same rules applying to his BB gun as applies to firearms.
    He is pretty ingenious for a young fellow and creates firing ranges and obstacle courses such as were seen on TV’s “Top Shot” that he runs seriously and with good accuracy.


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